These photographs were taken on a day trip to Petra during a cruise around the northern part of the Red Sea and along the Gulf of Suez.
Following an overnight berth at Aqaba the fleet of coaches made an early start for the two hour plus journey to the lost city of Petra.
During ancient times Aqaba was the main port for shipments from the Red Sea to the Far East. In modern times the port and industrial activity remains important to the area, with exports including phosphate and some shells. The town is also the administrative centre for the far south of the country.
Leaving Aqaba the journey to Petra was mainly desert whilst on the main highway to Amman, before ascending to more interesting, albeit obscured at times by low cloud, mountainous landscape. Upon reaching the city, we joined the many other tourists who had arrived earlier that morning!
Access to the archaeological site on the slope of Mount Hor is along a dusty and winding track of some 2km in length as it descends through a narrow gorge (the Siq) of varying and impressive coloured sandstone rock, whereupon you glimpse your first sighting of Al Khazneh (the Treasury).
After negotiating a way through the now hordes of tourists trapped in in a confined area, the track continued its descent past the large theatre, apparently placed to bring the greatest number of tombs within view, before opening out onto the plain. Given the restricted time on site, we opted to climb to the Urn Tomb with its deep courtyard and colonnades on two sides. The high vantage point offered excellent views of the area, an appreciation of scale and to take in the impressive landscape with its vibrant coloured rock.
The one building that I would like to have seen was Al-Deir (The Monastery) but this involved a lengthy walk and steep climb, which did not fit within available time. The return trek to the coach park seemed somewhat steeper in places than during the descent, but benefited from less tourists and more time to take in the views from a different perspective ....
Overall, a worthwhile and enjoyable trip, complementing previous trips to see Egyptian temples and tombs along the Nile and the magnificence of the ancient Greek city of Ephesus in Turkey.
Picture: The Flagpole in Aqaba, is the second tallest free standing flagpole in the world at a height of 137m and weighs 172 tons. The polyester flag, which can be seen from Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, is 90 x 30m and thought to weigh around 400 Kg