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Camel World  



Travel Diary - 2003
5 January | Senegal
22 January |Gambia
18 January |Guinea
9 February | Mali
22 February | Burkina Faso
3 March | Ghana
19 March | Togo
20 March | Benin
25 March | Niger
12 April | Chad
15 April | Cameroon
16 April | Nigeria
30 April | Congo
24 May | RDC
31 May | Angola
5 June | Namibia
27 June | South Africa
30 August | Lesotho
10 September | Swaziland
9 October | Botswana
17 October | Namibia
19 October |
29 October | Malawi
4 November |Mozambique
16 November | Tanzania
12 December | Rwanda
16 December | RDC
18 December | Uganda
24 December | Kenya

Travel Diary - 2004
9 January | Ethiopia
6 February | Sudan
21 February | Saudi Arabia
23 February | Jordan
3 March | Syria
5 March | Turkey
12 March | Greece
21 March | ...And Home


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17 months, 43 countries, and 2 vehicles



From the Dead Sea (strange how there are no dive centres there) I continued North to the capital, Amman.

It was too cold to camp so I found a hotel, and waited for Dirk and Nanda to catch up - I'd heard they were only a day behind me. In the meantime I visited the British Embassy who told me that there was little chance of my getting a Syrian visa (rubbish apparently). This presented a little problem - the only other route is via Baghdad, and until I found a small loophole I was wandering how easy the Baghdad route might really be... However, it turns out that those who have no Syrian embassy in their country of residence (i.e. Gibraltar for me) could gat a visa on the border. Certainly shorter than the Baghdad route, so I decided to give it a try.

Once Dirk and Nanda had arrived we looked around Amman for a day or so - there's not that much for the tourist - and then set out for the border.

Jordan, Continued

Petra is an amazing place, but not for what it is now but for the hints that it gives us of the grandeur that once was. If you haven't seen Indiana Jones and the Lost Arc, Petra is a city that was largely hewn out of the sandstone. The Nabateans first had to divert a river so that they could use the dry gorge as their main street - then they set about creating a large city complete with an amphitheatre, temples galore, colonnaded streets, and many, many tombs.

I met up with Martin and Nadine, two Germans who are taking a three year long cycling holiday, and we decided to hike around as a group - this was an excellent arrangement as they had cakes.

The sad thing about Petra is that because of the softness of the sandstone, most of the remaining buildings are in poor conditions - but those that are intact give you a taste of what the city once might have been. Sometimes you stumble across a large square cavern hewn into a cliff-face - the facade has fallen away but you can tell by the size of that chamber that what once stood there may have been greater than the Treasury, or larger than the Monastery - which are tow of the more impressive monuments. We are left with the disappointed feeing that we've arrived a thousand years too late...

One of the most rewarding views is actually away from Petra towards Wadi Rum - you climb to the amazing Monastery, then continue to the peak above. Standing atop the soaring massif you can see forever, and the wind carries the mournful pipe-playing of a shepherd across the chasms, echoing and eddying from cliff to cliff. Well, OK - he wasn't a shepherd, he was a tea seller ($1.20 a cup), but the effect was the same.


I drove South again in search of warmer climes, and arrived in Aqaba where I found a camp site with a hose and set about cleaning a large part of the Sudanese desert out of my car. Aqaba is really a transit point for those coming in from Egypt - it's where Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia meet, but it also offers some great Red Sea snorkelling which is why I was there. The water was icy cold, which limited my endurance, and made sure I didn't sign up for a dive, but the fish and reef were in pretty good condition, and once I'd thawed out I could actually appreciate the experience.

The following day I once again headed North, stopping for the night by the Dead Sea where I found a beautifully secluded spot half way up a mountain with views across the Sea to Israel. After a restful night I descended to the beach for the obligatory morning dip. Fortunately the water was far warmer than the Red Sea - thicker too - you could see the salt swirling across the surface. The black mud was as smooth as it's supposed to be, and the only regret that I had was that I'd shaved beforehand and the salt was agony on may fresh skin - on no account go for a dip with any open wounds....


The Border Crossing

OK - a quick info section on the crossing formalities. On the Saudi side there are no fees - it takes about 10 minutes to get through although the carnet stamp is a handwritten scrawl...

On the Jordanian side:

1. Stop by duty free where they look at your passport. Pick up customs form (a)
2. Go and buy insurance.
3. Return to customs office by duty free & pay 11D & get customs form (a) stamped. Also pick up blue temporary entry permit for vehicle (b) & 2 attached yellow slips (c) (1D) which are your departure tax slips (I was told I shouldn't have got this as I was arriving)
4.Get carnet stamped in the same place.
5. Now go to big room marked 'Arrivals' for visa if required & passport stamp 6. As you leave hand in form (a) at the gate
(Total time 25 mins)

Insurance Fees (The bank next door changes money at good rates)
9D - 3 days
19D - 1 wk
28D - 2 wks

I set off towards Ma'an where at dusk I couldn't find a decent camping-friendly hotel - so I continued on in the dark to a little village by the name of Al Rashid where I was invited for tea, coffee, and given a place to park outside someone's house. I was even given a great breakfast of bread, eggs, yoghurt and olive oil in the morning courtesy of Ali Kalil Nemat. It's easy to make friends here.

I'm now doing the tourist thing in Petra - more coming soon...