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GIZA PYRAMIDS, EGYPT

The pyramids, Sphinx, and watching the sunset at a Bedouin camp in the desert.

sunny 23 °C

Egypt. Whatta day! I only had a 22hr layover in Cairo, but I made the most of it. I booked myself one night at the Pyramids View Inn for only $35. The hotel itself wasn't anything to get excited about, but the view from the rooftop terrace sure was!!!
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Look how tiny the people on horses are in comparison!
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I checked into the hotel at 8am, enjoyed a free breakfast on the rooftop, then literally walked across the street to the pyramids.
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I visited Egypt at a time when no one else was. Everyone thought it was too dangerous to be traveling here, including my own mother. She was sure I was going to die or get taken. *Spoiler alert - I managed just fine. But since tourism was down, the touts around the pyramids were desparate for my business. Actually, it started at the airport already. Taxi drivers refused to drop their prices. Maybe its cuz they badly needed the money, or more likely its because they saw a blonde woman traveling alone and thought she was the perfect target to rip off. I wasted so much time bargaining over a taxi ride to my hotel, but got them down to $20CAD. I only had a day here, so I didn't want to waste any more time arguing with them.

I already knew to beware of all the scams & rip offs going on around the pyramids, and expected myself to be a target since I was alone. But geez, I got ripped off on EVERYTHING! And the worst part was I knew it was happening but couldn't do anything about it. So here is my story on how I paid a small fortune for an afternoon at the pyramids. It should really only cost you $12CAD for admission, and that's it. Walk past everyone trying to sell you everything from souvenirs to camel rides, carriage rides, horse rides, donkey rides, tour guide services ... the list goes on & on. Even if you do want something, like say a camel ride, be warned that you will pay a fortune, the ride will last 5min, and they will also want a tip ... and not just a couple dollars, $10, $15, etc! Its absurd!

Even before I made it to the entrance a man named Mustafa saw me coming. He introduced himself and walked me to the entrance gate, showed me where to purchase my ticket, helped me through security, etc. Again, I knew he'd want a tip. This wasn't Jordan any more where no one asks for tips. This is Egypt, and nothing is free. Mustafa kept walking & talking with me showing me this & that. I had somehow gotten myself a tour guide without wanting one. And I couldn't get rid of him. He kept saying it was free, no charge ... which is code for "but your going to have to give me a huge tip".

Upon arriving at the pyramids I realized they were a lot farther apart than I expected, so I decided to hire a horse and carriage to take me around them. They wanted $40CAD. I thought this was for the whole day, and so I agreed. Nope, turns out it was for 1hr. More on this later.
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So Mustafa jumps in the carriage with me and we head out to the largest pyramid. WOW is it big!!! Standing at the bottom looking up, you cant even see the top! It is 461ft tall ... whereas the Sphinx is only 65ft tall.
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Of course Mustafa just so happened to have a friend waiting by the pyramid that also just so happened to know how to work my camera and "you should give him your camera, he will make nice pictures of you".
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I let him take a few, then checked to make sure they were actually clear. And they were. Since I was solo and didn't have anyone to take photos of me, I figured, what the heck, why not.
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I knew he would ask for a tip. And he did. Well, heres the trick, they don't call it a tip. They tell you its free. Then when they are done, they say "are you happy?" To which I replied yes. Then they say "Ok, now you make me happy" and they hold out their hand for a tip. So don't fall for it! Nothing is actually FREE here! NOTHING! I asked how much, to which they all say the same damn thing "whatever you feel in your heart". So then when I try to give him a few dollars ... he looks at it & scoffs and says, "No. 250 Egytian Pounds". WHAT?! That's $40! I gave him 100p, which was still a rip off and he knew it. Ugh. What happened to "whatever you feel in your heart?'
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Then whadaya know, Mr Photographer just so happens to have a son that can take me on a camel ride around the pyramids. By now I know this is all a set up. They just pass me along to their next 'friend' so that they can all make money off of me. But how do I say no to a camel ride by the pyramids?! This is what I came here for. And so, on a camel I get, lol!
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This is Hemi, who is 13, and already quickly learning how to scam tourists.
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At least unlimited photos were included in the camel ride.
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They tell you that they will take you around the pyramids and to the Sphinx for $40CAD. What they really mean, is that they'll take you to a lookout point over the Sphinx, not actually right up to it. And you don't actually ride around all the pyramids, you only ride past the one you are already at.
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Oh, and surprise surprise, this kid wanted a tip too! And so did the carriage ride guy. Everyone wants $40 to do whatever it is they are offering, plus they want another $40 tip!!!!!! *&!*%@ I couldn't take it anymore and started crying. Not sobbing, just a quivery chin and some silent tears. I was just SO fed up. I only had 1 day here and was trying SO hard to enjoy myself, but being ripped of every 10min just pissed me off! When Mr Photographer saw my tears he felt bad enough to give my money back, saying he would take a cut from his son (camel kid). Well of course you will! I'm sure you took it ALL from your kid, or maybe left him with a dollar! Uuuuggggghhhh! But through crying I at least got some money back, and then they felt bad and took me to feed their camels ... for free, lol!
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After all that drama I find out my carriage ride is done. Um, what?! You still haven't actually taken me to the Sphinx, nor out into the desert to get that perfect shot of all the pyramids lined up in a row! I threw a hissy fit & stomped my foot. Mustafa convinced the carriage guy to take me out into the desert. He agreed, probably cuz he knew I well over-paid for this carriage ride to begin with. Plus, tourism is down, so he's unlikely to get another customer all day.

