Wadi Rum: Where Imagination Runs Wild

Asia, Jordan, West

Lawrence’s Spring, our first stop in Wadi Rum

It is remote and barren. It is a land of scorching heat. Yet, here we are, in Wadi Rum, a large valley in the southern corner of Jordan not too far from the border with Saudi Arabia. While many people visit my home country for its white sand beaches, lush rainforests and numerous waterfalls – snippets of paradise some may say – I choose to come to a place that is the exact opposite of it all. Also known as the Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum is the largest wadi (an Arabic term to describe a dry valley or riverbed which has water only after heavy rains) in the entire kingdom of Jordan which also happens to be one of the most famous places among tourists in this Middle Eastern country. James and I are tourists after all, and when in Jordan why not go and see what Wadi Rum is like?

We start our exploration of Wadi Rum in a village that also serves as the gateway to the valley. All tour operators must collect their guests here before transporting them to their offices, and later to their tents with each company managing its own Bedouin-style campsite. We don’t have to wait for too long for the staff members of our company to come, who then take us to their office – a small house where they serve us piping hot sweet tea. Half an hour later and after being briefed about our itinerary, we embark on a day-long excursion across the desert on a 4×4 Jeep joined by two Italian couples.

We spend the first half of the day visiting Lawrence’s Spring (named after the British intelligence officer Thomas Edward Lawrence who helped the Arabs in their revolt against the Ottomans during World War I) with an ancient Thamudic inscription carved on a rock in its vicinity, traversing the vast desolate landscape with imposing rock mountains guarding its four directions, climbing a reddish sand dune under the desert sun, walking inside the narrow fissure that cuts through Jabal Khazali where petroglyphs as well as Thamudic and Kufic (early Arabic script) inscriptions abound, and checking out a ruin called the House of Lawrence (he is a recurring theme in this part of Jordan). While each of these sites is itself worthy of a visit, what I find most extraordinary about Wadi Rum is the setting, a magnificent landscape carved and shaped by the brute forces of Mother Earth since time immemorial.

Some of the tallest peaks in this barren land appear to rise from a flat red-brown surface that stretches as far as the eye can see. Their grim look amplifies the already menacing appearance of the desert’s burning earthen tone. Thanks to the multiple layers on some of those imposing cliffs, to me they come into sight as giant ancient temples that stand so tall but are badly eroded, leaving their protruding bands devoid of any reliefs. Another hill makes my mind wander further into the realm of imagination as it resembles a lamassu, a Sumerian protective deity with the body of a bull, a pair of bird’s wings and the head of a man.

As our driver takes us deeper into the valley, hopping from one spot to another, I let my imagination run wild. At one corner, I see a rock formation that resembles the head and body of an elephant, but with its trunk missing. In another part of the wadi, I spot a towering cliff whose surface appears to be so flat and smooth, accentuating the linear patterns carved upon it by Mother Nature. This particular wall makes my mind fly to Peru, home of the Nazca Lines. But there is one mountain in Wadi Rum with its rugged, muscular façade that makes my brain immediately play the theme song from a scene in the blockbuster fantasy movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. When Frodo and his eight companions paddle their boats pass the Argonath – also known as the Pillars of the Kings that mark the former northern boundary of Gondor – there is a sense of fascination among the members of this unlikely group upon seeing those colossal monuments. Blame my imagination, but that same feeling of being wonderstruck is what I get after processing the visual stimuli that are the majestic mountains of Wadi Rum.

Or maybe it’s just too hot in this part of Jordan so my brain begins seeing things I normally don’t.

Fresh water from the spring

A rock with Thamudic inscriptions near the spring

A closer look at the ancient writing

Camels, your best friends in the desert

Going up the sand dune for a better view of the valley

Mars on Earth

Just another day in the desert for this man and his four camels

Traversing the inhospitable landscape

Luckily it’s lunchtime, and our driver who knows all the routes through this desert maze pulls over at a site that is shaded from the sun’s oppressive rays. He prepares the mat on which we’ll have our lunch, picnic-style. Then he gives each of us a plastic bag filled with pita bread, canned tuna, hummus in a box, olive oil, a fresh tomato, a cucumber, and a few snacks. This simple lunch turns out to be quite satisfying, although being protected from the heat by the hill behind us means we share this place with others: desert flies. They incessantly try to land on our food, sucking up whatever nutrition they can get in this unforgiving land.

