I experienced my Wadi Rum and Bedouin Dinner adventure through our cruise ship excursion program. Arriving at the newly constructed Wadi Rum Visitors Center mid afternoon on a hot sunny day, I was so glad for the air conditioning! The Visitors' Center was not busy; I saw several small shops that were open that offered a selection of tourist souvenirs (pottery, jewelry, pashminas, drinks), clean Western restroom facilities, and a room to watch a program about the Wadi Rum desert. There were excellent views of the desert all around and large outcroppings that offered good photo opportunities. I realized that there were no high drifting sand dunes around here...just reddish beige sandy gravel on a flat surface punctuated with these outcroppings.
Our tour involved a drive in the Wadi Rum. Waiting for us were a huge number of beat up 4x4 Toyota pick up trucks to accommodate our numbers. Each seats 6 passengers who sit crowded on wooden benches with padded back rests. You have to climb up from the back bumper. We traveled as a group on a well used "road" between the rock outcroppings; there was no sand surfing. The ride was certainly bumpy at times, but not dusty despite the number of pickups ahead and behind us. After 20 minutes, the truck caravan stopped for a bit of tea and yes, shopping (mainly pashminas), at a Bedouin camp. It was interesting to see a real Bedouin tent woven out of goats' hair, in the center of which a fire, fueled by desert plant twigs, was ready to boil the water for Arabian tea.There was an image of Lawrence carved on a rock nearby the entrance to the tent, but that was the only reference we had to Lawrence on this adventure. Refreshed, we climbed back into the back of the pickups, and headed off to our next stop. During this time, there was no commentary. However, we did see scattered black Bedouin tents, camel drivers, and goat herds who called this area their home. I wondered how anyone could live in these hot, sandy, dry areas without access to water and fresh vegs.
The climax for this Wadi Rum experience was the Bedouin dinner that followed. Imagine a cook- out-- Hawaiian luau style, BBQ grills, salad bar, wine/drink area with wine glasses, white cloth covered dessert tables with Arabian sweets and watermelon slices, red woven carpets thrown on the sand to walk on and low tables with carpet covered benches on either side set up under the black Bedouin tents. Chefs wearing white chef hats and jackets served the grilled foods (chicken, lamb, kabobs) while Arabian young men dressed in black waited at tables. Our hosts were concerned about sanitary conditions and served food/drinks with gloved hands. We ate on white china plates, used cloth napkins, nice cutlery, and wine goblets. The food was delicious; however I noticed the flies hovering around the sweets. The small band of Arabian musicians that greeted us at our arrival played during our meal, but there were no belly dancers. The Western style washrooms even had flush toilets, running water, and tiled walls...in the desert!
The desert 4x4 ride and the stylish buffet dinner in the desert was another highlight for the Aqaba Jordan port of call. The bus trip back to the ship in Aqaba took about an hour so we arrived "home" during dinner time. I didn't notice the different changing colors in the sands and outcroppings on our way back which others had reported. I didn't get sick from eating in the desert, but I stuck to hot cooked foods. What a memorable adventure for me!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.