Reprinted from Aqaba Seasons Spring 2020, Published by Al Marji’ Publications

Many flocked to Aqaba with the opening of local tourism. Chances are you did too or plan to soon. But how well do you know this Red Sea port city and its surrounding desert gems?

1. Snorkelling while conserving the sea

With Aqaba’s coastline of beautiful beaches, you can swim with colourful fish and explore the waters of the Red Sea all while protecting this environment and its inhabitants. The  Snorkelling for a Clean Sea experience involves picking up waste that has accumulated among the coral reefs. Aqabawi, which provides innovative experiences and services in Aqaba, will brief you on best practices as you gear up for a guided tour of the Red Sea marine life, complete with underwater photography. Then you’ll enjoy a traditional meal cooked on the beach and served with Arabian herbal tea. A visit to the Aqaba Aquarium is a must with its many exhibits of fish and corals.

2. Date molasses making experience

Date molasses is frequently used as a sweetener in Middle Eastern recipes and now you can make your own! Through the Aqabawi programme, you can be picked up from your hotel or hostel. On entering a local home?, you will be welcomed with Arabic coffee and given a  brief introduction to date molasses. A  chef will then guide you through the process of making date molasses. You’ll get to take it home with you after first enjoying herbal tea with the chef’s family.

3. Authentic cooking class with locals

Sayadiya (a fish and rice dish) and Bukhari (a chicken and rice dish) are two of the most famous local dishes in Aqaba and stand out for their unique flavourful spices. Experience making it and eating it with a local family at their home. All the logistics are taken care of by Aqabawi.

4. JETT buses and tours

JETT Tours, especially its Golden Triangle tours (Aqaba-Petra-Wadi Rum), are popular. JETT buses pick you up and return you to your destination. You can tour Wadi Rum by jeep and see the dunes up close whilst taking in the clean desert air. JETT  programmes include nine trips to and from Aqaba, Petra and Wadi Rum in addition to the Golden Triangle tours.

5. Camel riding

Another highlight of JETT tours is camel riding; experience the exhilarating feeling of gliding between mountains and valleys on the undulating back of the ship of the desert. Make time for the unique stargazing experience, where millions of stars are visible in the night sky because of the natural surroundings, far from city lights.

6. Colourful dot-art

This type of decorative art entered Arab culture recently. Colourful patterns or images are created by placing small dots or points of colour together rather than using solid lines or brush strokes. This technique can be used to decorate books, stones or home furniture. You can now learn how to apply Arabic patterns and designs on stones or flat wooden coasters, using the dot art technique in this 90 minutes session with a local artist. Don’t forget to take your final masterpiece home! Contact Aqabawi for more information.

7. Bird watching in Aqaba

Due to its clement weather in winter, Aqaba is a natural destination and resting point for migrating birds. Run by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (JREDS), the Ayla Bird Observatory in Aqaba is a bird sanctuary. The artificially created wetland is host to a variety of species of birds that use the area as a stopping-off point on the great bird migrations between Asia, Africa and Europe. The bird observatory is home to all types of migrating birds, including rare species and even endangered ones. You can walk around a cluster of lakes where you can enjoy bird watching. Several rare bird species were registered for the first time in Jordan like the whimbrel, the little tern and the ternstone.

8. Petra by night

For a special daily tour, JETT transports you, in full comfort, to Petra with the option to enjoy Petra by night. Lit by around 2,000 candles around you (something missing here) after you explore and enjoy the Treasury and the trails leading from the Siq to the far reaches of this ancient city carved into the rocky mountain.    

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