Updated: Sep 16
Watching Han Solo and Chewbacca piloting the Millennium Falcon for the first time back in the late seventies is one of my most vivid movie memories and sealed my love for sci-fi. I was therefore excited to visit Wadi Rum in the south of Jordan, the setting of many movies including Rogue One, The Martian, Dune and, more recently, John Wick 4. It is not surprising as this desert landscape truly is: out of this world.
I clambered onto the back of a jeep, (no mean feat I assure you) and was driven across the desert, the wind whipping up tiny grains of sand from which I had to shield my eyes. The battering breeze makes one forget that the sun is also beating down and I was glad of having applied sun factor fifty earlier in the day.
It is easy to lose all perspective of distance when crossing the shifting sands, mountains shrink to hills, camels morph into goats and it is a stark reminder of how vulnerable one is if left to survive in this vast, arid expanse.
I slowly adapted to the jostling and unexpected bumps of jeep travel and savoured the beauty and spectacle of the ever changing colours of the dunes, cliffs and undulating ground: fawn darkened to beige, umber to crimson, orange to brick red, all smattered with a myriad of purples, blacks, greys and blues. The desert is a painter’s palette and home to the Bedouin.
Signs, originating back to the Nabatean people, can be found on the slate grey rock face indicating the whereabouts of life saving water, wildlife (food) and danger (carnivorous beasts), as this was once the home of lions n tigers. I was assured they no longer roamed the plains, but to the north I may encounter a hyena. I was only too happy to walk amongst a herd of camels, the younger ones still with their white coats, until I notice the huge teeth of one of the bigger beasts, quickly deciding to give it a wide berth.
The Bedouin people maintain the carvings in the rock and, despite living in modern houses, teach their children the survival skills of desert life and their nomadic heritage.
I partook of a glass of black tea spiced with sage and cinnamon in a Bedouin tent near where Aladdin, starring Will Smith, was shot, and a carving dedicated to Lawrence of Arabia, the archaeologist and diplomat during World War I, is nearby.
Unlike Lawrence, I did not sleep in a tent, but in a luxury pod, fully equipped with the comforts of home. When the sun set I enjoyed a delicious meal of chicken, lamb and root vegetables cooked in a canister covered with hot coals then buried in the sand. One of the tastiest meals I’ve ever had, washed down with an ice cold alcohol free beer. I slept snug in my king sized bed in my pod under the stars only to awaken to watch the sun come up, the sands almost white welcoming the new day.
I have to thank the staff at Hasan Zawaideh 2 made my stay so memorable. Advertised as luxury camping, the accommodation is on a par with many a four / five star hotel and I’d recommend a night or two here if you really want to get away from it all.
The silence is sublime, a place to truly wind down, but there is Wi-Fi if you really need it! The mountain facing my pod is a setting in the latest rendition of Dune, and I could easily visualise a sand worm rearing up from the depths set on destroying us all!
The desert is a humbling experience, the absence of wildlife apparent, although species like the horned oryx, once gone from Jordan, are being reintroduced thanks to conservation programmes sponsored by zoos worldwide. Dublin Zoo, which I fully support, breed horned onyx and I hope herds flourish once again here and elsewhere.
The landscape of Wadi Rum has to be the go-to locale for any sci-fi movie and, Mr Scott, Monsieur Villeneuve, I am readily available to be an extra in your next production if it means another stay in Hasan Zawaideh 2’s luxury campsite! Meanwhile, as I post this on May 4th, may I wish you and all my readers a Happy Star Wars Day. May the force be with you!
My visit to the capital city of Jordan, Amman, was a wonderful learning experience. Click on the link to discover more:
My visit to Petra was exceptional. Click on the link to learn more about this Wonder of the World:
I concluded my holiday by the Dead Sea and discovered so much more than I expected. Please click on the link to read more:
To find out more about Dublin Zoo please click on the following links: