by Lesli Heron

The full moon lit our path as we followed our Bedouin guide Mohammed, into the Rum. We weren’t sure where we were going. As we rounded a rocky outcrop we came across a beautiful sight. There on a candlelit sand dune was a feast for the eyes, literally. Our guide Majdi had created a Jordanian feast in the middle of Wadi Rum. As we all sat around on pillows and carpets, eating grilled meat, fatoush, babaganoush, drinking Arak and marvelling at the twinkling stars we reflected on our journey so far. It all started in Amman, a week earlier, 7 women aged 32 to 72 and the lone male, our Jordanian guide Majdi.

The very essence of Jordan has been influenced by the world’s oldest civilizations. The Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Nabateans, Romans, Crusaders and Turks have all left their mark. North of Amman lies the magnificently preserved Roman ruin of Jerash. From the entry through Hadrian’s Arch to the Oval Plaza surrounded by 56 Iconic Columns and along the cobblestone colonnaded street, Jerash is a Roman wonder. During our visit we were regaled by the Jordanian Scottish Pipe Band in the amphitheatre, showing off the still amazing acoustics. Did you know the bag pipe actually originated in the Middle East!
As you can’t pass up an opportunity for a peaceful float in the lowest point on earth we popped into the Dead Sea on the way to the Dana Nature Reserve. This reserve has a special beauty and some breath taking scenery. We camped overnight and did a wonderful hike along red rock escarpments and enjoyed a bit of dare devil rock climbing to reach some of the ancient cave churches.
We continued along the Kings Highway to Petra which is one of the highlights of any visit to Jordan. As I wandered through the Siq with its sheer sided walls and narrow passage ways I began to realize how apt the name, The Rose Red City really is. And then there it was, the first glimpse of the Treasury bathed in the morning light. It was breathtaking! We spent hours exploring this ancient city with its Royal Tombs and colonnaded streets culminating in a hike up an ancient rock cut path of over 800 steps to the spectacular Monastery, golden in the afternoon sun.

We rode our camels into Wadi Rum and after 3 hours and a screaming backside we arrived at our Bedouin Camp, Moon Valley, just as the sun was setting. This was our home for the next couple of nights as we explored this moon like landscape of towering sandstones and rippling sand dunes. We hiked through canyons, scrambled up rock faces to straddle natural rock bridges, we plodded along sand dunes and we marvelled at the colours that played out over the desert. I found my peace in Wadi Rum and was under its spell.

After a quick dip and a snorkel in the Red Sea my journey in Jordan came to an end all too soon. This tiny desert kingdom has managed to straddle the ancient and modern worlds effortlessly and in so doing has made it a fascinating, enjoyable and safe country to explore.