Once the meal is over, the four Italians take a nap, while I enjoy the peaceful eolian sound produced by the dry but gentle breeze. Occasionally, a bird up on the hill behind us sings repetitive tunes that break the serenity of the desert. But apart from that, it’s all calm here. I walk around a little bit and take photos of some plants that have evolved to survive in the most drought-stricken places.

Feeling refreshed, all of us continue to tour more sites in the valley, from natural bridges to a spot to watch the sunset while the chilly night wind of the desert begins to sweep across the landscape, carrying the day’s heat away.

Just as the sky gets darker, we arrive at our campsite – an open compound of guest tents, a big tent that serves as the main dining area, tents for the staff members, as well as a permanent building that houses the bathrooms. In the middle of everything is a brazier surrounded by thick mats where we sit while waiting for other guests to arrive. We take our time to wind down after a long day and chat with two friendly Americans from D.C. In the meantime, two German parents who sits across from us are keeping their daughters busy – the father gives the eldest kid math problems, while the mother teaches the toddler how to read.

Once everyone has gathered outside the main tent, the charismatic owner of the company that manages the campsite welcomes us. Standing next to the bonfire, his strong facial features glimmer in the dimmed light. He starts talking about Wadi Rum, its history and its culture, with the latter a cue for that one thing I’ve been anticipating the most from this stay: a Bedouin-style dinner. At around 7pm, he signals us to follow him to the kitchen area of the campsite where two men are waiting. We’re about to hear them talk about zarb, a method of cooking using an underground oven practiced by Bedouin people for generations. After a brief explanation of what lies beneath the ground in front of us, our dinner is dug up to the oohs and aahs of mesmerized guests.

Dinner is served in a buffet style with all the chicken and vegetables cooked underground placed at the very end of the medley of Jordanian dishes spread in front of us. We share a table with the two Americans again, and while the conversation itself is wonderful, the zarb chicken really is the star of the night, for not only is it juicy and tender, but also smoky.

I had read people’s accounts of Wadi Rum prior to my visit, and many of them mentioned seeing the beautiful star-studded night sky during their stay. Tonight the sky is clear, but as our sojourn coincides with the full moon, instead of bright twinkling stars, the perfectly round disc of the Earth’s satellite dominates the view above us. To be honest, I have never seen the moon that bright in my life, and this makes me think of ancient civilizations who personified the celestial object as gods and goddesses and worshiped them.

At around 10pm, after taking a much-needed shower, we retreat to our tent and call it a day.

Arriving at Jabal Khazali

Jabal Khazali is known for its narrow fissure with a high concentration of ancient inscriptions

Petroglyphs at Jabal Khazali

A person and a few animals, carved thousands of years ago

One of the natural bridges in Wadi Rum

The site of the House of Lawrence

The hill directly above the House of Lawrence

Cairns above the House of Lawrence

Scouting for our picnic spot at lunchtime

A dramatic landscape at every turn

The natural bridge of Jebel Burdah, the highest of its kind in Wadi Rum

Walking through Al Mahama canyon

At the end of the canyon walk

The sunset is very peaceful here

Sharing this magical moment with a few other people

As the sun sets, the moon rises

Taking some more shots before night falls

Preparing the bonfire

There is food buried inside this underground oven

The staff members explaining what zarb is

Our delicious dinner

I wake up around 5am, when other guests are still sleeping, to go to the bathroom which is located around 100 meters away. As I open our tent’s door, I immediately look up and notice that the moon has already descended behind the hills to the west, allowing the stars to finally reveal themselves. I try to remember the shapes of constellations from an encyclopedia that I read a long time ago, and realize that I’m actually looking at Ursa Major, a constellation that can only be seen in the northern hemisphere. All these years I have been looking at the Southern Cross while wondering when I would get to see its northern counterpart. Apparently, on this quiet morning, the time has come and I can’t help but feel so fortunate to finally behold the Big Dipper.

