I am not a lover of the desert. However, I have actually managed to fall in like at first sight with Wadi Rum in southern Jordan. Translated into English, Wadi means valley and Rum means high place. This aptly named Valley of High Places has the most interesting formations sticking out of the sand which I have ever seen in my life.
Wadi Rum is unlike other deserts I’ve seen in that it doesn’t consist of miles and miles of connected mountains or endless nothingness. This desert is literally decorated with hundreds of huge disconnected rock formations, no two alike. Rather than peeking into the sky as do mountains, the rocks of this desert are mostly flat on top. Why? Millions of years ago the entire area was under the ocean. As we drove through the deep sand in our four-wheel drive, I could easily picture these little mountains sitting on the bottom of the sea.
The first sight I saw upon entering Wadi Rum was the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a striking mountain with several distinct natural pillar-shaped rock compositions. This formation got its name from the T.E. Lawrence book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
My favorite sight in Wadi Rum was a giant hill full of what appeared, if you have an active imagination, to be small open doors and windows carved into rock. I could almost see miniature people running around inside, entering and exiting the rock by walking in the doors and peering out the windows at the world going by. Can you see what I mean?
Underneath the rocks of Wadi Rum lay enough water to keep Jordan going for 100 to 150 years. A project called Disi is currently underway, in which 330 kilometers, or 200 miles, of pipe is being built to pump water all the way from this desert to Amman.
My guide pointed out rock carvings left by the tribe of Thamud, which lived in Wadi rum from the 5th Century B.C. to the 6th Century A.D. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life aside from a museum exhibit.
Although I loved driving around this gorgeous area, one of the best parts was stopping at a large tent for Bedouin tea. I’ve had this type of tea often while living in and taking holidays in Egypt, but I still never get tired of the taste or of the experience.
Fortunately, after the tea came more of the unique mounds of rock that are Wadi Rum.
Whether I sail by ferry from Egypt to Jordan as I did on this trip or end up researching cheap flights to get me back into the country, I know when I return I’ll be heading back to Wadi Rum.
My trip to Jordan was sponsored by the Jordan Tourism Board, but all opinions are honestly my own.