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from eilat to aqaba, & the valley of the moon

"Mushroom," Wadi Rum
     We'd arrived in Jordan just in time for the last week of Ramadan. From the main bus station in Jerusalem, we took a bus to Eilat and asked the driver to let us off near the border crossing. The journey took about five hours, and from the bus stop we proceeded to walk 1 or 2 km in the scorching heat to the border crossing, where we gobbled down our sandwiches (with respect to the Ramadan on the other side of the border) and were let through without much hassle. We had previously read on the internet about the so-called "taxi mafia" that exists on the Jordanian side, but found that as the prices for the rides to Aqaba are listed on a board, there was no such scam. Nevertheless, we teamed up with a Spaniard we met crossing the border and split the cab. Booking.com had a deal for a double room at Ahla Thla Hotel, where we spent the night before heading up to Wadi Ramm. The hotel is grubby, but the staff is helpful and cheerful, albeit not speaking English too well (but then again, what do you expect?). If you are expecting wifi access, don't count on it as the signal is weak and only works in certain corners of the hotel, and if you move your device a few centimeters it ceases to work. However, there is a 24h internet cafe on the bottom floor of the building if you are in dire need of connection.
Border crossing

skip down for more on Wadi Rum

     Upon investigation of the busses that head up to Wadi Ramm (the bus station that is not the JETT station exists, I assure you), we found that during the Ramadan the schedules are unreliable. Luckily, we came across a nice taxi driver who spoke English well and who offered us to take us up to Wadi Ramm for a good price, and suggested that we spend the night at his friend's bedouin camp. As a result, we made it into Wadi Ramm without paying the entrance fee and scored a deal with his friend, a guide, to take us around in his 4x4 for the rest of the day. A day trip of 9h cost our group of 3 people, 200 dinar, including accommodation under the stars, dinner, and breakfast the next morning. It was inevitable, however, or else we'd have spent the day stuck burning in the desert with nothing to do. Exploring the area is virtually impossible without a guide, so if you are not ready to dish out some dinars, I don't recommend arriving too early in the day..
     Wadi Ramm, literally translated as "Valley of the Moon," was the highlight of my stay in Jordan. Although it is often written in the latin alphabet as "Wadi Rum," it is actually pronounced more like "Wadi Ramm." Coupled with the fact that we had a really lovely guide, the desert is a truly fascinating place. During our 9h tour, we were able to climb to the tops of massive stones, to run down sand dunes, to hear our echoes resound through canyons, to gawk at Thamudic petroglyphs dating as far back as the 4th century BCE, and to nap in the cool of a grande gorge. After sunset, we returned to the bedouin camp where the host cooked us a simple dinner, tea, and then entertained us well into the night. As the moon fell below the peaks of the surrounding mountains, the true magic of the desert kindled, the vast canopy of stars enveloping our bodies and leaving us in utter awe.
Thamudic inscriptions

1 comment:

  1. Cool Ola! When you write 200 dinars or quote prices...can you include how much that is in dollars? I have no idea if 200 dinars is 20 cents or 200 dollars!

    And what's a bedouin camp???

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