To a Fascinating Land Hidden in the Desert


Aqaba (Jordan)

Jordan, the kingdom of the Middle East mostly covered with deserts and wilderness, is one of the most popular ports of call for Peace Boat. Aqaba, where the ship calls, is the gateway to the sea in Jordan, also known as the resort area of the Red Sea. In the inland area the powerful Petra ruins, the desert area Wadi Rum also known as the “Valley of the Moon”, and a mysterious floating experience are waiting for us. Embark on a journey to experience nature and the wisdom of mankind.

Legendary and Mysterious Ruins

Visit the ruins of Petra, a magnificent ancient city that represents Jordan. The archaeological site, of a magnificent scale that is yet to be completely excavated, is also known as the setting for the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and attracts people from all over the world. From the entrance of the Petra ruins, you will walk along a narrow path between steep cliffs called seeks. The cliffs on both sides of the road reach a height of 100 meters, which is a wonderful view. Just walking around makes you feel like Indiana Jones. After walking along a winding road for about 30 minutes, waiting for us was …

the treasure hall “El Hazne”, which suddenly appeared in front of us. This enormous, beautiful archaeological site with a height of about 40 meters and a width of about 30 meters fills one with admiration. The sculpture of El Hazne is overwhelmingly beautiful even in the vast Petra ruins, and the rosy rock surface that subtly changes its color depending on the angle of light is a feature that attracts visitors from all around the globe. A very large building is visible to us, and in recent years it has been discovered that yet more ruins are sleeping beneath the ground. The magnificent scale is breathtaking.

The figure of El Hazne is so famous, but this is still just the entrance to the Petra ruins. Proceeding to the right of El Hazne, you will reach Façade Street, lined with many façades (decorations on the front of buildings) on the rosy rock surface. More than 40 tombs are lined up here, with many façades lining the rocky mountain behind. You can also climb some rocky mountains, so you definitely want to enjoy the view from the top of the cliff. The panoramic view of the rosy ruins and the endless world of rocks is a spectacular view unique to this place.

Superb view of rocks and sand

The Valley of the Moon, better known as Wadi Rum, is one of the highlights of Jordan along with the Petra ruins. It is about one hour drive from Aqaba port. From here, board a four-wheel drive jeep and head out for a game drive. The exhilaration of running between the vast desert and the steep rocky mountains is an experience full of adrenaline. In the dust, you can see the endless red desert and the beautiful rock formations with natural sculptures that have been shaped over the years. The wonders created by nature make us feel the history of earth.

In the evening, the sun sets while changing the red ground of Wadi Rum into a deeper red. The scenery, which looks like it was pulled out of a science fiction movie, feels mysterious. As the sun goes down, the surroundings gradually darken and eventually all lights are gone. Looking up, we can see an unmeasurable amount of stars in the sky. Since there is no light to interfere with the brilliance of the stars, and thanks to the clear air, you can expect a starry sky that seems to fill the heavens. And the next morning, the sun rises between the rocky mountains, gradually brightening sky and the earth—the gradual change of colors as they are illuminated by the sun is an indescribable beauty.

Floating experience in the Dead Sea

In the northwestern part of Jordan is the Dead Sea, the lowest lake in the world. Its salinity is a whopping 30% (normal seawater is about 3.5%). The high salt concentration gives it an incredible buoyancy, such that even a hammer will naturally float. You can also take the challenge of the mysterious floating experience here. When you get into the water and relax, you will be surprised at how your body pops up. Speaking of the Dead Sea, its mud packs are also famous. This mud is rich in salt and minerals, and is known worldwide as a beauty item. Many shops in the area sell it, so it’s perfect as a souvenir.

Meet refugees living in the present

Finally, when you visit Jordan, you should definitely consider the issue of refugees. Jordan borders Palestine and has accepted many Palestinian refugees since the 1948 First Middle East War. Today, it is said that more than 70% of Jordan’s population is Palestinian. In addition, since the civil war has continued in neighboring Syria since 2011, about 670,000 Syrian refugees live in Jordan. Peace Boat also offer optional tours to meet with Palestinian and Syrian communities who have fled to Jordan as refugees.

During the voyage in 2014, we visited hospitals, rehabilitation centers and refugee camps, and brought diapers and clothing collected before departure, as well as relief supplies such as hand and body soap through the cooperation of LUSH Japan, to donate to Syrian people. When delivering the supplies, we heard from hospital doctors and local NGO staff about the current situation. Listening to the “now” of Syrian refugees, through interaction with children living in rehabilitation facilities, was an experience to touch the real, everyday voices of people which are not heard in the mainstream news.