The Tsingy in Tsingy National Park of Bemaraha, Madagascar represent not only a rock formation endemic to Madagascar but also one of few rock forests found around the world. The Tsingy represent a maze of multi-tiered gray limestone finely carved by tropical acid rain into sharp pointy tops. Their sides resembling machined corduroy. Erosive acid rain rivers have carved canyons through these rocks to create a maze of rock one can walk, climb or crawl through. They are so unique to Madagascar that the Malagasy words for tiptoe are “Me Tsingy Tsingy” for how the locals would have to walk through these areas (on their toes). It is also one of the most expensive places in Madagascar, hard to get to and well worth the visit.
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I found Petra a strange combination of a UNESCO heritage site, a circus and Yosemite Valley. It is truly a special place with dozens of impressively constructed stone entrances, beautiful rock, hundreds of abandoned carved homes and great views. This co-mingling with the loud Arabic shouts of men managing donkeys, tourists boasting excited screams as they rise on camels, kids asking me to buy trinkets or post cards and clopping donkey carts pushing through a barely wide enough canyon. In reality, I understand this my own perpetual conflict between popular tourist attraction environments and my own pristine wilderness ethics. Local people are simply trying to make a living and give the average tourist the experience they expect. I try hard to push past this so it doesn’t hamper my enjoyment of these really unique and amazing places of the world.
Jordan may be known for Petra, but within an hour of the country’s capital of Amman sits many fantastic archeological sites stretching back thousands of years. A few desert castles to the east, a massive Roman settlement to the north and even an ancient citadel and Roman theatre in the city center.
Each destination worthy of a couple hours walk with plentiful guides and historical description placards in both Arabic and English (the second official language). Better even with the great deal from the Jordan Pass which provides access to all these sites, waives the traveler’s visa fee and includes entrance to Petra. Let me take you on a tour.
After reading the sign marking Golden Dome I walk down an asphalt trail one hundred feet until I reach my destination: a steel ladder protruding out of a 3 ft wide opening in the ground. Looking down into the hole, there is nothing but darkness outside the small bit of visible rock floor illuminated by the entrance sunlight.