If you’re planning a winter vacation, there’s no better place to go than right here in the Middle East.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we ‘pool’ together stunning destinations from the Middle East to create a travel bucket list like no other.
When you think of the Arabian region, you likely picture wind-swept dunes. But there’s a lot more worth exploring than desert locales. Here are a few majestic natural wonders, according to a July 2018 report in the National Geographic:
1. Fairy chimneys
About 30 million years ago, a volcano spewed ash across the land that we now know as Turkey. It left behind mesmerising fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, which are best viewed in hot air balloon rides. Fairy chimneys are made from tuff, which is porous rock comprising volcanic debris and compacted ash. With time and wind, the tuff became spire-shaped pillars that still stand strong today.
2. Jebel Qaraqir
The dramatic Jebel Qaraqir plateau in Saudi Arabia’s desert is an impressive sight. Daunting peaks and craggy canyon cliffs dwarf cars and visitors, and humble you by their sheer size. Against the orange and yellow sandstone canyons is Wadi Dissah, where a spring-fed stream creates refreshing shades of greenery, via shrubs, grass and palm trees.
3. Dead Sea
At the lowest point of Earth is the Dead Sea, bordering Jordan and Palestine – a landlocked lake with incredibly high salinity. While its high salt content (it’s nine times saltier than ocean water) gives it healing properties, and buoyancy, it’s uninhabitable for fish, plants and other water dwelling creatures, except for some bacteria and microbial fungi.
4. Jeita Grotto
North of Beirut, Lebanon, is a karstic cave system that draws in thousands of tourists every year. With natural stone curtains, columns and candles in a cathedral-like atmosphere, the Jeita Grotto’s atmosphere is made possible by the stalagmites and stalactites of its upper cave. You can even enjoy a boat ride in the lower cave, where you can visit a silent, subterranean world and view striking limestone formations.
5. Wadi Rum
Jordan’s largest valley features ancient sandstone pillars reaching up from red sands towards a blue sky. This Mars-like landscape has towering rocks that have been sculpted by wind, sand and flash floods. The region so resembles the Red Planet, it has even appeared as the backdrop in movies like The Martian and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.