FROM SPRING TO LITTLE BRIDGE IN WADI RUM, JORDAN
The senior’s group from South Africa left Rum Village first.
They said ‘see you later’ while waving. All luggage and handbags left because there would be a special vehicle to bring to the camp. My group consisted of four German men, they were close friends and used to travel together. After introducing myself, I thanked them for joining them.
Wadi Rum is a protected area with the most beautiful desert in the world. Located in southern Jordan with an area of 720 square kilometers. Wadi Rum is not merely a desert but a mountain desert. Full of dramatic views, rugged mountains, and even color-changing sand. The uniqueness of Wadi Rum makes the filmmakers choose places in many films including Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, The Last Days on Mars, The Martian, and many others.
The only permanent residents of Wadi Rum are several thousand Bedouins. While some maintain a nomadic lifestyle, most now live rather permanently in Rum Village. The Bedouin are herdsmen who herd goats and sheep around the desert. They move from place to place and set up tents as they settled temporarily.
Since Rum Village is the only settlement on a protected area, the important element which is the life of the Bedouin tribe is truly preserved. This is what attracted me to visit Wadi Rum. A once-in-a-lifetime experience to enjoy the culture of the original Bedouin people even if only for a few days.
Wadi Rum is a year-round tourist destination. March-May and September-November are the most pleasant months for exploration. Spring especially when desert plants begin to flourish and valleys are colored with bright colors of wildflowers. Summer and winter can be uncomfortable, but the months like this make Wadi Rum calm and comfortable to explore because there are not many tourists. I came here in late spring and before summer. At night it’s not too cold, while during the day it’s not too hot.
We boarded a pickup truck with tarpaulin canopies to protect us from the sun with long benches on both sides. I chose to sit at the end near the exit ‘door’ so I could freely take photos from different sides. Under the benches, there is a cooler for mineral water. The first stop is Lawrence Spring about 7 minutes or 2.3 km from Rum Village.
T.E. Lawrence is a legendary figure who held a key role in the struggle for the Arab Rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. He and Prince Feisal bin Al-Hussein chose Wadi Rum to be the headquarters during World War I. Most people heard about the film Lawrence of Arabia where he made Wadi Rum his home.
The spring is on top of the hill. Lawrence climbed the hill and relaxed in the cold water flowing from the gap in the rocks. The Bedouin call it Ain Abu Aineh. This spring is cool even in summer. During spring, visitors are greeted by the intoxicating aroma of the spices. To this day, this spring provides a source of water for Bedouin people. It takes an hour to climb through a large rock to find a spring. Beautiful fig trees make this place suitable for resting after climbing. Although only a few square meters, the area around the spring is similar to a mini oasis.
Our Bedouin driver was agile and friendly. Unfortunately, as a guide he did not have much knowledge plus his English was poor. Moreover, this fasting month he tended to take shelter from the sun or rest. When we stopped here, he did not explain. Once we got here, he disappeared.
AL RAMAL RED SAND DUNE
The Rum Wadi Desert is filled with dunes, both yellow and red dunes. The most visited dunes are Al Ramal Red Sand Dune. Located in front of Khazali Canyon. This dune is easier to climb as it’s like leaning on the rocks making it easier to climb through the rock beside it. Visitors who still had a lot of energy run from the top of dunes or sandboarding. But many tourists just want to relax and enjoy the view.
I saw a lot of tourists here so I chose not to go up the dune. I was lazy to climb either through dunes or through rocks. There are still other places where I could look all over Wadi Rum. But even under this dune, I could see the bright red color of the dune in contrast with the color of the blue sky making an amazing sight.
While waiting for them to come down, I entered a rest area located close to the parking lot. I was the only tourist who came to this place, the rest were the drivers /guides and caretakers of the rest area. I declined gently when they offered tea. I was more interested in the way they made hot water. It turned out they were still using firewood, more precisely branches. On the outside of the tent, they sold rocks that turned out to be lava stones.
About half an hour later, my four new friends came down from the dune. Nobody interested in sandboarding instead they grumbled because their shoes were full of sand. Good thing I did not go up. Lazy number two … lazy to clean shoes.
KHAZALI CANYON ATAU JEBEL KHAZALI
Khazali Canyon is the most visited canyon in Wadi Rum. From a distance, I could see the stairs into a narrow gap between the high stone walls. Narrow rock cracks created a kind of long tunnel with puddles of water. Although the canyon is long, visitors only pass 100 meters in the narrow front with only one way in and out. On the inner wall of the canyon, there are many Nabatean and Thamud inscriptions in the form of petroglyphs, writing or images carved into stone. There are pictures of people, camels, horses, mountain goats, and writings dating from pre-Islamic and Thamudic times.
The inscription that is thousands of years old is still in good condition because most of it is out of the reach of sunlight, wind, rain, and humans. Unfortunately, the water damages the lower Thamudic inscriptions, visitors must really search carefully because this inscription is almost invisible.
I could not walk far maybe only fifty meters because of the deeper part crowded with people who wanted to see the other parts. Even though there were only eight people walking in front of me, people had to take turns in and out.
One of my friends, Steve, climbed a rock and saw the inside which according to the story there was a handmade pool made by the Bedouin ancestors. In winter the pools are filled with rainwater.
Since the bus trip from Petra to Wadi Rum, I saw a line of beautiful rock spread as far as the eye can see. Likewise, the Wadi Rum Desert fill with towering cliffs and stunning mountains.
One spectacular natural phenomenon is the stone bridge. Our next stop was visiting a natural bridge whose name matches its shape, Little Bridge. A beautiful bridge measuring about four meters in Khor al Ajram.
Many said to climb to the top of this bridge was a ‘piece of cake’, but for me this is a daunting and thrilling challenge. But I came here with all the struggle and sacrifice. I had to do this even if my feet wanted to run away and my hands tremble. I immediately put my SLR camera behind my back and began to crawl up onto the rock. Pete helped me to creep up and two other friends patiently waited behind me.
Once on the bridge, I got a fantastic present. As far as the eye can see only sand with a dazzling gradation, the color of the blue sky, and the enchanting line of rock like Jabal Rum, Jabal Um Ishrin, and Jebel Khazali.
“Hi … Do you mind taking my pictures?”
Without waiting for one of them, I put the SLR camera down and walked towards the bridge. I felt my legs light and my heart beating violently. Well … now or never, immediately I walked slowly forward without looking down. After walking two meters (seemed like a hundred meters) I turned around carefully and slowly. Mark already took my picture several times. Ten seconds later I walked quickly to Mark. Huh … it feels great to set foot on a sturdy rock rather than standing on a stone bridge that feels like it’s going to collapse. After saying thank you, I saw the shots. Wow … Mark was a good photographer. I looked relaxed and laughed broadly. When I was looking at my photo, suddenly Steve was in front of me (he climbed onto the rock in Khazali Canyon).
“Goodness me … Where did you come from?” I asked in disbelief.
“From there,” Steve said casually, pointing down. He ascended through a path that was more difficult and unusual.
Then Ahmed took us to the next destination not far from Little Bride. While closing the door of the truck he invited us to get off the pickup truck while saying “Lunch!”. I didn’t know it was already lunchtime. We would have lunch under a stone wall protected from the sun. Ahmed unloaded several items and spread the mats. Mark, Steve, and I sat on a mat while two other friends chose to walk around. Ahmed set up a makeshift kitchen behind the pickup truck. About half an hour later we had a meal with pita bread, humus, tomatoes, cucumbers, and oranges.
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