Bedding Down Bedouin Style
Wadi Rum Travel Blog› entry 11 of 36 › view all entries
We arrived in Wadi Rum early doors and met our guide with his 4 wheel drive, an old Toyota Jeep. Straight to the village to collect some provisions before making desert tracks to our camp, a Bedouin Tent made traditionally from goat hair, and very comfortable. The camp was at Jebel Khazali to the south of the reserve. The area of Wadi Rum is managed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature in order to help preserve its fragile ecosystem.
After dropping off our kit we headed off to see the sights. The area is dominated by large rock outcrops (jebels) with desert in between - not a particularly sandy desert, many strewn boulders, but odd sand dunes were to be found, and they were vast. It was to one of these dunes that we first headed, followed by the rock bridge (a natural formation) at Jebel Burdah, really impressive about 80m up. Unfortunately we were not able to climb up.
The area is - unsurprisingly - limited in its wildlife, although keen efforts are being made to reintroduce some of the species that did oince live here. What does still remain is largely only visible at night due to the searing heat during the day. However, camels, goats and lizards were regular features of the trip. We were also lucky in that there had been some recent rain, a very rare phenomena in such parts, and therefore occasionally we would turn a corner to find a large expanse of beautiful, small flowers poking out of the sand and rocks.
After lunch - bread, cheese, homous, yogurt, fruit and much tea - we headed for the Barrah Siq for a long walk. Despite the steep sides to the siq shade was limited as the sun was overhead, which made the going a little slow. However, the scenery was spectacular and we saw a couple of mountain climbers attempting what looked a pretty formidable climb up Jebel Barrah, the going for them was certainly tricky.
The guide (who spoke little English and was by no means the best) picked us up and headed for Jebel Faishiyya to see the ancient Nabataean and Thamudic rock inscriptions, mainly of camels and goats. These were not particularly impressive, some looked like they had been made a few days earlier, and even the guide book said that these were only of interest to the most hardened archaeologists. Despite our protestations the guide was unwilling to take us to the TE Lawrence spots, his old house (apparently a pile of rubble) and the spring named after him. We did get a brief sighting however whilst speeding past.
Some more really impressive sand dunes followed - great fun bouncing down, it felt like I imagine it would on the moon, but pretty difficult going up - along with some more exploring around various jebels. It was great fun and a most fantastic area, very unspoilt with phenomenal views which the photos I have do little justice to.
On arriving back at the camp there were around 10 others who would be sleeping in the same area, which was great as it afforded the opportunity to share experiences around the reserve. The general conclusion was that one day and night was sufficient for the amateur, although I was keen to stay a second (the only one - partly due others' itineries). Dinner was served, a very satisfying mixture of chicken, rice and salad, followed by much tea around the camp fire accompanied with some traditional Bedoiun music. The sunset was (once again) absolutely stunning.
The following morning we were woken early in order that we would return to the village for transport to Aqaba. I made some tentative enquiries about staying a further day, but costs for a soloist were prohibitive and it would be the same guide, who was pretty wooden and therefore I decided that the sensible option was to jump ship. This was further fuelled bu discussions with the Swiss Bastien, with whom I had discussed scuba diving on the Sinai in Egypt. It would make sense to go together, and he was good company.
So to Aqaba it was, the road partly following the route of the Hejaz railway, which TE blew up on several occassions and is now used as a freight road. I have heard that evidence of his actions remain, but unfortunately we did not see any rusting hunks of metal lying in the desert.