The nine hour voyage from Nuweiba, in
The next morning we found out we had to put our clocks on another hour because of Jordan Summer Time which is CET + 1 hour. We soon caught a bus from outside the site into Aqaba at a cost of 0.5JD (0.55€, £0.37) and enjoyed a new shopping experience, no more being hassled to “come into my shop”, a good lunch at Ali Baba’s Restaurant and we met Radif who was an extra in the film Lawrence of Arabia and could not wait to show us his memorabilia.
There are three ways north from Aqaba, The Dead Sea road, the desert road and the King’s Highway. Initially we took the desert road to Wadi Rum, having made a brief diversion to the local Safeway supermarket. The Fiat that had first broken down was having major problems again and was seeking help in Aqaba but when it caught us up it had developed a major diesel leak.
We spent a day exploring the wonders of Wadi Rum in some Bedouin Jeeps, plus we enjoyed a great walk and some fantastic bird watching seeing especially the Egyptian Vulture launching off the high cliff faces. It is in places like this that motorhomes are unbeatable, camped right in the heart of Wadi Rum at the edge of the small Bedouin village surround by the most magnificent scenery you could ask for. How else could you cook kippers and poached eggs for breakfast in this location? (Sadly they were the last from our small freezer!).
The next day we planned to drive the 125kms (80m) to
Duly rested we were ready to explore the wonders of
After a truly fascinating, puzzling and tiring day we returned to our hotel for a good nights sleep. The following day I spent some time checking our vehicle; oil, water, tyres, batteries etc. before enjoying another long Turkish bath. The news about the Fiat was encouraging a new diesel pump had been fitted and the leak cured. After a day of comparative rest we continued along the King’s Highway towards the Christian town of
From Madhaba we went the short ride to
From Jerash we drove north to the Syrian border on the road to
Already thinking about a trip to
From Krak we descended down to the valley below and drove north to
At the border the most important thing was to get our carnet stamped showing our exit date so that we could get our cash deposit back. Unfortunately the border was chaotic and we were forced to join a queue of dozens of trucks. Nothing was moving and talking to a few of the drivers it was clear that it would take them 5 days to get through to Turkey because of problems caused to normal trade routes by the Iraq war. We were then told that unless we moved quickly we would be trapped for 3 days as the exit was being closed. The only thing was to try the other way and go through the other entry gates, this seemed to work but the narrow road through the 8kms of no mans land turned out to be a double queue of trucks, some trying to leave and others trying to enter. There gap between the trucks was just a few inches and it seemed impossible to make any headway.
However a few smiles and hand gestures and hey presto a small gap opened and we started the drive of a lifetime, if the wing mirrors could get through then so could the rest of our van. Truck driver’s who were going to be there for up to 5 days anyway were most co-operative, and most moved just enough for us to pass. When we reached the point where the driver had disappeared we were forced to head for the small hard shoulder, ensuring the we did not fall into the ditch, then we got back into the middle “lane” again. When we thought we nearly had the problem solved we met, head on, a group of Australians doing exactly the same thing after some heated negotiations they pulled in between two trucks so that we could pass. After nearly 2 hours we made it to the Turkish frontier. Inside
Whilst this was not the end of our trip it is the end of this story. We thoroughly enjoyed the 5 months that the whole trip took and would encourage others to do the same magical circle through North Africa and the