FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Camp at Wadi Rum

by Ellen Clark

Jul 2, 2019
July 2019

WADI RUM! Just the name sounds mysterious. Couple this with miles of golden-red-tinted sand stretching in every direction, camels, Bedouins, violent storms and fiery sunrises, and I’m beyond intrigued. For starters, I love deserts. There’s something about the sand’s surprises that makes me want to investigate further, and the vastness and deceptively uncomplicated landscape calms my soul.

So what is Wadi Rum? one might logically ask. A wadi is a valley, ravine or channel, dry except in the rainy season. The rum descriptor is guessed to have come from an Aramaic root meaning “high” or “elevated.” Also known as “The Valley of the Moon,” this 183,000-acre area of dramatic desert landscape in southern Jordan comprises a range of narrow gorges, natural bridges, towering cliffs, massive landslides, caverns and miles of shifting sand.

Petroglyphs and other archaeological remains attest to 12,000 years of human occupation and interaction with the environment. More recently, it was the place where Prince Faisal Bin Hussein and T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) based their headquarters during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in World War I. Much of the 1962 David Lean epic movie, Lawrence of Arabia, was shot at Wadi Rum, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011.

Today Wadi Rum is home to the Zalabia Bedouin who, shrewdly, figured the area would appeal to adventure travelers. They developed eco-adventure tourism into a profitable business, now their main source of income. The area proves one of Jordan’s important tourist destinations and attracts an increasing number of foreign travelers, particularly trekkers, climbers and those on camel and horse safaris.

Our group consisted of five photographers looking to come away with some amazing desert images. Our first stop was Captain’s Desert Camp, one of the Bedouin camps at Wadi Rum that caters to visitors. This became our home in the desert. About 5,000 Bedouins call Wadi Rum home, many living in traditional goat hair tents called beit al-sha’ar, translated literally as “house of hair.” We would be sleeping in similar tents.

The line of black-, white- and red-striped tents nestled up to sandstone outcroppings at Captain’s Camp shared a large common area. Richly colored goat hair rugs and blankets with geometric designs covered the floors, and grass matting served as walls.

As our hosts cooked our lunch in a pit, we all went out to watch it emerge from the makeshift underground oven. Then we sat down to a feast of succulent roasted vegetables and chicken and a full assortment of salads, plus hummus and pita bread, topped off with a cup of mint tea. Needing a little activity after all this food, we got into four-wheeldrive vehicles and took off across the desert. We clambered up sandstone outcroppings and watched as the sun set over the miles of undulating sand.

Bedouin cook at Captain’s Camp in Wadi Rum

Bedouin cook at Captain’s Camp in Wadi Rum © ELLEN CLARK

I find night in the desert a magical time, and it seemed even more magical at Wadi Rum, silent except for the sound of a gentle breeze, the tents silhouetted against a black sky full of twinkling, jewel-like stars.

Basic cot-like beds were piled high with blankets to keep out the cold. I thought twice before crawling out of my warm cocoon and heading for the toilet tent in the middle of the night.

Waking up to a rosy glow in the sky, I reluctantly abandoned my warm bed in favor of watching the sun rise. It was cold, with a stiff wind blowing, but hey, I was in Wadi Rum. I could get warm later.

After a hearty breakfast and more mint tea, we climbed into the bed of a well-worn 4×4 truck and headed out across the sand. It was neither a warm nor a smooth ride. Wrapping scarves around our heads and faces and holding on for dear life, we crossed miles of sand with a Jordanian Mario Andretti at the wheel.

When we spotted camels and drivers we all yelled to Mario to stop and let us out. With the help of our Jordanian guide, we convinced a camel driver with his grandson in tow to pose for a few photos as he led his camels across the sand. We made another stop to check out rock faces covered in petroglyphs and then scrambled around the remains of a building where T.E. Lawrence once stayed.

Our next stop was our ultimate destination, Jabal Umm Fruth Rock Bridge. One of several natural arches in the Wadi Rum, it features impressive drops on both sides, and a five-minute climb gets you to the top. A young Jordanian boy walked across the surface while we photographed, and our accommodating guide posed in traditional garb on the top of the bridge. By late afternoon we were sitting in a local’s house drinking cups of the ever-present mint tea before we headed back to the camp.

