Tourists traveling to Jordan, Israel benefit from emerging peace in Middle East


September 11, 1994|By New York Times News Service

Q: Now that Israel and Jordan are on the verge of peace, what are the prospects of traveling to the ruins of the Nabatean city of Petra in January 1995? Will one be able to enter Jordan at Aqaba after visiting Eilat?

A: A border crossing point between Eilat and Aqaba for the use of tourists from a third country only was opened early last month. To use the border point, known as Arava, tourists must have a passport valid for at least six months. The visitors must also be prepared to spend at least one night in Jordan if they cross from Israel.

Israel and Jordan have agreed to recognize each other's passport stamps. But many Arab countries refuse entry to visitors with an Israeli stamp, so ask the Israeli authorities to put their stamp on a separate piece of paper if you intend to visit other parts of the Arab world.

The crossing at the border point, about two and a half miles north of Eilat, is by foot. Tourists arriving in an Israeli vehicle will complete the security, border police and customs formalities and transfer to a Jordanian vehicle on the other side. The same procedure will be followed by visitors arriving from Jordan.

Private vehicles owned by the visitor and registered in a third country can cross from either direction.

The crossing point, which is considered a temporary location, will be open Sunday to Thursday all year. Initially the opening hours will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the long-term hours to be agreed upon later. No entry or exit fees will be charged.

And what, beside such wonders as Petra, can you expect to see in the near future as a result of the new agreement?

According to the Israeli Ministry of Tourism office in New York, there will be a Red Sea "Riviera" and a "Lowest Point on Earth Park." An Israeli spokeswoman said construction on these and other joint projects was expected to start "in the very near future," adding that all that was standing in the way was final agreement on a timetable.

The "Riviera" will be a promenade running along the Gulf of Aqaba from Aqaba to Eilat and will be open only to pedestrians and light vehicles, such as bicycles. It will offer amenities such as cafes and restaurants as well as sites for buying tickets to local tourist attractions.

The "Lowest Point on Earth Park" will cover an area around the Dead Sea linking Jordan and Israel with health spas and visitors' centers providing information on such things as historical and archaeological sites and the region's cultural heritage.

Other plans call for an underwater park for which the Red Sea's coral reef would be mapped and declared a nature reserve and the creation of a Spice Trail Park linking the Nabatean cities of Avdat, Shivta and Mamshit in Israel and Petra in Jordan and the Ramon Crater.

There are also plans for expanded Red Sea activities such as triangular sailing among Israel, Jordan and Egypt, as well as windsurfing across the three nations' borders.

Q: I am interested in joining an educational tour group planning a trip to Greece next spring. Can you provide information about such groups? A tour geared to older travelers would be fine.

A: There are abundant educational tours of Greece. Here are a few that are planned for next spring:

* Classical Cruises, which arranges voyages with sponsoring educational institutions, has an Undiscovered Greek Islands cruise, co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, April 30 to May 13, starting at $6,845 a person, based on double occupancy, on the all-suite Queen Odyssey (the former Royal Viking Queen). The itinerary includes Athens, Nauplia, Seriphos, Siphnos, Naxos, Amorgos, Astypalaia, Leros, Patmos, Chios, Skopelos, Thasos and Samothrace. The guest lecturer has not yet been confirmed.

Classical Cruises, 132 E. 70th St., New York, N.Y. 10021; (212) 794-3200 or (800) 252-7745.

* Elderhostel, a nonprofit educational organization based in Boston, runs programs for travelers 60 and older combining classwork with field trips; there are about 20 trips to Greece departing from March to May. Accommodations are generally in modest local hotels with private baths.

Elderhostel's 18-night Ancient World of Greece program, in cooperation with the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, visits major sites in the capital, Eleusis, Corinth, the island of Aegina, Nauplia, Mycenae, Epidaurus and Crete. The price of $3,080 a person, double occupancy, includes air fare from New York, room and board.

There are several departure dates, including April 7. Some Elderhostel programs combine land tours with study cruises on topics such as Aegean Civilization and the Greek Island Society. The cruises are on motor-powered sailboats averaging 116 feet in length. The double-occupancy cabins have private baths.

Elderhostel is at 75 Federal St., Boston, Mass. 02110; (617) 426-7788. Mail queries are preferred; specify international or domestic catalog.

* Interhostel, a travel-study program for adults over 50 sponsored by the University of New Hampshire Division of Continuing Education, is planning to repeat this year's Athens and the Greek Islands tour from May 10-24, 1995, in cooperation with the American College of Greece, Deree Campus. The 1995 price has not yet been set, but is expected to be higher than this year's rate of $3,295 a person, which included round-trip flights from New York.

In Athens, the group will stay in dormitories at the American College, about three miles from the city center.

Interhostel is at the University of New Hampshire Division of Continuing Education, 6 Garrison Ave., Durham, N.H. 03824; (603) 862-1147.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.