That is the last fortunate thing on our second day in Wadi Rum, sadly.

As opposed to most guests who only stay one night in the camp and leave the next morning, we opt to spend two nights in this secluded valley. There are far less sites to see this day, but that’s because this time we’re going to explore the wadi on the back of a camel. As the sun rises, we see three dromedaries stationed near our tent – two for each of us, and the other one for the guide, a friendly local Bedouin man who can only speak a few words of English. But first, we need to learn how to get on a camel. I mount mine who’s kneeling on its four legs, and with a single and rather gentle jolt by the guide, the camel raises its hind legs, followed by its forelegs. The sensation of being suddenly lifted above the ground reminds me of that moment I rode an attraction at a theme park in Jakarta when I was little. Soon afterward, James mounts his camel, and moments later the three of us are all at the same height and ready to go.

Our guide leads the way, and all the camels slowly walk away from the campsite – when I say slowly, I really mean it. In the beginning, it’s a nice experience to traverse the desert at a leisurely pace with the gentle warmth of the morning sun and the occasional breeze caressing my face. Our first stop is the House of Lawrence, but contrary to yesterday, this time we are the only visitors there. We spend around 15 minutes at this place before continuing our camel ride to the second stop: the Anfashieh inscriptions depicting camels in different sizes. By the time we get here, the sun is already quite high, making me think of the journey we have to take to go back to our campsite in the midday sun. But the day is still long, and soon enough our guide takes us to the third spot: a sand dune hidden amid rocky outcrops. He signals us to go up and take a photo, but we politely decline and choose to stay at a shaded corner of this area. Probably understanding that we’re beginning to feel overwhelmed by the oppressive heat, our guide leads us back to our tents. However, with our camels walking at a pace that is frustratingly slow, the campsite seems like an ocean away from where we are.

On our way back, there’s no mountains nearby to provide us with much-needed shade from the sun, nor is there a fresh gentle breeze. It’s just the three of us, three camels and the sun right above us. We signed up for a five-hour camel ride, but we never thought it would come to this tormenting experience. Hours pass by, and I see a clump of black Bedouin tents a few hundred meters in front of us, hoping that it’s our campsite I’m looking at. But it’s not. Our camels keep walking and our guide sits cross-legged atop his camel – a position I’m tempted to copy but decide not to. He seemingly enjoys this long ride, but when I turn to James and look at his facial expression it appears that he might faint at any time. Suddenly our guide’s camel farts really loudly, giving us a little entertainment in the middle of this torture. Then my camel starts biting James’s, then his camel urinates while walking. All these desert absurdities, and the hope for seeing our campsite soon, keep me awake and sane.

Five hours after beginning this excursion, I finally see it: the big tent of our camp’s main dining hall and the smaller tents forming two neat rows of black boxes. I couldn’t be more relieved to know that this excruciating camel ride is about to end very soon. There are things that look cool only in photos, and this is certainly one of them. But this also makes me think of those merchants in the past who traveled across the region, through some of the world’s most inhospitable landscapes, on the back of their dromedaries. They traveled for days, even weeks this way, while I can barely survive five hours.

However, my account is not meant to deter you from going to Wadi Rum. It really is a magical place. Every corner of this barren valley stirs the imagination, the same way the entire wadi has evoked people’s fantasies of faraway places, like Mars. Wadi Rum is in fact where some Mars-themed movies were filmed, including Red Planet and The Martian. It has also been used as the backdrop of some scenes in Prometheus and the Star Wars franchise. But probably the most recent film that showcases Wadi Rum’s majestic and mysterious beauty is the live-action version of Disney’s Aladdin.

These days our movements are limited, but our imagination is as vast as the universe itself. And when you do come to Wadi Rum after this storm has passed, be prepared to unleash your own imagination.

