Entering Wadi Rum was a slow motion experience of leaving earth and entering a totally different world. The sand slowly starts to turn a deeper and darker hue of red and the surrounding dramatic sandstone and basalt mountains jut out of its sandy floor. Camels walk about the desert with or without accompanying owners under the bluest of skies as they have for thousands and thousands of years….
After taking a quick peek at the Visitor Center we realized that even the Wadi Rum entrance fee is covered by the Jordan Pass – the pass had paid for itself many times over at this point! We checked out the official board of prices for various excursions – an important point to remember as officially the Bedouins may only charge a price per jeep not per person (this rule is not always followed – so good to know the rates in advance). For example a 4 hour jeep tour should officially cost 67 JD. For some easily accessible hiking, there is a trail head at the Visitors Center to a free hike of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
Since we were just visiting Wadi Rum for the day (and returning after Aqaba to spend the night) we chose to park our car in Rum Village and walk out to the Dunes. Distances in the desert are very deceiving and the sun’s rays were strong even in November – it took us about an hour and a half to meander our way over to the Dunes. The view is breathtaking from the top! Since we knew which line to follow on the way back we were able to make it to our car in about an hour – just as it was getting dark.
When we returned to Wadi 5 days later, we were so excited to spend the night at Beyond Wadi Rum Camp. We were picked up from Rum Village and taken on our jeep tour prior to being dropped off at the Little Bridge – which was our camp’s backdrop.
Our first stop of the jeep tour was Lawrence Spring. This spring was named for T.E. Lawrence, of Lawrence of Arabia fame, who fought in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire (the movie was also filmed here). Together with other springs in the area, this natural water spout that is perched high up on a cliff allowed Wadi Rum to become an important watering hole for caravans travelling between Syria and Arabia. There is a small shrine dedicated to Lat, an aqueduct used to channel the water from the spring and ancient inscriptions on the rock face. A lovely aroma of mint fills the air as it grows wild among the ferns and trees of this shaded place.
The gigantic chunk of rock/cliff that you can see from Lawrence Spring is Jabal Khazali. It is supposed to be named for Khazal, a criminal who jumped off the summit and miraculously floated down unharmed, evading his pursuers. Today this ancient mountain is one of the most visited in Wadi Rum.
The canyons inner walls are covered with numerous Nabatean, Islamic (Kufic) and Thamudic inscriptions and hieroglyph rock drawings. The Nabatean carvings consists of camels, horses, mountains goats, people, pairs of feet and spirits. The Islamic inscriptions are about god and the prophet Mohammed.
After a quick stop at Lawrence’s House we went on to the much photographed Jabal Umm Fruth Bridge (Large Bridge).
After scrambling up this naturally occurring rock face and returning back down we were rewarded with some fantastic Bedouin tea.
We drove off to a west facing rock cliff which we climbed just in time, to catch the spectacular sunset over Wadi Rum.
Getting to our camp at dusk we had a fantastic dinner cooked underground in sand. Much to my surprise, most of the food was vegan and quite good. After dinner we were taken for a moonlit walk around the dunes and up to the Little Bridge. At first it was really hard to see, but as our eyes adjusted we found the almost full moon to be quite distracting from the bright stars around us.
We had many blankets to sleep under in the windy and cold night of Wadi Rum. It was truly delicious. As we wanted to catch the sunrise, we were woken by the annoying sound of our alarm at 5:15 am.
After a quick breakfast we were taken by jeep back to Rum Village to continue our journey. As the jeep accelerated through the sand and around dunes we reflected on our amazing experience in Wadi Rum. It was truly one that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.