Trip Diary - Africa

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Jordan -Thursday 4th Jan

We headed straight for the Dead Sea. On the way, Graham saw an opportunity to use the winch on our vehicle. There was a Jordanian family stuck in some mud on the side of the road. We drove down and thought we would winch them out. Whilst untying our winch, the family became unstuck. We waved anyway and they proceeded to drive off, only to get stuck again further along. We drove through the first muddy patch to reach them and………got stuck ourselves, and started to sink. With a few men and many Jordanian onlookers, Graham then tied a rope around a tree which he attached to our winch. He pressed a button and without much ado Miranda pulled herself out of the mud. Once clear of that bog we went to help the Jordanian family. A Highway Patrol 4 x 4 drove down, which was useful, as Graham then used the snatch block to attach to the Patrol car before hooking up to the stuck car. Once again, a press of the button and we were all free of the mud! All good fun in the end.

Like Syria, so much military control around it made it difficult to rough camp, and as there are no campsites as such in that part of Jordan we camped up in a car park at Amman Beach. It was very expensive with only the toilet facilities of the beach, which we had to pay extra for, but with no other options at that time of the day we stayed.

Graham and I loved floating around in the Dead Sea. The children were so excited at the prospect of it and had looked forward to it all along, but were distraught when they discovered that all their cuts and grazes stung like anything when they were in, so they refused to enter the water again and chose to howl on the edge instead.

Our visit to Jesus’s Baptism Site was more succesful. It is 12km north of the Dead Sea on the River Jordan. We saw where John the Baptist lived as a hermit, the exact spot of Jesus’s baptism and the place that Elija ascended into heaven 1000 years before. Amazing to walk on the same ground.

We moved on south and rough camped for the next 2 nights at the foot of Lot’s Cave, another character from the Old Testament. The Cave was closed for restoration, but as no one was there we stayed and actually did own tour of the cave…..very interesting.

Next on the list was Karak, another Crusader Castle, not as well maintained as Crac de Chevaliers, but none-the-less fascinating to walk around. Around Karak and on the way to the Lost City of Petra, along the Desert Highway, there was snow. We arrived at Helali Camp, a Berber campsite outside of Petra, where with a bit of haggling we managed to get a cheap deal to camp. As there were no hot showers available, the care taker, Mohammed (an Egyptian) boiled up a huge pot of water each night for us to wash in…..very kind. The landscape around Petra is awesome. It is desert-like, with gigantic rocky outcrops protruding from everywhere. They are made of sandstone, and in the evening light have red/pink glow.

The Lost City of Petra is built into this rock and the facades of each ‘building’ are sculptured into the same piece of rock. There is also a Roman amphitheatre carved into the rock as well as tombs and the stunning treasury. The most interesting part I thought, was the 900m walk through the rocky gorge into the city, so different. Graham climbed up to the High Sacrificial Site (where they sacrificed goats he tells me). The Children and I made our way up to the Monastery, which took us a couple of hours to get there, we all did so well.

Next was Wadi Rum. This is real desert. Lawrence of Arabia lived in these parts. We paid our entrance fee and could camp up anywhere we liked. We found a lovely spot on the desert sand against a huge rock. We made sure we had sun in the morning and afternoon. Although there are many others in the desert you still get the feeling you’re the only ones. We took desert drives in our own vehicle, had great fun sliding down the biggest sand dune, built a sun dial and a replica of a crusader castle. We were blessed with good weather and spent 3 nights there.

We are now in Aqaba, at another campsite. As I write, I can see Egypt and Israel across the Gulf of Aqaba. To my right I see Saudi Arabia…..amazing. We are here to get Egyptian visas and organize our ferry across to the Sinai Peninsular for tomorrow.

We are hoping Egypt will be relatively cheaper than Jordan, which is phenomenally overpriced.

PS. Most popular children’s toy in Jordan…….cigarette lighters.
Note: do not take children to Dead Sea, very expensive and salt burns small nicks.

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