Sand – red, white, pink, beige and sometimes black gathers in hills, dunes and flat seas of uncountable grains of sand. The desert brings out different elements for each person experiencing it. For some it is merely desolation and lifelessness while for others it means adventure and beauty.
Yes, beauty. That is the last word many people associate with the desert, but for those who know, who grew up surrounded by it, the desert is a place of rare and unique beauty and a subtlety of life that is both bold and stubborn – a small spot of green on an otherwise red canvas, a quick sideways movement caught out of the corner of your eye, the drama of a mauve, orange and blue sky, and endless stars winking in the darkness.
Then there are human contributions from historic 4,000-year-old rock drawings; the stone rose city of Petra, the 2,000-year-old city carved from canyon walls; and the finest Egyptian antiquities.
Big Five’s newest President’s Pick features Jordan & Egypt Adventure of the Ancients. This 14-day adventure does not include the standard Nile cruise. Indeed, you explore the landscapes of the region close up and stay in historic properties, which includes a palace or two, as you travel through Jordan’s stunning rock and sand landscapes to Siwa Oasis in the Western Desert of Egypt.
The journey encompasses a singular combination of traditional Bedouin culture, distinctive wind-and-sand hewn formations and traditions that date back millennia. One of the most romantic and memorable experiences is the fabled Rose City of Petra at night. As good as Petra is by day, it is almost mystical by candlelight. This evening absorb the mystery of the Nabatean City by the glow of 1,150 candles as storytellers share both legends and history of this amazing site. You approach on foot, making your way through the softly lit passageway through the Siq, as a seemingly magical flute plays from the mountain tops above the gorge.
You also travel through a world of riches and grandeur as you discover what the world of the ancient kings and queens must have been like such as in the Valley of the Kings and Queens, where for nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BCE, tombs were constructed for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom, encompassing the 18th to the 20th Dynasties of Ancient Egypt.
This journey carries on the historic and cultural themes in the properties used, beginning in Jordan, where you spend the night in a traditional Bedouin-type camp with the option to stay in a Bedouin tent or a domed tent, called a Martin Tent because its views remind you of scenes from the movie.
From a tent to a palace? Yes, savor the experience of a night at the former Winter Palace in Luxor, built in 1886 by British explorers and perched on the Nile River amid luxuriant tropical gardens and ancient temples. Now, a five-star Sofitel luxury hotel, it was once a winter retreat for the Egyptian royal family and dignitaries, and where Agatha Christie wrote her famed 1937 novel Death on the Nile. Villa Belle Époque is a boutique hotel, founded in 1907 along the river’s east bank in a meticulously planned quarter that remains synonymous with privilege. It was here that wealthy, cosmopolitan Cairenes built their stately residences and sprawling gardens. The adventure also includes an exploration of an historic oasis and a luxurious eco lodge with a difference. Authentic and ecological, Adrere Amellal’s rooms have no electricity or telephone in these dwellings of kershef, a mix of earth, stone and salt water. The food comes exclusively from the hotel’s organic garden. The building is a labyrinth of corridors leading to terraces or sumptuous and elegant covered areas. The furniture and sofas are made of earth covered with white cushions, and each detail is carved and enhanced with white limestone.
The President’s Pick Jordan & Egypt Adventure of the Ancients is a journey rich filled with stories, legends, people and experiences that bring out the best of Jordan and Egypt.