December 20, 2022
Wadi Rum: red rocks plus red desert, minus the Martians.
And you thought my tales from the Jordanian side were done and dusted? No – not quite; not just yet. For there’s still the Wadi Rum (wadi = “valley” in Arabic) desert I need to tell you about and show you…
And I need to tell you since Wadi Rum is soooo awesome. A red desert, and everything else red too: red hills, red rocks, red canyons… I look at these pics and I’m already nostalgizing – and I was there only a couple weeks ago! Basically it’s the red rocks of Utah / Arizona + the red sands of the Namib desert = more redness than Mars!
But, curiously, it’s not all that well-known by tourists from afar. A bit like Kamchatka. But it should be! No, wait: but then there’d be too many tourists! But no, I can’t keep quiet about this place for such selfish reasons. All righty; conscience cleared, onward!…
Dunes, rock formations, cliffs, hills, mountains – and all of it an orangey-red!
Arches too! And you can climb up all of them – if you can manage it.
This one here is more of a bridge than an arch:
Wadi Rum. I’m always interested in finding out what place names mean – especially such unusual places as this. As mentioned, Wadi means valley. And the Rum? Curiously, the Russian Wikipedia page reckons it means Roman Valley in Arabic. But that sounds like nonsense. Our guide – and Wikipedia (in English) backs him up – told us it comes from the early name of Iram of the Pillars, the lost city mentioned in the Quran. Now that’s more like it: ancient and mysterious – and name-dropped by the holy book of Islam, no less!
“Climbing and hiking at your own risk” – fair enough: it’s a vast territory; they can’t be expected to keep an eye on everyone…
Entry fee paid, and we were in…
First up, the “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”. Bizarrely, the name comes from the title of the book by T.E. Lawrence (written and published in the 1920s) – and not the other way round! Here are those seven pillars:
If you count five there – you count correctly; a further two “pillars” become visible round the back.
About turn, and we were headed over there ->
We reached our first arch bridge – the “Um Fruth”: 100% natural! ->
It’s a bit scary stood underneath since its crossway looks so precariously balanced. But it’s been like that for eons so the danger level is miniscule…
This one, like all the others, can be walked over. The only tricky part is getting up to it – you need to squeeze through some narrow passages; also – coming back down isn’t the easiest ->
And here’s another, called “Little Bridge”:
And it is indeed little, plus getting up to it is a walk in the park desert…
“The monster eats the moon”:
Can you make out the bridge in this pic? ->
And the views from the bridge ->
The biggest bridge of all here is the Burdah Rock Bridge. We had it in our itinerary, but for some reason we never made it.
Btw, tourists are ferried around the desert on the backs of pickups! Not as bad as it sounds, mind: they’re kitted out with two benches along the sides with soft cushions on them. Another btw: there are no roads, just directions :) ->
The distances you need to drive are never too far, but sometimes it’s half-an-hour to get from one place to another.
Alternatively, you can go on camel-back. Of course that’s much slower, and I’m not sure more comfortable than being jolted about on the back of a pickup!
Our next port of call – Khazali Canyon, here in the foreground just left of center:
Up close, a brutal construction:
Upon closer inspection we notice… rock climbers! Rather them than me, that’s for sure!
Even closer – and the patterns on the rock face become surreal:
Next: we’re heading down this here narrow canyon ->
It gets very tight in places, especially when encountering oncoming “traffic” ->
The end of the “easy” tourist route. You can carry on, but it involves climbing. We kept things easy…
Next, the ruins of Lawrence House – as in Lawrence of Arabia. However, I know precious little about this famous British soldier-cum-writer, or his books, and haven’t even seen the film – which won seven (7!) Oscars – about him…
We take a short trek up some cliffs; here’s the view from our highest point:
Cake, anyone? ->
Btw, if I repeat any pics – my apologies. I get a bit overwhelmed going forward and backward through them all for my intro pics, then main pics, and so on…
Ancient rocks, and ancient… graffiti (perhaps)! ->
Next to practically every point of interest – a shop:
A Bedouin village:
Woah – a natural pyramid!
To come to Wadi Rum and see everything worth seeing in one day is impossible; therefore, you need to stay the night somewhere locally. And that means going for tent-type lodgings – actually, special tents with transparent “roofs” so you can check out the starry skies of a night. We were recommended to stay at the Wadi Rum Bubble Luxotel, but there were no vacancies there. So we opted for the next-best thing – the Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp:
To be brutally frank, the “Luxury” in the name is a misnomer. Still – perfectly comfortable: hot water, proper bathroom and toilet attached to each “pod”. There’s not much room, but for one night: fine. Main thing – the see-through roof! ->
All such camps are at the foot of a mountain – is that for protection from the elements I wonder? I guess windy sandstorms can occur here…
Over there – another camp. They’re everywhere! ->
This camp’s ours:
Desert dawn scenes:
We didn’t see much sun, but in all – a memorable experience out in the desert!
That’s all for now folks from Jordan, but I’ll be back later…
All the photos from Jordan are here.