View from my carriage as we headed out in to the desert.
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FINALLY! This is what I had dreamed of! Standing right here, with this view! I cried again, but this time happy tears. This time cuz I had made a long time dream come true ... by myself. No one helped me plan or pay for this (in fact, many told me not to go), I made this all happen, and it felt great!
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It was just me and some local kids on a field trip out in the desert (what a fabulous place for a field trip!!). They wanted their photo taken with me, so I agreed only if I could take one with them too. I was quite the celebrity with my blonde hair and pasty white skin. You may have noticed that my head scarf turnt into a skirt part way throughout the day. This is because I somehow managed to rip a huge whole in the ass of my linen pants! I had no choice but to use it as a skirt to cover my bum, lol! But by doing so my blonde hair was exposed and drew a lot of attention. Everyone was stopping me wanting a photo with me. Now I know how celebrities feel! At first it was funny, but it got really annoying really fast. Women don't have to cover their heads in Egypt, but if you have blonde hair, I recommend it just to keep the attention off of you.
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Then we headed over to the Sphinx. Hold on to your entrance ticket, cuz you'll need it to get into the enclosed Sphinx area too. You see all those kids in the photo below? ALL of them were following me snapping photos of me when they thought I wasn't looking. I swear I was the first blonde person they'd ever seen. As soon as I sat down to have Mustafa take my photo, all the kids stopped and pretended to be minding their own business. But as soon as I started walking again, they followed.
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The second I entered the Sphinx enclosure there were locals offering to take my photo of me & the sphinx. Its free they say. Ya right! Not falling for that scam again. I just waited until the next tourist came in, and then we took pictures of eachother (which is what I should've done over by the pyramid too).
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Finally I was rid of Mustafa (for a few hours at least - I agreed to let him take me out to a Bedouin camp in the desert for sunset later that day) and had some free time to just wander - which is what I should've been doing this whole time.
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Just before sunset I met up with Mustafa again. He had borrowed his buddy's horse & carriage to take me out there. We went through the slums of Cairo before reaching the edge of the desert. Although absolutely disgusting, it was a real look into the lives of how people in this area live. I can honestly say its the dirtiest/poorest place I've ever seen (and smelt), even more so than Mombasa, Kenya! There was rotting garbage, raw sewage, badly abused & starving animals, and even a dead horse belly up in the piles of trash! All of this baking in the hot, hot sun! You can only imagine the stench!! I had to breath through my mouth in order to not throw up! I didn't feel right taking photos here, as I'm sure these people's lives are miserable enough without having some dumb tourist taking photos of them digging through the mountains of trash searching for food. By the time we finally reached the outskirts of the desert I was in tears yet again. This time cuz what I had seen was just so incredibly overwhelming :(

