For three days we travelled on horseback with the Bedouin of the Jordanian red desert.
Wadi Rum, also known as the valley of the moon, is the largest desert valley in Jordan; a whopping 720 square kilometers of wilderness, stretching from close to the red sea in Aqaba, all the way to the white sands of Saudi Arabia.
Picture valleys of red sand as far as your eyes can see, dotted with desert plants and dramatic sandstone mountains.
Touring the red desert on horseback.
As Julie has lots of experience with horses, she toured on Knafeh, a sweet energetic chestnut mare. K-J got Kabir, a kind and steady older horse. Guide Ali went on fierce Najam.
Riding a horse for hours and days on end creates a bond, so we were very lucky to get these well cared for sweeties.
Most likely you have already seen Wadi Rum on the white screen. It has been the backdrop of many movies such as Star Wars, The Martian, Lawrence of Arabia, Aladin, and more recently: Dune.
Truly, riding through this desert feels like being in a western, or sometimes another planet even.
Live the Bedouin life
We were accomanied by 3 Bedouin; our guide Ali, cook Aied, and Sabah who helped care for the horses.
Traditionally, bedouin tribes are desert-dwellers.
They have taken up eco-tourism to share their fantastic nomadic lifestyle.
Each morning we were softly awoken by the smell of sweet bedouin tea brewing on the fire.
Whilst Chef Aied prepared a traditional breakfast, Sabah tended to the horses.
Each meal was differently delicious. Most started with hot bread, olive oil and za’atar.
In the morning there were eggs, prepared with potatoes and tomatoes.
Aied prepared mouth-watering salads. There was hummus, lebneh, rice with chicken and mixed vegetables.. we could not get enough.
After breakfast, we packed our bags and saddled Knafeh, Kabir and Najam (Ali’s horse).
Arriving at the meetup point for lunch or dinner, we were consistently met with a cup of steaming Bedouin tea. In Ali’s words; ‘There is always more tea, the whisky of the bedouin!’.
After lunch, it was time for a well deserved siesta. Simply pick up a mat and put it either in sun or shade, depending on the time of day.
Each ride, both morning and afternoon, takes about 3 hours.
During these magical rides, Aied and Sabah pack up camp, drive the 4×4 to the next spot, and prepare another delicious meal.
After dinner, the firepit was stoked. As Ali smoked his shisha we talked about all things in life.
Many laughs were had, and we even learned a few new riddles. How’s this one?
“What do you get for free the first time, again for free a second time, but comes at great cost a third?”.
Send us a message if you think you know the answer 😉
“What do you get for free the first time, again for free a second time,
but comes at great cost a third?”
Three days off the grid
The desert has no wifi, nor cellphone coverage. It forces you to be in the moment, with each other.
The only running water we saw in these three blisfull days was at Lawrence Spring, famously featured in the ’62 movie Lawrence of Arabia. In this small water trough the horses playfully splished and splashed their heads.
Had we chosen to stay in one of the few Bedouin camps spread across the desert, a shower might have been available. However, as we prefered the luxury of a billion stars and quiteness, we did not even get a toilet.
At first we were slightly thrown back by the idea of this. Three days with no toilet? But astonishinly, there is something fulfilling to your primal self about simply digging a hole and doing your thing with the most amazing view imaginable.
A driver dropped us off at the Doubletree by Hilton hotel in Aqaba after these 3 days spent in the deafening silence of the desert.
Once showered and dressed in sand-free clothes, we sat in the rooftop bar, cocktail in hand, tears welling in our eyes in awe of the quiteness and beauty which we encountered in Wadi Rum.
What a life changing experience this has been – we can truly recommend it to one and all.
Feeling the call of the desert?
Head on over to Wadi Rum Horse Adventures and get a trip tailored to your desires!