Focus on Jordan
What is it about Jordan that has world-renowned photographer Steve Davey eager to return, again and again? Seems like the answer is simple, it’s a complex country with a bewildering beauty…
“For what is basically a large patch of sand in the Middle East, Jordan is a surprisingly varied country. Sure there are some incredible patches of desert here. Wadi Rum, which is seemingly most well-known for Lawrence of Arabia who travelled extensively in the region, is home to some of the most stunning desert scenery you will ever find. Great gouts of rock, eroded by wind and ancient water into fantastical gnarled shapes that bedeck a carpet of bright red sand.
You will also find two of the most dramatically different seas in the world here: the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. The snorkelling off the Jordanian Red Sea resort of Aqaba is some of the best in the whole sea. Our boat pottered and puttered to just off a small beach that was full of Jordanian holidaymakers. Old women, dressed head to toe, paddled in the sea whilst scores of children ran around them. Their menfolk had driven shiny 4x4s right on to the beach to act as a base for picnicking. It was not an auspicious start, until we got below the waves and saw a remarkably pristine set of reefs and countless coloured fish circling a man-made reef created by a sunken ship.
The Dead Sea on the other hand, is dead. Completely dead. From the shore the water looks almost inviting, except for the thick white crust around the edge. Nothing lives here, and you will see why after swimming in it for more than a few seconds. The water is so salty that it stings. Any cuts or abrasions on your skin will both be cauterised and aggravated at the same time, although smearing yourself in Dead Sea mud will help, and is supposed to make you look ten years younger!
There is, of course, more history in Jordan than you could ever want. The most famous site, and recently voted one of the new Wonders of the World, is the ancient city of Petra. The lost city of the biblical Nabateans, this was carved into the rose-red rock. A series of tombs and dwellings hidden behind ornate carved façades, the city is reached by walking down the narrow and winding siq. This slot canyon leads through the rock and is sometimes only a few metres wide, with walls soaring up to 180 metres on either side. The siq runs for almost a mile and it is impossible not to imagine the armies and traders who made their way down here in the ancient times.
There is more to the history of Jordan than Petra. In the northern city of Jerash lies one of the best preserved Roman cities in the world. A vast Roman road leads through the town, with ceremonial pillars and the remains of ancient shops. You can still see two ancient theatres and a hippodrome – a Roman chariot arena, which occasionally still holds chariot races.
Jordan is a part of the biblical holy Land, and many of the locations mentioned in the Bible are said to be found in Jordan. This lead Jordan to be invaded in the crusader times and there are a number of Crusader castles, including the well preserved fortifications at Kerak.
For all of the history and stunning scenery in Jordan, perhaps the highlight of any trip are the people of the country. In a region of the world where people are often somewhat reserved about being photographed, the Jordanians take Arab hospitality to a whole new level. Gregarious and welcoming, they will not just willingly pose for pictures, they will sit you down for endless cups of sweet mint tea, offer to feed you and even in some cases press gifts on to you to take away.”
Steve Davey has just returned from leading one of his unique travel photography tours to Jordan; and is planning on running another one to Jordan in April 2014. All of the land arrangements are provided by Intrepid Travel and you will be accompanied by an experienced Intrepid leader throughout. The trip runs for 11 days from the 24 April, 2014. More information on bettertravelphotography.com.