You’ve just turned four, you’re with two of your bestest buddies, and you’ve landed in one of the biggest sandpits you’ve EVER SEEN.
The hellish five-hour drive from the border crossing (which was beautiful, btw; down the length of the misleadingly inviting, sparkling Dead Sea; on winding roads through ragged, rocky mountains and via a cliff-top cafe with possibly the best view in the Middle East…) is instantly forgotten.
All you want to do is take your shoes off and run. Or, if you’re significantly over four, drink sweet, herb-infused Bedouin tea and sit by the fire.
The late-autumn light is fading; through the clouds and in between the peaks, the setting sun makes the red rocks glow. So we let the kids run, barefoot. As much as they can until dinner time.
The peace and quiet of Quiet Village Bedouin camp is broken for a while, but we feel so far away from anywhere, no one seems to mind.
Our camp for the night is made up of a dozen or so black and white Bedouin ‘tents’, or cabins. They’re cosy on the inside, with comfy beds and big blankets, and once the sun sets, total darkness.
Thankfully, after sun-down, a generator kicks in. We have light inside the tent, in the washrooms and communal room, plus the luxury of plug sockets and Wi-Fi.
Dinner is cooked traditionally; slowly, in a fire pit. The zarb, or Bedouin barbeque, is buried in a three-foot deep hole with hot coals, for a couple of hours.
Everyone gathers around for the big reveal, as racks of sizzling chicken and roasted vegetables are hauled out of the sand below.
They’re served with salads, rice and bread and followed by baklava, plus plenty of that sweet, herb-infused bedouin tea.
After dinner, there’s more tea by the fireside. We put the kids to bed, exhausted, and everyone else saunters off to their cabins in the night. Perhaps grateful for the return of silence.
So it’s just us parents. And the fire, and the wine we brought with us, and the stars. And what spectacular stars!
We are camped right under a huge rock face – Al Khazali – and gazing up at the stars it’s as if the dizzying height of the stone edifice is leaning in on us.
It’s still dark when we wake up the next morning, at least until we open a window and the bright, morning light rushes in. The windows are picture frames for the spectacular rose, blush and brick-coloured views outside.
After a traditional Arab-style breakfast we’re off exploring. With six adults and five kids, we’ve booked two jeeps for a half-day tour. It’s not far to the first stop; the one we’ve all been waiting for! A huge red sand dune piled up high against the red rock.
The shoes are off again, this time it’s the grown-ups too.
Looking out from the top, we could be on Mars. But the views are short-lived, as everyone just wants to RUN!
After pelting down the 20-storey-high mound of sand, we pile back into the customised Mitsubishi pick-up for the open-air ride to our next stop.
We take a short scramble through Khazali Siq, a super-narrow gorge full of Nabatean rock carvings; watch the dads walk over the little rock bridge (while trying not to distract them too much by screaming from below) and finally stop off at the remains of T.E. Lawrence’s house.
Here there’s a makeshift store selling Bedouin kohl, perfume and trinkets. Even in the desert you have to exit through the gift shop, but here you’ll be served sweet, herb-infused Bedouin tea on the way out.
More info on our stay…
We stayed at Wadi Rum Quiet Village and paid 45JD for a triple room for one night, including breakfast but excluding taxes. Dinner is an extra 10JD per person.
The three-hour jeep tour cost 50JD per vehicle. Longer tours are also available – we could’ve probably stretched to four hours and lunch.
For more information go to www.wadirumquietvillage.com