We didn't go too far into the desert, just far enough to be out of the city, and to have a good view over the pyramids. Bedouins actually live in this camp. They work in Cairo, and then come here to sleep.
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This was definitely a side to Cairo that you don't see in the travel brouchures, or even when you google it. As I sat in camp waiting for the sun to set, I was served mint tea by one of the men living there. I watched the Bedouins coming home at the end of the night.
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The owner of this place noticed me taking photos of his camel & donkey. So he quickly came over and posed the camel any which way I wanted (for a tip of course).
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Cheeeeese!
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Waiting for the sun to go down ... which didn't actually set behind the pyramids like I was hoping. So I got the camel owner to pose his camel again so I could get camel sunset photos instead, lol!
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So there you have it. Although seeing the pyramids was a dream come true, it was a hard day, from dealing with the rip offs, to seeing how the locals live, to just being overwhelmed by the immense size of the pyramids, and the beauty of the desert. I will definitely be back some day to explore the rest of Egypt, but this time I will be prepared for all the scams coming at me, lol! My day ended with me basically emptying out my wallet into Mustafa's hands, lol! He was with me from 8am until sunset ... so of course he wanted a tip for his unwanted 'service'.
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Posted by ChantelleS 11:47 Archived in Egypt Tagged desert ruins egypt africa sphinx pyramids ancient Comments (0)

PETRA, JORDAN

The ancient Red Rose city of Petra!

sunny 35 °C

All who travel to Jordan end up in Petra. And it is for good reason ... its incredible! To be fully honest, I didn't even realize Petra was a real place until 3yrs ago. I had been planning a trip to Egypt and had googled 'day trips near Sinai', and Petra came up (you can take a ferry across the Red Sea to Jordan from Egypt, and then a bus to Petra). I had never heard of Petra, so I clicked on the link. What I saw made my jaw drop! This is where Indiana Jones was filmed! I recognized it immediately!! But all these years I had thought it was fake; a movie set. But it dawned on me then that this was a real place ... and now I just HAD to go! Unfortunately that trip to Egypt was canceled, as that was the same year of the Revolution. Fast forward 3yrs later, and now I'm there!!

If you read my previous post on Jordan, you will know that I was on a week-long tour. Entrance to Petra was included in this tour. Petra is hidden in the sandstone mountains. From the viewpoint over the town of Wadi Musa (below) you would never guess what lay hidden ...
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After you pass the entrance gates, follow the path. If you have a guide, he/she will point out various tombs and carvings along the way, as well as troughs that were part of the irrigation system that brought water into the city.
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A natural shape in the sandstone that looks like an elephant.
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You will eventually come to, and walk through, the Siq, which is a long, narrow gorge that links the outside world to the hidden city of Petra. It is 1.2km long.
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At its narrowest it is 2m, at its widest 6m, and the walls tower up to 200m overhead!
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The Siq seems to go on forever, and at every bend my heart started to beat a little faster in hopes the Treasury would be around the corner! And finally, BAM, there it was in all its glory!!
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Just look at it!!!
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So many intricate details all carved by hand!!
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Those little 'holes' along the side are ancient scaffolding for the Nabataeans who carved Petra into the sandstone 1000s of years ago.
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This is the Treasury guard ... he doesn't seem to be taking his job too seriously, lol!
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Camels were everywhere awaiting riders.
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Cheeeeese!
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The morning was spent with the tour group getting a history lesson, and then we were given the afternoon free to explore on our own.

The entire group chose to make the long hike up to the monastery and back which took them the whole day ... except me. No thanks. In photos the Treasury & Monastery look the same. I wanted to see other things, like the Royal Tombs, and climb up to some viewpoints.