Short but memorable, my trip to Wadi Rum exceeded my expectations. Ancient history seemed infused into the barren desert landscape, kicking my senses into overdrive. It is a place I’m not likely to forget.

Wadi Rum Info to Go

Though Wadi Rum is a year-round destination, March–May and September–November prove the most temperate months for full-day explorations. To get to Wadi Rum, a taxi ride from Aqaba takes about an hour. Buses also connect from other locations in Jordan. The best way to see the area, especially if you have a limited amount of time, is in a 4×4 vehicle with a local guide. Other choices are on foot or by camel.

Options for spending the night in Wadi Rum vary from luxury glamping to sleeping bags in the open air. Bedouin-style camping, like that at Captain’s Camp, typically offers tent cabins housing two to six people and shared bathroom facilities with solarheated water. The communal area normally includes a kitchen, indoor dining area and outdoor lounge space around a fire. You can also stay with a Bedouin host family for a night in their beit al-sha’ar (a tent made from strips of goat hair or sheep’s wool), or you can rough it with bivouac camping under the stars.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Aug 9, 2022

California Fall Hotel Openings

With fall soon upon us, California’s hospitality industry ramps up for an exciting season of hotel openings. From retreats in the mountains to urban escapes, these new hotels soon hit the scene in California this fall.

United’s 100 Percent Green Commitment to be Carbon Neutral by 2050

United Airlines remains firmly committed toward sustainability in aviation. The latest development in its eco-conscious goals includes working with Oxy Low Carbon Ventures to commercialize the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with biotech firm Cemvita Factory. Cemvita looks to develop a revolutionary new way to produce SAF by using carbon dioxide and synthetic microbes. Additionally, United Airlines Ventures (UAV) recently announced an equity investment in Fulcrum, and United has invested more in SAF production than any other airline in the world.

Daily
Aug 9, 2022

Discover Scotland’s Ancient City of Dunfermline

This past May, the location of Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland, was granted status as a city of its own during Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Not too shabby for a town that’s actually been around for a while, boasting structures dating to the 11th century.

Daily
Aug 9, 2022

American Express Unveils Changes to Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy and American Express recently debuted changes to the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card. The card, aimed at helping small business owners turn business expenses into travel rewards, now provides new and existing card members with a 7 percent Room Rate Discount on eligible bookings at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; four times Marriott Bonvoy points at restaurants worldwide; and complimentary Gold Elite status. These changes are in addition to the card’s other existing benefits.

Discover a Journey Filled with Wonder in 2022

ISN’T IT TIME? It's time to treat yourself to the vacation you deserve, and Celebrity Cruises® offers the perfect escapes. With an award-winning fleet of ships that sail to more than 300 destinations around the world, Celebrity will take you almost anywhere you want to go in style. Enjoy stunning staterooms and suites, culinary experiences imagined by Michelin-starred chefs and intuitive service. Celebrity makes sure your vacation is effortless from the start, which is why drinks, WiFi and tips are Always IncludedSM on every sailing.

August 2022
Aug 9, 2022

Creativity, Culture and Glorious Nature Abound in Zürich

PHOTO: © BOGDAN LAZAR | DREAMSTIME.COM,

Daily
Aug 5, 2022

Sip Sandals Resort Style for National Rum Day

National Rum Day is right around the corner on Aug.16, meaning it’s time to start planning your celebration. Sandals Resorts, the all-inclusive Caribbean resort company, shares recipes from mixologists, allowing rum fans to celebrate as if they are staying on property.

Protected: Lose Track of Time in Savannah, Georgia

Sweet tea. Soul food. Y'all. Sound familiar? Though these words and phrases are commonly associated with the South, it's understood in any language. If you're seeking a city abroad that will enchant you, capture your attention from start to finish and welcome everyone as family, we cordially invite you to visit Savannah.

Daily
Aug 5, 2022

Boca Raton Museum of Art Exhibit: Bonnie Lautenberg: Art Meets Hollywood

Until Aug. 21, catch the museum premier of Bonnie Lautenberg: Art Meets Hollywood at Boca Raton Museum of Art. After learning one of the large-scale red paintings created by artist Lucio Fontana was the result of his viewing of the 1964 film Red Desert (directed by Michelangelo Antonioni), Lautenberg set out to discover other instances where filmmakers and artists knowingly — or perhaps unknowingly — had an effect on one another’s work.