Jordan: A day and night in Wadi Rum

By Cubie - February 08, 2020

Getting to Wadi Rum
My guesthouse in Petra helped me organise a bus to pick me up at 6:25am, JOD 7 which I paid to the guesthouse. He told me to get ready by 6:15am, just in case. At 6:15am, the guesthouse owner brought breakfast for the other 2 travellers and told me he made me some breakfast too, for free. My reservation did not include breakfast.

There was a taxi behind the bus and both stopped in front of the guesthouse. There were some exchange of conversation between the guesthouse owner and the taxi driver and I was ushered to get in the taxi, joining another 3 passengers. It was a bit of a squeeze but luckily the drive wasn't long.

Arriving at Wadi Rum
On arriving at Wadi Rum, the taxi driver sent us to the visitor centre to pay the entrance fee of JOD 5 to Wadi Rum. This is covered under Jordan Pass. After that, we waited at the carpark for someone from the camp to collect us. My 3 fellow travellers are friends and soon went on their merry way. I made reservation with Wadi Rum Legend Camp. They had initially asked me to wait for them at a petrol station nearby but the taxi driver said he will send me to the visitor centre. The taxi driver helped me called the camp a couple of times as nobody picked up the call and waited with me inside his car till someone from the camp came.

Hamed and Sulaiman came to pick me up. While Hamed was outside sorting out things with the taxi driver, Sulaiman asked for my name for verification that they picked up the right person. He couldn't get my name right after trying a couple of times.

It is true that my name is a little tricky to pronounce, so I asked him, "what do you suggest?"
Sulaiman had a think and replied, "Selma". So I was known and introduced as Selma during my stay in Wadi Rum.

Where we had breakfast, lunch and dinner
Hamed and Sulaiman drove me back to the camp where I joined everybody else in the main camp for breakfast. Even though I travel alone often but I am still very socially awkward especially around many people. I would usually just retreat to a corner of the room, similar to standing behind a pot plant if you like. Sulaiman insisted that I eat and sat next to me. I did feel less awkward after, is this the Bedouin's charm? By the way, combination of cream cheese with honey or tahini is tasty.

I joined Sonia for a 4 hour jeep tour (JOD 35) after breakfast. Abdullah was our tour guide for the day and cousins to Hamed and Sulaiman, who are brothers. Legend Camp is a family business (possibly the same for most camps in Wadi Rum) and owned by Hatem, another cousin. Pretty much everybody whom I met in the camp are relatives except for Ahmed, an Egyptian and Saddam from Yemen who works in the camp.

I must be a clueless tourist. Wadi Rum is big, I didn't ask where we would be going in this 4 hour jeep tour and just follow along. I guess if you feel strongly about certain sights, they would bring you there. I didn't.

4-hour Jeep Tour
Our first stop, Mushroom Rock.

Next we were brought to house of Lawrence. I am unsure if this was his actual house or part of film location of the movie Lawrence of Arabia. I suspect the "theme" of the locations I was brought to were of filming locations, so I think it is more the latter.

If you stand at the entrance, facing outside and yell, you will hear a loud echo. Abdullah also showed us that if you rub your fingers over one of the stones outside then rub on your skin, it would work as a blush. It was said that Bedouins used that as make up in the past.

There is this spot in Wadi Rum where you can see where the sand is divided into 2 colours.

Terracotta to the left, yellow to the right
We were brought to at least 2 different rock bridges. Sonia and I climbed up both, so poor tour guide climbed with us to avoid clumsy tourists fell to death.

Our other stops include at this ancient spring/well and a French fortress or castle, which was said to be the shooting location of Fort Boyard.

We also stopped for some tea and enjoyed rebab music. It is known as rabāba in Arabic. These tea stops were some sort of shops, which also sells random scarves or souvenirs. I didn't buy any but Sonia got a box of kohl, an ancient recipe for mascara.

After 4 hours, we were sent back to the camp. Sonia left for Aqaba soon after while I laze around till evening. As the day went, there were more people arriving to the camp and went for their jeep tour. I initially asked if I could have lunch when we were out on the jeep tour but was told that in view of the windy weather, it was not suitable to be cooking out in the open. On hindsight, it was way too early to have lunch in that 4 hour jeep tour especially since I had 2 breakfasts.

I had lunch at the main camp and paid JOD 7 for this. I really wished I could've pack them and have them at another meal because the portion was huge!

I wasn't in luck as you can see from the photos above, it was fairly cloudy on the day I visited, so there wasn't distint "egg yolk" looking sun or perfect blanket for stars photographs at night.

As I was walking nearby the camp to take some photos, Sulaiman returned to the camp with some guests. We had a little chat and he showed me how to wash hand using ajram plant. First he cut the top of the plant into small parts, then the plants were crushed using a small stone. He then placed the crushed ajram on my palm and poured a little water. I was told to rub both my palms together in a fast motion. It really was like a soap!

Interestingly, among all the staffs I met in the camp, I enjoyed my conversation with Sulaiman the most but he actually doesn't work in the camp. Coincidentally he was home for a holiday.

Dinner (JOD 12) was buffet style affair and I befriended a couple from Hong Kong. We shared a taxi to Aqaba the next morning. They were heading to Wadi Araba Crossing to get to Eilat while I wanted to get to Aqaba city center.

I read that there is one daily bus between Wadi Rum and Aqaba and departs from Wadi Rum around 6:30-7:00am, arriving in Aqaba after an hour and costs JOD 3 but doesn't run on Fridays. It appears that most don't recommend catching the bus because tickets cannot be booked. Possibly this was the reason why Hatem, the owner of the camp didn't comment much about the timing or sending me to catch the bus the next day. He mentioned of the bus possibly not available due to holiday. I needed to get to Aqaba because that would be my "gateway" to commute back to Amman. When he heard that we were planning to go to Aqaba by taxi, he promptly rang up his taxi contact and booked one for us the next morning at 9am.

After dinner activity was campfire in a covered tent, where we played some games and shishas were on offered at the cost of JOD 5. Of course, complimentary tea was offered. I tried my first shisha, grape flavoured courtesy of a French couple sitting next to me.

It was cold late December night but there were 2 single beds in my camp so I used all the blankets available. As I have woken up, I bundled up and walked out of my camp, hoping to see sky full of skies. There were some but it was still very cloudy. No luck.

Leaving the camp in Wadi Rum
I left for Aqaba with my newfound friends after breakfast. We rode behind a ute with the French couple who shared shisha with us last night to the nearby petrol station to meet the taxi driver who would send us to Aqaba.

Side note: Is it December yet? :(

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