Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Four-Hour (Desert Jeep Safari) Tour...

We arranged for a taxi to take us from Wadi Musa (Petra) to Wadi Rum (desert).  For a few bucks more than the bus (15 JD vs. 10 JD) a taxi allowed us to 1) be more comfortable 2) avoid paying extra for our (small) luggage, and 3) avoid the possibility that the 6:45 AM bus would simply not run because not enough passengers showed up.  Our plan was further improved when another guest in our hotel asked to join the car, driving the cost of the taxi down to the exact level of the bus, or so we thought.  At 6:30 AM the next morning, we learned that our third guest had recruited a fourth person, and all of a sudden our first reason for the taxi – comfort – was gone.  This was all the more so when we filled the entire trunk with our luggage and his backpack, meaning 4 packs would be in the car with us.  After loading up, as is our custom, we confirmed the price with the driver.

And as agreed, we will pay you 15 JD for the taxi.
15 JD!?!  No way.  There are four of you.  You pay 30 JD.  [He then gets on his phone and speaks to someone who apparently agrees with him that 30 is the only possible price, and a good one at that].
30 JD!  We made a deal that you would drive your car with me and my guests (two of whom I did not know) from Wadi Musa to Wadi Rum.  The number of passengers is irrelevant..
Driver:  Fine, you pay 25 JD.
Me: 15 JD, no more.
Third & Fourth Passengers: If you charge us more than the bus, we are outta here.
It is not possible to make the drive for 20 JD.
Fourth passenger: OK, see you.
[DSM Note: at this point the driver realizes his potential 20 JD fare is walking away, leaving him with the originally cut deal of 15 JD ] 
OK, OK, 20 JD.

And as soon as the deal was struck I dove right into the front seat, and Jesse milled about futzing with her shoe to avoid the middle seat – it was our taxi after all.  And as we drove off with the sun was rising we felt a little guilty (but not too guilty) about putting the 6’3” Czech math teacher in the middle seat and were on our way to spend the night in a Bedouin camp in the middle of the desert.

Panoramic shot of Wadi Rum

A few hours later we arrived at the Wadi Rum National Park and met one of our guides Nial (pronounced, Nail) and hopped into his beat-up, run-down, duct-taped pickup truck that would take us to the camp.  Once at the camp we discussed what we might do that day and were told there were a number of available activities, including the 2–hour jeep tour, the 4-hour jeep tour, the 6-hour jeep tour, and the all-day jeep tour.  Camel safari was available but immediately rejected.  For free we could wander around the desert by ourselves.  We opted for the 4-hour tour, and after some slight haggling over price the next thing we knew was that the same rickety, falling apart at the seams, pick-up truck was our desert jeep!  This jalopy would be careening us through the desert   Through lands so rugged and inhospitable that even the heartiest plants and animals struggle to survive there.  But since the other option was to ride on a camel, we hopped into the bed of the pick-up amid a pile of blankets, pillows and, to both my relief and dismay, a seemingly large number of spare parts.

View of the camp after we hiked up a large dune near the camp.
Who would have ever thought I'd prefer the walking to taking a jeep?
Well, maybe you would think this since walking was free...

Our Jeep for the desert sarafi.
Here I nap while waiting for the start of the camel races we were to witness.

Dave, Awar, our Bedouin driver, and Jesse
The ride would take us through the desert, including a stop at the camel races, and then to in and around the amazing rock formations carved over millions of years.  The ride was well worth it.

Camels wandering the desert

Dave and Jesse on top of the giant arch.
Can you tell who is who?

Dave on top of the arch by himself

After many hours of the desert safari we felt right at home in the "Jeep"

The desert sands took on a deep red hue as the sun set.

That night, following a mediocre dinner of chicken and rice (more quantity than quality), an obligatory sheesha (hookah), and a brief adventure in star-gazing, we retreated to our unheated tent.  

Post-dinner sheesha.
In the desert as soon as the sun sets the temperature plummets, and this night was no exception.  With a low in the 40s, we were prepared for the worst.  Our luggage was totally empty because we were wearing every article of clothing we had – starting with our best Patagonian purchases – long-underwear onesies.  We shut the light and got underneath the six blankets they had provided and surprisingly, warmed up pretty quickly and slept soundly.  At sunrise, when we woke, the desert was sparkling.  It had been so cold that night that the ground was literally covered with a thin layer of frost.  We were both glad to be heading to Dahab, Egypt for some R&R in the sun at a fancy Starwood hotel – woo-hoo for starwood points!

Snuggling for warmth under our many Bedouin blankets

Some more photos (including the Bedouin bathroom facilities) are below.

The rest can be found here.
Wadi Rum

More Wadi Rum photos:

Sunrise in the desert.
The interior of our Bedouin tent.

Bedouin Bathroom - Exterior

Bedouin Bathroom - Interior.
Better than expected.

Dave at the base of the giant arch.

Lounging in front of breakfast.
Mmmmmmm, breakfast.

Jesse's disaster with the fire-pit.  Thankfully, the fire had been out for hours before she stepped in it.

"Grand Central Bedouin"
Light streams into the smokey tent where we took all of our meals.


  1. hey dave! if you and awar had just changed headgear, i would've sworn you were the guide !
    and jesse- where's your HAT????

  2. thoughts:
    1 - beautiful red sand
    2 - when you guys were all snuggled up in those blankets did you wonder the last time they had been cleaned and what kind of people had previously snuggled up in them?
    3 - i can so vividly you stepping in that fire pit j haha that made me laugh

  3. Mom- cant you see how flat my hair is? I take the hat off for photos.

    Zo- I was obviously worries about that but given that every inch of my body was protected by multiple layers of clothing I felt okay about it.

  4. @Sue - I know! I was most nervous once it was dark that Jesse would not be able to tell us apart and give him a kiss goodnight. Thankfully this was not a problem with our large headlamps.

  5. The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.

    Flights to Lahore | Cheap Air Tickets to Lahore

  6. thanks for nice blog. all people like the site tour desert safari


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.