Tombs carved into the sandstone. These are not the Royal Tombs, these are the tombs of middle class people.
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Look at the incredible natural patterns in the rock!! Suhaib (our guide) told us that the pink is iron, yellow is sulphur, and blue is copper. But the colors mix together creating new colors, my favorite being purple.
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Check out the purple sand!
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The amphitheater was cut into the rock, and could hold 3000 spectators.
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And now for the Royal Tombs ...
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Guards
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Hadrian's Arch - where I had a little picnic
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One thing I really wanted to do was figure out how to get to a lookout point over the Treasury. I had seen on a blog a photo of a girl sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Treasury down below, and I wanted the same photo of myself. I asked my guide if he knew where the trail was. He pointed off to the south, but then said it takes 3hrs each way ... which I wouldn't have enough time for. But I could've sworn the blog I read had said it was only a 30min hike. So as I wandered through the ancient city I asked a few Bedouins if they knew of a shortcut. Their had to be one! This guy came to my rescue! He knew exactly where I was talking about, and that there was a shortcut north of the Royal Tombs (the opposite direction my guide had pointed me)! Woohoo!
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He was one of the Bedouins who live within Petra. He said he and his donkey, Shakira, were headed that way and I could follow him. So off we went.
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Stairs, stairs and more stairs!
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Some lookout points over the ancient city as I climbed higher.
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View over the amphitheater.
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Many Bedouins live within Petra, and work selling cold drinks and souvenirs to tourists. They live in caves and small huts, and herd goats & camels. We passed some of their homes along the way.
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It took about 30-40min to reach the viewpoint, and it was worth the climb!
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My Johnny-Depp-from-Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-look-alike Bedouin friend had a hut built atop the cliff overlooking the Treasury. He offered me mint tea and to sit in the shade and listen to stories of life in Petra.
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After about 20min hanging with 'Johnny' I sadly had to leave. I had to meet the rest of the group and catch the bus to our hotel in Wadi Musa. On the walk back down towards the Siq I stopped and checked a few of the souvenirs stands the Bedouins had set up.
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Sand art
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Included in the admission to Petra is a 'free' ride on a horse & carriage either from the entrance, down the Siq, and to the Treasury, or in the reverse direction. I advise you to save it for the end of the day when you are exhausted and don't want to walk 1.2km down the Siq again. I say 'free' cuz theres a $5USD mandatory tip required.
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The Bedouins will ask if you want an air conditioned Ferrari ride ... and then escort you to one of these, lol! I loved listening to the galloping hooves of on-coming 'Ferraris' echoing throughout the Siq :)
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It was a long day, but WOW was it a good one! If you are traveling on your own without a group/tour, I recommend 2 days here. There were so many hikes/trails to go on, and caves/tombs to explore. And also there was no way I would've had time to hike to the Monastery if I had wanted too. You can also visit Petra at night when the Siq and area around the Treasury are lit by candles. I wanted to return at night for this but my feet did not agree, I was completely exhausted! If ever I find myself in Jordan again I will definitely visit Petra by night!

Have I convinced you to visit the Middle East yet? I sure hope I have ;)

Posted by ChantelleS 10:37 Archived in Jordan Tagged desert ruins city red rose asia ancient petra jordam Comments (0)

AMMAN & WADI RUM, JORDAN

Amman, the capital city of Jordan, and the beautiful orange desert of Wadi Rum.

sunny 25 °C

When I announced to my friends & family that I had booked a trip to the Middle East they freaked out! I cant even count how many emails & facebook msgs I received from people telling me I'm crazy to go (cuz I was going solo, just me & my blonde hair), and "Don't you know its not safe?!" This all coming from people who have never actually been there, and most of whom aren't travelers at all. They just see 'scary' things happening in the Middle East, and then assume the WHOLE Middle East is the same - a scary war zone. Well, I'm here to tell you guys that its not true. Unfortunately the news/media wants us to believe one thing, but in reality its another. Also, It may seem like I book my trips on a whim, but I plan each one out for at least a year, reading blogs and msging the bloggers personally with questions, plus reading guide books, etc. If someone who has been there and had first hand experience traveling within a country I plan to visit tells me its not safe, I will listen ... but people who don't ever travel or leave their couch ... not so much. I also keep an eye on the news as well ... but just because something is happening in Syria doesn't mean it affects Jordan in anyway. Google Jordan. Right now. Do it. Nothing bad comes up about this country. Ever.

But since this was my first time to the Middle East, and even though I knew enough not to believe all the crap exaggerated in the news, I still decided to do a 6 day tour of the country with Geckos Tours for only $525 tax inc. Cant go wrong with that price! All my accommodation was inc, as was all breakfasts, transportation, and admission to the sights. The only extras were the other meals and a few optional activities. Joining a tour gave my mother a bit of peace of mind, knowing that I wouldn't be on my own. And if by chance something does happen, the tour is rerouted to avoid the 'danger zone'.

Jordan was the 3rd country of my 5 country / 5 week trip. I flew to Amman, Jordan from Istanbul, Turkey. I read a ton of travel blogs regarding Jordan ... and all said the same thing - that Jordan was safe and super friendly! And they were right, I had nothing to worry about at all!

I arrived in Amman one day prior to my tour beginning. Right off the bat I noticed how friendly the people were ... the customs official was laughing & joking with me! That definitely never happens in other countries, lol! People in the airport were all friendly & helpful leading me to where I could find a taxi. Driving to my hotel, I noticed the city is modern, clean, and people actually drive between the lines!
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The next morning I wandered around Amman, solo. If you had told me yesterday, or any other day of my life, that on this day I would wander around a Middle Eastern city alone, and end up befriending a local Jordanian man and hanging out for hours, I would've laughed at you! But that's exactly what happened today!

