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The 'Inca Trail' of the Middle East

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Petra (Photo: Index Open)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 8, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, arts and culture, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chile and Easter Island, eco travel, Greenland, Jordan, Laos, Molly Feltner, mountain, Nepal, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand, Utah, wildlife.

Provider: KE Adventure Travel
Length: 9 days
Price: $1,190

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy goes on an epic journey through a desert that ends at a temple carved into the walls of a canyon. There he finds the Holy Grail and [SPOILER ALERT!] defeats the Nazis. Director Steven Spielberg chose the 2,300-year-old ancient city of Petra in Jordan to evoke the awe and mystery of the Grail's final resting place. Nowadays, Petra draws flocks of tourists, the vast majority of which arrive by bus and then walk to the site. Approached this way, Petra is still dazzling, but much of the journey's magic is lost.

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Next spring, however, trekking leaders KE Adventure Travel will begin running a multi-day trek to Petra, following a kind of Middle Eastern Inca Trail. "What makes this a special trip is that it is the only continuous trek in Jordan," says KE Director Peter Rudy. "[It] goes through some of the wildest country in Jordan and arriving at Petra on foot is of course a very exciting end to the journey."

Starting in the Dana Nature Reserve, you'll follow old hunters' trails through country described by T.E. Lawrence as "vast, echoing, and God-like." At night, you'll camp Bedouin-style under clear star-filled skies. Finally, you'll arrive at Petra in the morning light and spend a full day exploring.

"It is a vast, unique city, carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled there more than 2,000 years ago," says Rudy. Before heading home, you'll also visit the Dead Sea and Mt. Nebo, the rumored burial place of Moses.

Trip planning

Departures run on March 29 and October 18, 2008, and April 11, 2009. The trip cost includes airport transfers and ground transportation, accommodations, meals, supported trekking, entrance fees, and guides. Airfare to Amman, Jordan, is not included. Round-trip airfare for spring flights between New York and Amman start at $1,031 including taxes on US Airways.

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