SEV­ENTH HEAVEN

The votes are in and the win­ners of the New Seven Won­ders of the World search have been de­cided. Barry Oliver presents the best tour op­tions

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

SYD­NEY Opera House didn’t make the grade but it was in good com­pany: nei­ther did France’s Eif­fel Tower, Greece’s Acrop­o­lis or Bri­tain’s Stone­henge. More than a few feath­ers were ruf­fled when a non-profit foun­da­tion last month an­nounced the New Seven Won­ders of the World, prod­ucts of hu­man in­ge­nu­ity, at a glit­ter­ing cer­e­mony in Ben­fica, Por­tu­gal.

The poll was the brain­child of Swiss film­maker and mu­seum cu­ra­tor Bernard We­ber to ‘‘ pro­tect hu­mankind’s her­itage across the globe’’. Or­gan­is­ers claim more than 100 mil­lion votes were cast world­wide, mostly on­line. The seven won­ders are equal, with no rank­ing.

The Greek schol­ars who cre­ated the orig­i­nal list more than 2000 years ago are no doubt turn­ing in their graves.

Here are the latest won­ders and how to get there (flights ex­tra un­less stated).

PE­TRA, JOR­DAN (9BC-AD40)

PE­TRA, on the edge of the Ara­bian Desert, was the glit­ter­ing cap­i­tal of the Na­bataean em­pire of King Are­tas IV. The Na­bataeans were masters of wa­ter tech­nol­ogy and pro­vided the city with great tun­nel con­struc­tions and wa­ter cham­bers. The site in­cludes a 4000-seat theatre mod­elled on Greek-Ro­man pro­to­types and the El-Deir Monastery, with its 42m-high Hel­lenis­tic fa­cade.

Get­ting there: Tempo Hol­i­days’ six-night Jor­dan Ex­pe­ri­ence, from $1520 a per­son, in­cludes three nights at Pe­tra with trans­porta­tion by private ve­hi­cle, lo­cal guide and some meals. More: 1300 558 987; www.tem­pohol­i­days.com.

Imag­i­na­tive Trav­eller’s four-day Pe­tra Ex­cur­sion is from $615 a per­son, which in­cludes trans­fers from Am­man air­port and ac­com­mo­da­tion. More: 1300 135 088; www.imag­i­na­tive-trav­eller.com.au.

CHICHEN ITZA, MEX­ICO (be­fore AD800)

CHICHEN Itza, in the Yu­catan Penin­sula, was once at the heart of the Mayan civil­i­sa­tion. Vis­i­tors to­day can still see many well-pre­served stone build­ings: the pyra­mid of Kukulkan, the Tem­ple of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thou­sand Pil­lars and the Play­ing Field of the Pris­on­ers. The pyra­mid was the last, some say great­est, of the Mayan tem­ples.

Get­ting there: Pere­grine’s 15-day Mex­ico in Depth tour, start­ing in Mex­ico City and fin­ish­ing in Can­cun, in­cludes a visit to the ru­ins of Chichen Itza. From $2595 a per­son, in­clud­ing tour leader, break­fasts and sight­see­ing. Reg­u­lar de­par­tures year round. More: 1300 854 500; www.pere­grinead­ven­tures.com.au.

Ad­ven­ture World has a range of Mex­ico pack­ages, from six to 23 days, that in­clude tours of Chichen Itza. The six-day Ha­cien­das of Mex­ico trip, for in­stance, costs from $1410 and in­cludes a day at Chichen Itza with a guide. Break­fasts, some lunches and trans­fers in­cluded. More: 1300 363 055; www.ad­ven­ture­world.com.au.

MACHU PIC­CHU, PERU (1460-70)

MACHU Pic­chu, of­ten re­ferred to as the Lost City of the In­cas, sits 2430m up a moun­tain in the An­des. The fortress, 80km north­west of Cuzco, was forgotten for three cen­turies af­ter be­ing aban­doned (pos­si­bly be­cause of small­pox) but was dis­cov­ered in 1911 by US arche­ol­o­gist Hi­ram Bing­ham, who wrote a best-sell­ing book about it.

Get­ting there: South Aus­tralia-based Far Hori­zons has an es­corted tour de­part­ing Syd­ney on Septem­ber 12 next year that will visit Machu Pic­chu by he­li­copter. The 24-day trip will in­clude all seven won­ders. Prices have yet to be re­leased but about $30,000. More: 1800 083 141; www.farhori­zons.com.au.

Ex­plore’s 14-day Heights of Machu Pic­chu tour be­gins and ends in Lima and in­cludes a five-day trek to the moun­tain city. De­par­tures to April next year. From $2581 plus lo­cal pay­ment of $US320 ($410), with some meals, all lo­cal trans­port, sup­port staff such as porters and lo­cal guides. More: 1300 363 055; www.ad­ven­ture­world.com.au.

