Day 22: Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Travel Blog› entry 42 of 54 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!