1) the view of Wadi Rum taken from Lawrence’s Spring high in the limestone/granite mountains G and I climbed (double-click on this image to open in full size)
My desire and interest in visiting Jordan began many moons ago … and it’s fair to say that I’ve watched David Lean’s magnificent film, Lawrence of Arabia, more times than you. Through my university days I read more books on T.E. Lawrence than you could sensibly shake a cat at, including the authorized biography by Jeremy Wilson and, of course, Lawrence’s own account of his adventures in what was thought to be the impassable Nefud desert during WWI, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
This interest was further fueled in the fall of 1996 when I was fortunate to meet and chat with Queen Noor while she was visiting and speaking in Toronto. There were lots of adventures that night including a protocol breach (on my part; though Her Majesty was non-pulsed about it, bless her) and let me tell you she had one scary personal body-guard.
We flew from Istanbul via Jordan’s capital, Amman, to the port city of Aqaba on the Gulf of Aqaba courtesy of Royal Jordanian. Before arriving we had hired a driver and arranged an itinerary we wanted to follow while in Jordan and I must give kudos to him for so expertly guiding us throughout his wonderful country. We overnighted in Aqaba at the very nice Hilton Doubletree right on the waterfront and were up and off the next morning for an overnight Bedouin camping adventure in the Valley of the Moon – otherwise known as Wadi Rum.
Wadi Rum is a vast desert filled with limestone and granite mountains that are dotted between endless expanses of sand and sand dunes. It has a surreal feel to it and stark beauty that is beguiling. During the day it is a furnace with stiff winds that have etched and shaped everything in its path, the mountains included; at night it is a refrigerator that necessitated several camel-hair blankets on our wee cots inside the Bedouin camp we overnighted at. Our driver drove us out the Wadi Rum Village where we met our Bedouin guide, Mohammed, who then whisked us – literally – off the road and into another world. It was a fascinating experience that lived up to everything I had hoped for.
All photos can be double-clicked to open into original sizes.
2) lunch on our Royal Jordanian flight from Istanbul to Amman
3) the view of the sun setting from Queen Alia International Airport in Amman
4) the view of Aqaba from our room at the Hilton
5) over yonder there is Eilat Israel
6) the pool at the Hilton
7) here we are in Wadi Rum Village in the back of Mohammed’s 4×4 about to head off the beaten track
8) lost camel?
9) … and into the wilds we go!
10) our first stop was Lawrence’s Spring, which is actually up behind me here high on the mountain
11) to get to it, you climb up up up in scorching heat to a small tree where the spring exits the mountain
12) a wee gecko I spotted up by the spring
13) and a desert beetle that was the size of my thumb
14) there’s the tree with the spring … we hiked up there!
15) throughout Wadi Rum are traces of past folks who travelled through here … this, we were told, are Thamudic inscriptions
16) not much out here eh!
17) here G hikes to a gorge that contains ancient petroglyphs
18) deep inside the gorge now
19) I spy the glyphs
20) I think we’ve gone as far as we can here
21) Mohammed, our guide heads to the sand dune
22) heading up the massive dune
23) at the top, the sand was SO fine and beautiful and we had a real hoot running down
24) we also had a jumping contest at the top of the dune … here’s Mohammed
25) our truck looks so lonely and lost down there
26) Mohammed made us thyme tea in the shade of a tremendous rock
27) G heads to ‘Mushroom Rock’
28) I tried, unsuccessfully, to push it over
29) gorgeous isn’t it!
30) just like in olden times, a trader with camels crosses our path
31) here’s the perspective shot as we were high on a ridge at the time
32) amazing isn’t it how the wind (and sand) carves the rocks here
33) here I am exiting a hike through Khaz’ali Canyon (this is a tremendous shot G!)
34) there we are!
35) here’s a short video to give you a sense of the vastness
36) here I am atop Jabal Umm Fruth rock bridge
37) I climbed all the f$8king way up here not registering just how difficult coming down would be
38) that’s me … omg it was SO scary
39) another great G photograph of the photographer shooting the sunset
40) as the sun sets it leaves wonderfully ruddy colours on the mountains
41) down it goes
42) I can still feel the heat of that desert looking at this shot … and then it got VERY cold, VERY quickly
43) a series of G at sunset
44) G at sunset
45) looking east as the sun set
46) G heads to camp
47) our dinner had been cooking underground all day and we helped free it
48) the food was actually very good … the chicken and veggies had been cooked underground
49) telling tales around the camp fire before bed
50) drinking more wonderfully fragrant thyme tea
51) sunrise 1
52) sunrise 2
53) sunrise 3 (double-click this one for sure)
54) our wee tent at sunrise … just the moon was up
55) here was camp nestled in against the mountain to protect it from the winds
1) G at sunset looking onwards to Petra, our next stop