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Day Trip to Petra: Jordan’s Epic “Lost City”

Day Trip to Petra: Jordan’s Epic “Lost City”

January 12th. 1 pm. Petra, Jordan. It flourished as an ancient civilization for over 500 years. Then, forgotten by the outside world, it faded into obscurity and disappeared off the map for centuries. It’s best known for Indiana Jones’ famous ride through its canyon walls on his quest for the long-lost Holy Grail. Where is this ancient city? It’s Petra, the lost (and rediscovered) “Rose City” in Jordan. Our journey to Petra began at the very early hour of 3 am….

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Into the Wilderness of Egypt: Climbing Mount Sinai

Into the Wilderness of Egypt: Climbing Mount Sinai

January 10. 3 pm. The summit of Mount Sinai, Egypt. I’m sitting at the top of a mountain I’ve only ever read about…and certainly never thought I’d climb. From this vantage point, I can see a huge portion of the Sinai Peninsula. I can also see the wide open plain where Moses, Aaron, and the ancient Israelites camped at the base of the mountain over 3,000 years ago. In every direction, nothing but desert spreads out before me. The landscape…

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The Temple of Karnak and Luxor: Where Time Stands Still

The Temple of Karnak and Luxor: Where Time Stands Still

January 8. 4 pm. Luxor. I’m sitting on the deck of an old-fashioned felucca, the same sailing boats Egyptians have used for thousands of years. Our captain, Saleh, works with his first mate to unfurl the sails and push the tiny boat into the Nile’s mighty current. There’s no motor on this boat, which means it’ll be slow going today. But that’s okay. There’s nothing we want to do for the next hour except lay back, drink some karkade (hibiscus…

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Mummies, Museums, and Mosques: Touring Old Cairo

Mummies, Museums, and Mosques: Touring Old Cairo

January 5th. 8am. Somewhere between Cairo to Aswan. I’m sitting on the overnight sleeper train, a few hours away from our destination of Aswan in southern Egypt. We (wisely) decided to upgrade from seats to a private sleeper, which includes two bunk-style beds, two meals, our own sink, and total privacy. It was an investment well worth it! Aside from being a little chilly (as Egypt is this time of year), it was a very pleasant way to pass the…

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Saqqara, Memphis, and the Pyramids – Touring Ancient Egypt

Saqqara, Memphis, and the Pyramids – Touring Ancient Egypt

January 4th. 5 am. Cairo, Egypt. I’m listening to the call to the prayer (the first of five for the day) from the nearby mosques. Through the walls of the hotel room, the beautiful, haunting sound reverberates loudly, assuring everyone is awake. Well, not to worry – with the jetlag, I was already wide awake anyway. I’m sitting in what’s arguably the softest, most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. The funny thing is that the 3-star hotel we’re staying…

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Spectacular Ko Phi Phi: The Jewel of the Andaman Sea

Spectacular Ko Phi Phi: The Jewel of the Andaman Sea

The brilliant sunlight warms your skin as you make your way to the bow of the ferry. You inhale a deep breath of salty sea air and sigh, gazing out at the crystal clear waters of the Andaman Sea and the tiny green islands on the horizon. You pause along the railing and take a sip of sweet, creamy Thai iced tea – probably your third one of the day – and think again how lucky you are to be…

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Sherpa’s Challenge: A Secret Tour of the Great Wall

Sherpa’s Challenge: A Secret Tour of the Great Wall

If I were to tell you that this elderly woman led us on a 6-mile hike up a steep mountain trail and across the Great Wall of China, would you believe me? Well, time to start believing, because you’re looking at the face of our fearless leader! Despite the jet lag, we awoke at 6:30am to prepare for our much-anticipated “Secret Wall Tour.” The specialty of Leo Hostel, the tour promised to take us to an isolated section of the…

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