After my breathtaking visit to Petra, I knew I needed to explore more of Jordan! Thankfully, the Tourist Israel tour included a visit to both Petra and Wadi Rum! Although my time in Jordan was brief, I feel so grateful to have experienced Jordanian hospitality and the amazing landscape that encompasses Jordan!
History of Wadi Rum Desert:
Wadi Rum desert is located approximately 1.5 hours from Petra. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in southern Jordan, east of the Rift Valley and near the Saudi Arabian border. The diverse desert landscape consists of natural rock arches, sandstone mountains, narrow gorges, caverns, and colorful sand dispersed throughout 74,200 hectares! Along with the breathtaking landscape, Wadi Rum has over 25,000 petroglyphs, 20,000 inscriptions, and 154 archeological sites that can date human existence in this desert for over 12,000 years! With arid and harsh conditions, it is hard to imagine living in the desert, but the Bedouins (an indigenous nomadic tribe, although less Bedouins are living a nomadic lifestyle) have inhabited Wadi Rum for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.
How to explore Wadi Rum:
There are many ways to explore the magnificent Wadi Rum desert. By foot, camel, 4×4, hot air balloon, or plane, but with the vastness of the desert, a guide is recommended. I explored Wadi Rum from the back of a pickup truck with a local Bedouin guide. For a few hours, he and I were the only two in the desert (at least the section of Wadi Rum that we explored)! As he drove through the coral, crimson, peach and orange desert, he stopped along the way to point out various rock formations, caves, petroglyphs, sand dunes, mirages, nomadic camels, and snapped a few photos of me in the brilliantly colored desert.
Standing outside a cave, between two towering rock formations, we clapped our hands to hear the echo of what seemed to be hundreds of other people clapping their hands as well! Inside the cave, he showed me the “Bedouin rouge,” a peachy ground rock mineral which makes for a lasting cheek color!
After driving for a few more miles, we came upon an oddly shaped rock formation, with the perfect shape to shade us from the searing sun! We climbed to the top, sat in the shade, and talked about the desert, his family, our shared passion for photography, and life in general. A conversation with someone from another culture, learning about their homeland, and finding common ground, that is priceless and that is one of the main reasons why I travel!
My guide’s cell phone rang and he walked away. I sat by myself, overlooking the beautiful and vast Wadi Rum desert. Feeling the heat of the day, the coolness of the rock I sat on, and the remarkable joy in my heart! I sat in silence, contemplating my small presence in this immense world and grateful for the ability to travel the globe. For the first time in a long time, I was present in the moment. That moment, along with the breathtaking moment at Petra, will remain in my heart forever!
Where to Stay:
Bait Ali Camp and rest-area is an oasis in the Wadi Rum desert. Located on the edge of the new Wadi Rum Nature Reserve, visitors are treated to magnificent views of the surrounding Moon Valley. This Bedouin-styled resort offers two types of accommodations: tents (semi-traditional private Bedouin tents, with 2 fold-out windows, one electrical socket, and cots with clean bedding) or chalets (private, air-conditioned, beds with clean bedding, and private bathrooms). Other facilities such as public restrooms and showers, outdoor covered dining room, on-site restaurant and bar, outdoor terrace and amphitheater, Wi-Fi, and a swimming pool makes guests feel like they are in a desert mirage. Numerous activities can be arranged at the front desk from guided desert tours (4×4, ATV’s, hot-air balloon ride, horse-back riding, camel riding, and hiking), a night-hike to view the stars above, group parties, and transportation to Amman or Aqaba. Every Friday night, Bait Ali Camp has a party night with a DJ playing Arabic pop music. With the stars above and the rhythm of the music, I joined the young Jordanians and danced the night away!
Walking back to my tent in the dark, I looked above to the night sky. With a crescent moon shining down and the sparkling diamond stars dancing in the black sky, I searched for the constellations in one of the clearest night skies I have seen in my life (the only other sky that shined like Jordan was in the middle of nowhere Montana!). Before I retreated to my tent for the night, I looked above, thankful that my eyes can see the beauty of this world. As I lay on my cot in the middle of the Wadi Rum desert, I fell asleep with a smile upon my face grateful for this amazing Jordanian experience!
When planning my brief, solo trip to Jordan I expected the long journey, the steamy climate, and hoped to view the beautiful landscapes. What I didn’t expect was just how friendly and hospitable the Jordanian people are, and the undeniable and indescribable beauty that is Jordan. Jordan made me feel deep-down within my soul. Jordan made me acknowledge my strengths. Jordan inspired me. I will forever be grateful for my time in Jordan!
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