Day 9: Camel Ride in Wadi Rum & exploring Aqaba

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Middle East » Jordan » South » Aqaba
October 20th 2013
Published: June 1st 2014
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Camel RidingCamel RidingCamel Riding

With Sandra
This day would be the day that we meet two opposites; desert vs. sea. We leave the Wadi Rum and we’re heading to Aqaba, a small harbor city by the Red Sea. It was all possible; From camel riding to snorkeling, from hiking in the desert to find the best places in town. Where the Wadi Rum is quite silence, we were dropped in a living city. However, I agree that Aqaba is much easier going than the other city’s that we came across, like Madaba and the Capital city of Amman. But first, we were awaken by the sunlight after our second night in the Bedouin camp.

After I wake up, I packed my bag. Hereafter, it was time for a short shower with the cold water from the water tank. In mean time the Bedouins prepared our breakfast, with of course tea. This was the last time we had really Bedouin tea from the camp. After breakfast, it was time to go. The breakfast was quite simple; flat bread with different leggings and hummus, but also again those delicious bread which you could put in olive oil and thyme (it was still my favorite, but I guess I did mention it all 5 times before). While some are packing their bags, I just enjoyed the Bedouin life sitting on the couch. I agree, that the Bedouins did a good job to made us feel home and they were quite hospitality. I really would like to spend another day with them and their great hospitality, the food, and of course the Wadi Rum, but the time has come to leave this wonderful place.

In the evening of our fist night at the Wadi Rum (not yesterday, but the day before), there was asked which excursion you wanted to do for the next day (so yesterday). You could choice between two excursions: the jeep excursion and the walking-camel trek excursion. If you prefer to do the jeep excursion and also wanted to ride a camel, you were just lucky that it was both possible. You could choice if you would like to do the last hike today by feet, go with the jeep, or ride a camel. The jeep would carry our bags and should leave later, whereas the camel-hiking group should leave together. The camels weren’t allowed to go any harder than the walking speed. The hike/ride would
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All the camels and the riders in front.
take around 1,5 hours and give the perfect opportunity to share a camel with someone else if you wished too (one part riding, the other part hiking). Of course, you also could choice to book a camel for yourself during the whole hike/ride. Before I went to Jordan, I really wanted to ride a camel, and told my friends about it. I found it quite excited, after my arrival in the Wadi Rum I’ve wondering about the fact that I would ride a camel. So I decide to book a camel for me alone, so without sharing in the middle of the hike/ride. It was always a little bit exciting if the camels would arrive in time. Due our tour leader, the camels and the Bedouins could be on time, or they probably would be way too late. That means that they arrive not 5 minutes to late, but probably an hour too late or plus. And in fact, in their life style it’s not a big problem if you come too late, everything is on easy going and quite relax. A very big contrast if you compare it to the Netherlands, were everything is depending on time and where everybody lives quite hectic. Gladly, the camels and the Bedouins where quite on time, even before nine. So at this point we could meet the camels. In total there were 5 camels, where 3 of them were shared. In the mean time, the jeep arrived. Two group members choice to get along with the jeep, the rest of us shared/ride a camel or were hiking. We put our bags at the jeep and it was time to leave the Bedouins and their camp behind. But first, we had to mount the camel.

In contrast with the horse riding, you weren’t allowed to choice a camel yourself, the Bedouins choice who would ride which camel. I don’t know how they made a choice, but I guess they also take in account someone’s weight (estimated) and their length. To be honest, it shouldn’t surprise me that the Bedouins could check our character quite fast and find the perfect camel suited for you. I was the first one which got a camel, maybe because I was a little bit anxious and excited at the same time about the mounting and the riding. I got the camel, with the red-brown skin, called Herwan.

