Smithsonian Journeys Dispatches

Photo: Not Your Usual Mid-Winter Stroll….

After graduating from London University with a degree in biology, lan Felstead took a summer job helping British tourists find their way around in Tuscany. This work ignited a lifelong passion for travel, and he has worked in the travel industry ever since. Today, his work with our partner Cross Culture Journeys takes him around the world. Here, he discusses Petra.

Variegated sandstone burial chambers at Petra. Photo: Paul Cowan

This winter, swap your overcoat for a sun hat and take a stroll through the natural canyons of the 2,000 year-old rose-red city of Petra, Jordan. Carved out of the solid rock by the ancient Nabateans, it became a fabulously wealthy city–only to be lost to outsiders for more than a millennium, and re-"discovered" by Europeans in 1812. Now it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most impressive tourist destinations in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

What was the fate of this hauntingly beautiful place? How did the Nabateans become so wealthy in the inhospitable desert? Why was Petra finally deserted, and left perfectly intact?

Learn about such destinations as Petra on our small-ship Red Sea cruise this coming January. Accompanied by Smithsonian Journeys Study Leader Kenneth Perkins, as well as expert Egyptologists and guides, gain a new understanding of the history, the treasures, and the contemporary culture of the mesmerizing and contrasting lands of Egypt and Jordan.

So leave the hat and scarf behind, and enjoy a sunshine-filled tour of discovery this winter–and if you book by December 15, receive a free airfare bonus!

Click for our Ancient Civilizations of the Red Sea tour.

Which UNESCO World Heritage Site would you want to visit?