Aqaba and Karak Castle

                                                                                                  Aqaba

Aqaba is a port city (mostly a resort town) on the Red Sea’s Gulf.  It is the most southern point of Jordan and is bordered by Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt.   Inhabited since 4000 B.C., it’s home to the Islamic-era Aqaba Fortress and the adjacent Aqaba Archaeological Museum.  Since these antiquities truly pale in comparison to some of the other treasures that Jordan has to offer, most come to Aqaba for the  beach resorts.   The sand is very fine and golden, the water is warm (even at the end of November) and windsurfing and other water sports abound.  Aqaba is considered a top destination for scuba divers, with notable dive sites including the Yamanieh coral reef in the Aqaba Marine Park, south of the city.

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Mars on Earth – Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum

Entering Wadi Rum was a slow motion experience of leaving earth and entering a totally different world.  The sand slowly starts to turn a deeper and darker hue of red and the surrounding dramatic sandstone and basalt mountains jut out of its sandy floor.  Camels walk about the desert with or without accompanying owners under the bluest of skies as they have for thousands and thousands of years….

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Petra, magnificent Petra!

Treasury  – Sunrise

We decided to get up at 5 am and make it down to the Petra visitor center for 6 am when it opens.  There is a small but very informative museum there (free) which we visited the night before.  We wanted to stake everything out to be fully ready for our big Petra day – something that we have been looking forward to for a really long time.  We had pre-purchased the basic Jordan Pass (prior to entering Jordan) which covers most tourist attractions and the Jordan entry visa +1 day in Petra.  There is an option to add to your 1 day in Petra and purchase an extra day for $5/day up to 2 extra days.

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Amman, Ajloun and Jerash

Jerash

Arriving in Amman after a month in Egypt was a refreshing start.  We rented a car and were on our way to the Holiday Inn Express where we recuperated from the pollution and craziness of Cairo.   We arrived with our Jordan Pass in hand – which we highly recommend purchasing prior to entering Jordan as part of it’s fee is the Jordan entry visa.  You have a choice of 1 – 3 days in Petra and the pass covers most sights including the entry fee to Wadi Rum.  All the sights that we visited were part of the Jordan Pass except for a few churches in Madaba and Mt. Nebo.  

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Egypt – Final thoughts

Cairo Museum

After 4 days in Hurghada we were ready to head back to Cairo to finish our 30 day stay in Egypt.  We arranged for a car through Emo Travel and unlike our first great experience with them had a horrible one this time around. Our pick up was supposed to be at 12:00 pm – when the car didn’t show up by 12:15 pm we called and got a few different excuses as the time passed.  Our driver didn’t arrive for another 1.5 hours.  Continue reading “Egypt – Final thoughts”

A tale of two Hiltons – Luxor and Hurghada

Train from Aswan to Luxor

After our speedy ride from Abu Simbel to Aswan we boarded the 3 pm VIP (Exp 887) train to Luxor.  Our guide from the ship purchased our tickets in advance ($10 USD each)  but they are easily purchased day of trip by following the tips of the link above.  The train was very comfortable albeit incredibly cold – outside was 30 C + and inside was about 15 C.  This was a quick way to see everything that we did with the ship backwards – and it only took 3.5 hours. Continue reading “A tale of two Hiltons – Luxor and Hurghada”

Abu Simbel

Ramses II Temple at Abu Simbel

From Aswan we arranged for a car to take us the 3.5 hours to Abu Simbel and back the following day (unfortunately the train doesn’t go past Aswan).  Our driver was a young Nubian who introduced us to Nubian music (which is great) and dazzled us with his uncanny ability to drive 170 km an hour on turns while eating sunflower seeds.  We watched mirages in the desert unfold before us until we swiftly arrived in Abu Simbel.   Continue reading “Abu Simbel”

A cruise on the Nile – Luxor to Aswan

Aswan – Felucca sail on the Nile

After reading many blogs and itineraries for Egypt it was clear that our trip would not be complete without a cruise on the Nile.  The most recommended re-seller of these types of cruises is viator.com  – the 5 day/4 night one from Luxor to Aswan.  In reality it is 4 days/4 nights.  Naively I thought of a small felluca boat taking us from Luxor to Aswan – was I ever wrong!   Continue reading “A cruise on the Nile – Luxor to Aswan”