If there is anything I can say with absolute confidence about traveling to Jordan, it is that you best get yourself to Wadi Rum. While most tourists are sure to check out Amman, Petra, Jerash and Aqaba, some remain skeptical about making the trek out to Wadi Rum.
Certainly, it could be construed as a challenging and less-than-fruitful trip. After all, you have to drive out into the desert, which is filled with sand and other things. And sleeping in a tent? In a Bedouin tent? Next to all of the sand? In the desert? AM I RIGHT?
In fact, no. You are wrong. True, there is a ton of sand in the desert, but amidst the sand dunes and the desert sun, there the experience of a lifetime awaits you. How often can you tell your friends and family that you spent the evening outside under the brightest stars your eyes have ever seen, that you trekked through the desert on camelback, and that you scaled soaring red mountains?
This, along with the other scenery, is one of the first draws that bring visitors to Wadi Rum. With no city lights nearby, and only the lights of a few lanterns scattered throughout the desert, there is a clear and stunning view of the stars – and in these settings you are bound to find that there are even more stars in the sky than you have ever witnessed or imagined. In fact, you basically have the universe laid out before your eyes. From this spot, it is not uncommon to spot planets, constellations, shooting stars, and perhaps even a nebula.
It is easy to get lost in star-gazing, as it is so relaxing and comfortable. Nothing beats lying on mattresses around a small fire, sitting in the comfortable night air, and drinking black tea with sage. These fireside moments are only made better by the wonderful company that your Bedouin hosts can provide for you. Guests often find themselves playing games around the fire, chatting with other guests, and belting tunes out into the vast and empty desert. The whole evening experience is only made better by the promise of a home-cooked meal. Typical eats in your Bedouin excursion are chicken, potatoes, rice, grilled onions and tomatoes, hummus, and some other small sides. However, as ordinary as this may seem, it is hard to capture the full, smoky flavor that these foods boast without cooking them in traditional Bedouin style. You can watch your hosts prepare your meal by burning wood in a pit dug into the sand, lowering in a 3-tiered grill tower, putting a cover over the pit oven, laying across a tarp, and then covering the whole contraption with piles of sand. For some reason, dinner tastes much better when you have to dig it out of the ground…
If your hosts allow it, be sure to try and sleep outside under the stars – it’s nice to have a tent as an option, but sleeping outside can take this experience to a whole new level. Once everyone else is sleeping, you will notice that there are no sounds out in the desert. In fact, it is so quiet that you can hear your ears ringing, unaccustomed to complete lack of noise. Though waking up at the crack of dawn sounds hugely unappealing, try to get yourself out of bed in time for sunrise. Though the views are gorgeous from any spot, standing on a mountaintop watching the sun rise over miles of sand can prove even more phenomenal. Try to plan your schedules accordingly, because the same could be said of a Wadi Rum sunset. Just be careful not to stay perched on the mountain for too long at dusk – a climb down in darkness could prove very problematic.
For those who fear boredom in that time between sunrise and sunset, there is definitely no need to worry. In fact, many visitors are surprised by how much culture and how many sites are tucked away amongst the desert sands. Guests are recommended to book one of the many tours offered through their campsites. There are various types of tours to suit the interests of your party: 2-hour, 4-hour, or full-day tours can be done by foot, on a camel, or in a 4×4 vehicle. These tours will take you to a number of sites, including a mountain to climb to sit by a cool spring, ancient carvings in the rock faces, the remains of the house of Lawrence of Arabia, elevated rock bridges, and sand dunes, at the very least. These tours have a good mix of history, culture, and pure astonishment – making for a great day-trip and a slew of wonderful photos for you to flaunt in front of your friends and family.
The experience as a whole, aside from awe-inspiring, is both effortless and comfortable. You can find a number of campsite options just by searching online, picking the spot that works best for your interests. They can range from a few tents to a large campsite, from rickety little structures to elevated little homes, and from truly roughing it to sites with restroom facilities. Each option is different, so you can find what works for you. Once you’ve made your selection, these sites can be booked either by calling their number or from a number of different online websites. The staff will immediately respond to your request, confirm your trip, and make any transportation arrangements you might need to make it out to Wadi Rum. You can select the time you would like to arrive, get dropped off at the Visitor’s Centre, and your hosts will be there waiting for you to drive you deeper into the desert. Yes, it may seem scary putting your trip (and your stuff) in their hands. But these individuals are kind, friendly, and trustworthy. Just relax and have faith that this will be one of the most memorable trips of your life.