The Magic of Wadi Rum in South Jordan
After leaving Petra for Aqaba on the Red Sea, I stopped in for a day at Wadi Rum. I can't describe how wonderful, vast, magnificent and lonely this place is. It's like a combination of Moab, Yosemite and Joshua Tree all wrapped together. The taxi won't take you all the way in either. He stops outside the park entrance and a Bedouin takes you in and shepherds you around in a Jeep or similar vehicle. There are Camels there too, so I suppose that is a transport option too. My Wadi Rum guide was Abdullah and he was a friend of my driver Ali so that is how my ride into the park happened. The friendly and amazing Ali made some calls and voila - Abdullah is waiting for us when we get there. I pay Ali extra to wait for me, or at least come back at the end of the afternoon and of course he is there, all smiles and cheer when we get back from touring Wadi Rum.
In Arabic, Wadi means a valley or ravine that is dry except for the rainy season. This place is certainly dry and it's most definitely a valley. A big valley or series of them.
You can stay in a Bedouin Camp overnight in Wadi Rum and I have heard it's a great experience. During my visit, the weather was very cold with snow in the higher elevations and I was just terribly under dressed for the temperatures so did not stay overnight. I will come back and do that though. Also, I will come back with trad climbing gear and a motivated partner or two for some climbing. The highest rock face there is a whopping 1,746 meters tall which makes it taller than El Cap in Yosemite. Hard to fathom. There is just miles of rock in Wadi Rum and piles of new route potential for motivated first ascensionists. This is like Petra only without the ruins and with the possibility of climbing the rock.
The best part about the tour, was that Abdullah would take me some cool place, point up into the rocks way up and say something like "You climb here. Be back in one hour..." or similar. So I got some great exercise and really spectacular vantage points for viewing the landscape. Of all the places, my favorite was a rock mesa on top of a large steep sand slope. It looked pretty easy and I thought I'd just run up it. Little did I know that the sand was really soft and deep, the slope steeper than it appeared and the distance further as well. I did mostly run up, but it was a hump and I was sucking air by the time I got to the top. The view was amazing and sun in a wonderful position for taking pictures. There was another guide up there too along with his clients from Switzerland. They came up the less steep other side, but I was very glad to do it my way. Coming down was huge fun!!! Just running down taking these monstrous leaps and bounding along with big air and sand everywhere. I ending up finding loose red sand for a couple of days afterward. It was beautiful, but just was in everything.
Although I am bummed I didn't overnight in a Bedouin Camp or climb the cliffs, I feel blessed that I got to go and inspired to return for climbing and exploration at a later date. So to all my climbing friends out there.... standing invite to go back. Anyone???
After Wadi Rum, I spent a few days in Aqaba on the Red Sea at the end of the Gulf of Aqaba. An interesting area where Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabian borders all converge in very close proximity. I did some really nice scuba diving right off the beach here. Very cold and no other numbskulls out doing it, but still great marine life and totally worth it. I did have a small moment of anxiety around Stonefish in the immediate area, but managed not to step on one while putting my fins on. The Dive-master said she'd seen several right in that spot over the last few days. Those suckers freak me. I'll post that story soon providing pics turned out from my new, but, but battery sucking vampire underwater camera.