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Day 029: Aqaba, Jordan

Posted by on 2013/06/17

Day 029: Aqaba, Jordan (for the Lost City of Petra)
Position: N 30º 07′ 46″ E 035º 26′ 02″
Weather: 36ºC wind brisk through the canyons, perfectly clear skies
Last Port: Safaga, Egypt
Next Port: Ashdod, Israel
Status: In port, Jordan

From the Navigator
Early this morning the ship will navigate through the Straits of Tiran and enter the Gulf of Aqaba. We will maintain a north easterly course during the early morning following the coast of Egypt on our port side and Saudi Arabia on our starboard side then the coast of Israel and Jordan as we make our final approach ot Aqaba. We expect to board our pilot at 0800 and be alongside our berth at around 0900.

Once everyone is back onboard we will let go our lines, thrust off the berth, turn round and proceed south west back down the Gulf of Aqaba.

Southern low country of Jordan, heading inland from the coast

Plenty of sandstone and of course sand. But an impressive amount of green for a country that only gets 100cm rain each year.

This was a striking image, a miscolored seam filled by volcanic activity.

This is a great picture because it tells so many stories. The Bedouin herders and farmers live here at around 5500′ elevation during the harvest. They use traditional practices augmented by modern equipment. The tent provides adequate shelter from the midday sunshine. The large stacks of grain are the work of many people, each harvesting a small bundle by hand. In the photo you can see goats in the background and a camel. The area is sparse but surprisingly well covered by grain.

We think this photo will be of interest to several people in our family, who like goats and stacked rocks. You know who you are.

These limestone rock formations are several miles away, viewed from the canyon rim. Down among them hewn from the very living rock are the timeless tombs and buildings of the lost city of Petra.

Here in contrast are the modern buildings of Petra.

From the same vantage point, the Petra Siq entrance gate and sales center.

Later in the day we actually made it to the spot seen from above. I (heart) Jordan.

These wares seemed authentic. Yes, we looked for the “made in China” logo but never saw it.

The shops all have a huge variety of souvenirs. You can look for a long time and never see the same thing twice.

One theory is that this block was part of an ancient meteorological observation station for flood water control into the siq.

The same theorist thinks this was an ancient observatory. Four pillars for each of the four seasons. More on this after a couple pictures…

Down into the Siq we go. It is amazing to see greenery. In this country, where there are plants, there is water.

A closer shot of what must be an ancient tree. It seems to be doing well even so far down inside this crevice.

This picture is enhanced to remove the reddish tint reflecting from other rocks. The colors up close are just outstanding.

Ed went for a brief (unauthorized) rock scramble. And discovered this hidden fire pit on top of a rock. The locals must keep this up here for tea breaks from the tourists.

Along either side of the Siq leading into Petra are carved channels to direct water into the city cisterns. These have been out of use for hundreds of years, but remains of the channels still exist. There is evidence these channels actually held clay or wooden pipes to keep the water from evaporating.

Near the end of the narrow Siq we get a glimpse of The Treasury.

And here it is, after almost two miles of walking.

The entire Petra valley is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the new seven wonders of the world.

This guy has the right idea.

The flowering plants don’t seem to offer much shade for this burro, but are still pretty. Behind him is the amphitheater, an amazing sight to see.

Here’s Michelle staying cool with her traditional head wrap, which also did a good job of protecting her from the dust and smells.

These camels were the prime offenders in the smell department. We were amazed to discover just how quietly they walk after the noise of shorn horse hooves. The camel tread on the paving stones is almost silent, and completely silent on the sand.

There were several families of cats throughout the area, down the Siq crevasse and within the city. Like any well adapted desert creature, they blend in very well.

Heading back up the King’s Road through the cut, we observed the moon rising above the observatory. The sky is spectacularly blue at this altitude (5000 feet).

Notice the angle of the midday sun matches the angle of the pinnacles almost exactly – 23 degrees. That’s because we are almost at the summer solstice. The ancients knew a thing or two about the heavens.

Finally, one last Petra Cat bid us farewell at the exit gate. Take it from her – shade is your friend if you ever visit Jordan.

 

So long Petra, until we return.

A truly amazing day awaits, featuring a guided exploration on foot of the ancient city of Petra, where you will learn more about the culture and people of this fascinating region.

Petra was chosen by the BBC as one of ‘the 40 places you have to see before you die’, and your journey starts with a picturesque two-hour drive through Aqaba, to the Jordan desert. There will be one rest stop along the way but you are encouraged to relax as you soak up the dramatic scenery.

Your walking tour starts just outside Petra, and covers approx 5-7 miles, so wear comfortable walking shoes and make sure you have plenty of sunscreen and a long-sleeved top to cover up if necessary.

Your guide will lead you through a narrow gorge call the ‘Siq, a stunning natural canyon that winds through the towering rock towards the city. Here, you will see water channels, carvings, and representations of ancient gods carved into the rock.
The ancient city of Petra is a Nabataean capital carved in a vivid red sand stone, and boasts numerous monuments including tombs, theaters, obelisks, high places, temples, and churches,

Make sure you have your camera to hand as you view the Khazneh, the ‘Treasury’, which is an ancient tomb carved into the cliff face. Local legend suggests that treasure was hidden in the urn at the top, and bullet marks pepper the cliff face, as evidence of treasure seekers trying their luck.

You will then view the 3,000-seater Roman Theater, which was in fact built by the Nabataean in the 2nd century, followed by the Royal Tombs, which are carved into the face of Jebel Khubtha, a sandstone mountain. The Royal Tombs consist of the Urn tomb, the Corinthian tomb, and the three-storied Palace tomb.

This walking tour is thirsty work and you are advised to carry water with you all times. However, lunch is a relaxed buffet affair served at a nearby restaurant located in the upper area of Petra.

After lunch, you will have free time to browse for gifts before boarding the bus for the scenic journey back to Aqaba.

Thanks for sharing our story!

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