Here, I made picture of the shadow during the camel riding excursion.
Mounting a camel is just weird. The camel is laying on the ground, and you going to sit on its saddle. The saddle was made out of different pillows and two handles, bound at the back of the camel. When you are sitting at the saddle, the camel is ordered to stand up. First, he is going to stand with a first part of his front legs; so you are flings totally backwards. Second, the camel is going to stand completely at his back legs, so you would be flings forward. Hereafter, he is able to stretch his complete front legs, and your will be leaned again backwards to end up straight. If you don’t hold yourself with enough grip at your handle, you probably will flip over. I really had like “help” during the mounting, because I had the idea that I was flipping over and would fall. Gladly, I sat fine on the camel back. The camel stood still and didn’t move; it was just waiting, and I had time to come back at breath and get comfortable at his back. I agree that sitting and riding a camel is much more comfortable than a horse. You would
Camel RideCamel RideCamel Ride

This is your sight when you ride a camel.
sit around a height of roughly 2 meters, which looks the first minutes quite high. But after time you get used to it, the height doesn’t matter anymore. The camels were bound in a line; another camel was bound at the back of my saddle. The other 3 camels were bound on each other the same way.

We could start with our ride. The ride felt quite naturally; a slowly shuffling motive. They do call camels the “ship of the desert”, and they do make the same movements than a ship dancing slowly on calm waves. It feels quite naturally and easy going. I agree that riding a camel is way easier and it feels more naturally than riding a horse. A horse is more in motion: I had the idea when riding a horse is much less stabilized and that you easily could fall of. I didn’t have that feeling when I was riding at the camel. For my feeling, I really sat quite stabilized, and it was almost impossible to fall off, even without your hands on the handles. Also one plus is that we could steer the camel ourselves. Keep in mention that the camels might
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With Bibi.
be selfish as well. If you steer to the left, and the camel see’s some grass right, it first goes right to eat the grass, before going left. You can pull so hard at the rein if you want, but the camel ignores that signal and first goes eating and turns right. Camels are also a little bit arrogant to each other. For example, my camel tried to push away the other camel or simply inhibit the other camel to join when it was eating the grass. It would stand just in front, and the other camel couldn’t reach. When finished, it pulled the other camel with his and gave him no opportunity to eat the grass. This situation occurred more at the end of our ride/hike, where there desert slowly became a little bit more fertile; you saw more grass coming out of the ground. It was a sign that we were close by town. Also, the camels proofed that they could graze and walk in the same time; if you pass a piece of grass, the camel leaned forwards with his neck and picked up some leaves while he was still walking. At first I didn’t like it, because I was afraid I would be flip over and fall, but after several times it was ok, because if you would have enough grip at your handle during this eating, you couldn’t fall off. It was also possible to get the camel in a small gallop. You had to toss with the rein and shout “Hay hay!”. But my camel was too lazy for it and didn’t want to do that. He went in a small gallop, and imminently decreased his speed back to the jogging tempo. His tempo was so low that the hikers were sometimes in front and I have to give him orders to walk a little bit harder. Probably that’s why they put him in front; he was quite relax and didn’t want to make much speed. That in contrast to the camel that was bound to my saddle; that one really would like to go harder, but he was limited by the length of the rope. Most of the time he was walking next to us and tried to pass my camel. I really enjoyed the ride with the camel, and I would do it again if I got another opportunity. Slowly, the town came closer and closer, so my camel trip was almost over. I thought it was a pity, I really enjoyed it and 1,5 was a short time. When we arrived, I only had to drop down of it’s back and it went quite easy. After I was off, I made some pictures it was time to say goodbye to the camel and the Bedouins. If you want to make a camel trip by your own in Jordan, the Wadi Rum should be the best place to do so. In Petra, you got also many opportunities, but it’s quite expensive. For example: A 5 minute camel riding (just rounds) in front of the Treasury would coast around 10 JD. For my camel trip, I paid 25 JD for 1,5 hour. Also, the animals are treated way better, which you can see at their behavior. Camels which are treated badly can be quite aggressive, especially against tourists. In Petra, the camels had to sit for a long time, which is not comfortable for a camel. They can react quite grumpy against tourist as well. In the Wadi Rum, the camels are totally different; they are more curious, more relax and they like
Omar, Waél and KarinOmar, Waél and KarinOmar, Waél and Karin

We had to say farewell to Waél, our bus driver which was an agile driver. Also, we had to say farewell to Omar, our guide. He had a lot of knowledge of Jordan and enjoyed to share it with us. Karin is our tour leader.
it if you touch them or if you give them water. And to be honest, riding a camel in a desert landscape is even nicer than in Petra; you got all space and you don’t have to watch out for the crowd in Petra. And a plus point is that you can discover the landscape at the best desert “vehicle” that there is; a camel! I agree that visiting the Wadi rum is not complete without a camel riding excursion.

