Finding Mohamad, the owner of Sunset Camp and the person who would put us on camels for the ride to his Bedouin camp in the desert, was a major challenge on Day 2 of our trip to Jordan. The drive along King’s Highway and then The Desert Highway was longer than we thought, and our phones did work in Jordan. With no way to contact him and having no idea how we were going to find him in Wadi Rum village, I was getting quite anxious as we approached the Wadi Rum Visitor’s Center. Thankfully, everyone knew Mohamad of Sunset Camp and we arrived at his place around 2:30 in the afternoon. Little did we know that this late arrival would be a blessing in disguise.
I was the only “experienced” camel rider in our group of six, having ridden one for 15 minutes in China back in 2004. Our camel driver walked alongside us, slapping the camel’s butts with a stick and making a clicking sound most of the way to the camp. We were joined by a young couple from France currently living in Kuwait.
Wadi Rum is a stunning section of the Jordanian desert, highlighted by massive sandstone buttes and mountains that rise straight out of the red desert sands. Touring Wadi Rum by camel, horseback or jeep is now a big business and it is very obvious why once you enter the place. It goes on for miles and is otherworldly at times. This is where Lawrence of Arabia fought with the Arabs in their revolt against the French, and we heard that scenes from Star Wars were filmed here. Not surprising at all. The place is just amazing. Hopefully the pictures will give you a sense of that.
We arrived at Sunset Camp shortly after sunset and a two hour camel ride. We had scheduled a four hour ride, but due to our late arrival we only had time for the shorter, more direct ride to camp. THANK GOD! We all had our fill of sitting on a camel, as our butts were quite sore by the time we dismounted. We were some of the last to arrive at the camp, and once we dropped our stuff in our sleeping tent, we joined the other two dozen or so people in the communal tent where we sat around a fire, sipped sweetened black tea and chatted from folks from around the world and some of our Bedouin hosts.
Dinner was a bit late, but that was ok with us as we got to enjoy the cocktail hour. We had purchased a bottle of vodka at the duty free shop in the airport, and some fruit juice and sprite at a market earlier in the day.
Our “Wadi Rums” (an apt name in spite of the lack of rum) were actually quite good and we were happy to share them with folks sitting close by. Dinner was tasty….bread, chicken, potatoes, beans, cucumbers and yogurt, and of course sweetened black tea.
We headed to bed in our tent where four mattresses with ample bedding were waiting for us. Kristina and Rebecca stayed up for a bit chatting with folks, and ultimately slept under the stars on a dune behind our tent. We learned that the next morning as Sharon and I were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
I was out of our tent with camera in hand well before the sun lifted over the eastern ridges of Wadi Rum. The colors were magnificent, the temperature cool but comfortable. Doing sun salutations as the sun peeked up from the horizon was pretty, pretty cool.
After a light breakfast the four of us
hopped into a beat up Jeep Cherokee with our driver, Eid. We spent the next four hours visiting sites in WR. We saw ancient Nabataen inscriptions, the arch bridge, giant sand dunes, vast stretches of desert floor dwarfed by sheer sandstone mountains, Lawrence’s spring (watering hole for Lawrence of Arabia), and The Seven Pillars of Wisdom made famous in T. E. Lawrence’s (the same Lawrence) memoir. It was a day we will never forget.