The Amazing Wadi Rum Desert

May 4, 2017
wadi rum, jordan, middle east, travel, desert, the martian

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The second and third stops on our Jordan adventure were Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea. I fully intended to include both of these locations in this post; however, by the time I finished with all of the amazingness that is Wadi Rum, I thought it was already getting pretty long. So, this time it’s all about the amazing Wadi Rum desert experience. You’ll just have to check back next week for more of our trip!

Since we didn’t feel like we needed to return to the Treasury at Petra the next day, we just stopped by to see the museum and grab some souvenirs. Then we piled back into the car and went on our way to Wadi Rum. There aren’t many opportunities to pick up food on the Jordanian highways. When we were able to find gas stations/convenience stores we never came away with much more than candy and chips. Luckily, we grabbed some sack lunches from our hotel and ate those on the way, which I highly recommend! I’m sure most hotels offer these, especially if you’re coming from Petra like we were.

A little over an hour and a half later, we arrived at the Wadi Rum Visitor’s Center. We had reservations for a 3 hour desert tour with Bedouin Lifestyle. But, since we arrived well ahead of the previously planned schedule, we were offered a 5 tour with a lot more sites. We quickly decided that was worth upgrading to, and it definitely was!

We took the bags we would need for that night and climbed into the back of a pickup truck. There was a tarp over the top to help keep us out of the sun but it was still pretty hot when we weren’t moving. When were moving; however, I got quite chilly! I definitely had to go through putting the sweater back on and taking it back it off more than once as we stopped and started again.

When we were all ready to go we were each provided a large bottle of water and then we were off! We drove a little ways through the Bedouin town, which largely appeared to consist of little more than shacks for each family. Then, we left the pavement and ventured out into the sand.

Our first stop was the Lawrence Spring. We chose not to climb up to the spring because our guide said that it is now very small and has dried up significantly. By the end of the day I was more than happy that we skipped that climb.

wadi rum, travel, jordan, middle east, desert

Sitting on the rocks of the red sand dunes.

Next was the Red Sand Dunes. There are, of course, two sides to the dunes. Luckily, our guide was kind enough to drive us to the ‘easier’ side to climb up so we could go down the difficult side. Even the easier side was still quite a challenge though! Kyle attempted to sand board down the dunes but it was awfully slow going.

The top of the dunes offered spectacular views of Wadi Rum. Before climbing up our guide also pointed out some areas where they filmed The Martian. I can certainly see why they chose Wadi Rum as a setting for Mars. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I can’t wait to rewatch that movie and pick out the scenes filmed there.

wadi rum, travel, jordan, middle east, desert, ancient, history

Ancient Inscriptions

The next stop was to see ancient inscriptions at Khazali Canyon. This was, thankfully, an easy walk into the narrow crevice. A welcome reprieve from both the physical challenge and sun at our last stop.

 

After that, we drove to the little arch, and then to Lawrence House where we had another rest and tea. I was getting pretty tired already by this point but we still quite a bit of the day left!

wadi rum, travel, jordan, middle east, desert

Jumping on the Little Arch

We hiked through a pretty large canyon before heading to the Um Frouth Rock Bridge. The hike to the top of this bridge was pretty intimidating. It was an almost vertical climb with only slight indentations into the rock for foot placement. I was beyond tired at this point, but our guide assured me the climb wasn’t as bad as it looked and told me I had to be “a little brave”! So, up I went. It actually wasn’t as bad as it looked, but getting down was still a little scary. All in all though, it was worth it.

I was sure all of the climbing was over after that because all we had left was the sunset. But, I was wrong. We drove quite a long ways to our sunset destination and when we arrived there were a few other groups already there. Our guide pointed out some good spots so we climbed up, took a seat, and marveled at the landscape as the sun grew closer and closer to the horizon. It was a stunning sunset and one I’ll remember forever.

wadi rum, travel, jordan, middle east, desert

The gorgeous sunset. We’re the ones sitting on the top rock!

I will recommend that you take your heaviest jacket for the sunset though – I was freezing! We hopped back in the truck and headed for our camps. I had no idea what to expect, but wasn’t expecting much at all just to be on the safe side.

When we arrived I was very pleasantly surprised. We had stand alone . . . huts, I guess is what I’ll describe them as. We had a comfortable enough bed with a heavy blanket (although as tired as I was I think a rock would have sufficed), bedside tables, and room for our luggage. What else do you need for a night in the desert?

wadi rum, travel, jordan, middle east, desert

The camp “huts” with the rock bathrooms in the background.

A bathroom. Sounds possibly scary, right? Again, I was pleasantly surprised! There were separate men’s and women’s, of course. The women’s had three bathroom stalls (all stocked with toilet paper!), three sinks, and showers.

We had about 45 minutes to settle in, pour some of the sand out of our shoes, and drink some water before dinner. There was a separate tent at the top of what is actually a relatively small sand dune for the meals. We were all so tired by dinner though the small dune seemed enormous.

Once we made it to the top, there was a fire going outside and our hosts served everyone tea. When dinner was finally done, we all gathered around a pit dug into the sand where they had roasted the meat for the dinner. After they explained this cooking method to everyone we all headed inside, removed our shoes, and lined up for food.

wadi rum, travel, jordan, middle east, desert

Music, hookah, and hedgehogs!

Dinner was delicious – particularly the lentil soup. After that, the guides turned down the lights, served more tea, and played traditional music for about an hour. They also brought around some hedgehogs and explained how they keep the snakes and other pests away from the Bedouin homes. After that the guides hung around and answered any questions that we had.

One by one or two by two everyone started heading back to their tents. We went back to grab our blankets and then walked back up to the meal tent to sit outside and star gaze. This was absolutely incredible. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life. It was truly magical. We also happened to be there during a new moon so it was a completely dark sky except for the stars.

Eventually, we headed back to our tent and got ready for bed. The headlamps definitely came in handy for walking back to our tents and to/from the bathrooms.

The next morning we went back to the meal tent for breakfast. There was a very interesting dish that looked like tanish grey colored paste. I still don’t know what it was but it was definitely all sugar! One of the sweetest foods I’ve ever had.

We packed our bags and the trucks came back to pick us up and take us back to the Bedouin Lifestyle office where we left our cars. On the way out, we stopped back at the Visitor’s Center to use the restroom before our next long stent in the car.

wadi rum, travel, jordan, middle east, desert

Camels in the Wadi Rum desert.

I cannot recommend Bedouin Life Style enough. Our guide was so nice, took a ton of pictures for us and was very informative. They were more than upfront with all of the prices and never once tried to get us to spend more on anything. When they offered the 5 hour tour instead of the 3 hour one we felt absolutely no pressure at all and he was very matter-of-fact about the differences in the two tours. They also reduced the price because we’d already had lunch and didn’t need the box lunches that are included.

And, I’m not the only one who thinks so highly of them. We found them because their Trip Adviser rating, which is more than well deserved. The entirety of information and opinion about this company is completely my own and I received absolutely no compensation for any part of the review. It’s just a really amazing experience that no one should miss out on!

Again, many thanks to my amazing husband and in-laws for contributing to the photos for this post! Stay tuned for the next part of our trip next week.

Check out the rest of Jordan Trip!

Part One of Jordan Trip: Petra

Part Three: The Dead Sea, Madaba, Mount Nebo, and The Jordan River

Part Four: Amman and Jerash

 

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