Kayak Civilization’s Cradle"Kayaking hasn’t existed in Jordan," says Jeff Cooper of H2Outfitters. "Until now." Another new exploratory trip from H2O launhes on the Gulf of Aqaba, a 110-mile-long, 15-mile-wide finger of coral-rich, 75-degree water within the Red Sea. Best known as a diving and snorkeling spot (sea turtles, soft and hard corals, 29 types of starfish), its calm waters provide kayak access to four Middle Eastern countries—Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Post-paddle, clients are shuttled by 4x4 to Wadi Rum, the former home of Lawrence of Arabia, where sandstone and granite cliffs rise from a desert pocked with Bedouin villages. Next is the luminous city of Petra, then the Dead Sea, where boats hover on water eight times saltier than the Mediterranean. But all of this is only a rough plan. Cooper expects a fair amount of spontaneity on this groundbreaking trip. "We’re looking into the possibility of paddling to Egypt—it’s only five miles away," he says. Sure bets include tasty Jordanian dishes like mansaf (lamb cooked in yogurt sauce) and the utterly silent and starry-skied Arabian Desert.
Outfitter: H2Outfitters; h2outfitters.com
Length: 7 days