Saturday, March 24, 2018
ENJOYING SOLITUDE... Kathryn enjoying the solitude in the desert at Wadi Rum.

A holiday near Syria

Editor February 22, 2017

IT might not sound like the best place to be but Kathryn D’Elia of Shepparton had always wanted to Visit Jordan and see the stone city, Petra, and the chance had finally arrived.

Kathryn admits she felt a little nervous flying into Jordan. It was New Year’s Eve and there were only three other people on the tour.

But on landing, her fears disappeared. The Jordanians were very friendly and made her small group feel quite at home.

Jordan, being right on the border of Syria, has become one of the main destinations for refugees fleeing the fighting. They also border with Israel and Palestine and have become the peace supporters of the area.

Kathryn says she felt very safe moving around the capital Amman. The tour guides were excellent. The next day they travelled down the Desert Highway to Aqaba.

Aqaba lies on the northern tip of the Red Sea, where they visited the Ottoman Mamluk Fort dating from the 14th century. It was from here that Lawrence of Arabia rode to Cairo.

The following day they headed for Wadi Rum; the desert area where Lawrence of Arabia was famed for his support for the Arab cause, the Great Arab Revolt of 1917-18.

As they passed through the ochre desert, they were met by the local Bedouin Community. They continued on, travelling the desert with its wide flat spaces surrounded by high cliffs and the sands changed colour as they went along.

Finally, they reach their tented camp for the night. Theses weren’t just any old tents but air conditioned luxury. You slept in a comfortable queen sized bed, or you could hire a night bubble. The bubble is just that. You climb inside and lay there with the huge clear night sky above you and watch the stars.

Kathryn says the food was excellent. They cooked a Zarb in the ground somewhat like a hangi then taking tea with the Bedouin…it was like a ceremony. The tea is hot and laced with lots of sugar. You sit around a fire and discuss the day’s activities.

They then headed away from Wadi Rum and past the Seven Pillars of Wisdom (the mountain named after Lawrence’s book of Arabia) and onto the highlight of their tour; Petra the stone city.

Petra is known as the jewel of Jordon. Dating back to the sixth century it was home to the Nabateans with impressive dwellings and tombs carved into the rock. The most famous is known as the Treasury and was featured in the film Indiana Jones.

Kathryn decided to visit Petra on a night-walk guided by candles lighting the path. As she walked towards the huge crack in the rock, on the other side the Treasury, it was a magnificent sight. A group of local musicians entertained with traditional music and it was a night of magic.

The next day, Kathryn returned to Petra and spent the whole day exploring the ancient site. There are lots of building carved into the rock and you can enter many of them like caves. She also climbed to the top of a mountain to the lookout and the view over the city below was incredible.

Leaving Petra they headed for Jerash; a vast ancient Roman City that is 2,000 years old but it still stands testament to the craftsman-ship of its builders. These are some of the best Greco-Roman ruins, reaching its zenith under the Emperor Hadrian.

Leaving Jerash they headed to the Dead Sea. Now Kathryn knows how to float but donning her bathers it was like floating as if something was holding her up. With its high content of salt, the Dead Sea makes it impossible to sink.

The holiday to Jordan was over and it was time to board the plane for home. It was a wonderful experience; a holiday like no other. Kathryn would like to thank Kate Mudford of Escape Travel in Shepparton for arranging everything.

Until next time,

Safe Travel’n,

Geoff Vallance.