Walking in Lawrence’s footsteps

DSCF0183 (1024x368)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.

DSCF0177 (2) (1024x768)2) lunch on our Royal Jordanian flight from Istanbul to Amman

IMG_3887 (1024x1024)3) the view of the sun setting from Queen Alia International Airport in Amman

DSCN1844 (768x1024)4) the view of Aqaba from our room at the Hilton

DSCN1849 (1024x768)5) over yonder there is Eilat Israel

DSCN1846 (1024x768)6) the pool at the Hilton

DSCN1857 (1024x768)7) here we are in Wadi Rum Village in the back of Mohammed’s 4×4 about to head off the beaten track

DSCN1858 (1024x768)8) lost camel?

DSCN1859 (1024x768)9) … and into the wilds we go!

DSCN1861 (1024x768)10) our first stop was Lawrence’s Spring, which is actually up behind me here high on the mountain

DSCN1867 (1024x768)11) to get to it, you climb up up up in scorching heat to a small tree where the spring exits the mountain

DSCN1870 (1024x768)12) a wee gecko I spotted up by the spring

DSCN1995 (1024x768)13) and a desert beetle that was the size of my thumb

DSCN1863 (1024x768)14) there’s the tree with the spring … we hiked up there!

DSCN1862 (1024x768)15) throughout Wadi Rum are traces of past folks who travelled through here … this, we were told, are Thamudic inscriptions

DSCN1897 (1024x748)16) not much out here eh!

DSCN1876 (1024x768)17) here G hikes to a gorge that contains ancient petroglyphs

DSCN1895 (768x1024)18) deep inside the gorge now

DSCN1894 (1024x768)19) I spy the glyphs

DSCN1887 (768x1024)20) I think we’ve gone as far as we can here

DSCN1901 (1024x768)21) Mohammed, our guide heads to the sand dune

DSCN1904 (1024x768)22) heading up the massive dune

DSCN1915 (768x1024)23) at the top, the sand was SO fine and beautiful and we had a real hoot running down

DSCN1911 (1024x768)24) we also had a jumping contest at the top of the dune … here’s Mohammed

DSCN1902 (1024x768)25) our truck looks so lonely and lost down there

DSCN1941 (1024x768)26) Mohammed made us thyme tea in the shade of a tremendous rock

DSCN1930 (1024x768)27) G heads to ‘Mushroom Rock’

DSCN1933 (1024x768)28) I tried, unsuccessfully, to push it over

DSCN1943 (1024x768)29) gorgeous isn’t it!

DSCN1967 (768x1024)30) just like in olden times, a trader with camels crosses our path

DSCN1969 (1024x768)31) here’s the perspective shot as we were high on a ridge at the time

DSCF0184 (1024x768)32) amazing isn’t it how the wind (and sand) carves the rocks here

DSCN1978 (1024x768)33) here I am exiting a hike through Khaz’ali Canyon (this is a tremendous shot G!)

DSCN1984 (1024x768)34) there we are!

35) here’s a short video to give you a sense of the vastness

DSCN1986 (768x1024)36) here I am atop Jabal Umm Fruth rock bridge

DSCN1987 (1024x768)37) I climbed all the f$8king way up here not registering just how difficult coming down would be

DSCN1988 (1024x768)38) that’s me … omg it was SO scary

DSCF0198 (1024x768)39) another great G photograph of the photographer shooting the sunset

DSCN2000 (1024x751)40) as the sun sets it leaves wonderfully ruddy colours on the mountains

DSCF0204 (1024x512)41) down it goes

DSC_0171 (685x1024)42) I can still feel the heat of that desert looking at this shot … and then it got VERY cold, VERY quickly

DSC_0152 (1024x685)43) a series of G at sunset

DSC_0149 (1024x782)44) G at sunset

DSC_0195 (1024x685)45) looking east as the sun set

DSC_0193 (771x1024)46) G heads to camp

DSCN2004 (1024x768)47) our dinner had been cooking underground all day and we helped free it

DSCN2007 (1024x768)48) the food was actually very good … the chicken and veggies had been cooked underground

DSCN2009 (1024x768)49) telling tales around the camp fire before bed

DSCN2003 (1024x768)50) drinking more wonderfully fragrant thyme tea

DSCF0205 (1024x768)51) sunrise 1

DSCF0210 (1024x768)52) sunrise 2

DSCF0206 (1024x184)53) sunrise 3 (double-click this one for sure)

DSCN2015 (1024x768)54) our wee tent at sunrise … just the moon was up

DSCN2016 (886x1024)55) here was camp nestled in against the mountain to protect it from the winds

DSCN1996 (1024x768)1) G at sunset looking onwards to Petra, our next stop

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