Middle East Adventure Week Two
Middle East Adventure continues as we now embark on week two. Our guide, Elinoar Nitzani, arrives and we are off to see the hot and amazing Judean Desert. We pass the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin Shepherd. Fragments from over 2oo books were found in these caves. The caves are beautiful and many can be seen from the highway. It is yet another example of natural beauty in the Middle East.
Reaching Masada our team experiences the most amazing beauty dating back to Roman times. Masada is a beautiful fortress built on an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert. This amazing Middle East fortress overlooks the Dead Sea. Josephus Flavius dramatically recounts the sad story of Masada, told to him by the only two survivors in his book, The Jewish War.
Arriving at the Dead Sea we experience the pleasures of the world's lowest and saltest Sea. The Dead Sea, also known as the Salt Sea, is bordered by Israel, Jordan, and The West Bank. The shore of the Dead Sea is 1,388 feet below sea level. It is the world's lowest point on earth! At 1,237 feet deep, it is the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. The saline levels of this lake surpass those found in the ocean by 8.6 %. The salinity of the Dead Sea is 33.7%, making it the saltest body of water in the world. The unusually high levels of salt concentrations makes it possible for people to easily float on the lake. This amazing body of water is too salty for any animal or fish to live in its waters. The Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea and is its only tributary. Biblically, the Dead Sea was a place of refuge for King David and has always been a place dedicated to health and beauty. What a fantastic place of natural beauty! This is another jewel in the Middle East.
From the Dead Sea we make a seamless transfer at the Taba Border Station. We say good bye to our Israeli guide, Elinoar Nitzani, and with the help of several drivers make the transfer into Jordan where we meet our new guide, Ahmad Hussein. After entering Jordan, we travel to Aqaba where we spend the night at the Intercontinental Aqaba Hotel. This quality 5 star resort hotel has all the amenities that one would expect in a quality resort. The service was excellent, and they serve a fantastic breakfast and dinner buffet. From our room, we have a treasured view of the Red Sea and the resorts own private beach. The Red Sea has dazzling and spectacular coral beds and is a major destination for divers and snorkelers.
Intercontinental Aqaba Hotel
AQABA RESORT ON JORDAN’S RED SEA
Our first day in Jordan and we are able to relax and enjoy the Red Sea. Can you imagine all the stories it could tell around the campfire? In the afternoon we take a Jeep ride out into this Middle East desert. Just think, Lawrence of Arabia came this same way! Would you like to join us for tea in the desert? The Bedouins make an excellent pot of tea! What an enjoyable way to end the day! Our second night in Jordan we are spending in the modern city of Petra at the Movenpick Nabatean Castle Hotel. This 5 star hotel is amazing! Service is excellent and the food is marvelous.
Today we get an early start, as we are spending the day at Petra, an ancient city carved into the sandstone of the desert. Petra is surrounded by tall and lofty mountains, filled with passage ways and gorges, riddled with mysterious caves and secret places. Petra has been inhabited since prehistoric times! This is a Nabataean caravan-city, hidden in the rocks between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. This amazing rock-cut city was the capital city of the Nabateans. Can you imagine the secrets it could tell? Latter during Hellenistic and Roman periods, it became a major caravan center in the Middle East. As a caravan center, it helped Arabia with it's incense trade, provided a way for China silks to become known world wide, and the spices of India became a household name. The mysterious Petra is a city lost among the rock. What amazing Middle East architecture!
There are several ways to get to the top of Petra, and most of the team elects to walk. The first leg of this amazing journey can be done with a cart and a donkey. Guests of a Bedouin driver, you can elect to take a cart for the first half of the journey. The Bedouins are active in providing different types of transportation for a reasonable fee. Once you get to the hidden city, you can walk to the top or choose to take a camel to the top. The camels are awesome and provide a safe trip to the top. Personally, I am delighted and enjoying my camel and donkey transportation! What an amazing way to travel in the Middle East!
This is the day that we prepare to see Madaba. Madaba is home to some of the most amazing mosaics on earth. We watch as skilled artisans demonstrate the art of mosaics. What a fascinating art!
From Madaba we prepare to climb to the top of Mount Nebo, like Moses did so many years before us. The view from this mountain seems like we can see whole Middle East. In the words of Moses, see the description of this amazing view of the Holy Land and beyond.
Deuteronomy 34: 1-3 (JPS Tanakh 1917)
"1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, even Gilead as far as Dan; 2 and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the hinder sea; 3 and the South, and the Plain, even the valley of Jericho the city of palm-trees, as far as Zoar."
Our last stop before we leave Jordan is Jerash. Jerash is another ancient Middle East city built by the Romans. The ruins at Jerash are marvelous. We are amazed as we climb and walk this ancient city. This city has been continuously occupied for the last 6,500 years and many consider it a favorite destination in Jordan. Here in Jeresh, we meet antiquity in all it's splendor. Ahmad Hussein is our excellent guide for this day. Our guide leaves us at the border crossing. We cross the border at Beit Shean and our driver returns us to The Market House in Tel Aviv.
Today we are up and ready early to visit the West Bank and the towns of Ramallah and Nablus. Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank. While in Ramallah we are having a very traditional Palestinian lunch. The food is fantastic. All of the food we have had in the Middle East has been terrific! We are enjoying our day in the West Bank very much. We are so privileged to have Mr. Yossef Barakat and Mrs Silvia Barakat as our guides today. They are excellent guides and we enjoy our time under their guidance. The day is quickly ending and we return to The Market House in Tel Aviv.
This part of our journey is totally awesome. The Exploretraveler Team are thankful for all our guides and drivers and for Noah Tours and their countless hours of planning in our behalf. We look forward to our next adventure in the Middle East.
Guy/ Sales Department
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