Wadi Rum, Jordan
It's been a while since the last blog and much has happened so without further ado lets dive in. We both recovered from our colds thanks to the wonderful hospitality of the people in Dana and specifically the endless rounds of sweet tea in the Bedouin tent there. By our 4th day there the wind finally dropped, the sun came out and we ventured into the valley for a 10km hike. The scenery is breath taking, and for the first time in the trip we got up-close with a whole load of wildlife. We saw our first vulture (a Griffin vulture), loads of lizards, a rock kestrel (we think) and a load of other beautiful birds. During our time there we met a lovely couple from the US, Pam and Stuart who helped us out with bird identification (they're twitchers) and gave us some inspiration for future adventure trips (we will definitely be doing the Montana canoe trip at some point).
From Dana we headed to Wadi Rum which is too amazing to describe. We had planned to do lots of climbing there and following the success of the sport climbing in Turkey I had some fairly grand plans of pushing my grade a bit and getting some good routes in. However the sheer size of the place is intimidating, the crumbly rock does not help, the route finding is notoriously difficult, the protection in iffy, the belays and abseils are non existent on the lower grade climbs, the routes are committing and to cut a long story short we got our asses kicked big time by the climbing in Wadi Rum.
Luckily for us we met two British climbers who took pity on us and took us under their wing. I know you guys will be reading this and I don't want to overdo it but Duncan and Toby - thank you for the good times in Wadi Rum! Toby (literally) wrote the book on UAE climbing and Duncan is something of a British climbing legend, so despite the ass kicking we managed to learn loads from these two and really feel like we have come away better climbers (which was the whole point so in that sense I guess it was a success)
We managed to do a bit of climbing thanks to Toby and Duncan, however it has been said that the sprit of Wadi Rum climbing is in the Bedouin Routes and after doing a few of these I can understand why. The Bedouin routes were 'discovered' by the Bedouin who followed ibex through the mountains and then passed the routes down from father to son. It is impossible to portray the ingenuity of these routes so I won't try, however they seem to find routes through the high and intimidating mountains with nothing more than some scrambling and walking. We did 4 of these routes while in Wadi Rum and although they can all be done via scrambling (we roped up for only 1 pitch) and abseiling they give you access to some truly amazing views.
The best thing about Wadi Rum though is the wild camping. As we had our own 4x4 we let down the tires and headed off into the desert to wild camp. Driving in the desert is really fun, and by sheer luck and the grace of god we managed not to get stuck in the sand once. We found some amazing camp sites and spent the evenings sat around a fire goading the boys into telling us stories of their climbing adventures all over the world.
All in all Wadi Rum is an amazing place, and the night we spent wild camping on the final night there (sorry chaps you missed that one) goes into my top 10 life experiences. In a stunning location we watched the sun set and the moon rise so big and clear we could look through the binoculars and see hundreds of craters.
We are now in Aqaba chilling out for a week. It is really hot here and since it is so touristy we can wander around in shorts with no t-shirt so I can finally start working on my tan. We have a few nights booked into a 5 star hotel at the end of the week thanks to Amy's loyalty card, so looking forward to that.
Oh yeah, one other thing of note - we had the first machete injury…. I managed to cut my thumb pretty good on the morning of our first climb - good timing eh? However due to being in the desert and the lack of medical facilities I bound up said thumb in finger tape and tried not to think about it.