We had had a busy morning, exploring Little Petra and driving to Wadi Rum’s desert, in the south of Jordan. The husband and I were looking forward to taking a jeep ride in the desert and sleeping in a traditional Bedouin camp. The Cub was also excited – she was really keen to meet some camels!
A Jeep Ride into the Desert of Wadi Rum
Not long after we arrived at our Bedouin camp we piled into the back of a jeep for a tour through the desert. We went at a sedate pace for the kids, but it was still bumpy enough and the Cub really enjoyed it. Bee was soon lulled into a sleep as I’d decided to keep him in our sling rather than letting him bounce about (or out of) the back of the jeep. Of course you can go for a bit more of an exciting ride if you don’t have toddlers with you.
Our driver had to exercise quite some skill when he parked the jeep to stop it sliding back down the dunes. We stopped at a dune which was the setting for The Martian.
You can see why they picked Wadi Rum to stand in for Mars; the sand really is red and the great spines of rock rising out of the dunes gives it an otherworldly quality. The Cub was delighted and had a lovely time scampering about and trying to build sandcastles.
As we drove around the husband and I were mesmerised by Wadi Rum’s stark beauty. We both agreed that we felt quite insignificant in the vastness of the desert.
It also felt like it was a spiritual place on some level; we could see why three of the world’s major religions started around this area.
A Camel Ride
For the first part of our drive the only sign of other people in the desert were jeep tracks. However we spied some camels in the distance and soon found a large group of them with their Bedouin owners. Of course we jumped out and the Cub ran straight over to them.
Choosing the one with the most pink on its saddle she was soon asking to sit on it. We all wanted a quick ride. Poor Bee woke up as the camel stood up – I imagine he was a bit disconcerted to find himself high up on such a strange looking beast! Needless to say, the camel ride was the Cub’s favourite part of the trip to Jordan.
Just around the corner from the camels we paused for tea at a Bedouin camp in the shelter of some of the largest rocks. Someone had carved the face of T.E. Lawrence into a rock here.
About the only research I’d managed to do on Jordan before we left was to watch Lawrence of Arabia, the biopic of the British soldier who joined with the Bedouins of Wadi Rum during the Arab Revolt to liberate Aqaba from the Ottomans. I was interested to know what the Bedouins actually thought of Lawrence. Our guide was positive about him; I suppose they wouldn’t have carved his likeness onto a rock if they didn’t like him!
Refreshed after our tea, we jumped back into the jeep to find a viewpoint for sunset. The kids ran about, although Bee wasn’t as keen on the sand as his sister. The husband and I soaked in as much of our surroundings as we could while keeping an eye on the kids. We were lucky with the sunset; a few wisps of cloud added to its beauty.
Bedouin Camp and Sleeping in a Tent
We headed back to our camp for dinner. The food was lamb which had been cooked in a pit underground with vegetables. We watched as it was hauled, steaming, out of the pit, then got in a scrum with the other guests at the camp as everyone rushed to serve themselves.
The husband enjoyed the meat; I settled for veg and rice. As the veg had been cooked in the pit with the meat it did have quite a meaty taste which I wasn’t keen on. When you’re travelling though it’s not always entirely possible to remain a strict vegetarian. You’re going to get some veg cooked in meat stock, or fish sauce in a broth or similar at some point. I try not to stress about it too much.
The camp was showing a film on a mobile film truck but the children were too tired to watch it so we headed back to our tent. Our accommodation wasn’t really a tent, but a wooden hut covered in green and white striped canvas, and lined inside with white silk. It felt like a tent, which I suppose is the important part. We had the added benefit of an ensuite shower room. We passed a comfortable night, though the husband and I would have liked to have stayed up later and talked with our hosts a bit more. I was also hoping to try to get some good photos of the night sky but unfortunately the sky had clouded over. Of course.
After a leisurely breakfast at our camp we left Wadi Rum for our final stop in Jordan; the town of Aqaba on the shores of the Red Sea. On the way we found an old steam train which we couldn’t resist exploring.
We’d decided to splurge a bit and stayed in the Intercontinental, which was lovely. It had its own section of beach so we knew the kids would be safe playing here. From the beach you can see four countries; Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
We were surprised and saddened to see that the hotel was almost entirely deserted. There were hardly any other tourists at the tail end of peak season. When I went to enquire about taking a snorkelling trip, the staff weren’t sure if any were running as nobody else had expressed an interest. They told me to come back the next morning to check.
The next day I had an upset stomach so snorkelling was out anyway. I don’t know how I picked the bug up; nobody else got it. We’d all eaten the same food and the places we stayed were clean. I was gutted – I’d been looking forward to some “me” time as the husband had said he’d look after the kids while I went. I’d done snorkelling in the Red Sea in Egypt so I knew exactly what I was missing out on.
We played on the beach with the kids instead, and despite me feeling a little sub-par we had a relaxing end to the holiday. The husband and I reflected on our holiday and all the amazing things we’d seen. Other than our honeymoon we thought that this was the best trip we’d taken.
Jordan has it all; fascinating culture and history, amazing ancient ruins and spectacular and varied scenery. And perhaps most importantly, some of the friendliest people we’ve met on our travels. We absolutely loved Jordan and we will definitely be back.