It’s so hard to find the words to describe the magical red sand desert. Standing on the giant sand dune, no one around you but your family and a local Bedouin guide. Riding under the pink full moon in the middle of the night, eating fresh tomato stew and lamb kabobs with your hands. I’ve had the opportunity to experience Wadi Rum, and Jordan in general, twice in the past two years. This post is devoted to my first encounter with the vast desert and Wadi Rum experience. I’ll write about my second time, which transformed me even more, in a following post. ——
I didn’t really know what we were getting into. My Uncle told us stories about wandering the land of Lawrence of Arabia, how him and my Aunt learned how to ride, and dismount, a camel the hard way. How he befriended Khaled, the owner of the camp I would soon stay at in the middle of the red sand dunes and cascading rock faces. I imagined it would be hot, there would be camels to pay to ride, and we’d be off the grid for 24 hours.
Wadi Rum is about an hour and a half drive from Petra, so we left the Petra Marriott Hotel pretty early in the morning to arrive for an overnight tour. When we got to the tourism office to buy our tickets, there were lots of Jordanian men standing around with long dresses and head coverings, a few women inside the shops selling beautiful scarves and jewelry. We bought our tickets and were led to our chariot for the day.
Our guide took the wheel, and we were off.
We started by driving through some of the Bedouin homes. They aren’t very sturdy, looking like they were made of wood and cloth coverings. We had to look out for the occasional donkey or boy chasing his ball down the road.
All of a sudden, we left the community and were surrounded by desert. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Our guide took us to various stops, where we could get out of the car and scramble.
The first was the well, which you should climb for the view if you have lots of energy and lots of water. If you don’t, I recommend waiting for the large sand dunes and other caverns to climb. Admiring the rock formations and knowing there’s a well up top is enough.
We soon broke for lunch, which our guide graciously made for us. We had tomato soup, cooked fresh in a fire as we relaxed, with cheese, homemade pita bread, fresh juice, tea, and cookies. There was more than enough to go around.
We all took our shoes off on the blanket and admired the sand and petroglyphs as we feasted.
We were told we had to make the giant red sand dune by sunset, so we drove straight there.
Climbing this dune was a challenge in itself.
If you’ve ever walked or ran in sand at the beach before, imagine doing so at almost a 90 degree angle for a very long time.
Our calves were burning. But the views at the top were indescribable. The desert stretched on for miles.
From there, we were off to dinner. More on that in the next post!