Camping with Bedouins in Wadi Rum

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I was very much looking forward to the Wadi Rum leg of my trip to Jordan — because I would be camping in the desert!  As a girl who has camped her entire life, first went camping at twelve days old (!), and took her first steps in a tent (seriously), I knew camping with Bedouins in Wadi Rum would be a new frontier — and my family would love hearing about it, too!

This was certainly fancier camping than I had ever done — some might call it “glamping,” or glamorous camping.  I stayed at Captain’s Camp, one of the many camps in the desert.  (“This one has the best food,” Ibrahim told me.)

My tent certainly was fancier than the one in which I took my first steps.

(Cue everyone in my family saying, “That’s NOT camping!”)

Settled in, we went for a wild ride through Wadi Rum, my hilarious and slightly insane friend Hasan behind the wheel.  I’ve shared this video before, but it’s worth seeing again:

Throughout the week, Ibrahim had been telling me how much he loved Wadi Rum.  This was his favorite place in the world.  He came here to think, to reflect, and to be alone.

For that reason, Ibrahim suggested I take time by myself for awhile, to go on a walk on my own, and let the power of the desert come over me.

And I did.

Yes.  It really is a peaceful, awesome destination, and a great place to reflect on your life.

We then dropped into a Bedouin camp, got me dressed up like a Bedouin girl, and took about three dozen goofy pictures with Hasan.

I could pass as a Bedouin, right?

I’ve gone on and on about how kind and welcoming the people in Jordan are.  Well, you can add “generous” to the list — they let me keep the Bedouin dress and the purple, black and silver striped scarf, otherwise known as the “me-est” scarf ever! It was so nice of them.

Not a bad way to view a sunset.

We then headed back to camp for dinner. Just as Ibrahim promised, the food was indeed fabulous.

So, when you’re camping out in the middle of nowhere overnight and the electricity is rationed, there’s not a lot to do.

Enter the Captain’s Camp crew.  These hilarious guys got us up dancing, singing, telling stories, and drinking tea all night long!

In a country like Jordan where Muslim culture dominates, you shouldn’t wear skimpy clothing or drink alcohol.  You’re welcome to drink alcohol if you’re not a Muslim, but if it’s just you and your Muslim friends, why would you want to be the lone drunk at the table?

It amazed me how much socializing we did without taking a single drink during my week in Jordan.  I haven’t done that much socializing without alcohol since I was 19 and too shy to ask my older glee club friends to buy me booze.

The sky was studded with more stars than you could ever imagine.  I’ve only seen a night sky like that once in my life — on Don Det in Laos’s 4,000 Islands, another very isolated, rural destination.

And with that incredible sky, I went to bed.

The next morning, I was up at 5:00 AM to see the sunrise.  And I was immediately rewarded for my early wakeup call — Wadi Rum looks different at every time of day, with the rocks turning different brilliant colors — but nothing compares to the beauty of the sunrise colors.

The best way to view the sunrise?  On top of a camel!

As we set off, the sun turned the cliffs bright red underneath pink clouds before they mellowed out to a bright golden shade.

Here is the video I took from atop the camel, where you can see that those colors are real and not just super-doctored photos:

I keep saying over and over what a magical place Jordan is, and I apologize if it’s become a bit of a cliche at this point.  But it’s SO true.  Of all the memories I take from Wadi Rum, riding a camel and seeing the amazing colors of the sunrise is what I will remember the most.

Many thanks to the Jordan Tourism Board for hosting me in Jordan.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

Love that last photo? Check out my Jordan 2012 Calendar, on sale now!

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