Day 7: Horse Riding in Wadi Musa and Wadi Rum


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Middle East » Jordan » South » Wadi Rum
October 18th 2013
Published: April 20th 2014
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I never was into a desert before, so how would it be to stay in "the middle of nowhere", between sand (dunes), the silence, the heat and the wind? And how would it be to sleep under the stars? And how is it to live like a (Jordan) Bedouin? Today, it was the day that I visited the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan and stay in a Bedouin camp. But first, we spend the morning in Wadi Musa. You could stay in the hotel, visit the town of Wadi Musa, or book one of the two optional excursions. During my booking, I've booked one excursion, the horse riding excursion in Wadi Musa. We should be picked up by taxis at 9 am. If you choice to do the other excursion, where you could visit "The High Places of Sacrifice", the alarm would be set quite early, because they had to leave at 7 am (to avoid that it was crowded by the Treasury and in Petra).



Today, it also would be the last day that we should spend in a hotel, before going to Wadi Rum. I took a breakfast, with different kind of breads. I do like
Horse ridingHorse ridingHorse riding

Our group with our mentors
the bread in Jordan, especially the bread with the olive oil and thyme on top. The bread is soft, and then the soft taste of the olive oil and the savoury taste of thyme, oh I really liked it! Also the sweat bread was nice. The hotel, the Al-Anbat hotel, had a wide choice of different kind of breads, and Western breakfast. Some people enjoyed to have a free morning. The Al-Anbat Hotel had a swimming pool (and a Turkish Hammam, opening from the afternoon, it's even mentioned in my Rough Guide, and my tour leader agrees it's the best Turkish Hammam in town!), so it's a nice hotel to relax. The service in the hotel is a plus, the employees are kind, helpful and properly (appearance and their proceedings). Another good plus is that the employees are fluent in English. There is only one minus, at least it depends if it's a minus for you, the hotel is outside the city centre of the Wadi Musa town, and Petra. So you cannot walk to Petra, you have to take a taxi. From the other side, you really have a good view on the Wadi Arabia, and you do not have any charges of the crowded of Wadi Musa. If you want to have a hotel closely (walking distance) from Petra, you might choose another hotel, or the second hotel (Al-Anbat II in the Wadi Musa city centre). If you like to spend your time outside Wadi Musa, I shall recommend this hotel.



In total, 6 people could book the horse riding excursion. You didn't need to have any experience with horse riding. The excursion was with accompaniment, one mentor for each horse. At 9 am we stood outside. There were some taxis, but we didn't know which one we needed. Some of the drivers asked "You need to go to Patricia?". Patricia? We only knew that we should do the horse riding. Our tour leader did the excursion to the "High Places of Sacrifice" and our guide spends his free morning in the hotel. We asked one of the employees, he helped us to figure it out. So that taxi's were for us. We stepped inside. The taxi drivers drove to the Wadi Musa, to small house/farm outside the Wadi Musa. To be honest, I must say I'm a little bit jealous at the house, because
The view of Wadi ArabiaThe view of Wadi ArabiaThe view of Wadi Arabia

During the Horse Riding excursion
the location was perfect. Outside of the town, middle in the nature. Also, the house was beautiful, and it had a fine garden. There, we meet Patricia. She's, from origin a Belgian woman who met a Bedouin man when she did a horse driving tour from Petra to Wadi Rum, felt in love, and married him. She lived already 9 years in Jordan. Patricia is a hospitable woman, and has a big love from animals (especially horses). She speaks openly about her life, and her passion: horses and animals. She could be very angry about the fact that animals (especially donkeys) are mistreated in Petra/The Trail to the Monastery (see my previous report). After welcoming, she gave us a small briefing of horse riding and the safety. We had to wear a cap. The horses and the mentors came. Another horse stayed in the stable. The horse had an aberrant walk when she went downhill (bumping) and it felt unpleasant for non-experienced riders. In place, Patricia had another horse, which never gave any problems. However, that changed... During the briefing, Patricia picked another member of the group to show how you should mount at the horse. It was time to choose a horse. I saw a beautiful small horse, brown with an orange glow. So I decide to ride on this horse. The name of the horse was Hoes. The mentor was Mohammed. Mohammed was a nephew of Patricia's husband. Mohammed helped me with mounting. Despite of that I like to work out and sporting, I agree I’m still stiff. I always was stiff, and I'm afraid I always will be. When I was mounting, one member (Matthias) of the group was trying to mount his horse. It was the horse that was the "replacement" horse of the one which was bumping. Matthias placed his feet in bracket, and want to mount, when the horse got aggressive. The horse started to move quite aggressive and tried to kick Matthias. In a reflect Matthias ran away, and the horse kicked Matthias at his hip when he ran away. Gladly, Matthias was not hit quite hard. He was not bleeding, or didn't break anything; the horse kick just “scraped” the skin, as result a big, blue spot. Patricia was shocked as well. The horse never caused problems. She reacts fast and shouted that he horse cannot enter the riding tour. There was no horse left, so the bumping horse was doing the excursion. Patricia was not happy with the incident. Matthias was not scared and mounted without any problems at his horse. I didn't saw the whole accident happen; I was so busy with mounting at my horse that I didn’t saw or heard the accident. When I seated I saw Matthias standing and felt his hip and he told the story to me. Oops, I really started to feel myself a little bit uncomfortable, especially that my horse would be prancing and that I felt off. I am convinced that animals can feel how people react on them, and I think my horse reacted to be relax and easy going. Other horses were more active with dribble on place, but mine was standing and watching. I felt more comfortable soon. We started to do the excursion. The horses didn't go any harder than human walking and there was each mentor for each horse. I never ride a horse before, and for me it felt that I could fell off at each side. In the Wadi Rum I ride a camel, and I agree that a camel rides more comfortable. After some
Time for lunchTime for lunchTime for lunch

