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Jordan: Ajlun, Amman, Aqaba, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Dead Sea, Jerash, Karak, Madaba, Mount Nebo, Pella & Umm Qays, Petra, Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum, Jordan: Million-star experience
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
A maze of monolithic rocks rise up from the desert floor to heights of over 1750 meters creating a stupendous panorama. “Vast, echoing and God-like” is how T E Lawrence described Wadi Rum. The location is also known as the ‘The Valley of the Moon’.
After having our lunch at Petra, we left for Wadi Rum. It was a 2 hour drive through arid desert. At around 4 PM we were at the visitor centre for a short break. That gave me an opportunity to take my first glimpse of the Wadi Rum rocks. In view was the majestic mountain known as ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’.
A few kms from the visitor center is a ‘taxi stand’ wherein we had to leave our comfortable van and get into a 4-wheel drive. The next couple of hours we would be exploring the desert and the sunset. It’s here that our luck was against us. The 4-wheel drive vehicles are owned and operated by the Bedouin tribes. Vehicles are allotted in a queue. To our dismay, we got a battered vehicle with doors falling apart; none of the instruments and meters in place; wires hanging loose and of course a very shaky body. The driver, however, was quite confident that his vehicle will make it through. And sure it did. Our faith in God was confirmed. Surviving the ride was nothing short of a miracle.
I have this feeling that probably we were shortchanged as far as our ride in the desert was concerned. I could see around many plush and well maintained vehicles. If you plan to be there, confirm with your tour operator about the condition of the vehicle you get. There has to be a trick to get the best from the lot.
We drove through the desert that was punctuated by rocky mountains. Wadi Rum’s largest peak is Umaldonni that stands 1854 meters; the second largest stands 1754 meters and is called Ruad. The drive was thrilling. Enroute we stopped for a while to enjoy tea prepared by a Bedouin at a small make-shift store. Just nearby were petro glyphs – carvings on rocks dating back 2000 years.
Just before sunset, we parked the vehicle at the base of the Khazali Mountain and climbed up a little at vantage point that offered excellent view of the sunset. The setting sun casted long shadows and painted the area gold. We were up there for about 45 minutes. Post sunset, we drove to King Aretas IV Camp to rest for the night.
Middle of nowhere, this camp and the facilities it offered were just fantastic. Well appointed tents made for a comfortable night’s sleep. Few meters away was the toilet block offering clean facilities with running water! It had a nice large tent that worked as a restaurant and for the night there was campfire… all adding up to a great experience.
The owner of the camp was Abdulla, who was the third generation Bedouin. His English was excellent and the stories he had in store were engaging. He spent an hour with us. Time just flew in his company. Dinner was excellent. Good to know that Abdulla brings fresh produce from Aqaba – a sea port about 60 minutes away.
Post dinner, the camp fire was lit. The chill around and the warmth of the glowing fire worked well in tandem. As the night got darker, the sky lit up with millions of stars. Away from ambient light and pollution, I got my life’s best view of the night sky. That was an opportunity to take a long exposure shot to capture the star trek. A successful experiment I would say. That night when I woke up at about 3AM to visit the bathroom, the sky was at its best. I just looked up in amazement.
I got up early, to explore the neighbourhood just before sunrise. I walked around for a couple of hours getting some glorious pictures. The rising sun lit up the area pink… the colour of the sand that was. I will leave for the pictures to do the talking.
The morning walk built a healthy appetite for breakfast. After a hearty breakfast at the camp, we got back on the battered vehicle, reached the stand where Joseph, our driver was waiting for us with his comfortable van. In we jumped ready to move to Aqaba - our next destination.
Wadi Rum Image Gallery Photo viewer
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