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Jordan (Greentours)

Jordan’s long and rich cultural history is evident at the many fantastic archaeological sites reaching their zenith in magnificent Petra, yet Guidebooks suggest that a tourist’s most abiding memory from a visit to this warmly welcoming country will be its beautiful natural environment.
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Wild yellow saffron (Sternbergia clusiana) at Dana Biosphere Reserve

Forming the eastern margin of the deep rift that descends to over a thousand feet below sea level on the shores of the Dead Sea are the mountains of Western Jordan, an area with a rich and distinctive flora set amid stunning landscapes. Surrounding the hilltop villages and Crusader Castles are terraces which in the cool of the desert winter host abundant bulbous species, most notably Crocuses. Lovely Crocus moabiticus will be a highlight and we’ll also see newly described Crocus naqabensis. There’s also Crocushyemalis, the lilac stars of Crocus hermoneus subspecies palaestinus, and gorgeous Crocus pallasii subspecies haussknechtii.

White-throated Kingfishers, Little Green Bee-eaters, Rock Hyraxes, Hume’s Tawny Owls, Orange-tufted Sunbirds and improbably blue Sinai Agamas are just some of a varied fauna. Nubian Ibex and Tristram’s Serins inhabit Dana’s spectacular landscape of desert wadis and juniper-dotted hills. Pretty Sinai Rosefinches will mark our progress down the extraordinary Siq, the water-worn gorge caused by tectonic movements which split the mountain in two, and which provides the entrance to magnificent Petra, one of the world’s most stunning historical sites. The beautiful sandstone mountains surrounding Petra are peppered with Biarum agustatum as well as Colchicum stevenii. Bright Sternbergia clusiana blooms with Androcymbium palaestinum and we’ll look for rare Iris postii whilst much commoner are both Crocus cancellatus and Colchicum tunicatum. We’ll visit Lawrence of Arabia’s Spring and Nabatean rock art in the fantastic desert scenery of Wadi Rum. Brown-necked Ravens, Desert Larks and White-crowned Black Wheatears are common, while in the sands we’ll find the last flowers of Pancratium sikenbergeri and the Sand Gecko Tropiocolotes nattereri.