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Sunset Camp in Wadi Rum

Listed under Camps & Campsites in Jordan.

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The Wadi Rum Visitor Centre controls admission to the protected area and provides jeeps or camels and guides, as well as overnight accommodation. I was thoroughly impressed by the exceptional organization of the system as well as the helpful, knowledgeable reception staff. One- to eight-hour regular tours are available, as is day hire for customized tours; prices are fixed and revenues profit the local Bedouin communities in addition to supporting conservation efforts.

After a five-hour excursion in an open-top jeep that took me to the valley’s best-known sites, I arrived at Sunset Camp just in time to admire Wadi Rum’s rich brick-red hues turn to vivid pink, intense crimson, and deep purple. The colours were flamboyant, but it was the moment’s serenity that made a lasting impression. Sitting alone against a sand dune with the immense desert spreading at my feet, I was utterly isolated but not lonely; I felt intensely that I was part of that landscape I was admiring.

I had been offered the chance to bunk at a full-amenities tourist camp on the road to Disi, near Wadi Rum, but I decided to forfeit electricity, hot water, and the after-dinner folklore show for the peace and quiet of a Bedouin-run camp in the protected area. Thus, as the day-trippers returned from whence they came, I settled down to sage tea and a desert dinner. If you’re a stickler for clean restrooms this isn’t the experience for you, but what is lacking in luxury is entirely compensated by the authenticity and uniqueness of the experience. Goat hair tents outfitted with mattresses and blankets sleep four (or five, if you count the occasional beetle). A generator provides lighting for a couple of hours after sunset.

Many of my fellow campers opted to sleep outside their tents under the broad clear sky. I imitated them and found that counting shooting stars beats counting sheep any day. Knackered after my day in the desert, I lost count after two. The temperature may have dropped dramatically, as it often does even in summer, but if so I didn’t feel it thanks to the multi-layered cotton blanket. At daybreak, the fading moon gave way to the tentative rays of the sun that caressed the desert with golden fingers. I am so glad to have traded crisp white hotel sheets for a blanket of stars!

Written by  Francoise Ohayon.

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