The Arabian Desert offers magnificent vistas of a vast expanse of endless sands. But despite the scenic landscapes, most visitors are always pleased to discover an oasis amidst this dry wilderness. The city of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates is one such oasis. The port is nestled at the base of the Hajar mountain range on the Gulf of Oman. Fujairah receives more rainfall than most of the region as a result of the mountains and the easterly winds bringing warm, moist air from the Indian Ocean. This climate helps create the numerous valleys in Fujairah, known as wadis, which function as dry riverbeds that fill with water during the rains. The climate also impacts the coastline extending north, which features some of the best beaches in the area.
As Nautica recently departed the Mediterranean and sailed for Asia, the ship transited the Suez Canal and paid a visit to Aqaba, Jordan’s only seaport. This region north of the Red Sea boasts a rich history and several archaeological digs, as Aqaba’s location made it a major junction for historic trade routes between Africa, Asia and Europe.
Oceania Cruises guests enjoyed an excursion from Aqaba to the hidden city of Petra. This trip illuminated Jordan’s ancient past as well as some stories from more recent history. The motorcoach route traced the path of the World War I adventures of T.E. Lawrence, a British Army officer instrumental in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. An archaeological researcher prior to the outbreak of war, Lawrence was side-by-side with Arab rebels and helped lead the attack on Aqaba. With the seaport secure, Lawrence and the Arabs conducted various exercises throughout the region that would eventually lead them to Damascus. Lawrence later wrote about the exploits, and his tales ultimately inspired the movie Lawrence of Arabia.
Photographs of Petra might indeed remind you of a movie set, as you may have seen it in films before. Even though Lawrence of Arabia was not ultimately filmed in Jordan, various movies have used the region as their backdrop. The structure carved into the vibrant red cliff below is known as Al Khazneh, or “The Treasury.” Various legends indicate it was a repository for either pirates’ loot or the bounty of Egyptian Pharaohs. You might recognize it as the temple featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Ad-Deir is known as “The Monastery” and can be seen in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Regardless of whether they’ve been featured in film, all the sights of Petra are astounding and worthy of a visit if you have the opportunity. The entrance to the Great Temple dates back over 2,000 years and features both Roman and Byzantine enhancements.
Archaeological projects have unearthed a Byzantine church with a number of fascinating mosaics.
Natural rock formations provided the infrastructure for aqueducts and cisterns that enabled Petra to not only survive, but even prosper through drought. The Nabataean people established Petra as their capital around the sixth century BC, and their control of the water supply here led them to thrive in this desert oasis.
Petra’s vast stone cliffs not only served as the raw material for the rock-cut architecture, they also provided a means of creating permanent records.
The final stop on Oceania Cruises’ excursion was the magnificent amphitheater carved into the hillside.
The journey to Petra was certainly a memorable one, and it is easy to understand why many travelers have rated Petra amongst the world’s must-see destinations.
Nautica has now crossed the Indian Ocean en route to explore the wonders of Asia, but her adventures in Africa will not soon be forgotten. One of the most colorful and vibrant places visited was the island of Madagascar. As Nautica bids Africa farewell, enjoy the photos below of encounters with local people, local culture, and local wildlife.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the photos of Nautica’s African adventures, and we thank Susie Heller and Tom Stauffer for sharing them!
One of the greatest pleasures of an Oceania Cruise can be the opportunity to meet local people and experience local culture in exotic ports the world over. Nautica guest and frequent lecturer, Susie Heller, shared her photos of a recent visit to the home and gallery of local Maputo artist, Malangatana Ngwenya. The artist’s son, pictured below, was actually their tour guide. What an amazing and personal experience!
This glimpse into the life and work of an African artist was an unforgettable experience!
Guests onboard Nautica recently explored the many wonders of the KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa. Above is a stunning photo of Howick Falls. Pictured below are sculptors creating the famous Ardmore ceramics. Begun by Fee Halsted on a farm in KwaZulu-Natal, the studio now employees about 80 freelance artists who create original and uniquely South African ceramics shown in galleries worldwide.
Guests also explored the Hluhluwe Game Reserve and met members of a Zulu tribe for an opportunity to learn more about Zulu culture.
The adventures continue in the next port, Maputo!