Damascus, Dimashq, Syria
April 2, 2005
The ranger, on a motorbike with one of us on the back, led us off road and into the park area. We drove slowly along smooth dirt tacks leading through the forest. With the exception of numerous termite mounds, there was little evidence of any wildlife. The track eventually led upwards towards a lookout platform towering over the low trees. Walking the last few yards, we reached the base of the tower, and the view was stupendous. The tower was perched on the edge of an escarpment, which, although not particularly steep, was high enough to give a panoramic view over the surrounding countryside. We were looking at a very wide, fast-flowing river full of islands, many of which were forested and had sandy beaches. In some parts, the river flowed over boulders and there was a distant roar of water. Other stretches of the river were beautifully calm and slow-flowing, with clear bathing pools between the boulders. It was such an immense view, it was impossible to photograph without the right type of camera. There are no maps of the park available, but I was told later that the park is situated on a large island in the middle of the Betwa River. Our next stop was on a small, secluded, sandy beach by the river. Bathing pools, enormous boulders, and dragonflies flitting about, it was idyllic. We wound our way out of the forest, passing some crumbling ruins before exiting back onto the main road. Termites and dragonflies - that was it in the way of wildlife. There are turtles in parts of the park, but they are not disturbed during the breeding season. Wildlife park it isn't, but an area of outstanding beauty it certainly is.
From journal A Long Weekend in Orchha