One way to do Aqaba – Wadi Rum edition

 

“The crimson sunset on its stupendous cliffs and slanted ladders of hazy fire down its walled avenue”          “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” T E Lawrence.

 Aqaba is a popular port call for cruise ships sailing The Red Sea.  On a recent cruise on Oceania Nautica,     https://solentrichardscruiseblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/oceania-nautica-dawn-of-civilisation-cruise/     , the itinerary allowed a two day visit to Aqaba.

The port is normally synonymous with visits to Petra but having already visited Petra on a previous occasion my wife and I we wanted to try something a little different.

With a little homework via the internet we settled on a full day visit to Wadi Rum.  Made famous by the film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’,  Wadi Rum is now one of Jordan’s important tourist destinations and attracts an increasing number of foreign tourists in search of an exciting and unusual eco-adventure.

Feel free to listen to the ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ theme while reading this article…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuxHLzwlDY4


We chose as our host and guide for a full day and Bedouin sunset tour Saleh, a Bedouin resident of  Wadi Rum and, as it turned out, a fantastic host.  Saleh  made the arrangement for the 50 minute taxi transfer which collected us promptly from the Aqaba port gate. Our driver gave a good informative running commentary throughout the journey…

Also known as ‘The Valley of the Moon’, this is the place where Prince Faisal Bin Hussein and T.E. Lawrence based their headquarters during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in World War I, their exploits intrinsically woven into the history of this amazing area. Wadi Rum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and on arrival we were greeted by Saleh at the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre…

and driven to his home where we enjoyed Arabic coffee and a lesson in wearing the Keffiye…

Not far from Rum Village we were taken to Ain Shalaaleh , or ‘Lawrence Spring’, a steep climb of some 35 minutes climb. The hike was well worth the effort, not only to see the spring itself but for the amazing view that it gave over Rum Village…

Part of Saleh’s tour includes the option of a camel ride into the Wadi.  My wife was not over keen and negotiated an easier mode of transport with Saleh…

…while yours truly quickly passed the initial camel mounting  test…

and was soon on his way…

 (Eat your heart out Peter O’Toole)

My camel trek lasted just under an hour and at a nearby Bedouin camp I was reunited with my wife,  and our driver and guide  Attiq,  for the rest of the tour by 4×4.

This is a stupendous, timeless place, virtually untouched by humanity and its destructive forces. Here, it is the weather and winds that have carved the imposing, towering skyscrapers, so elegantly described by T.E. Lawrence as “vast, echoing and  God-like…” A maze of monolithic rockscapes that rise up from the desert floor to heights of 1,750m. The tranquility of the boundless empty spaces,  the canyons and water holes, ancient rock drawings and the many other spectacular views this vast wilderness holds for the visitor.

    The sheer scale

Vast Plains, Bends and turns,

Mushroom rock,

…and the odd Bedouin camp site…

Many of which accommodate overnight tourists

Under the care of Saleh’s brother Attiq,  who served us an excellent ‘desert picnic’ lunch we then visited  the second of the Lawrence of Arabia landmarks, the famous house in the Wadi…

as well as allowing us to experience the haunting echo scene from the film…

Something completely unexpected was the introduction of a sand boarding experience, all part of the days adventure…

and the opportunity for myself to cross Burdah Rock Bridge, the highest in Wadi Rum, standing 35 metres high and is considered one of the highest natural arches in the world….

…while also a little feeding time for other locals

Part of Saleh’s tour includes watching the dessert sunset and late afternoon we headed for his own Bedouin dessert encampment. Dessert sunsets are indeed spectacular and on our way to the camp we came across another keen photographer setting up his equipment ready for that evenings event…

On arrival at the Saleh’s camp we enjoyed yet more Arab Coffee and hospitality …

…before witnessing our own spectacular sunset…

We were Saleh’s only guests on this particular day we felt very privileged to be taken back to his home and to have an evening meal with him and his family before our taxi transfer back to Aqaba.

In summary I would say this full day visit to Wadi Rum was an outstanding experience as well as an adventure. It ranks as one of our top visits and will live long as a lifetime memory. Saleh says on his own website…

http://www.wadirumtours.com/

“we’re Bedouin, born here in Rum, members of the proud Huwaitat tribe, descendants of the Nabateans who built Petra and helped to give the Arab world its freedom nearly 100 years ago”

Saleh, thank you for our amazing adventure. You and your family were outstanding in your friendliness and hospitality.

Shokran Saleh                                                      

  شكرا(جزيلا

2 responses to “One way to do Aqaba – Wadi Rum edition

  1. Pingback: Shore Excursion to Wadi Rum, Jordan | Solent Richard's Cruise Blog·

  2. Pingback: Bolsover Cruise Club Forum | Solent Richard's Cruise Blog·

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