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
United Arab Emirates
Jul 29, 2021

World’s Deepest Pool Opens in Dubai

Deep Dive Dubai, home of the deepest swimming pool for diving in the world, opened in Dubai, in the Nad Al Sheba neighborhood. Guinness World Records verified the pool as the world’s deepest swimming pool for diving at a depth of 60.02 meters, or almost 197 feet, holding 14 million liters of water, equivalent to six Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Elevate Your Travel Experience with AirPass

As more travelers return to the skies, American is here every step of the way to ensure an elevated and seamless journey. Experience flying freedom with AirPass, American’s all-inclusive, pre-paid travel membership program.

eFlyer Reviews
Jul 28, 2021

JW Marriott New Orleans Review

Family gatherings are extra special this year and we chose to celebrate a milestone birthday in New Orleans. The JW Marriott New Orleans, across the street from the historic French Quarter, is ideally situated for exploring the city. Streetcars roll in front of the property and are especially fun for first-time visitors. Within a ¾-mile radius, we could walk to the National WWII Museum, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Sazerac House, Harrah’s Casino, the Shops of Canal Place and numerous restaurants.

eFlyer News
Jul 28, 2021

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 2024 World Cruise Breaks Booking Record for Third Year

For the third year in a row, Regent Seven Seas Cruises broke the company’s world cruise opening day booking record. The 2024 World Cruise sold out around 11 a.m. on July 14, after going on sale that morning at 8:30 a.m. Fares started at $73,499 per guest for a deluxe veranda suite, up to $199,999 per guest for a master suite.

Sports Industry Awards returns to Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah for 8th Edition

The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.

eFlyer News
Jul 28, 2021

Aqua-Aston Hospitality Introduces Contactless Guest Communications Across Portfolio

Aqua-Aston Hospitality, with hotels in Hawai’i, Florida and Costa Rica, introduced an intelligent text messaging platform at its hotels and resorts, streamlining real-time communication with guests. Since the mobile technology has been implemented, the platform has been successfully used to answer guest questions, manage check-in, deliver amenities, quickly communicate updates on services, send alerts and enable contact-less check-out.

Daily
Jul 27, 2021

6 Reasons to Put Okinawa, Japan, on Your Travel List

As the vaccine rolls out and travel picks up, it’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Okinawa with us.

Finest Punta Cana is Where You Should Stay Next

You probably didn’t know you needed to visit the Dominican Republic until you learned about the new, beautiful, modern, all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana.

Lifestyle / Events
Jul 27, 2021

Americans Ready to Return to Live Entertainment

After more than a year of staying home and social distancing, Americans are ready to experience live entertainment again. According to Allianz Partners USA’s Vacation Confidence Index survey, 55 percent of Americans plan on attending at least one ticketed event before the end of 2021, with 16 percent planning to attend three or more events.