Waking up to a beautiful day

The main tent which serves as the dining hall

Bedouin traditional patterns inside the main tent

The three camels and our guide

Anfashieh inscriptions, depicting humans and camels

Another day, another sand dune

Rough and smooth in Wadi Rum

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

77 thoughts on “Wadi Rum: Where Imagination Runs Wild”

  1. Oh my what an incredible journey you have just tsken me on … so grateful. I must tell you how impressed i am w yr photography,,, over the years ive followed by you it just gets better and better. Whst a magnificent place! It reminds me a wee bit of some areas of outback oz. Im not sure where you are at present… stay safe and take care…the world is truly weird ànd hopefully we will all recover with perhaps a slightly different perspective on how we live as a global comunity. Salam hangat dari oz selatan Trees

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Trees. You’re too kind. 🙂 I can see why Wadi Rum reminds you of the Outback — when I flew over the latter back in 2017 I remember how red it was in the morning sun. I’m currently in Jakarta and I’ve been working from home for two weeks now. Stay safe and healthy too! This pandemic has certainly changed the way see ourselves as a global community — for the better I hope. Salam hangat dari the Big Durian!

      Liked by 1 person

    • The pleasure is mine, Cornelia. Wadi Rum is such a dramatic place, and thanks to the nice, albeit hot, weather I could take shots of the valley bathed in the intense sunlight.

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  2. After reading your post, I’m sure that I don’t want to ride any camel 🙂 I guess very few visitors actually enjoy the ride. But they do it anyway, for the sake of great photos. Aside from that, Wadi Rum is truly stunning. Love the landscape!
    Thanks for sharing your realistic experience, Bama! And stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can try it once, but at least you know what to expect, so don’t be silly like me. Do it for half an hour or even less. Wadi Rum is so different from both of our home countries, but there’s something magical about this foreign land. Thanks for reading, Len. Stay safe and healthy too!

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  3. You did 5 hours on a camel! That’s mad! Lol. I didn’t even join our 30 minute camel trip because I knew it would it be torture. My Singaporean friend did it, and was like, “never again!” Lol. It is an amazing place though and well worth a visit!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was definitely not a smart decision, but hey, at least now I have this story to tell. 😀 One of the Italian couples we met actually did a sunrise camel ride, which makes more sense. Nevertheless, the landscape in Wadi Rum was indeed spectacular.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome. I’m glad in your case this post evokes a fond memory from a long time ago.


  4. Wow, what an extraordinary place! Jordan has been on my travel list for so long. Wadi Rum and the King’s Highway, of course the food too, are what really make me day-dream. The landscape looks like it’s not from Earth! I find these barren, desert landscapes fascinating too – although it’s such an inhospitable climate. I’ve been on a Camel once, in Qatar, for 10 minutes and it was enough. So uncomfortable.

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    • You should go to Jordan when things have returned to normal, Pooja. It is an amazing country. And since you mentioned the food, we found it really underrated. We had so much good food throughout our stay in the country, and when you do go you should also try Palestinian food, especially in Amman. You were so lucky for having to endure that torture only for ten minutes! If only we knew better.

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  5. Ira says:

    Your photos and story are so beautiful!!!! Someday I want to go to Jordan too. When you live in Indonesia, looking at this picture like you are from other planets since it’s really different scenery there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Much appreciated, Ira. This part of Jordan really is so different from what we’re used to seeing in Indonesia. But that’s also the appeal. You should go there when the country opens up its borders for foreign tourists again, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

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  6. As much as I like to see camels (especially Bactrian camels) I’m just not convinced I could use them as a mean of transportation. Plus I bet they know I secretly want to eat them and they won’t be happy about it.

    I was on the verge of buying a flight to Aqaba and embark on a three-day trek of Wadi Rum last year… but then I couldn’t get time off, prices spiked, no direct from London… and I dropped it. Now I’m really eating my hands, Bama. I’ll have to do it sooner or later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe I should give Bactrian camel a try. I wonder what those two humps can do in terms of comfort.

      I guess you should really book any flights to Aqaba once Jordan begins accepting tourists again once this pandemic is over. I have a feeling you would enjoy Wadi Rum even more than I did.