My new friend Muhammad
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I was walking around taking a few photos and trying to find my way to the Roman Amphitheatre. A local man noticed me wandering and waved. I waved back, and then decided to approach him and ask him directions to the amphitheatre. He didn't speak much English, and I only know 3 words in Arabic, and so instead of him just pointing randomly, he actually led me all the way there! A 20min walk through the streets, side-streets, up & down flights of stairs, and bazaars of Amman to get there. Through his bad English and my charades, I discovered that he was actually an of-duty police officer, had been married for 4yrs, and had 2 kids and his name was Muhammad. When we arrived at the amphitheatre he climbed to the very top with me. We sat up there taking in the view over the city.
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Then we climbed down, and 2 Palestinian men on vacation in Amman wanted to take a photo with me (as I was the only blonde woman for miles), lol! They spoke great English and we joked around for a bit, and they translated a few things to my new friend. Then he led me all the way back to my hotel! We had spent about 3hrs hanging out at this point. I was thinking to myself how much I should tip him, when he shook my hand and said "Thank you for coming to Jordan, I hope you enjoy your trip", and walked away. That would not have happened in any other country - people want tips for everything! But not in Jordan. Here, the people are truly grateful that you have traveled to their country :) Everywhere I went people where saying "Welcome", rather than "Hello".

As for safety ... well obviously I felt safe otherwise I wouldn't have gone off with Muhammad. Jordan just has some unfortunate neighbors that make it into the news far too often, such as Israel, Syria, Egypt & Saudi Arabia. But none of what is happening in those other countries has leaked into Jordan at all. Had I known it was going to be like this, I wouldn't have bothered signing up for the tour, I would have traveled here solo like I do most other countries. Actually, I did know it was going to be like this, tons of travel blogs told me so ... but I just couldn't believe that a country could be so friendly, and that a country in the Middle East could be so safe. But I'm telling you it is, so if you've dreamt of coming here, don't hesitate any more! Its one of my favorite countries for sure :)

Ok, so now for the tour. Since I was traveling solo, I was paired up with another solo woman. Had there been no other solo women, I would've had a room to myself at no extra cost. You can pay extra to guarantee a private room, but it nearly doubles the cost of the trip. I ended up being paired up with a woman from South Africa (my favorite accent). We got along great, she is just like me - would rather stay up til 1am talking about traveling, rather than partying all night.

One day 1 of the tour we had a quick tour of Amman, with a stop at the amphitheatre (but not enough time to climb to the top and actually enjoy it, so I'm glad I came here the day before with Muhammad), and King Abulla I Mosque (which is across the street from a Coptic Christian church). Our guide, Suhaib, said Jordan is a peaceful country because it tolerates/accepts all religions (evidence of this was clear with the mosque & church being across the street from eachother) unlike a lot of neighboring countries who constantly have Holy wars due to everyone thinking their religion is superior to the next person's.

It took 4hrs to drive from Amman to Aqaba on the Red Sea. We traveled in an 18 seat bus, but there were only 9 of us, so everyone got their own row :) The first 2hrs of scenery were ... well ... nothing. Quite literally. I live in Saskatchewan, and I thought this was the most boring, flat place on earth. But at least we have trees. For 2hrs I didn't see anything. No trees, not even weeds. Just dirt. We did however get to see a man and his herd of camels crossing the street!
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Look at the baby camel! I didnt know camels could be that color!
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At the halfway point we stopped for lunch. The second half of the drive was a lot most scenic as we entered the beautiful mountains. They glowed orange in the sunlight, and changed to red, pink and purple as the sun slowly set. We had a quick stop at a lookout point, and then quickly got back on the bus again to try to make it to Aqaba in time for the sunset.

