“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
– T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)
T.E. Lawrence described Wadi Rum as “vast, echoing and God-like” and I found no reason to not to believe him. This majestic maze of macabre rock formations and endless seas of sand, which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was everything fables are woven into.
Also known as the ‘The Valley of Moon’ for the shape and structure of sandstone and granite rocks, Wadi Rum is located in southern Jordan to the east of Aqaba and is one of the most visited site in Jordan. Wadi means valley and Rum comes from an Aramaic word which means elevated. The desert has been inhabited for thousands of years, people struggling to survive in its harsh environment. It inhabitants have been hunters, grazers, farmers and traders and even the famous Nabateans.
We reached Wadi Rum at around 8 in the morning and the weather was very pleasant. So we wandered around the Al Hijaz Railway clicking pictures of this scenic desert. Large expanse of yellow sand in all direction, mountains at the distance made a picturesque sight. As we walked, we left our footprints on the sands of antiquity, creating imprints of today on its perfect texture.
The Al Hijaz railway originally built in 1908 to transport pilgrims travelling for Hajj from the city of Damascus in Syria to the city of Madina in Saudi Arabia. The railway line was severely damaged during the First World War (1914-1918) by Lawrence of Arabia and the Arab Revolt and only a parts of the Hejaz Railway survived. This famous Heritage railway is now opened for tourism. The railway show is created by the Jordan Heritage Revival Company, that takes you back to 1916 as they re-enact the Arab Revolt. As you travel on the train with the Ottoman troops, the Arabs attack the train and take the Ottoman troops with them. After announcing their win, the parties at war have rounds of negotiations before the settlement. I was quiet impressed with the show where Horses and Camel carries men with rifles that attacked. Not just were their gun shots but also bomb blasts and the entire experience does take you to the past and relive it.
Glimpses of the Al Hijaz Railway Show by Jordan Heritage Revival Company, depicting the Great Arab Revolt
The next activity at hand was the Camel Safari, something which I had experienced in Jaisalmer but did not quite get a hang of it. As we reached our start point, our camels were already waiting for us. The tour started, passing through the rocky corridors. It was a fun ride with all our camels walking in a line and everyone playing a balancing act with their cameras while trying not to fall down. I was comfortable after a while, clicking away to glory – trying to capture one perfect shot with my lovely camel .
Camel Safari in the Wadi
We were totally fascinated by the colourful rocks and their interesting shapes. They seemed like hand crafted artefacts from a distance, composed and intricately designed by some divine hand. We had to reach the camp site located inside Wadi Rum for lunch. We met many of the fellow travel bloggers who can come from different parts of the world. The camp side has tents lined up for overnight stay. It would have been a beautiful experience to stay inside Wadi rum and star gaze through the night.
Lunch at the Maverick Rock Formations
After lunch it was now time for a Jeep safari. It felt good to sit under a shaded Jeep in the harsh sun. One can notice the unique pattern of huge rocks around the expanse of sand that gives Wadi Rum its unique identity. We drove past many such structures spanning across the vast desert. We even stopped at a few Nabatean camps where they we met some Bedouin. They live in tents in the midst of this arid land and for all the hardships of their lives, they stay merrily and even manage to trade by selling handicrafts and beautiful souvenirs. From the camel caravans of yore to the Jeep Safaris of today, something which has been the soul of the desert is Trade.
At the Bedouin Camp, where we reached during the Jeep Safari
Further we stopped to see some ancient rock paintings known as Petroglyph. Also known as Thamudic rock inscriptions made by the Thumad nomadic tribes in around 800s BC, the Petroglyphs include human figures, animals and symbols. These inscriptions are a proof of the civilizations that resided in the area centuries ago.
Petroglyphs – The Rock Paintings
Wadi Rum is widely known for its connection with the legendary British officer T. E. Lawrence, generously quoted at the beginning of this post, who passed through it several times during the Arab Revolt of 1917–18. In the 1980s one of the rock formations in Wadi Rum was named “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” after the book penned by Lawrence in the aftermath of the war. We visited that rock and paid a silent homage to the brave, almost poetic, warrior.
At the memorial of T.E. Lawrence
There were many more things that one can do at Wadi Rum. Hot Air Balloon ride, star gazing in the night and checking out the famous Jabal Umm Fruth Bridge which forms a natural rock arch, but due to lack of time we had to say good bye to this amazing place. Until we visit again!