I chose Falafel, but It was great to see how those people make local sandwiches.
minutes I started to relax and enjoy the horse riding trip. The trip was around 1,5 hours in to the nature close by Wadi Arabia. During the trip we made some stops to enjoy the beautiful nature. We also saw the Royal Tombs of Petra far away. I agree it is very hard to describe the trip, but we went off-road riding. We went up-and downhill, passing beautiful out sights of the nature. The horses stayed calm. Some horses wanted to go in to gallop, but the mentors react quickly so the horse went back in stepping. Mohammed, the mentor was skilled with the horse. Also, the mentors had no problems with the English language, and had respect of our non-experiencing with horses. But Mohammed was a little bit different, than the other members. He had some problems with his speak. He called himself "Moesh", and couldn't speak his real name, Mohammed. However, I didn't found it a problem to communicate with him. He did understand me, and I understood him. Also, the other members had no problems with his speak. After the trip, Patrica told us, they choose the boys which had problems to find work in Jordan, and
Store in the villageStore in the villageStore in the village

A little store in the village.
with this horse riding tours the boys had a job and time activities. I agree this is a good way to help Mohammed, and the rest of the boys, to a job. At the end of the trip I really felt so comfortable at the horse that I really would to do a second round. It was time to step of the horse. I said goodbye to Mohammed. While the boys helped to stable the horses, or to bring them back, Patricia welcomed us with tea. We talked about Jordan, Petra and about her life. She called the taxi drivers, and they brought us back to the hotel. I really liked the excursion. Before, the excursion I found it pity that I couldn't go to the High Places of Sacrifice. However, I really enjoyed this excursion, and I would do it again if I had the choice. The excursion was professional, good mentors, and the great hospitality of Patricia made it great. Others agree, even Matthias which could laugh about his incident. If you have more days in Petra, and you want to discover the environment I agree this is the perfect way. You also can book tours when you
CamelsCamelsCamels

Camels just outside the village.
are more experienced or day treks to the Wadi Rum. Also, she runs a Bed & Breakfast in Petra. You can find Patricia at her own website: http://www.petrabedandbreakfast.com/