TAJ MAHAL, IN­DIA (1630)

THREE mil­lion vis­i­tors a year flock to Agra’s im­mense mau­soleum con­structed of white mar­ble and stand­ing in for­mally laid out walled gar­dens. It was built on the or­ders of Mogul em­peror Shah Ja­han to hon­our his wife. Bank­ruptcy fol­lowed and the em­peror ended up in jail, where it’s said he could glimpse this labour of love through his cell win­dow.

Get­ting there: In­dia spe­cial­ist Ram World Travel in Syd­ney in­cludes Agra in a num­ber of tours listed in its In­cred­i­ble In­dia brochure. The com­pany will also tai­lor-make itin­er­ar­ies ac­cord­ing to re­quire­ments. More: (02) 9262 1661; www.ram­world­trav­els.com.

Travel In­dochina vis­its the Taj Mahal on its 17-day An­cient In­dia tour, which also cov­ers Varanasi, Kha­ju­raho, Band­hav­garh Na­tional Park and Pushkar. From $4999 a per­son, de­part­ing Delhi. More: 1300 365 355; wwww.trav­elin­dochina.com.au.

CHRIST THE RE­DEEMER, BRAZIL (1931)

THIS 38m-tall statue of Je­sus is the youngest won­der. It weighs 700 tonnes and is lo­cated at the peak of the Cor­co­v­ado Moun­tain in the Ti­juca For­est Na­tional Park over­look­ing Rio. It took five years to con­struct and was de­signed by Brazil­ian Heitor da Silva Costa and cre­ated by French sculp­tor Paul Landowski.

Get­ting there: Flight Cen­tre has a 20-day South Amer­ica tour that ends with a visit to Cor­co­v­ado Moun­tain. Other high­lights in­clude the Iguazu Falls and the world’s largest fresh­wa­ter wet­lands, the Pan­tanal. From $2530, plus a lo­cal pay­ment of $US350 and a lo­cal flight charge of $80. In­cludes most break­fasts. More: 131 600; www.flight­cen­tre.com.au.

GAP Ad­ven­tures has a 15-day trip from Rio that in­cludes a visit to the Christ the Re­deemer statue. The Won­ders of Brazil costs from $1630 and in­cludes lo­cal trans­port and some meals. There are de­par­tures all year. More: 1300 363 055; www.ad­ven­ture­world.com.au.

GREAT WALL OF CHINA (220BC)

BUILT to keep out in­vaders from other parts of Asia (no, not rabbits), the wall is a must-see for vis­i­tors to the coun­try. It’s the world’s long­est man-made struc­ture at 6400km (and nearly 7.5m high in places), stretch­ing from the Shang­hai Pass in the east to Lop Nur in the west. Build­ing be­gan more than 2000 years ago and it took about 300 years to com­plete. Con­trary to ru­mour, as­tro­nauts say it can’t be seen from the moon.

Get­ting there: He­len Wong’s Tours runs a 12-day China Dis­cov­ery trip that com­bines four days in Bei­jing, in­clud­ing a visit to the Great Wall, with Shang­hai and Xi’an (with its ter­ra­cotta war­riors). From $3595 ex Aus­tralia. More: 1300 788 328; www.he­len­wongs­tours.com.

Travel In­dochina’s 10-day Small Group Jour­ney High­lights of China vis­its the Great Wall (fol­lowed by a feast of Pek­ing duck) as well as Bei­jing, Xi’an, Shang­hai and Zhu­ji­a­jiao. From $2595 a per­son, with break­fasts and guides. More: 1300 365 355; wwww.trav­elin­dochina.com.au.

COLOS­SEUM, ITALY (AD70-82)

THIS great am­phithe­atre in the cen­tre of the city cel­e­brates the glory of the Ro­man Em­pire. It hosted all man­ner of gory glad­i­a­to­rial games de­signed to de­light spectators. Its con­struc­tion con­cept still stands up: vir­tu­ally ev­ery sports sta­dium to­day bears the im­print of the Colos­seum’s orig­i­nal de­sign.

Get­ting there: Flight Cen­tre’s nine-day South­ern Italy tour be­gins with a visit to the Colos­seum. It also in­cludes laz­ing on the beach at Sor­rento and wan­der­ing through the ru­ins at Pom­peii. From $1395 a per­son plus a lo­cal pay­ment of j100 ($172). More: 131 600; www.flight­cen­tre.com.au.

Aber­crom­bie & Kent’s eight-day Inside Italy tour spends two nights in Rome, in­clud­ing a visit to the Colos­seum. From $5150 a per­son. More: 1300 851 800; www.aber­crom­biekent.com.au.

Monumental ma­sonry: The Lost City of the In­cas, Machu Pic­chu, main pic­ture; left, from top, the Colos­seum in Rome; Taj Mahal; Chichen Itza in Mex­ico; right, from top, statue of Christ the Re­deemer in Rio de Janeiro; the rose-red city of Pe­tra

New in­vaders: Tourists flock to walk part of the 6400km-long Great Wall of China

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