Wadi Rum and the Jordanian Desert

My schedule permitted only a couple of hours in Wadi Rum, and I soon as I saw the grandeur of the area I instantly regretted that I could not spend more time, perhaps even days trekking through the region.

"Wadi" is the Arabic word for "valley." But Wadi Rum is a collection of magnificent desert and mountain landscapes that go far beyond our conception of a mere valley. T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") – who based his headquarters here during his leadership of an Arab revolt against the controlling Ottoman Empire – called it "vast, echoing and godlike."

There is evidence of human habitation in the area reaching back to Neolithic times. The Nabataeans – who later built Petra – left inscriptions in the rock that can be seen today. I hope some day to return to Wadi Rum and give it the time it most richly deserves.

The slide show above also includes several photos of Jordan's only outlet to the sea – the city of Aqaba (also Al Aqabah), which sits at the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba next to the Israeli city of Elat. Also shown are a few scenes from the southern desert of Jordan (between Aqaba and the Dead Sea), with a glimpse of the life of the nomadic Bedouins who have managed for centuries to survive in this hostile environment.