Our bus should pick us up. The bus, and Waél, our accompanying bus driver didn’t arrive yet, so we had to wait. However, we could use the time perfectly. Our “main baggage” was stored in a house by a local; it was too big to bring it along into the Wadi Rum. Most of us used our flight bag (a protective bag which you can wear over your backpack) to pack in our necessary properties. The rest of our baggage was left behind, it was protected and safe. During the waiting time, we could take our main baggage, and even repack it. We didn’t have to wait long before the bus arrived. The bags were put in the cargo
The coffee shop Sho LadidThe coffee shop Sho LadidThe coffee shop Sho Ladid

The coffee shop where we had lunch. The Arabic name is Sho Ladid. I want to thank Aaroun for translate it, because I forgot the name and I can't read Arabic.
hold, there was time for the last pee break and time has come to say farewell to the Wadi Rum. When we drove away, we could see the last sights of the Wadi Rum. After 1,5 driving, we met the opposite of the Wadi Rum desert, the Red Sea. During the ride, you also could see that the landscape was changing, especially at the sand. The redness of the sand made place to a grey-brown, stiffer sand. For example gravel.

When we arrived at our hotel in Aqaba, called Aquavista Hotel. Our baggage was taken out of the cargo hold. Before the bus drove away, there was one thing to do left: say farewell to Omar and Waél. The last days of our trip has came: We shall spend 1,5 day in Aqaba (this afternoon and tomorrow the whole day), before driving back to Amman to spend our last afternoon in Jordan/Amman, to take the next morning our (early) flight. Omar shall not accompany us to Amman; there was no excursion left. It was time for Omar to return to his own family. Also, it was time to say goodbye to Waél. The bus ride to Amman and the
Ice cream cocktail! Ice cream cocktail! Ice cream cocktail!

Freshly made.
airport could be done by another bus driver and another vehicle, but it might be possible that we shall meet Waél again during those rides. It was not known yet which driver and vehicle shall ride, but it was pre-booked in advance, so no worry about that. I want to thank Omar and Waél for their services. Both men gave us a great impression of Jordan, had a warm hospitality and were friendly. Waél was an agile bus driver, which drove the bus without any problems at the Dana Village, and he stood open for changes and adept his driving stile when the others of the group found that he drove to hard at our first ride. Omar was a great guide. He knew a lot about Jordan and told us about it. He knew everything about the different excursions that we done, even the Wadi Rum. He liked to us to show the beauty of Jordan and he really did a good job. Also, our tour leader told us about the possibilities that we could do this afternoon. It was possible to visit the Berenice Beach Club Resort. Free busses from the resort drives along different hotels to pick
Fadel Al-BabaFadel Al-BabaFadel Al-Baba

The managar of Al-Baba spices.
up the guests and in the afternoon, they bring you back. It’s a free service of the Berenice Beach Club, but there is an entrance fee of 10 JD. If there were enough people who want to spend the afternoon at the Resort, it was possible to contact the Resort if they could send an extra taxi bus. Luckily, the half of the people was interested and with help of the reception, the taxi bus was ordered. In the mean time, the hotel employees were hard working for us. We arrived probably too early and not all of our rooms were released. All the rooms were in cleaning now. Some of the rooms that already were, or just finished cleaned, were released imminently for us. The Room that Elianne and I shared was not released yet. Elianne wanted to join the Resort, but it was no problem to leave her luggage stored at the reception. Together with Monica and Karin, I decide to go for a lunch. The room of our tour leader was released, and she suggested that we could store our luggage in her room. So we could enjoy the lunch, and after lunch our rooms would probably
Mixing species Mixing species Mixing species

This employee of the Al-Baba spices store gave us a demonstration how to mix spices.
be released. The reception employed called the cleaners if they would clean our rooms first. Great service!