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    • Merci, Suzanne. Hopefully one day when we have beaten the pandemic, you’ll get the chance to return to Wadi Rum.


  7. What a unique region. Your experience gazing at the clear night sky reminded me of being stranded in mid-Western Australia when I slept outdoors in the desert-like landscape. I remember doing the same, staring up at the brilliant stars in wonder and hoping no snakes would wander into my sleeping bag. Thanks for sharing — we need these positive experiences during these times more than ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One thing I’ve always wanted to do is to go somewhere dark, very dark, to see the stars and the Milky Way. Western Australia sounds like a cool option, although being in a place where some of the world’s most venomous snakes live and without any light is a little frightening. Stay safe, Mallee!

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  8. This looks and sounds like an amazing trip. Your pictures are stunning with the different rock features and bright red sand. We did a camel ride in Rajasthan and I don’t know how, but my saddle was the only one with stirrups, so my ride was fine, but Richard’s didn’t and he said it was the most uncomfortable way to travel. I hope to make it to Jordan one day, thanks for the tour! Maggie

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    • Jordan was really amazing, and Wadi Rum was like anything I had ever visited. It was otherworldly. I think if my saddle had stirrups, the five-hour camel ride would have been less brutal, albeit only marginally. I hope one day you’ll get the chance to visit Jordan (and I to Rajasthan).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I wonder how different (or similar) Wadi Rum was more than twenty years ago. Thanks for reading, Dean.


  9. It seems like a lifetime ago that we (and even you) were in Jordan, blithely enjoying another part of the world far, far away. Some days (and I guess this is one of them), I have less-than-rosy thoughts about when we will all be able to roam again. For now, this was a fun return to Wadi Rum for me (even when I think back to my camel ride led by an 8-year-old)!

    Nice tents, by the way! You took the Mercedes tour!

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    • It feels surreal, doesn’t it? Just five months ago James and I were in Jordan, and two months later in Hong Kong. But now traveling outside your own neighborhood is even out of question for some.

      Our tents were more of a Toyota. We saw domes with big transparent panels, now those are the Mercedes, or Lamborghini. 😀

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  10. I saved this post for today, when I knew I could really sit and savor my way through it. Your photos are brilliant and I was practically sweating along with you on that long, hot ride back to camp. Wadi Rum looks other-worldly, fascinating, vast and so RED. I cannot wait to go here someday. Dinner looked amazing and I’m so happy for you that you saw the Big Dipper! Thanks for the story and for your closing thought that “our imagination is as vast as the universe itself.” Just incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kelly! That camel ride is easily one of the most excruciating things I’ve ever done in my life. So when you go to Wadi Rum and you want to experience riding a camel, maybe 30 minutes in the morning is more than enough. You will surely try zarb when you stay in one of the tents across the valley. It was really good! I hope I can see the Big Dipper again one day in a place where the sky is even clearer — with no moon.

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  11. Oh that camel ride sounds brutal! We did a pre-dawn camel ride in Wadi Rum that thankfully wasn’t more than half an hour, climbed an escarpment to watch the sunrise then rode back to camp all well before the heat of the day. At the same time, our guide rushed us through our whole experience there and I felt like I never really had the time to immerse myself in the majesty of the place. It sounds as if you and James had more time there, and more time to appreciate the magnificence of the setting even if that camel ride was the day from hell. You’re right – it’s magic, and it is definitely a must-see if you’re in Jordan for sure.

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    • We should have done what you did, as in going early in the morning before the valley is baked. But apart from this, Wadi Rum really was a spectacular place. The landscape, the ancient inscriptions and the ruins all stir the imagination. We didn’t go to a Nabatean site on our second day, though. It was just too hot.

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  12. Bama, we didn’t make it to Wadi Rum when we visited Jordan, so seeing all your excellent photos and reading about your tour gave me a real feel for the place. We lived in Sudan for 2 years, so I’ve spent lots of time in the desert, and after this time, I know that there’s no quiet like the quiet one experiences in the desert. On a blazing hot day without wind, cars, insects and all other noise, the quiet is incredible. There are really very few places on earth where one can get total quiet, but the desert is one of them. I can understand why holy men and religious pilgrims go there for communing with their god.

