Wadi Rum in Jordan offers one of the most magnificent desert landscapes in the world, and was described by the Lawrence of Arabia as ‘vast, echoing and God-like.’ Mountains of sandstone and granite rise from open valleys, reaching heights of 1,700 metres. Sand and wind have made these rock features fascinating to watch.
You cannot be in Jordan and not do a safari across this desert. I went for an evening one lasting a couple of hours, but you really need a few days to explore all attractions. More on it later.
The tour starts at the visitor centre where you are shown a short film first, and given an opportunity to buy local handicrafts. And then you are off in open jeeps that look like 4×4 but I doubt they have the power. But they work. In my case, a Mickey Mouse blanket had been spread on the top as a sun protection. Cute! As we drove around, the landscape kept changing – each rock feature was unique and looking different as every passing minute gradually changed the evening colours. We stopped when a photo opportunity came along – this meant every few minutes.
The area of 720 square kms is virtually untouched by humans, and is still home to many nomadic Bedouin tribes; their goat hair tents and goat herds are still a feature of the landscape. Wadi Rum also has a fragile eco-system, and is home to small populations of Syrian Wolf, Striped Hyena, Nubian Ibex and many species of insects, small mammals, reptiles and migratory birds of prey. An attempt is also being made to reinstate the Arabian Oryx, nearly extinct now with excessive hunting. They are currently being bred in captivity to be eventually released in the wild. Not so long back, these animals could be seen roaming freely in the desert. Unfortunately, I did not see any animal life while I was there.
While in Wadi Rum, you can plan the following activities:
* Climb high on one of the many mountains, including Jebel Rum, one of the highest for stunning views. You need to be fit, and book in advance as only limited permits are granted.
* Camp – pitch your own tent or stay in one of the Bedouin style camps with toilets, showers, meals, entertainment and housekeeping. Star gaze while you are at it – the night sky is lighted with celebrations.
* Take a Safari on a camel, horseback or on foot – these can last a few hours to a few days to your choosing. Be prepared for the heat and sand storms, and take a guide along. Don’t forget ample water, hats and other supplies.
* Shop for traditional handicrafts made by the Bedouins.
* Website: www.wadirum.jo
* Local Tel: 009623 2090600 Fax: 009623 2032586
* Getting There: Wadi Rum lies in the south western corner of Jordan 58 kilometers north of the coastal town of Aqaba. It can be reached easily by main roads from Amman (3.5 hrs), Aqaba (1 hr) and Petra (1.5 hrs). Daily internal air-flights operate between Amman and Aqaba. Public transport is very limited.
And do join us for a coffee at the Kunzum Travel Cafe in Hauz Khas Village in New Delhi, India.