My Geckos Tours group, minus the guide (he was taking the photo). I would like to point out that of the 9 people in the group, 5 were solo travelers, plus 2 couples. My friends/family think I'm such a weirdo traveling this world alone, but in reality solo traveling is more common that people think. Solo travelers out-numbered the couples on this trip :) (singles on the left, couples on the right)
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But sadly we missed it by about 5min! The sun sets at 430pm here in November!!
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The next morning was an optional snorkel/dive tour in the Red Sea. I had a migraine so I passed. I wont write about Aqaba as I didn't actually get to experience it :( After everyone returned from the Red Sea, and ate lunch, then we hit the road in our bus and headed to the orange desert of Wadi Rum! Admission to the national park, and a 4x4 ride into the dunes was all included in the tour price. The vehicles were actually just old pickup trucks with benches in the back and old blankets for roofs, lol! We were split into 2 groups and put on 2 4x4s. Suhaib tied my sarong on my head like a traditional Jordanian headdress, and away we went!
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I LOVE deserts! I have seen many, but they are always awesome no matter how many times you see them! And Wadi RUm is fabulous cuz it has mountains too! We stopped at the 7 Pillars of Wisdom for a photo op.
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Next stop was a sand dune, where we were given time to all climb to the top for awesome views!
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Look at the top right of this photo - you can see tiny people on top of the dune.
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I love the orange sand!
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Views from the top.
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We arrived at a Bedouin camp where we had the option of taking a camel ride (this was one of those things that costs extra). We all said no - I think we'd all done it before elsewhere. I know I had. Another great thing about Jordan is that the locals dont hassle you to buy stuff. They ask you once if you would like a camel ride, you politely decline, the end. Now if this was Mexico ...
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Near the camp there were 2100yr old rock carvings! Cute little camels :)
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Next up was another Bedouin camp where we were served some yummy tea! Sage, cardamom, and cinnamon, delicious :)
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And lastly, we stopped at a cliff to climb to the top to watch the sunset :)
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My roommate Leonara enjoying the sunset.
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It was a long ways down! Everyone else climbed up & down the cliff no problem. I on the other hand have fractured both of my ankles in the past, so they are now weak and roll easily. I thought for sure I was going to sprain an ankle ... But I made it!
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Thats it for the fabulous Wadi Rum! I hope I have inspired you to travel to the Middle East! I absolutely enjoyed my time in Jordan, and not once felt unsafe. Even with my blonde hair uncovered. Jordan is more modern than you think. In the big cities a lot of women dress just like Western women - jeans & tshirts, heads uncovered. Its not until you get out into the country-side where woman are a bit more conservative. But not once was I harassed for what I was wearing. I was only smiled at and welcomed to Jordan dozens of times :)

Next up is PETRA - my whole reason for visiting Jordan :)

Posted by ChantelleS 16:56 Archived in Jordan Tagged cliffs desert sand rock dune jordan wadi rum bedouin Comments (0)

NAMIB DESERT, NAMIBIA

Sand dunes, camel trekking, chameleons & many other desert critters

sunny 22 °C

At the southern edge of Swakopmund is Desert Xplorers. From there I rented a camel and went on a short trek into the desert. For $300 Namibian Dollars ($37 Canadian) I rode a camel for 45min in to the desert. (There were various options for shorter / longer treks too).
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My grumpy camel!
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A hug made him happier :)
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Cheeeeeeese!
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If you've never rode a camel before, its definitely something to cross off your bucket list, but let me warn you, it'll be the most uncomfortable ride of your life!
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Another day I went on a 4x4 jeep safari, booked threw Living Desert Tours. I did the half day tour for $600 Namibian Dollars ($75 Canadian). My guide was Chris, who was fantastic, and an expert on all things desert-y.
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The Namib Desert is massive. Over 2000km long! A single dune can be up to 32km long & 980ft high!!!! I would have really loved to have gone to Sossuvlei (where those really, really big dunes are), but only having 3 days here, I only had time to visit the 'small' dunes of Dorob National Park (the outskirts of the Namib, between Swakopmund & Walvis Bay). If you've never seen sand dunes before, the 450ft tall dunes here are still incredibly impressive!!
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'Road' through the dunes.
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This is Chris with a Horned Adder, an incredibly venomous snake!
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I cant remember the name of this dune beetle, but it stands on its head in the early morning so that the dew runs down its back and into its mouth. Clever.
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An itty bitty Shovel Snouted Lizard
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Scrub Hare. We also saw a jackal, but I didnt get a photo of it.
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My fave desert discovery was this pregnant Namaqua Chameleon!!!
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Curly chameleon tail :)
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Chris put a worm in his hand, and the chameleon climbed right in! A completely wild chameleon! We also got to see her change from light pink to dark grey right before our eyes! Amazing!
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Then Chris put a second worm in his other hand so we could watch her super long, super fast tongue in action!
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Then he put the chameleon back on the sand, and placed another worm a few feet away, and we watched as she stalked her prey, lol.
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Her tongue was just too fast! i couldnt capture it!
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Chris had an amazing way of finding creatures out in the desert! When you look at the the dunes, all you see is sand. But we'd be driving along in the jeep, and all of a sudden he'd slam it into park, jump out, run up a dune and start digging, and voila ... an adorable Palmetto Gecko!
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He even got his very own photoshoot :)
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I absolutely love the patterns & ripples in the sand!
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We made a stop at the base of a 450ft sand dune, took off our shoes, and all ran to the top!
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Views from the top ...
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Our last stop was atop a dune overlooking the Atlantic Ocean ... world's biggest beach thats for sure!!! You can barely see the road, but that is the hwy from Swakopmund to Walvis Bay, and onward to the airport. Quite a scenic drive with sand dunes & ocean the whole way!
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That's it for Namibia. Three days is most definitely not enough time. I only saw a tiny portion of this amazing country. Some day I hope to return and see the massive dunes at Sossuvlei, Fish Canyon, visit the Skeleton Coast, hike in Spitzkoppe, and go on safari in Etosha. Still so much to see & do there!
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Posted by ChantelleS 21:25 Archived in Namibia Tagged desert wildlife sand safari lizard dune jeep gecko chameleon Comments (0)

