Day 22: Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum Travel Blog

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area near Lawrence Spring
 

I think I mentioned before that Jordan is pretty much deprived of any form of public transportation. The country just isn’t equipped for individual travellers. People simply assume everybody who travels from Petra to Wadi Rum does so on an organised tour.
So you’d think it would be a good business opportunity to arrange something for individual, independent travellers. Well, it seems people in Jordan sensed that business opportunity as well, so you also have the opportunity to book organised tours to Wadi Rum from Petra as well, so you’d still end up in a group tour. Oh joy…

Fortunately there is another alternative.

Walking Wadi Rum
Someone has figured it might be an idea to connect the two most visited touristic sites in Jordan with regular public transportation. So the two-hour journey between Petra and Wadi Rum is served by one whole bus a day, which leaves at 6 in the morning. So you’ll understand this bus might be slightly full…

In Wadi Rum (pronounce as ‘rahm’) too it is expected you arrive on an organised tour, so arriving unannounced can be quite problematic, or at least very expensive. So a couple of days ago Derk and I had already spent a few hours searching the Internet finding a tour operator that would suit us. And that is how we ended up with ‘Bedouin Roads’, one of the few that caters mainly for individual travellers. They won’t guarantee you will be ‘alone’, but they will rather join small groups of people together and match their itineraries, so that costs like transportation and food can be shared.

Wadi Rum
Perfect! Just what we had been looking for!

Once we arrived at the Wadi Rum visitor’s centre, we were welcomed by our guide/driver, a genuine bedouin named Sabah, borne and raised in the desert. He took us to Rum village, which is within the boundaries of the park, where we were welcomed with tea and we could discuss our itinerary with the manager of Bedouin Roads.

Alessandro had joined us as well. Though he doesn’t have three days left to spend. He is flying back to Italy on Sunday, so we would have to be back in Amman no later than Saturday (which can be difficult to do by public transportation in this country), however, perhaps it was possible for him to join us for a day or two.

Rock Art
No problems here, Bedouin Roads has their own permanent camp in Wadi Rum, so it was easy enough to bring Alessandro back to the visitor’s centre on the second or third day.
So the three of us climbed into Sabah’s antique Toyota landcruiser and set off into the desert.

Perhaps a good idea if I explain what Wadi Rum actually is. Wadi Rum is an area in the desert in the South-Eastern part Jordan. It’s not so much a national park, but a ‘protected area’. Protected to protect the nature, but also the people who have been living here traditionally, the Bedouines. The landscape of Wadi Rum is simply breathtaking. Without a doubt the absolute highlight of our trip through Jordan. The desert comprises of yellow, red and brown sand, and there are these big towering sandstone mountains everywhere.

multi-coloured Wadi Rum
I think you can best compare it with Monument Valley in the US, though the mountains here are more round, and less eroded into weird shapes as they are in Monument Valley, but they are every bit as impressive.
Obviously there are no roads, so the only way to get somewhere in this area is to walk, or by camel, or by four-wheel drive. The trip we had booked contained all three modes of transport.

Wadi Rum is also the location where a large part of the film Lawrence of Arabia was shot. On top of that Lawrence of Arabia is one of the few films which was short *really* on location, because TE Lawrence started the Arab revolt from here, conquering Aqaba. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that pretty much every rock, hill, plain, well or dry riverbed is called Lawrence this and Lawrence that.

Lawrence spring
Near the visitor’s center are 7 roundings in the rocks which have been named after Lawrence’s book 7 Pillars of Wisdom.

We started the day with a short walk up to the spring that provides the water supply of Rum Village. A spring names - you guessed it - Lawrence Spring! There’s not an awful lot to see at the spring itself, but it does give you a good overview of the Rum valley. Unfortunately once again the weather was rather disappointing. Once again it was very hazy and we realised just how much luck we had had in Petra. That first day in Petra has been the only day so far that we had had a clear blue sky, without the Sahara Dust.

All day long we were crossing from one place to the other in Sabah’s old jeep, and very now and again he stopped to let us out and walk a bit.

lunch!
One of these places was a very interesting small canyon where you could see rock art.
Elsewhere we climbed a big red sand dune and later we also climbed a small rock bridge.

After a long walk through the Barah Canyon (a bit too wide to actually feel like a canyon, especially after the walk through Wadi Muthlin) Sabah welcomed us at the other side with a delicious lunch of bread, hummus, tuna, sardines, meat and fresh salad - the best lunch we had had so far in Jordan. In fact, all the food served on our three day tour in Wadi Rum was better than anything we’d had on our two-week trip in Jordan.

At the end of the afternoon we arrived at the camp for our overnight stay. Wild camping is not allowed in Wadi Rum, but pretty much every tour operator has a permanent camp within the park.

The gang (without Will, as we hadn't met him yet)
And most of these are set up in such a way that you don’t see or hear much of the other camps.
The camp lay shielded from the wind next to a huge rock, and consisted of three authentic Bedouin tents made of goat wool. One was meant for the guides, one was for us, and the third was the communal tent for meals and this also had a large campfire in the middle.
The camp was very basic, but also very well equipped. There was a little kitchen, a squat toilet and even a shower! In the desert! The water came from a source atop the nearby mountain and was stored in a tank. After a hot sunny day you’ll even have a warm shower as well!
And the water from the source was potable as well.

It turned out there was another visitor in the camp. An English dude named Will, who was travelling from Tunisia to Turkey in three months.

sleeping outside
He arrived too late in the morning to join us for the jeep tour, but he would join us for the rest of the activities the next two days.

Dinner was a typical Bedouine meal with rice and chicken after which we sat by the fire for a while, enjoying the beers we’d bought in Rum Village (and treasuring them, as this would be the last alcohol we’d drink for the next couple of days).

None of us felt like sleeping in the woollen tent at night. No way, this is the desert, we’d sleep under the stars!
We hauled the heavy mattresses and blankets outside and slept snug as little babies under a stunning starry night.
The silence outside was equally stunning. It is amazing just how used you are to constantly having noise around you, and when everything is silent around it just feels so weird!

gejah says:
lijkt mij heerlijk zo lekker rustig!! (niet altijd hoor) Maar een mooi geschreven verhaal. Meestal heb ik moeite om geboeid te blijven maar echt goed!!
Posted on: Feb 13, 2009
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area near Lawrence Spring
area near Lawrence Spring
Walking Wadi Rum
Walking Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
Rock Art
Rock Art
multi-coloured Wadi Rum
multi-coloured Wadi Rum
Lawrence spring
Lawrence spring
lunch!
lunch!
The gang (without Will, as we hadn…
The gang (without Will, as we had…
sleeping outside
sleeping outside
I think my angle was better
I think my angle was better
red sand
red sand
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
stunning desert colours
stunning desert colours
climbing the sand dune
climbing the sand dune
Alessandro relaxing
Alessandro relaxing
Barah canyon
Barah canyon
Barah canyon walk
Barah canyon walk
how to start an antique Toyota lan…
how to start an antique Toyota la…
Alessandro and Me in Barah Canyon
Alessandro and Me in Barah Canyon
climbing the rock bridge
climbing the rock bridge
Unpacking the car
Unpacking the car
enjoying our last beers
enjoying our last beers
A true boys night out!
A true boy's night out!
Wadi Rum
photo by: vances