From one remarkable desert expanse to the next – today we were ready to set off further into Jordan’s southern territory, towards the almighty Wadi Rum desert. After a pretty hairy drive down the Kings Road (not quite the London one, this route connects the entire country of Jordan), having successfully dodged two unsuspecting donkeys and an out-of-the-blue rail track, we finally reached our destination in one piece: the Wadi Rum Visitors’ Centre, where we were met by Seleem, our guide for the next two days. Keen to get away from the tourist trap of the Visitors’ Centre and into the wild of Wadi Rum, we hopped in the back of our old-school Mitsubishi truck and headed off into the arid expanse before us.
From the moment we reached the desert, we were greeted with sights of incredible rock formations and a series of imposing mountains, each as captivating as the one before. We spent the next few hours checking out the desert’s main attractions, from weird and wonderful rocks to springs utilised by Bedouins, all the while passing herds of camels roaming all 720 square kilometers of dramatic landscape.
For lunch we were told we’d be joining some Bedouins, which we feared would be a tourist gimmick, but as we drove up to a small cluster of huts nestled in the shadows of a couple of mountains, it dawned on us that this was the real deal. After the traditional Bedouin gratuitous cup of coffee (we were starting to get the hang of this), we sat down for lunch and were soon joined by other Bedouins, passing through on camels. Despite the obvious language barrier present whilst sitting, listening and watching the three men sipping their tea, their weathered faces full of expression and animated chat told us that this was their land, where they were born and raised and which they knew like the back of their hands and were infinitely proud of.
After lunch we were invited to explore the settlement, complete with its own herd of goats. The people here are totally self-sufficient and the most generous and hospitable we’ve come across. The way they navigate and adapt the landscape to their needs is truly amazing.
That evening as the sun began to go down and the landscape transformed from bright yellow to a deep hue of red, we arrived at our base for the night – the Bespoke Hideaways camp. Perched on a hill overlooking the most striking rock formations we’ve ever laid eyes on, we were met with a very welcome drink, just in time to watch the sun slink down below the horizon. This camp delivers the true definition of glamping, set in the midst of stunning views yet staying true to the real Bedouin experience.
After a traditional feast of lamb, chicken and vegetables cooked subway and smothered in a rich, fragrant gravy, we sat beneath the stars, the sound of nothing echoing in the desert – apart from the odd bubble of the shisha pipe.