I am drawn to the desert, and you should have at least one desert on your bucket-list! And here is why!
The Wadi Rum desert in Jordan is also named the Valley of the Moon. The area consists of both sand, gorges, cliffs and caverns. Many movies have been shot here: “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Red Planet” and “Transformers” to name a few! People have been living here for 12.000 years and our driver Mohamed grew up in the Wadi Rum desert, but had now moved to the tiny town of Rum driving tourists around. The desert is a protected UNESCO-site for both natural and cultural causes.
My son was 5 years in 2011, when we went on 1 week trip to Jordan. We wanted to go backpacking, but the plane tickets turned out so expensive (back then) that it was cheaper to book a charter and stay at luxury hotel Mövenpick Resort & Residences in Aqaba – even if we slept in the desert for one night.
When we reached Wadi rum, we hired another private driver Mohammed in the visitor center. He lived in the small village of Wadi Rum – his familiy were originally bedouins living in the desert. Now they were part time Bedouins and he was making money from tourism. But he didn’t want to move to a bigger city. Everytime I’ve met people raised in or near the desert, they always tell me, that they would never live anywhere else!
The site of Lawrence’s Spring is where Lawrence of Arabia reputedly washed during the Arab Revolt 1916-1918 against the Ottoman Turks! The revolt went through the desert for a surprise attack on the coastal town Aqaba and succeeded. There is also a site called The Seven Pillars of Wisdom from his autobiographical book of the same name (see here). For some reason, there tend to be more focus on the role played by the Britishman then on the Arabs themselves.
I usually wear scarfs or hats in Muslim countries. To be respectful, not to stir up any unnecessary and because it protects from the sun.
I also always carry an actual guidebook, so I can read up on the history, of course!
As you can see, it was not that warm. Actually it was very cold and we had multiple layers of clothes and still it was chilly. It was the same when I was in Sahara, so deserts are not always hot!
Inscriptions and archaeological remains in the site testify to 12,000 years of human occupation. The combination of 25,000 rock carvings with 20,000 inscriptions trace the evolution of human thought and the early development of the alphabet.
Even in the deserts plants grow. There are also a few animals like two poisonous snakes, but you probably won’t see any. Look for tracks in the sand in the early morning.
The bedouins were camel-raising tribes and the camel is a crucial part of Bedouin everywhere as essential pack animals. You can of course buy a ride for just an hour or several days. We didn’t. There is also an annual camel race.
When we arrived at our camp late in the evening we were greeted with tea in the big dining tent. The camp we stayed in is not there anymore, but there a many like it. The camp could fit about 20 people, but we were only 10 guests. We were the only one with a child! A tall, handsome Bedouin in a long white traditional gown entered the tent and bade us all welcome to his camp. We had a great dinner with tea, but I went to bed early with my exhausted son. But it was so cold, we didn’t sleep at all.
Next morning we drove with some other people from the camp back to the visitor’s center and Mohammed picked us up and drove us to Petra. You can check out the visitor’s center here
Which is your favourite desert?