Thursday, March 20 – Day 12
What a spectacular day! It was a brilliantly sunny day, with perfect temperatures for Petra and Wadi Rum! We started out from the hotel at 7:30 a.m. Walking into the entrance of this ancient Nabataean city was awesome. While some took the horse-drawn buggies, others walked through the “Siq” (canyon) into the city itself. The “Treasury” (the famous monument/tomb in the last Indiana Jones movie) awaited us. The red-rose sandstone of the canyon walls and many of the tombs was incredible. Mo, our guide, shared with us a little Nabataean history and a quick summary of Petra.
Walking further into the city, we saw numerous tombs (there are about 1,100 in total in this 40 square mile city), a Roman theater (the only one cut into the side of the cliff, one that could hold 4,000 people), and the Roman street. Some enjoyed coffee while viewing the famous Urn tomb, while others hiked to the “Monastery” tomb at the far western edge of the city (a walk of about 2.5 miles). This was an uphill climb of about 850 steps.
Walking back from the Monastery (downhill) was followed by 5 of us with a hike up to the “High Place.” The view from up top was wonderful, allowing us to see a large part of the city below.
All of us got back to the hotel by 1:45, allowing us to load the bags and drive 1.5 hours south to Wadi Rum. Upon arriving, we enjoyed about a 2 hour jeep ride, including a time of quietness as well as a time of listening to praise music as the sun set to the west.
We stayed the night at “Captains Desert Camp,” in Bedouin tent accommodations. We enjoyed a unique dinner, followed by a special time of worship out into the desert. Sitting on a sand dune, we gazed into the heavens, with the stars brilliantly shining above, reminding us of the promise made to Abraham (Gen. 12). We slept in tents. While the accommodations were humble (we each had our own tents), it was a great and unique encounter!
Friday/Saturday, March 21-22 – Day 13-14
We woke up early, with some enjoying the sunrise here in Wadi Rum. It was sure a unique experience staying here last night. After breakfast, we packed the bus and drove to the Aravah “Rabin” Border near the Red Sea. Crossing back into Israel was fairly easy but a little longer than usual. We were greeted by Gili, our Israeli driver, and Eli, our guide for the day.
Our first stop was Timnah, a unique national park in the heart of the southern desert of Israel. Here we saw a full-size Tabernacle model, giving us a great perspective of the OT Tabernacle used in the Sinai wandering and in places like Shechem, Shiloh, and Gibeon prior to the building of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Timnah was an ancient copper mine throughout the early days of the OT, even perhaps in the days of Solomon. Before leaving Timnah, we also enjoyed a short hike around a natural rock formation called “Solomon’s Pillars.”
Driving north towards Beersheba, we passed through the Wilderness of Zin. This was the route that the 12 spies took when they explored this “land of milk and honey” (Numbers 13). It was Joshua and Caleb who came back to Moses with a favorable report.
Passing Beersheba (and the ancient tel, Genesis 21 & 27), we continued north and west towards Tel Aviv. Passing by Gath (where Goliath was from) and the Elah Valley, we read the story from 1 Samuel 17 about the battle between David and this Philistine Giant. We finally arrived at a restaurant along the Med Sea. We got there just in time for a marvelous sunset over the water. After dinner we drove to the airport, proceeded through ticketing and security, and boarded the plane for our night flight home. We arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday morning for our connecting flights/rides home
It was a great trip! We praise God for His traveling mercies and the life-changing encounters we experienced on this trip!