    Are you still on the road or are you back in Jakarta? If so, how are things going in Indonesia with the Coronavirus. Our town is locked down except for essential services, and everyone has a stay at home order. Stay safe and healthy. ~James

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    • Any mention about Sudan always makes my mind wander to those pyramids in Meroe. It must be a very quiet place. Speaking of quiet, it reminds me of that long and excruciating camel ride back to our camp in Wadi Rum. Around midday, there was no wind, and our camels’ step was the only sound I could hear.

      I’m in Jakarta currently (fortunately!), and I’ve been working from home for three weeks. Most offices tell their employees to work from home as well, which makes the streets and malls a lot less busy. Some business have actually been closed for weeks — including restaurants, cafes and even some malls. It’s so strange to see what is usually a bustling city with really bad traffic become this quiet. However, so far no full-scale lockdown has been implemented although by far the city has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia. Stay safe and healthy to you and Terri too! I hope this pandemic ends sooner than later.

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  13. Awesome post! Thanks for bringing memories back from my travels to the wadi in 2012! I loved the bit on your imagination and the rock formations. And sorry for your camel ordeal. Having done it in the desert of India I exactly feel your pain. A promise to myself never sign up for it, if I must not more than an hour!

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    • Thank you, Naresh. I wonder how different or similar the desert in India (the Thar desert, I suppose?) and Wadi Rum are. But regardless of where one does it, I think camel ride is nice if it’s done in just half an hour. 🙂

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      • Thar desert in the west of India is never ending soft sand dunes. No rocks no boulders just heaps of golden sand. Nubra Valley desert in north is grey sands and a high altitude desert. Double humped camels 🐫 are Nubra speciality! You gotta ride then once!

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  14. Being a fan of Lawrence of Arabia (book and film) I always wanted to visit Wadi Rum and other parts in that area of the world but never did. Your pictures are amazing!

    By the way, your mentioning Ursa Major: In my case it is just the opposite way. I see Ursa Major every night (when visible) but have never seen in my life (born 1941) the Southern Cross. Last year I have been in Mauritius, checked many travel pages in the Web, was reassured about the visibility all over the year, and found out at last there are some weeks in the year when it is not (or as well as not) visible. The next try was planned for New Zealand this March but fortunately we cancelled our plan in the beginning of February when the Corona virus raised its ugly head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Peter!

      When this pandemic is over, you should make that trip to New Zealand happen. I have never been there myself, but it’s one of those places I want to see the most. Hopefully when you do go there, the night sky will be clear so you can see the Southern Cross. Living in the southern hemisphere myself I find the constellation very easy to spot.

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  15. Your desert photos are gorgeous. Seeing those ancient drawings of men riding camels as you were doing the same thousands of years later, must have been spine-tingling! Hoping this finds you safe and healthy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Seeing that one man crossing the burning desert on the back of his camel was really surreal. And to think that this was how people in this region traveled in the past was mind-boggling, to say the least. I hope you stay healthy as well!

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  16. Bama I read this aloud to Ben and we both suffered just reading about the heat and being on the back of a camel. I have experienced this, in Israel in a Wadi and frankly, I will NEVER ever do that again! Yes, it looks better than it actually is. But these kind of travel experiences are memorable nonetheless and also provide a touch of the absurd that spices one’s experience and you have a good story to tell!

    Your description of the desert was stunning, you really did an amazing job. Hard to tell if your beautiful words supplement your photographs or vice versa. But for sure you absolutely transported us. Love the descriptions of the starts and the moon and their drama and beauty and also was super interesting to see the petroglyphs and ancient early inscriptions. Reminded me of the cave paintings in South Africa (my birth country).

    It is interesting reading this in the Corona environment, as the moment I read “two Italians” I could not help but think “uh oh” .. It happens that both in Viet Nam and in Sri Lanka, the start of the pandemic was Italy. In Viet Nam a local returned after a trip without alerting authorities and soon her whole street was blocked off, and in Sri Lanka, a tour group of Italians brought Corona to the island. It is sad but the sheer mention of Italy or Italians now triggers an ” uh oh”.

