Desert Dreams in Wadi Rum
The desert is indeed a magical place. It feels like another world and a you are forced to adopt a simpler mindset for those hours when you're not in control, don't have wifi, and put your well being in someone elses care. This desert experience was entirely different than the one we had in Morocco. There aren't any rolling sand dunes, where the only modes of transport are camels and 4x4's. It's mostly flat except for enormous rock formations, and pick up trucks and jeeps are an easy way to get around by the locals.
We arrived at the Visitors Center at 1pm, paid the entrance fee, and tried venturing out on our own before meeting our camp guide. (We weren't meeting him until 3pm). The locals kept asking if we had a reservation, as they were trying to get our business. They wanted to sell us a jeep tour but the minimum price was $25 for an hour, something we weren't willing to pay! We kept telling them that we had a reservation at the Salman Zwaidh Camp so they would let us be on our way.
We drove about 7km down the road to the small village of Wadi Rum and parked the car. We set out walking into the desert, intending to have a picnic lunch and enjoy the views before heading back to the visitors center to meet our guide. After about 10 minutes walking, a truck pulled up and told us he was from our camp and that we should go with him. I'm guessing that someone called him and let him know that two of his guests were out wandering on their own. We tried explaining that we just wanted to walk on our own for a bit and he kept mentioning that we should book a jeep tour or we could walk in the desert by our camp. I'm not sure if it was a communication barrier but we eventually gave in, got in the back of his pick up truck and let him drive us to camp.
We were greeted by Mohammed, the camp care taker, and tried making conversation while he served us tea. His English was limited, but sufficient enough to make conversation. He got a kick out of us trying to speak some Arabic words and he taught us a few in return. We were the only ones in the camp this early in the day. He asked if we wanted to hike up the big rock formation behind the camp. We told him we did. He had us take our shoes off and we were on our way. We climbed up to a middle point that had an opening into a cave. Mohammed's cell phone started going off in the camp below and he quickly told us to sit down and wait 1 minute while he scrambled down to answer his phone. After about 10 minutes, he came back up to get us and show us the way down.
We had about an hour and a half until sunset, so we walked out on our own to a small rock formation that seemed feasible to climb on our own. The views were spectacular and the clouds cleared up enough so that the sunset was just perfect. We walked back to camp, enjoyed more tea, made small talk with the other campers and waited for dinner. Our camp consisted of two brothers from Switzerland, a young couple from Spain, a guy from Brazil, and an older family of 7 from Lithuania. Four of the locals including the camp owner joined us for the evening. It was a blast just talking and hanging out.
We tried some of the Jordan Shisha (hookah) which is supposedly some of the best in the world and then took another walk out to see the stars and moon. We were lucky in Morocco and didn't have a moon! The stars were so bright! Now in Jordan, the moon was a little more than half full. It was so bright! The starts were still incredible but the desert was a lot more lit up.
After breakfast the next morning, everyone said their goodbyes and they drove us back to the visitor center. We gave our Brazilian friend a lift, as he was going to Petra next, as well. We swapped travel stories and learned a lot from him as he's much better traveled than we are.