SWAKOPMUND, NAMIBIA

A beautiful town with old colonial architecture, flamingos, stunning sunsets, and the Himba tribe.

sunny 23 °C

From Johannesburg, South Africa I flew direct to Swakopmund, Namibia. I was sad to leave South Africa, but very excited to be heading to Namibia ... I love moving around when I travel, cuz when one adventure is ending, a new one is just beginning ;) Arrving in Swakopmund and stepping out of the airport, the first thing you see is sand dunes! It was instant love!!
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I had a very short time in Namibia, only 3 nights, which I spent at the Sandcastle Apartments in Swakopmund, located only 2 blocks from the beach! The drive from the airport to Swakopmund is a very scenic 45min ... Atlantic Ocean on the left, endless sand dunes on the right :)
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My patio door opening to a nice terrace
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It had a full kitchen with dishes and all appliances. The nice owners kindly showed me to the nearest grocery store.
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Living room ... it had a tv, free wifi , and A/C
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The town is incredibly clean! I didnt see a piece of trash / litter anywhere! For real! The downtown area had a lighthouse and beautiful colonial buildings.
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The houses were surprisingly modern - sharp edges, angled roofs, loads of windows, and very large! I wasnt expecting that at all! This is not a store, Its a house!!
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There is a paved path that runs parallel to the ocean. It went on forever. Everyday I took the scenic path from my apartment all the way to the lighthouse. I never timed the walk, but its probably a 20-30min leisurely walk. Along the path are public beach areas, public washrooms, beautiful flower gardens, restaurants, etc. Locals & tourists alike were walking / jogging, kids were riding bikes, ppl walking their dogs, etc. I felt 1000% safe here! I forgot to take a photo of the paved path, but here are some photos of a path threw one of the flowered areas to get to it.
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Near the lighthouse were some women & children dressed like members of the Himba tribes that live in northen Namibia. Whether or not they are actual tribe members, or just in costume, I'm not sure, but I really wanted to visit this tribe and knew I didnt have time to travel north, so I paid a few dollars to buy a souvenir from them and was then allowed to take as many photos of them as I wanted.
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This tribe is known for covering their skin & hair with otjize - a mixture of ochre & butter fat.
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If you keep walking past the lighthouse, heading south, you will come to a lagoon on the edge of town full of flamingos!! I've always wanted to see flamingos in the wild! (Theres also flamingos at the beach in Walvis Bay).
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So beautiful, yet so awkward when taking off, lol!!
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Mama flamingo with her babies.
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I just love their colors!
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Mama Cormorant and all her babies.
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Swakopmund faces west, so every evening I walked the few minutes from my apartment to the beach to watch the sunset ... a wonderful place to take everything in, and just be thankful I'm in such a wonderful place!
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Sunset view from my apartment window :)
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Posted by ChantelleS 20:25 Archived in Namibia Tagged sea desert ocean trek sand africa namibia lion jeep flamingo chameleon Comments (0)

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