One of the most interesting countries in the ME region is Jordan. Population 8M approx, half of which are Palestinian in origin due to various regional conflicts with neighbouring Israel over the years since 1948. So much history and culture to see, and in today’s Middle East Jordan remains one of the safest countries in which to travel, despite the mayhem in some of its neighbours. MB has encountered many Jordanians in his time out these parts and they are always good company and possess very good sense of humour. MB had the good fortune to visit for a few days in the latter half of 2011, arriving in Amman the capital and traveling by bus following morning to the ancient city of Petra.
Petra dates from approx 300 BC and is one of the most incredible places you could ever visit. It was the capital city of the Nabataean people but also has evidence of Roman and other cultures who inhabited it over time. The origins of the city are down to the ability of the Nabataean’s to control the regular flash floods that they encountered, using dams and water conduits. They were able to put the water to good use and so a settlement was born.
The city was unknown to the Western world until 1812 when a Swiss explorer discovered it. He only did so because he spoke fluent Arabic and dressed and lived like an Arab, which resulted in some natives, thinking he was one of their own, explaining to him where the Rose City was located. It is known as the ‘Rose city’ because of the colour of the rock into which the buildings are cut – evident in some of MBs below pics.
Local accommodation is available in the adjoining village of Wadi Musa (the Valley Of Moses) which has some hotels of varying ‘star’ quality from 5 right down to zero. A walk to the lower (downhill) end of the village brings you to the entrance to Petra where you will pay a relatively small fee to gain entrance.
To get to Petra, one must first travel through a naturally formed very narrow gorge (known as the ‘siq’) which was formed millions of years back when seismic activity split the mountain in two leaving a narrow passageway between the two halves. The 1.2km walk through the siq is an amazingly memorable experience as the rock face rises up either side of you for some 200m, and when conditions are right the sounds of echos bounce around the narrow space. For MB, the walk through the siq was just as impressive as the spectacle that greeted him at the end. If it takes your fancy, night time visits are also possible when the entire journey from the entrance area, and the area around the ‘Treasury Building’ once inside (first building encountered inside the siq) is illuminated by candle light.
Local Bedoiun gain employment in Petra selling food, drink and various wares to the visiting tourists. Other locals provide horses and small carriages for those who are not inclined to make the effort or are unable for some reason to walk unaided. Or are just too fat and heavy – such as the majority of American tourists. If you take up the offer to ride on horseback you will do so with a young local man behind you on the horse’s back, who will put his arms around you for safety. For some strange reason some of the local riders seem to think that allowing the younger Western ladies to hold the reins while they then hold the breasts of the young lady is a safer way to travel. Had heard of the habit before I reached Petra and actually met a young English lady who had the experience. A cultural experience of sorts!
Only spent a day or so in Amman, hence not many pics. MB’s entire trip was only 4 or 5 days which included travel days, but he could have easily spent a month or more to see many more places of interest. A return at some future date is certainly on MB’s cards. If any followers are thinking of a visit then the official Jordan tourist website is a good place to start:
And so for a few pics: