Getting to know the locals: 5 reasons why Wadi Rum should be experienced with Bedouins
No experience of Wadi Rum would be complete or authentic without getting to know the Bedouins. Bedouins have inhabited and protected Wadi Rum for centuries, and they are more than happy to welcome visitors and show them around. Here are some reasons why exploring the desert is best done
1. Bedouins have lived in Wadi Rum for millennia, and some of them live nomadically across the desert
Bedouins in wadi rum are open to the world, but they still manage to keep their traditions alive.
Even though most of the population is concentrated in the Wadi Rum village, many families still live the nomadic way. It is not uncommon to find families throughout the desert that set up camps following food and water sources or to protect themselves from the elements (heat, rain, or cold).
Most Bedouins are herders and travel with herds of sheep and camels. Food sources are scarce in the desert, but following millennia of nomadic skill passed from generation to generation, bedouins can read the signs to track water, vegetation to feed themselves and their animals
2. Bedouins have long served as the custodians of Wadi Rum, which is now a state-protected area
Following the increased interest in the area by travelers worldwide, and on the sight of the expansion of human settlements in the region, Wadi Rum has been protected by the state since 1997. The protection of the area was enforced to protect the local flora and fauna, as well as to preserve the landscape.
Only bedouins and people with specific permits are allowed to build camps in the desert and, as many other desert cultures, bedouins are known to be very respectful of the environment and its resources.
3. Bedouins make perfect scrambling and climbing guides
For the most adventurous travelers, Wadi rum can be a one-of-a-kind, off the beaten path, climbing destination. Many bedouins have inhabited the mountainous regions of the desert and have been climbing them for centuries, in recent years they have incorporated the modern climbing ways with the ancient know-how of the desert mountain.
Climbing in Wadi Rum is perfect for seasoned climbers, as it requires preparation and experience. But there are plenty of scrambling alternatives that are no less adrenaline-rushing and a better fit for every level of experience in the mountain. Some of the mountain highlights of Wadi Rum are Jabal Rum (best for climbing), Almeseriga, Amgadha, and Jordan's highest mountain, Umm Adami (1900mts)
3. For the bedouins, the stars are much more than just stars
The absence of light pollution makes Wadi Rum an exceptionally dark place at night, which combined with the red sand sunsets, makes the 2 hour period from dawn to night one of the most compelling experiences humans can get from nature
But it is not just that that makes it unique. The stars have been, and still are one of the principal means of orientation for bedouins. Bedouins read the stars to travel to places, to get information about seasons, about rain and to guide their decision making across their journesy in the desert.
Combining the jaw-dropping window into the universe wadi rum offers, with the interpretation of the stars provided by the Bedouin, travellers will never look up the sky the same way again
4.Bedouins are great singers- and exceptional storytellers
It takes little asking for bedouins to pull out an oud and sing their traditional songs. Late night travellers at the desert camps will witness improvised concerts and will be invited to sing and dance along.
Also, bedouins love to share legends and stories passed onto them by their ancestors with travellers. Those seeking inspiration and ancestral wisdom will feel in the right place.