For desert lovers Jordan is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The large variety of rocks, the dramatic landscape created by the Dead Sea Rift fault and the numerous amount of hidden water springs combine to an orgy of shapes and colors. In previous posts I’ve described treks in the vicinity of Petra, Rajef and the Dead Sea canyons. On this one we’re heading south, close to the border with Saudi Arabia: The protected area of Wadi Rum.
This area consists of steep inselbergs surrounded with red and yellow sand dunes. It is reached by a road that branches east from the Desert Highway, about half an hour drive from Aqaba. On that road you drive around fifteen more minutes to reach the visitors’ center and the entrance, where there’s entrance fee required, five Jordanian Dinar per person in 2011.
Two Days of Hiking in Wadi Rum:
The trail description given here is not detailed enough for route finding. It’s recommended to find a guide at the village to lead you through the trails. Attallah from “Bedouin Lifestyle Camp” can arrange your guide, the camping, meals and 4×4 transportation through the sand dunes. Don’t forget to tell him you found his name at my blog… www.bedouinlifestyle.com .
Day 1, Crossing Jebel Um Ishrin massif and visiting the Anafishiyeh rock inscriptions:
As we enter the protected area, we continue driving to the village of Rum and park our car. We head strait east to the ridge and start ascending following the Rujums, the piles of stones the Bedouins leave to mark the trails. We scramble up some rock faces and ledges to bypass a dry fall that blocks the way to the canyon. As we climb through a maze of gorges, we reach a pass and start heading down, to the eastern side of the massif. It takes around two-three hours to reach the surprising red sand dunes that suddenly appear in front of our eyes. Climbing to the top of the dune, we will spot the inselberg of Jebel Anafishieh on our north-east. We’ll walk directly to a smooth vertical face of the southern cliff of the mountain. On this rock we’ll find rock inscriptions that date back over two thousand years, when the Thamudic people wandered around the vicinity. Among the rock drawings we’ll find a camel breast-feeding its young, hunters, warriors and many more.
From the rock we’ll aim south, to the Large Dune that settled between the two inselbergs on our south, Jebel Um Aleidiya and Jebel Um Kharg. After the long climb to its top left we’ll cross between the two mountains, and walk or be picked up to our camp. The Bedouins of the region have organized special camps around the vicinity, where you can choose from sleeping in a large shared bedouin tent, a private tent or during summer grab a mattress to the sand dune and sleep under the stars. You are going to be served a special meal cooked in the ground, and endless cups of tea. The breakfast however, is very dull, so you might like to bring some extra food for that.
Day two, The day of the bridges:
We will start this day visiting the entrance of the Wadi Khazali gorge, where more interesting rock drawings can be found, including a woman giving birth to a baby! From there, we’ll keep walking east to the next mountain, Jebel Qabr Amra, where the Small Rock Bridge can be spotted on its northern tip. It’s an easy scramble up the bridge, with beautiful views through it.
On with our trek, we surround the mountain from its east, via Wadi Qabr Amra. Five kilometers south rises Jebel Um Fruth, where the Medium Rock Bridge is found on its east. Another short easy scramble leads us to its top.
Heading south-east, we cross two more inselbergs to arrive at the foot of Jebel Burda. On its north-west side a two-hours long trail winds up to the Large Rock Bridge, less than a meter and a half wide and eighty meters above the ground, standing on its top is not for the faint-hearted! It takes less than an hour to backtrack down, where a pre-arranged 4×4 vehicle can take us back to the village, and if we have time we can conclude with a short walk to the Shelaleh spring described in T.E. Lawrence’s (Of Arabia) book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom”.
A guided trek on this trail can be reserved at www.yoeloren.com