    Wonderful post.

    Peta (& Ben)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually now that I think of it, in the past one of my friends had told me about his camel ride experience in Morocco, which he didn’t enjoy. But I completely forgot about it, and when we were in Wadi Rum I really looked forward to our second day. I’m glad neither of us fainted during those excruciatingly long ride — otherwise we wouldn’t have this story to tell people.

      You’re too kind, Peta. But as we were exploring Wadi Rum on the first day, I really couldn’t help but imagine those mighty rocks as something else. They were so imposing it was hard not to feel insignificant before those natural fortresses.

      We felt somewhat isolated during our first day because those two Italian couples kept talking to each other in Italian — although listening to their singsong intonation was quite entertaining. But I can imagine how hard it must be for them now, especially because Italians are such social people.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!


    • Thanks Jolandi! Have you been to Wadi Rum? If you haven’t, from the way you said it I think you would really enjoy this place.


      • I think I would, Bama. Sadly I only had 8 days in Jordan, and I ended up skipping that part of the country. Definitely a good excuse to return.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. What a fascinating trip Bama, thanks for sharing your experience. I was curious, do you know why the sand looks red/orange, it looks amazing but I wanted to know if it had anything to do with the minerals in the rocks or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading, Liz. You guessed it correctly — a document published by the UNESCO says that the color variation on Wadi Rum’s surface is caused by “dissolution of internal calcite cements and secondary mineralization such as calcites and iron-hydroxites.”

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  18. J.D. Riso says:

    “These days our movements are limited, but our imagination is as vast as the universe itself”

    I also find myself reminiscing about all of the magnificent places I’ve visited in my life. So grateful for the memories, and content with myself because I heeded the call of wanderlust rather than stifle it like so many do. I love such desolate places that seem not of this Earth. I can just imagine how that full moon looked. So awesome. Thank you for the voyage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Usually April is the month when I travel to faraway places (Lebanon last year, South Korea two years ago, and Vietnam three years ago). But for some reason this year I only booked a trip to a place in Java, on the same island where I live now. Of course, that trip was cancelled, but since I wasn’t planning to see anything “spectacular”, the disappointment was rather manageable. We’re fortunate to have seen some of the places this beautiful planet has to offer. One day when the pandemic is over, you should plan a trip to Jordan, Julie (and don’t miss Wadi Rum).

      Liked by 1 person

      • J.D. Riso says:

        If I ever go to Jordan, I most certainly won’t miss Wadi Rum. It looks magical.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. A very fascinating and detailed account of your experience in Wadi Rum. I think it was quite balanced in terms of how you gave the positives and the negatives. Quite rightfully said that there are some things that look cool in pictures, but the reality is quite different- pretty much every single travel experience of mine has taught me this exact thing. The photos are breathtaking as usual. I would like to go there too, although maybe just an overnight stay 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. There are places that can be quite underwhelming when we see them in person, but others can turn out more spectacular than what we expected, and I’m glad Jordan in general belongs to the latter. I hope you’ll make it to Wadi Rum, and now you know that one night is most likely all the time you need in this remote part of the country.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. There were three things I absolutely loved about Wadi Rum: the otherworldly, martian-looking landscape (it is just so cinematic), the starry night skies, and then the incredible silence of it all. It felt like the polar opposite of Indonesia in terms of the noise level and the lack of vegetation. I agree that we over-budgeted an extra night at the camp and the hours-long camel ride was not such a fantastic idea, but at least we know not to do it again! Thank you for sharing this vivid account with such gorgeous photos while we’re all cooped up at home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I imagine how much brighter the stars could have been if there was no moon. But then, that was really the biggest and clearest moon I’ve seen in a long time. Can you imagine how quiet Wadi Rum must be at the moment due to the temporary halt in all tourism activities due to Covid-19? Even much of the usual noise in Jakarta has been conspicuously absent in the past few weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. LOL. Kebayang sih gimana ga nyamannya itu, gundal gandul di atas unta segitu lama :)) Tapi setidaknya tenda dan lain-lainnya kelihatan nyaman, Mas.

