Day visitors take a seat on rental dromedaries for a quick photo. Groups pose for selfies. Teenagers advertise postcard books and cheap necklaces. If you want to enjoy the view of the treasure house of the rocky city of Petra without being disturbed, you have to climb a steep slope. For a fee, you can watch the wild goings-on with a soft drink from a natural rock terrace. Millions of guests come every year, and they all want this photo.
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get there real jordanians (www.rj.com) and Lufthansa (www.lh.com) exit frankfurt after amman.
accommodation aladdin’s camp in Wadi Rum tent with shower/WC, madia slate and jeep transfer, double room from 130 euros, www.aladdincamp.com
Dana Tower Hotel, simple house, partial shared showerbeautiful terraces, double rooms from 45 euros, www.dana-tower-hotel.com
Beetle Hotel by Abu Alione night in the VW Beetle with madia slate for two it costs 67 euros, contact via WhatsApp: 0 09 62 / 7 77 85 36 17.
Organizer The places described are part of the tour “Walking in the desert and wadis”. Gebeco offers the eleven-day tour accommodationflight, transfers and madia slate from 1995 euros, www.gebeco.de. The Vikings also offer a similar trip: www.wiking-reisen.de
General Information https://de.visitjordan.com/MW
“But there is much more to see in Petra,” says Mohammed Al Nadi. Time and time again he leads groups of hikers through the vast field of ruins in the mountainous region of Edom, midway between the Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea. 800 architectural monuments await his inspection. The guide climbs a ladder and goes through a rock tomb to the so-called Königswand. Here 13 monumental structures from the Hellenistic period are enthroned, all carved from the deep red sandstone. The palace tomb, almost 50 meters wide, is the largest with its four doors and 18 columns. It may have been inspired by the Emperor Nero’s palace in Rome. Inside, the colors of the Petra sandstone range from deep red and purple to white and red. The theater and huge temple also show how wealthy the Nabataeans of Petra were as caravan traders on the Incense Route.
In the midday heat, we climbed more than 800 steps to the High Place of Sacrifice at Jebel Attuf. From up here you can see how the hidden Petra was built. For centuries it remained practically forgotten in modern times. A second trek the next day leads through Wadi Kharaneeb to the remote Ad Deir rock temple, still inaccessible to day-trippers from cruise ships. However, if you want to track down the spirit of the caravans, you have to go deep into the desert. In Wadi Rum, south of Petra, Mohammed Al Nadi walks hatless in the scorching sun through the ever-moving sand between oddly eroded sandstone walls. The caravans always moved near the mountains, he explains. Scratch marks showed the way: three dromedaries means three days for Petra. A watermark points in the opposite direction to the Red Sea. Individual Bedouin tribes used to ensure the safety of travelers or had to fear blood feuds. Even today, the extended families of the Zawaidis and Zalabiahs share the high valley with each other, taking tourists, driving camels through the area, or serving paying guests with tea and picnics under the shady rock ledges. No one lives nomadic here anymore. Only tourists sleep in tents. Recently, semi-circular domes, like futuristic space stations, have become a favorite, ever since Ridley Scott filmed location shots with Matt Damon in the valley for his 2015 movie The Martian. This was followed by recordings for “Star Wars” and “Dune”.
Mohammad “Abu Ali” Al-Malaheem has established an even more curious dwelling on the way north in the largely deserted village of Al-Jayeh. Beneath the 900-year-old Shobak Crusader fortress, the smallest hotel in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, awaits guests. The hotel manager has recorded 613 overnight stays since 2013.
At that point, the retired tour guide placed a mattress in his beat-up VW Beetle. His daughter brought embroidered cushions. “Suddenly visitors wanted to stay in it,” says Abu Ali. Then he came up with the idea of earning some extra money for his son’s studies. In addition to his living cave, he built a bathroom, a kitchen, and a souvenir shop with a small loan. The 68-year-old now even offers half board for up to two guests. While the Dead Sea hardly offers quality stays outside of its luxury resorts, the deeply incised valleys on its eastern shore amaze with spectacular shapes and shadows. With its steep, narrow walls of shades of red and brown, Wadi Numera rivals the slot canyons of Arizona.
The path leads further and further along a cool stream, under a mighty wedged rock, and over iron steps on a bush-high rock. You have to climb a bit, but you are always rewarded with new knowledge. It is particularly fascinating how the little water turns the valley green as soon as the rock faces widen a bit.