Back in our hotel, we had some time to repack our package. We only could bring the necessary stuff into a bag, and the rest of the luggage would be staying behind. Remco came with a good advice "You can pack everything you need in your flight bag". After repacking, it was time to leave Petra and the Wadi Musa. In town, we took a Falafel as lunch. From here, we drove to the Wadi Rum, but first, you need to make a stop at the Wadi Rum Vistor Centre. All buses and cars have to stop here. Here, you can buy tickets to visit the Wadi Rum, book a guided tour, or a Bedouin Camp. At the Visitor Centre can find Tourist toilets, showers, and a store. You have to prepare that you go into the desert, and do not have a luxury bathroom as in hotels. After the stop, we drove to a small village in the Wadi Rum. We had to pack our luggage in a chamber of a house. From here, we had to walk to our Bedouin camp. The walk/hike should take 1,5 hours. The oldest of our group wasn't fit enough. He went with a truck to the Bedouin Camp. In this truck, our luggage for the Wadi Rum was transported. From here, we could start our hike to the Wadi Rum. The Wadi Rum is around 950 meters above sea level. The highest peak of the Wadi Rum is Jabal Rum, with 1745 meters above sea level. From here, you can see the Red Sea, and to the other side even Saudi Arabia. Be aware there might be a big difference in temperature between day and night. At the end of October/November it might freeze during the night, while temperatures at day might rise above 30 Celsius degrees. In the winter, it might be snowing. In the summer, I shall not advice to visit the Wadi Rum. Temperatures might rise above 40 Celsius degrees. Do not expect that you can cool down in the shadows. If you going to the Wadi Rum, be prepared and always take a warm sweater and a sleeping bag which keeps you warm between the freezing point with you. But also, do not forget the sun block and of course water. The biggest medical treat is dehydration. In these heats, you lose a lot of water (sweat), without even knowing. Normally, a human has to drink 2 Litters of water each day. In the Wadi Rum, you must drink 3 Litters or more. Another medical treat is a heatstroke. Use sun block, a hat, sunglasses and always wear a shirt (light colour) while visiting the Wadi Rum. Also important, is the use of a guide. There are many rocks and mountains in the Wadi Rum (no it's not only sand (dunes)). It would be madness to hike alone. Everywhere you see sand (dunes) and rocks, and you’re easily confused and lost. You can do multi day tracks in the Wadi Rum, but always take a guide. You can hire the guides at the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre, but you better can book in advance. Also, you have to know that there are no hotels in the Wadi Rum, so you only can sleep in Bedouin Camps, which means you have limited sanitary. The tents are made of goat hair. The Wadi Rum exists out of three Tribal Territories. The first one, close to the village Rum is Zalabia. The other, close by the village Disi is called Zuwaydeh. Around the village of Shariyyeh, you find the Swahiyeen. Wadi Rum is one of the best known deserts of The Middle-East. As told before, the sand is red; it contains sand dunes and mountain rocks, which colours orange when the sunlight shines on them. In the desert you can find natural formed Rock Bridges, springs and canyons. It's a perfect place to hike, to mountain climbing, for camel and horse riding tours, to do a 4 wheel drive excursion. At multiple day’s tours, you can walking/riding for days without seeing other people then your group. The sunsets are great to see, and the sky at night is beautiful. You have a great and bright view of the starts. You might know the Wadi Rum from movies, because it was the decor of different movies. The best known movie shot in the Wadi Rum is "Lawrence of Arabia"; follow up by second "Transformers" movie. In the Wadi Rum you can see inscriptions of the ancient Thamudic tribe. You can read about it in the next report. You also can find the Nabatean temple. So, even in the past the Wadi Rum was an important in history. Once, the Wadi Rum was an ocean. The red sand, where I walked on, was long time ago the bottom of the ocean. It feels weird to me, walking on the “bottom of an ocean”, and that this sand is now the basis of the desert. When we go further in history we visit the time, around 10.000 years ago when the Wadi Rum was a savannah. Wild animals, like lions and elephants where living in the Wadi Rum. In those days, humans were hunting on those animals. During time, the area became drier and drier, and finally became a desert. But the Wadi Rum is mostly known about T.E. Lawrence, or "Lawrence of Arabia". Lawrence, a British officer, passed the Wadi Rum during the Arab Revolt in 1917-1918. Lawrence described the Wadi Rum as "vast, echoing and godlike". And he was right. During the trip I really enjoyed the beauty of the Wadi Rum. The hike wasn't easy, at some passages the sand was lose. However, I expected that the sand was much loser and the hike would be much heavier. Also I tough it would be warmer. It was silent; you only could hear the wind, and us talking. The sight wasn't monotonous. It still had much variety, different shapes of rocks, even some differences in colour. The sand, the sand dunes, the rocks popping in the middle-of-nowhere. I really felt myself small, and this area is quite big. After the hike, we saw our camp. Here, we were welcomed with tea.

It is hard to write what we did next. In fact, we did nothing more than relaxing, and enjoying the life of the Bedouins and enjoying the desert. First, we enjoyed the Bedouin tea, talking and enjoying the hospitality. Hereafter, we enjoyed to see the sunset. It was beautiful to see it; the sun went down over the tops of the mountains. The environment start to lose its colour, and slowly turns out black, due lack of sunlight. You only can hear the wind. In our camp, we had some sanitary, two toilets (one Western, and one Arabic hang toilet), a (cold) shower, and a washstand. The water came from a big water basin on top of the sanitary building, which was from stone. The water was supplied by trucks. So, we didn't have much lack of sanitary. It’s common in those tourist camps, so it’s not really like a Bedouin living. It’s made a little bit Western and touristic. But, I do agree you get a great impression how the Bedouins lived in the past, and how they live now. I think, these tourist camps is a great way to keep the Bedouin tradition and lifestyle alive, so it won’t get lost in the future. When dinner was arrived we first got lentil soup. I really enjoyed the soup. After that, we got Mushkan. We had Mushkan before, but I never wrote about it. Mushkan is a dice of chicken, onion, rice, pine nuts and other vegetables, for example bell pepper. It's easy, but delicious. After dinner, we enjoyed with tea. It was possible to drink some beer (but you had to bring that at your own). At the camp you could buy soda drinks and water. The sight was bright, the stars were light, and however, due full moon there was a lot of moonlight. So it wasn't quite dark. Even at night, you could see that some four wheels drive where driving into the desert. When
MushkanMushkanMushkan

Mushkan is a dice of chicken, onion, rice, pine nuts and other vegetables, for example bell pepper.
it was time to sleep, you could chose to sleep outside in the camp or in a tent. You also could sleep outside of the camp, but the tour leader warned us that there even at night might be four wheels driving between camps and they might override you. I decide to sleep outside in the camp, just like most of us. I really felt this kind of special. I never slept really outside, “naked in the sky”. There was always a tent between it. And in the middle of the desert, just in the “middle of nowhere”, probably get waked by sunlight. It really sounds very adventurous and specially. The next day, we shall explore the Wadi Rum. How I experienced the night, you can read in the next review.


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Al-Anbat Hotel, Wadi Musa.


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