You all look like ants, crawling down below When I am able to stand from the height. I can see how far that this city grew As it takes, from nature, another bite. Over the desert, the road stretches forth To the places where the Bedouins camped; You may look to the south, east, west, and north To witness how that culture has been stamped. It can now be found within the museums, Or the picture books given to children. Humankind is subjected to its whims To ignore the places where it has been. I stand atop its crowning achievement, A tower, to God’s grace, will not be bent.
There are a variety of things to do in Oman. You can go to a beach, or hike a mountain. But the biggest appeal, and the one that most people think about is visiting the desert. You can make a day trip out of it, or if you are really adventurous, you can pitch your own tent and spend a night under the stars. There is a middle ground available as there are many glamping sights all over the desert, and one of the premiere ones would have to be The Thousand Nights Camp just outside of the town of Bidiyah.
It is a little bit of a hike out of town, and you do need a four wheel drive vehicle to make it out there. It is also suggested that you deflate your tires to give you a little more traction over the loose sand that will blow on to the dirt path that will take you out there. Beware that the town of Bidiyah is full of people waiting to take advantage of this. They will bug you about giving you help to get out there, and if you are a little worried, you might want to book somebody ahead of time. If you are a skilled driver and you have a powerful four wheel drive, you should be able to make it out there without a problem.
Once there, you will be given your own tent that is bigger than most hotel rooms, designed like one a bedouin would stay in, has its own private shower, and electricity. It even has a bed, and air conditioning, though I stayed out here in December and could just open the windows to get the tent to the right temperature. You are still roughing it though because there is no refrigerator in the tent unless you pay for an upgrade. If you do that, then you get your own patio, and private pool, and the best views of the dunes.
There is also plenty to do while out there. They have a small pool that is great for cooling off in. A couple of camels are available if you would like to try your hand at riding one of them. You can borrow an ATV to explore the sand dunes, or hire a local guide to drive you to the more remote places. They also have a recreation center which is great for kids, a nightly traditional Arabian fire, and an oryx farm that you can check out.
Or you could do the simplest thing of all, and put on your hiking shoes, and climb those sand dunes yourself. The first one is a bit of a trial to get up, but once you are on top of the dunes, it is a lot of fun walking along them. Within a half an hour of leaving camp, I was able to get far enough away from the camp to feel like I was the only one hiking around the desert. I was also able to find the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
And it is a great place to watch the sunset, especially in December. It was the perfect temperature out there, and the wind only came up as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon. There was even enough light afterwards to have enough time to safely back to the camp and the wonderful meal that they served for dinner that night. There are many of these camps in the desert, and they all have similar things that they offer, but the Thousand Nights Camp was far enough away to make it feel like I had really gotten off the beaten path. If you come out here, this is one of the stops that you have to put on your itinerary. You won’t regret it.
Jordan is the hidden gem in the Middle East. Before I came out here to live, I did not know about many of the amazing features that were held in its small borders. I have visited a couple of them, and there are many more that I will visit while I am living here, but they will have to be pretty impressive to beat out the experience I had at Wadi Rum.
It is not a hard place to find. Wadi Rum is located three and a half hours south from Amman, and if you get up early in the morning you can squeeze in a whole day of excitement. But this is not something that I would do. The experience is so much better if you book a stay with the Bedouins who live on this UNESCO World Heritage sight because you can make the most out of a couple of days, and get to experience what it is like to live the lifestyle of a Bedouin, if only for a little while.
I had booked my stay with Nomad Tour Group, and they kept my group pretty busy while I was down there. Despite this fact, they also supplied me with everything I needed, transportation around the desert, a warm tent to stay in on the cold nights down there, and some of the best food I have ever eaten on a tour group. It made for a memorable trip to a unique location.
This sights I saw did not only consist of seeing incredible formations made out of sandstone, but also a bunch of examples of the other inhabitants of the desert. There were, of course, many lizards that I had come across, and a few birds, but it was a lot of fun when I came across random camels wandering around the desert. I was told by my tour guide that they were owned by another Bedouin which it made it easy to get out and feed them, but it was still fun to get close to one of these beasts for the first time in my life.
It is also amazing to see what survives out in this harsh environment. I went down in late November, and I would highly recommend trying to make it down in the fall or if not then, the spring. Both of them will give you temperate weather, but the fall is right before the rainy season, so you won’t be in danger of getting washed out. Despite the dry climate, I still was able to come across a couple of amazing trees, and saw some desert flowers poking out of the sand in a couple of spots where I never thought life would have existed in the first place.
There is also some amazing rock formations that you will be taken to. If you get the right guide, they will get you to these places before the tours really start to pile in, so it will make you feel like you have the place to yourself.
And if the rock formations are not enough for you, there are also places where you can make your own in a crazy version of Jenga. At one time, we were taken to a field filled with a bunch of cairns that had been made over the years, and it was fun to find the right rocks to try and make your own creations. This is one that I spent a little time one, but I liked the way that I got everything to balance precariously on top of each other.
Overall, it is a must stop place if anyone ever travels out to Jordan. The sights are too many to count, and everywhere you look, you want to take another picture. I spent three days, and two nights down there, and I felt like I got a good feel for what it has to offer. If you make it here, you need to definitely mark this as one of the spots that you will want to stop at on your visit.