This is where our Around the World expedition with National Geographic departed from the published itinerary. Due to protests and violence in Egypt beginning earlier this year, the time we would otherwise have spent in Luxor and Cairo was redirected to Jordan, specifically Petra. As a result, on February 23, we flew into Aqaba on a 5 hour flight from Tanzania and then boarded a comfortable bus for the 2 hour drive to Wadi Musa. Aqaba, a city of just over 100,000 people, is located in the southernmost part of Jordan and the site of Jordan’s only seaport. From there, the King’s Way is a beautiful route, but not a comfortable drive for those prone to motion sickness, so Mrs. GeoK and Oldest GeoKid were very happy when we finally arrived at the Movenpick Resort in Wadi Musa, just outside the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Fortunately, Mr. GeoK and Youngest GeoKid originally planned to take the alternate trip to Petra while the other two GeoKs visited Egypt, so we had up to six potential geocache finds in the area. So when we assembled in the lobby at 8:30 the next morning, we made sure we had our GPS units in our packs. The 73 travellers were divided into several groups for the tour of Petra. Fortunately, we ended up part of a very energetic group, which meant we passed many tour groups on our approach to the Siq and had relatively unobstructed views of Al Khazneh. By lunch time, we had also visited the theatre, cathedral, the church complex and the Great Temple.
Thanks to the 2005 Petra: Lost City of Stone at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, we arrived with some preconceptions about what we would see. In fact, the sandstone formations reminded us of locations in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in the USA. The water system was fascinating, and reminded us of the water engineering at Machu Picchu (which we visited just 2 weeks ago). But the camels, donkeys and horse-drawn carts were unique to Petra, as was the opportunity to meet Marguerite van Geldermalsen, author of “Married to a Bedouin”. Strangely enough, we met some friends of hers in Siem Reap, Cambodia, just a week or so ago, so we were able to pass on their greetings to her. And that wasn’t the only coincidence today…Our guide was one of the representatives from Jordan who traveled to Calgary for the Petra exhibit back in 2005/06.
After lunch, Mr. GeoK and Oldest GeoKid climbed the thousand steps to the “Monastery” while Mrs. GeoK and Youngest GeoKid checked out the small museum and then headed back to the resort, pausing several times along the way to read signs in hopes of gathering the information required to log GC1V4ZY – Petra Al Khazneh earthcache. By the time they ordered Movenpick ice cream cones back at the hotel, they still weren’t 100% sure they had the required information.
So it’s a good thing Mr. GeoK and Oldest GeoKid made the short climb / detour to GC1QGRP – View End of the World traditional cache before they returned to the hotel. Their find was all the more rewarding due to the five DNF logs preceding their visit.
It’s also a good thing we visited Jordan in the winter; it would be unbearably hot (for us) from late spring to early fall. With mid-winter temperatures in the 80 F range, Youngest GeoKid visited the ice cream shop at the hotel 3 times during our < 48 hour stay in Jordan. And he came away convinced that Movenpick ice cream is the best ice cream he's ever tasted! Guess we'll have another kind of search to undertake once we're back home – for a location in Calgary that serves Movenpick ice cream!!