Karin, Monica and I found a Western restaurant for our lunch. It’s was a coffee bar, Sho Ladid. We’ve ordered three (non alcoholic) cocktails, for me a cocktail with ice. It looked good and the taste wasn't disappointing. However you could to choice fish and some Arabic meals (with a Western turn), we decide to order pizza. The service was quite good; we didn’t have to wait long at our food. The food tasted fine to. Back in our hotel, our rooms were released. We took our luggage from the room of the tour leader, and brought them to our rooms. Now, it was time to take a long shower. However, I always try to limit the water consumption by the shower, especially when I am travelling. I could wash the sand away in my hair and I could enjoy a warm shower again. After showering, Karin, Monica and I decide to go back to the city heart of Aqaba. Bibi joined us as well.

We enjoyed the city live of Aqaba, but extra to mention is that we had a
Mixed GrillMixed GrillMixed Grill

Served from the Ali Baba restaurant. Here, you can find Arabic dishes with a "Western" twist and it's attracts only tourists.
good meeting with Fadel Al-Baba. Fadel is the owner of his own herb shop, called Al-Baba Spices. When we passed by, he walked out of the stores and offered us some tea. It was quite hospitality, without any coercion and it felt warm. Together, he runs his store with another employee. We got Bedouin tea, with of course a lot of sugar. We didn’t have one cup, but three different cup of tea. Bibi wanted to buy a spices mix for a good fish marinade. Fadel knew exactly which spices he had to mix. His employee gave is a demonstration about mixing. The different spices are put in a special machine, all together. When the machine is started, it mixes all the ingredients, and the mixture falls into a box. The employee sticks with a needle just before the mixer, allowing all the ingredients can pass to mixer, without damage it. It was really nice to have a good chat with Fadel. He speaks good English, he enjoys lives and it’s impossible to leave his store without a huge smile. His positive energy flows through the store. He was interested in our live, but was open over his own life and the live in Jordan too. Again, the hospitality was huge. We could try different spice mixes, we tried tree different of teas and we got some samples too. “Keep smiling, keep smiling”, he told us. We spend around 2 hours in the store of Fadel. The time flied, I never got the idea that we were held, or felt uncomfortable. The atmosphere was perfect. If I do think about Aqaba, I think at Fadel. If I think at Fadel, I still start to smile. Fadel still makes me happy. I didn’t left the store without some spices; for example I bought a full bag of Bedouin tea. I still enjoy to drink this tea at home, and the quality is quite good. If you want to buy some good spices, you really have to go to this store in Aqaba. You will be welcomed very warm and the manager Fadel shall do everything to please you. Other souvenirs from Aqaba will be nuts, carpet and silver jewelry.

Around 6 pm, the others from the resort came back. At 7 it was time for diner. Our tour leader suggested a restaurant: Ali Baba. Some years ago it was the best in town. Nowadays, it’s not the best hotel, but the dishes are still from a good quality. Keep in mind that this restaurant mostly attracts tourists and not locals. We agreed to go there, and it was not far with feet. First, we got appetizers, “mezze”. After that we could choice a meal. Aqaba is also known about its good fish dishes, so if you want to try fish, you can try it in Aqaba. However, I do not like fish, so I ordered a mixed grill. I must say that the dishes are influenced by the Western’s kitchen, but it’s still a little bit Arabic too. After our visit, we went to discover Aqaba by night. I think we were with a group of 10 people. First, we went back to the souk. Here, the others draw the attention of Fadel. He offered us all tea. “I know you”, he told against me. I gave me a gift, because I brought others to the store. I first didn’t want to accept it, we just passed his store, but I had to take it with me. After a cup of tea, nobody left the store without buying some spices or tea. We had a great tour in Aqaba by night. We decide to take some rest on a terrace to take a drink and take a shiza. We found a great terrace, where only men were sitting. Most of them were playing cards. They were quite surprised that we came at the terrace. Monica, Marloes and I were the only females sitting on that quite big terrace. We ordered two shiza’s; one with melon taste, and one with apple. The apple was stronger, it was the strongest shiza that I had at this trip. The melon tasted quite soft, but I preferred the apple. We spend around 1 hour at the terrace. Hereafter, it was time to go back to our hotel. At this day, I really had a good impression of the Jordan life. The next day, I shall discover the reef of Aqaba. I never snorkeled above a reef, so I really looked forward to do.


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