New Trip: Syria: Camel Trekking the Dead Cities
Ask even your most well-traveled friends and they probably haven't visited Syria. At least not lately. Since 1979, the State department has considered the country a State Sponsor of Terrorism due to its support for organizations such
as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. But well-established tour companies do go there, such a GAP Adventures, Geographic Expeditions, and Wilderness Travel. The sights are just too incredible to pass up: the Dead Cities, 700 abandoned settlements dating back to 500 B.C.; the second century Roman metropolis of Palmyra, one of the great archaeological sites in the world; the completely intact Crusader castles; and the souks left from the Ottoman empire.
We just got news that Dubai-based Absolute Adventure is helping set up Syria's first adventure tour operator, and their inaugural trip, running from May 24 to June 3, is being offered below cost (a reduced rate of $1,895) to the adventurous souls who help refine the itinerary. The 11-day trip starts in Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited metropolis in the world. From there guests embark on desert camel trek to the Dead Cities, a traditional overnight in a Bedoin tent, and even camping outside some of the ruins to watch dawn break as human ancestors did some 2,500 years ago. "I think the three days trekking in the Dead Cities is
the main highlight," says Absolute Adventure adviser Paul Oliver. "Also for those who haven't visited Syria before, the old walled
city of Damascus is always spectacular, as is the Crusader castle Crac de
Chevalier [pictured below]. " When not camping, guests stay at four-star hotels.
Why go with a new company? Well, if you like the idea of directly supporting a locally-run and operated tour company, then here you go (though the likes of GAP and GeoEx often contact local guides just like this to guide their guests). But how the trip and company work out, in the end, is anyone's guess. To sign up, contact Absolute Adventure.
Has anyone been to Syria? Let us know your thoughts.
- Nat Geo Expeditions