Jordan: An Arabian Adventure is a blog post from the Miscellaneous category.

Jordan: An Arabian Adventure

Posted by Will on

At the end of March I spent just over a week in Jordan. It was a fantastic trip because the country boasts many amazing sights and it is possible to achieve a great deal in a short amount of time.

We started our journey on the shores of the Dead Sea, a body of water with a salinity of 33.7% – that is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean! Due to this high salt content, swimming in the Dead Sea is a unique experience as you literally float like a cork! The wind was very strong while I was “swimming” and it whipped spray off the tops of the waves and into my eyes… the stinging sensation that ensued was also a very memorable experience!

Our next stop was Petra, an ancient city that I have wanted to visit since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade came out in 1989! Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans and is staggeringly old having been established sometime around the 6th century BC. The buildings at Petra are colossal and have been carved straight into the rose-coloured sandstone cliffs.

We only had one full day at Petra and I wanted to make the most of it… in typical fashion I insisted on getting up before dawn in order to make the most of the day. The entrance to the ancient city is through a narrow gorge called the Siq. As I wound my way through this deep gorge, all of a sudden I turned a corner and found Petra’s most famous monument, the Treasury (Al-Khazneh), towering in front of me. It was a sight that took my breath away. The canyon was still quite dark but I had lugged along my tripod and was able to photograph the Treasury before the hordes of tourists arrived.

The Treasury (Al-Khazneh), Petra.

I spent the rest of the day hiking around exploring as many of the archaeological sites as possible. Every rock face I came across had a tomb or shelter carved into it. The natural swirls and colours of the sandstone were more beautiful than any man-made painting or wallpaper.

Tombs and houses are carved into every rock face!
A tomb carved into the colourful sandstone. The slits on either side of the door are a later crusader addition.

For sunset I headed up to the “Monastery” which is about an hour’s climb from the city centre. This is Petra’s largest monument and dates from the 1st century BC. I wanted to photograph the Monastery from a slightly unusual viewpoint so I scrambled up a nearby mountain in order to get the following shot:

This is the Monastery at Petra. It was carved into the sheer rock face and is over 50m high! Reaching this vantage point involved some serious rock-climbing with a tripod in my hand and a camera around my neck!

In total I spent 12 hours hiking around Petra with around 20kg of camera gear. By the end of the day I was exhausted, my legs were cramping and my back was in spasm. In hindsight I should have spent longer at Petra!

Our next destination was the Dana Nature Reserve. March is a very special time of year to visit Jordan because many of the wild flowers are out in bloom. We trekked into the reserve through Wadi Feinan, a beautiful lush valley. At one point we came across a camel browsing amongst the flowers… it was the final element I needed to complete my picture of this blossoming paradise.

A camel amongst wild flowers in Wadi Feinan.

In addition to extraordinary natural beauty, Dana also boasts some impressive archeological sites. Copper has been mined here for over 6,000 years and some of the oldest mineshafts in the world still exist today. Exploring these ancient mines was quite an adventure and I enjoyed meeting some of the cute residents.

Next stop was Wadi Rum, an area made famous by T. E. Lawrence A.K.A. “Lawrence of Arabia”. It is hard to describe Wadi Rum more eloquently than Lawrence does in his book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom:

The crags were capped in nests of domes, less hotly red than the body of the hill; rather grey and shallow. They gave the finishing semblance of Byzantine architecture to this irresistible place: this processional way greater than imagination…Our little caravan grew self-conscious, and fell dead quiet, afraid and ashamed to flaunt its smallness in the presence of such stupendous hills.

A Bedouin camp fire. This is the incredible spot that we camped at for two nights!

On arrival I was delighted to find the desert covered in a carpet of pretty little purple flowers. I had a field day as I ran around taking photographs of the delicate flowers against the quintessential desert backdrop. The flowers are only out for a few weeks each year so once again I had been very lucky with my timing.

The desert floor carpeted with wild flowers.
Wild flowers growing on a sand dune. The texture of the sand is emphasised by the shadows cast at sunset.

We spent a magical two nights camping in heart of Wadi Rum. The desert gets terribly busy during the day as many visitors come on day trips from Petra or Aqaba. However, we found that at dawn and dusk we had the desert to ourselves, and this is when I captured many of my favourite images.

This picture shows the desert landscape of Wadi Rum in the pre-dawn light. Notice the cute little footsteps in the foreground!
Wadi Rum at sunrise.

We finished the trip with a couple of nights by the Red Sea for some well-earned relaxation and a bit of scuba diving.

I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Jordan… There are few countries of comparable size that offer such variety, so much history and such astonishing natural beauty.

For more pictures from my trip, have a look at the Jordan tag.

15 Comments

  1. Pebblekeeper~Angie said: June 22, 2010 at 5:36 am

    I wrote a post about your site today. I’ve been following you since you fed the kitty your camera. :) Our school name is Petra School so I LOVE these photos! Thanks for posting your great photos for us!!!

  2. John Doyle said: June 22, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Great as usual

  3. Clive Hanley said: June 22, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Thanks for sharing these truly inspirational images. Stunning. Well done.

    I also find the light in the early morning to be the best for photography. Makes the effort of crawling out of bed at stupid o’clock well worthwhile.

  4. Ruben Vicente said: June 22, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Great work, the text was very insightful, now I want to visit Jordan too. That Indiana Jones image is always in our mind =D

    The desert images are great with that beautiful light.

  5. Rose Willemse said: June 22, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Thank you for taking us on this magical carpet ride with you.

  6. Mirela said: June 22, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Great photos, thank you for taking out the mind and the eye from ordinary world to show these beautiful places that exist around us.

  7. Alaric said: June 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    A great adventure magnificently captured on camera. Congrats, sir! :-)

  8. Costiniuc Mircea said: June 22, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Beautiful presentation. Thanks. I was in April on the route of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and yet we could not process all the photos and video

  9. mohammed shoaib saleem said: June 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    hats off guys…..you guys really inspire every individual who wants to hold a camera….wonderful shots…i wish you really let me know once you come to middle-east…specially Oman and Dubai…..

    wishing to meet you….
    mohammed

  10. Uwe Skrzypczak said: June 22, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Great photos, the photos are very similar in nature as in Egypt. Thanks for the photos.

  11. Bill Gardner said: June 23, 2010 at 3:44 am

    This alone was worth subscribing to. It kinda gets hard to breathe after seeing places like this. Its the utter serenity and beauty that leads you to believe that the world is alright. Thank you from NC USA

  12. Jim Coombs said: June 25, 2010 at 1:16 am

    What fantastic images. They are ultimate shots and to find such beauty and creativity in the world is so wonderful.

    Thank you

  13. Duncan Aitken said: June 26, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience! And I couldn’t agree more that getting up before dawn is definitely worth it.

  14. Millie James said: August 20, 2010 at 2:06 am

    I just want you to know: My sister was in Jordan when you sent these photos out via email. I sent them onto her. She was not able to go to Petra as planned. She was thrilled seeing your photos and kept them with her memorabilia from her trip.

  15. Liberty Verbaan said: August 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    As a white namibian, I am not permitted to get a visa to Jordan, which is terrible, and seeing these pics, makes it even more terrible. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you guys :)

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