The Sands of Time: Trekking in Wadi Rum

I was convinced they were snake tracks.

“Possibly desert foxes, some look like beetles maybe.” our guide Salah soothed me. It was early morning in the desert, the first rays of the dawn dancing upon the sand, and I’d woken up surrounded by various animal tracks. Despite Salah’s reassurances, I still eye the tracks suspiciously.

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I’d slept under the stars that night, as I did every other night that we were camping and trekking in Wadi Rum, ignoring the tents. How could I resist falling asleep under a blanket of stars, tracing the Milky Way and counting shooting stars? Every time I woke up to turn over, I smiled to myself as I looked up at the galaxy of stars above me. If I was at home in my boring bed, I’d grumble and keep my eyes shut tight, determined to get to sleep again.

This morning I had more reason than ever to rise early. We were trekking up the Arch of Burdah, a stunning naturally formed rock arch. This was the most challenging part of the trek and I’d woken up with butterflies in my stomach that even watching the dramatic colours of the desert change in the light couldn’t quite sweep away.

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My nerves faded as soon as we set off. The weather, like every other day, was beautiful: clear blue skies with not a cloud in sight… just what we needed for scrambling across rocks, the drier the better. We soon conquered the ledges, the views over the russet and gold desert improving with each one, and even scrambling up the few short sections of almost vertical rock was all part of the fun – though the sturdy ropes were helpful! I was surprised at how much grip my boots offered on the granite and sandstone, at times I have to say I felt like Spiderman!

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It took a good hour or two to get to the arch, passing hundreds of photo opportunities along the way. At the final section, we faced a climbing wall without the anchors. My fingers and toes tingled as I gripped on to the rock and pulled myself up. It was all worth it, as I reached the top I was amazed by the views. I walked across the arch, a very long way up and narrower than I would like at that height and once across, I took a moment to soak up some of the most extraordinary desert scenery I’ll ever see. This really was a special place and this trip was one I’ll never forget.

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As we made our way back down to camp, I thought how I didn’t want our time trekking in Wadi Rum to end. We still had a couple of days in Wadi Rum but I was already thinking that I didn’t want to leave this magical place. The trip wasn’t over yet though, we still had world-renowned UNESCO world heritage site of Petra to visit… and with this thought I continued back to camp with a smile, looking forward to a well-earned cup of mint tea.

Keen to follow in Natalie’s footsteps? Exodus’ Petra and Wadi Rum Trek departs in Spring and Autumn, and for families with children aged 12 and above special departures are available in school holidays just for families.

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