    Wadi Rum ini emang salah satu lokasi di bumi yang tampilannya kaya ngga di bumi gitu ya. Ga heran jadi pilihan banyak sineas untuk jadi tempat syuting film yang settingnya di Mars atau tempat-tempat imajinatif gitu.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, ide gila kan? Yah seenggaknya ada yang bisa buat jadi bahan cerita.

      Wadi Rum kena sinar matahari, wah bener-bener nyala, merah. Tapi kayaknya Gurun Sahara mirip-mirip ya warnanya.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gila sih itu 😂😂😂
        Tapi setuju, justru itu yang bikin berkesan dan keinget terus ya.

        Secara lansekap kayanya saya lebih suka Wadi Rum ini sih mas, ada rocky mountainnya gitu kesannya, kontras dengan gurunnya yang cenderung datar. Kalau Sahara kan lebih kaya dunes gitu ya, gundukan-gundukan tapi ga ada gunung karangnya gitu.

        Kalau untuk warna mirip-mirip kayanya. Panasnya di siang hari mungkin juga sama ya.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sahara tuh kayaknya yang ada gunung-gunungnya itu yang di Aljazair deh kalau saya gak salah inget. Waktu itu pernah nonton video tempat-tempat menarik di Aljazair, dan gunung-gunung di Sahara warnanya cenderung hitam kelam. Cocok buat lokasi shooting film, hehe.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sepertinya gitu, Mas. Soalnya yang di Maroko padang pasirnya ga ada gunung gitu. Cuma gundukan pasir di mana-mana. Kayanya bakalan lebih keren viewnya kalau ada gunungnya ya. Hehe,

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: A Taste of the Levant: Lebanon | What an Amazing World!

  23. Bama your descriptions are outstanding. There is a poet inside of you. Have you read the book Shantaram? It is probably my favourite book, and the author is constantly contemplating the world and people around him, and his place in it – like you do. It was touching and beautiful the way you described seeing the stars and Ursa Major for the first time. I had to see this post because, in my trip to Jordan about the same time as you, my favourite stop was our two nights in Wadi Rum. Thank goodness we didn’t take a 5-hour camel ride! We did ride camels out to watch the sunset and it was just lovely and a perfect temperature and didn’t last long enough for me. The funniest part of THAT camel ride was that my girlfriend Margaret had on a skirt and wasn’t even thinking about it till we were out in the desert and arrived at the place where we would climb onto camels. She would have to cancel her ride. But our wonderful guide quickly slipped inside a tent, and removed the bottom half of his Bedouin garb, loose pants with a wide elastic waistband, and came out still modestly covered in his galabiya. He handed his pants over to Margaret, who laughed and gratefully changed into them and then we climbed onto our camels! After my trip to Jordan I watched the movie Lawrence of Arabia because I honestly didn’t know anything about him before I went. I’m glad the beauty of the desert struck you so powerfully. It struck me, and I’ll never forget it. I could probably spend a whole month there, I loved it that much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re too kind, Crystal. Thank you! Actually I had never heard of Shantaram before, and now I am intrigued. I do like to contemplate the world, why things happened (or keep happening), and what will possibly happen in the future. One of my ex-bosses told me that I’m a deep thinker. Back then I didn’t really understand what he meant with that, but gradually I start to grasp it.

      The story of Margaret is really funny. How thoughtful and nice your guide was! The way he treated your friend and found a solution so that she could still have the experience of riding a camel is Arab hospitality at its best.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! Abdullah was his name. A very good man. If you find time to read a book, Shantaram is one of the best. It is llloooooonnnng, but worth it. About a man who escapes from an Australian prison and escapes to Bombay to hide, and lives in a shantytown and falls in love with the people and the city. It’s amazingly beautiful.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I appreciate you giving me a warning beforehand that it’s a long book. So when I finally decide to read it, I know what to expect.

        Liked by 1 person

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