- Jordan


Dana Nature Reserve, Petra

hills_of_dana_nature_reserve I was advised by Lonely Planet Middle East to visit the Dana Nature Reserve "at all costs" -- a recommendation that I would not particularly pass on to other travellers.   In the first place, it's very non-trivial to get to if you don't have your own vehicle, so "all costs" includes what turned out to be a good deal of cash for transportation in my case.

Then, when you get there, it's a very for-profit park whose admission fees have tripled in the year since when LP was published.   Finally, after shelling out all of this money to see it, it looks like Utah, only less so.

So my advice is to skip it and go to Utah instead.

spiky_flower_dana_nature_reserve A spiky desert flower in Dana.   Dry as dust desert here, where only low scrubby bushes survive.
the_siq_petra Petra is about thirty miles south of Dana.   Tickets are twenty JD for a single day, and they do sell multi-day passes.   I felt comfortable seeing the whole place in about six or eight hours, although it is something of an athletic event getting to the Monastery.

Pictured here is the siq, the entrance passageway to Petra proper, ending directly in front of the Treasury -- also known as "The Valley of the Crecent Moon" for the Indiana Jones junkies in the audience.   The siq is not a canyon, which are carved out by water, but a rift made by tectonic forces.

the_treasury_petra This is the Treasury, named for an urn in its facade that was rumored to have treasure in it amoung locals.   There are pock marks on it from small arms fire attempting to burst it open, which apparently proved futile since it's still in one piece.   I was disappointed with the interior.   Rather than meeting a centuries-old crusader defending the Grail, I walked into a large, very empty room.
monastary_framed_in_rocks This is the monastary from inside a nearby cave.   It is a very long walk up a lot of stairs in order to get to the Monastary. monastary_petra The Nabateans, who constructed Petra, made the "primary" structures we see today -- the Monastary and the Treasury -- using additive methods.   That is, instead of carving them into the rock, they took rock either from where they were building the facade or elsewhere, pulverized it, and made a kind of concrete out of it to sculpt the edifice.   Some of them were made subtractively, such as the tomb below, with the obelisks on it.
monastary_with_trinkets I was mildly disgusted at the number of bedouin gypsies selling trinkets inside of Petra.   One or two wouldn't have been that bad, but after you've paid 25 clams to get in, you shouldn't have to perpetually fend off people foisting necklaces on you. petra_amphitheatre Seating for 8000, provided by Romans that moved in around 106 A.D., replacing Nabatean rule.  
nabatean_tomb_petra This tomb shows both Egyptian and Greek architectural elements, with the obelistsks and triangular formation above the entrance, respectively. three_camels_petra Camels and donkeys were a common sight around Petra, as many tourists get weary of the lengthy walk.
petra_camel They may look cute, but they are mean SOB's fo' sho'.   Standard practice on getting a camel to the ground, in order to mount it, is to yank hard on the reins and hiss at it in a loud and agressive manner.

I was pretty sure this fellow was just waiting to spit or snap at me as I got closer.

joe_on_camel_petra I couldn't visit the middle east without mounting a camel.   It's owner, although traditional in appearance and dress, spoke good English, and informed me that he had worked with National Geographic when they did a story on Petra several years back, and therefore felt quite comfortable taking my picture with my SLR.
petra_city_view One thing that I didn't particularly expect is that I would be staying so far from the actual ruins of Petra, but tourism is big business in Jordan and there are hotels for miles around, many of them higher up in the hills surrounding the actual site.   I had to call the hotel shuttle to come pick me up from town in order to get back.


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