Trekking in Jordan - Day by Day Account - Dana Reserve and Wadi Araba
We started the next day early, eager to see if Ray’s promise of continual improvement would materialize.
We met our new guide Abdulla. He seemed like a fun, free spirited individual and very eager to please. We started in the town of Dana, which appeared fairly run down.
However, once we step foot out of its border, we were swallowed by a valley true to Ray’s promise. With a subtler pallet than the Grand Canyon, it had a beauty all its own.
This was especially true when a camel wandered by. Not exactly the normal companion on a trail in the US.
The hike down into the valley was a pleasant and welcome change from hikes that start with a blast of climbing. Along the way we passed a few Bedouins and Abdulla greeted each of them like old friends. He also gave them a small token, a can of tuna fish, a bottle of water, or some sweets for the kids. He clearly had thought ahead, because that’s about all he had in his small pack. He didn’t even carry a first aid kit or medicine. He had a tooth ache and asked if we had an aspirin.
We proceeded fairly slowly partially due to a lot of photo taking and partially due to the lack of physicality of many of the group. This caused a change in plans. Originally we were going to walk through two valleys, but Abudulla thought if we did we would get in camp very late. He suggested instead we camp by a giant sand dune and asked me what I wanted to do. I explained our desire to get good photographs and told him to pick the best place. He said definitely the sand dunes. I asked if people often followed his advice. He stated he will take clients anywhere they want to go and then laughed that they often want to go where there is nothing to see. He said they apologized later when they walked wherever they wanted for naught.
We followed his advice and got picked up by the jeeps. We saw a few views from the side of the road and then proceeded to Wadi Araba: the land of giant sand dunes. With no defined roads, the vehicles blazed their own roads through the desert. My eyes were immediately accessing what the best wedding dress shot would be. When we arrived at camp, each side was flanked by on magnificent dunes. Assessing the sun, I laid claim to one set, hoping no one would ruin the sand with footprints. We met our other guide Yousef, who like Abdulla, was incredibly friendly and offered help at every turn. In fact, I did need help since my boot fell apart on the hike. I hoped he had glue of some kind. He took the boot and it came back with the “Bedouin” repair. They literally sewed it with a wire. The repair held up the entire trip. Nice job!
While we waited for sunset and the golden light that would cast beautiful shadows across the rippled sand, a few people tossed a Frisbee, while others explored taking their own photographs.
However, as we watched the sun drop, the sky seemed to cloud over. As our hopes of golden light diminished we quickly went into action to get try to Salvage any light that remained for a quick wedding dress shot. At first, we were doing ok, but then it suddenly got dark. Are those rain clouds? Um, no! A sand storm was headed our way. We dashed for the tent. We quickly assessed that opening the tent would have been a disaster, so we got the dress into a bag and covered up our gear as best we could.
Meanwhile, Yousef/Abdulla and the crew were not sitting around idly. They were moving at light speed to create a make shift shelter. By the time we were done with our stuff, we took refuge in their hastily built refuge. We each shared a cushion that is except King Michael (Michael S) who claimed his place and took up three cushions. Truthfully, we looked pitiful, covering any part of our body with any piece of clothes we could find. The shelter blocked out most of the wind and face ripping sand. However, the bigger surprise was that dinner popped out shortly afterwards. Jennifer and I looked at each other dubiously. Could they really prepare food in this? How much sand were we about to eat?
To our surprise and utter amazement, the food was perfect. Jennifer politely asked for more, King Michael just barked “I’ll have more,” and held out a plate without moving. Jennifer scolded him and he finally uttered a please.
We never even unpacked for fear of sand. Instead, we crawled in our tents as is and hoped not to wake up buried in sand.
The story continues...
This trip was organized by Discover Jordan. We can not praise them enough. If you are considering a trip to Jordan, please reach out to them. They were wonderful to work with an exceeded all of our expecations!