Place: Wadi Rum = The Volley of the Moon
Date: Dec 28th 2019
Although the cloud-less sky indicated that the stormy weather had subsided, to a degree that every building across the bay, on the Israeli side in Eilat could be clearly spotted through the crystal clear air, yet, life necessities like work and school schedules, compelled our children to depart back to TLV this early morning.
We, on the other hand, who stayed behind, chose to spend the extra day by paying a visit to the dramatic scenery of Wadi Rum.
Another Abed (Tel: 962 7 85600888) an independent driver, much younger and very simpatico, though less impressive, then the first one, from the trip to Petra, was sent by Jordan Horizons Tour, to pick us up.
Abed drove us for about only one hour, on the wide 4 lanes
Desert Hwy (Hwy 15) to the Wadi's entrance, where we were transferred to a 4X4 jeep to be driven inside the Wadi itself.
Desert Hwy which starts in Aqaba continues North East towards Ma'an, and also passes through the desert to the east of the major settlements in Jordan's southern region, is the fastest but least romantic of the 3 routes linking Amman and the south of the country. It then merges into a regional Hwy going to Amman and then follows the path of a newly constructed bypass Hwy to Zarqa.
Wadi Rum = Wādī al-Qamar = Valley of the Moon
It is the largest Wadi in Jordan - a scenic valley cut/eroded to strange shapes into the reddish sandstone and granite rock, in a desert setting, the size of 720km squared, formed by once the sea and the help of winds and flood water, throughout the ages.
Protected by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Association (ASECA) the Wadi's nature and that of the Bedouin living within the premise, is preserved since 1988, and also by by UNESCO since 2011.
The isolated and largely inhospitable area, is one of Jordan's important tourist destinations, which attracts an increasing number of foreigners.
Popular activities in the desert environment among the massive rock formations includes: camping under the stars, riding Arabian horses and camels, hiking, tracking, sand-dune wadding, rock-climbing, as well as desert film shooting, or simply driving the day-trippers, like us, through the vast sandy desolate reddish sandy terrain.
All open roof Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Jeeps are available for rent with a driver, for a minimum 2 or more hours drive, for an established fix fees, posted at the park's entrance. The real adventurers desert's lovers, can benefit from the newly opened camps, on site, which offer very modest accommodation (and free sand massages..) under the stars, to the overnight- staying visitors.
The Wadi has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, including the Nabataeans– who left their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples.
The current only permanent inhabitants are several thousand Bedouin nomads and villagers.
The Zalabia Bedouins, to which also our jeep's driver - Husain Abu Nader, and his family of over 1000 members belong, have been inhabiting the Wadi for ages, and have succeeded in developing an
eco-adventure tourism, granting themselves a main source of income, by working with climbers and trekkers.
Our Bedouin Driver
British officer T. E. Lawrence, who passed through, several times during the Arab Revolt of 1917–18, is best remembered in connection to this Wadi.
One of the rock formations in Wadi Rum, originally known as Jabal al-Mazmar (The Mountain of (the) Plague), was named in the 1980
"The Seven Pillars of Wisdom," after Lawrence's book penned in the aftermath of the war, though the referred to in the book, have no connection with Wadi Rum.
Shots of Wadi Rum in "Lawrence of Arabia" film from 1962, kick-started Jordan's tourism industry.
In Wadi Rum's Khaz'ali Canyon the site of petroglyphs etched into the cave walls, humans and antelopes are depicted, dating back to the Thamudic times - an ancient civilization in the Hejaz known from the 8th c BCE . High rocky walls loom above the very narrow gorge passage, through which all visitors squeeze. Though short it was not easy to walk through, since it is steep, lacking any rails or safety means and contain holes in which rain water were harvested.
Up the Sand Dune
David climbed to the top of a popular steep sand dune, along with many other tourists who shared the activity. I had passed, as I don't particularly enjoy wadding in sinking sand, and had enough sand-treatment, at the visit to Petra.
The Village of Wadi Rum, which we passed toward the end of our tour consists of several hundred Bedouin inhabitants with their goat-hair tents, next to more permanent concrete houses - building in progress, their 4x4 wheel vehicles, one school for boys and one for girls, as well as a few shops.
Also the historic structure of the headquarters of the Desert Patrol - which was a paramilitary force of Transjordan. Its main task was to guard Jordanian borders with neighboring Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria as well as to provide protection for oil pipe lines of Iraqi Petroleum Company.
Headquarters of the Desert Patrol
Some other Nabataean rock etchings
The 2 hours jeep drive and back throughout the bumpy sandy terrain, and some limited climbing, were definitely sufficient for this desert special experience, on this gorgeous, but quite cool day.
The backdrop of a magnificent desert reddish Sun-Set was a marvelous natural special effect addition, we enjoyed all the way on our drive back to the hotel.
The red sand pile which David gathered on his Dune's climb and brought back with him in his shoes, to the hotel, could fill up a small sand-box for our darling grand Leo, alas Leo was already in TLV by then.
To be continued...