Wadi Rum: Desert of the bold

P lötzlich kept my taxi driver on, rolled down the window and said in Arabic anything with Alemani. Then the man in black uniform leaned down and smiled, “No problem, you can go!” In the Wadi Rum desert, there should still be real men. Proud, brave and without fear. But that they would still look as good as this policeman straight, I had not heard so far. And then the taxi driver stopped again.

On a lonely road in the desert, a Toyota Landcruiser was waiting. I gave the driver 35 JD for the 2-hour drive from Petra and got in at Saleem. Until yesterday, despite lengthy research, I had not been able to choose a camp in Wadi Rum, because it was almost impossible to find out the differences of the more than 80 agencies on the ground. So I left it to fate and got to know a couple in Petra, who gave me a business card of Jordan Tracks in the hand.

A short phone call and already I was sitting in the passenger seat of the smart Bedouin Saleem, who drove with Kufiya (the red and white plaid headscarf) and black Ray Ban glasses armed with a monkey tooth direction Wadi Rum Village.

After a short layout in the Village, I got acquainted with a cuddly camel man, with whom I would ride the next four hours through the desert or rather rocking. I had sat on camels in India and Egypt, but never before. So my tip for those who are planning longer rides on camels: Do not wear underwear, because it rubs off painfully on the buttocks … A souvenir that you can easily do without.

The Khazali Canyon on the way reminded a bit of the huge canyons in Petra. Only here were virtually no tourists and even this extreme silence is something to be considered a city. First of all, you have to get used to it. You’re always waiting for some noise, but nothing comes. A beautiful condition!

But even the high temperatures in the desert are not entirely without … forgetting again, to cream in time, remains only the complete face coating. And then there is also the religion-related adaptation: With long clothes on a camel at lunchtime is a sweaty venture!

Sitting again at Saleem in a comfortable car, we stopped over at his parents’ apartment tent since his father’s retirement in the desert. In the cool shade, we drank tea, while Saleem’s mother repositioned the goats outside. She offered me her home-made goat cheese, which was harder than ours and also tasted much saltier. What would I have given for speaking Arabic now.

Time seemed to be slower here in the desert than at home. Even without talking I would have been able to stay in the tent for hours. But we drove on to Um Frouth Arch, which can be climbed in just a few minutes. At some point, the center piece will break off, I thought to myself. Hopefully not exactly at the moment when I’m just about it!

Wadi Rum Bridge
The next break was pending. Saleem picked up a bag and a small kettle from the back seat, gathered dry scrub and branches, and made us tea. He handed me half of a pomegranate, pulled out a big plucked instrument from the trunk and played on it, while I was in an emotional dissolution process. You can make us women so incredibly happy with such simple things. Especially when you are on such a beautiful spot.

I asked Saleem if he would still appreciate this landscape after all these years, even though he knew every nook and could probably navigate blindly. Surprisingly, he affirmed my question. Somehow I envied the Bedouins for being born here and living in the desert. Everything was so peaceful and quiet. It seemed like a big family where everyone helps and is in need of help. Jordan is one of the ten driest countries in the world.

But not only the drought, but also the fact that tourism (the biggest source of income in this country) has diminished due to the disturbances in the neighboring countries, requires a strong cohesion among the Bedouins. However, if you are here right now and you are in this paradisiacal landscape, you can not imagine anything negative at all, because it is so incredibly calm and relaxed here.

Thanks to my passionate talk about my love of camels in the evening, I was allowed to participate in the training of racing camels the next morning. At 5 o’clock we sat in the car, woke up three more boys, who had spent the night in a niche on mattresses, made tea and were punctual to the sunrise on the race track. The Racing Camels have long legs and are sometimes very petite.

Also sit because of the high risk of accident no rider on the back, but small machines that are to drive the camel with a device by remote control. As they walk along the course, the owners drive by car, honking and firing the fast desert ship. An exciting affair!

I spent the day with Zidane, a crazy and extremely funny Bedouin. The windshield of his old Toyota Landcruiser made it look like he’d been in a rough shootout. He also knows Wadi Rum inside and out, and it can sometimes happen that you rattle through the desert with more than 150 things while avoiding camels and goats on the way.

On this day I learned various survival strategies in the desert, z. For example, cook tea, climb and do business without toilet paper. Also, there were tutoring sessions related to Islam, family honor, and the best Bedouin jokes. Slowly but surely I was able to confirm in dealing with the different men here that they actually (still) seem to be different than the average man we know. They are equipped with an extreme protector instinct, repairing their cars and everything else themselves, opening cans with blunt knives, sleeping in the bitter cold outdoors, and taking away everything the woman considers too heavy for her.

The departure from the desert on the third day was so difficult for me that I decided to shorten my time in Aqaba on the Red Sea and come back again. I really wanted to sleep one night in the open air in the desert and count stars. Meanwhile, I knew that the danger of snakes, scorpions or even spiders in this season would be extremely low and otherwise no great dangers would lurk outside on me. Even the foxes would not bite me.

The decision or plan change turned out to be correct. Aqaba in the south of Jordan is only about an hour away from Wadi Rum and on the one hand very interesting, but on the other hand very noisy (even at night) and not very relaxing. So I spent another night in the desert, in a sleeping bag on a mattress next to a smoldering campfire. Granted, I did not sleep much, but it was an unforgettable experience.

It was not only on the five-hour trip to Amman Airport that I realized that I would come again! Probably even soon.

Travel Tips for Wadi Rum:

  • Tours: If you want an authentic stay in the desert, you should choose an agency whose guides come native from the village. Unfortunately, there are also marketing-strong agencies have spread there, the romp on tripadvisor on the first places that do not come out of the washroom authentic and offer trained guides from outside (there are, for example, money back to bad reviews too avoid). Although the “real” Bedouins from Wadi Rum speak good English, they are not marketing experts and thus not as active on the internet. Therefore, you should not only rely on advertising on the Internet and at the same time support the local providers. The two agencies Bedouinroads and Jordan Tracks are reliable, safe, very committed, 100% Wadi Rum and – as you can see in the photos – absolutely recommendable! Those who are there, should not miss, once under the open sky or in a cave to spend the night.
  • Travel time: The best travel time is in autumn (September / October) and in spring (March / April). In the summer months it is extremely hot during the day and extremely cold in the winter nights, both are rather unfavorable.
  • Flight connection : If you do not really want to travel north to the capital Amman and the surrounding area, you can also travel via Aqaba airport in the south of Jordan. Very cheap flights (some from 150 €) are available from Brussels with Jetairfly or from Amsterdam with ArkeFly . When traveling with the Belgian airline Jetairfly, the visa fee of about 20 € is already included in the fare.