Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Monday 19 November 2007 - Blistering Sand at Wadi Rum

The routine for the rest of the week:
Get up at 7 am, breakfast, leave at 8 am, day’s activities, evening meal at 6.30 – 7 pm.
This is TE Lawrence country. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom are nearby but sadly are not on our itinerary. I know very little about Lawrence (no more than is in the above link), but I do associate this area with Tony Howard and Di Taylor, whose many articles in Adventure Travel and other magazines I have enjoyed reading over the years. Interestingly, under their ‘n.o.m.a.d.s.’ (New Opportunities for Mountaineering Adventure and Desert Sports) banner, Tony and Di have produced the flier that Mahmoud handed to us last night. Here’s the map of the area. We are camped just north east of the Alameh Inscriptions at point 7.
We left for our desert walk at 8.15, having been told by Mahmood to wear boots. For me, this was not good, but I’ll report on that ‘gear’ issue next week.
The ancient inscriptions were admired, then we headed across the wide expanse of sand to a narrow canyon to the east of a high summit, Um Ishrin (we are at about 1000 metres, the summits are around 1700 metres). Then back across the wider canyon, past the camp at the northern tip of Anfashieh, before lunch in the shade to the east of that mountain. It was basically a plod through squidgy sand, guided by Mahmoud who strolled ahead like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. He is bored after a season of doing the same trip. We have been allowed to wear ‘t-shirts and t-trousers’ today (one has to be careful about such things in these parts) and given 30C+ temperatures that’s a good thing.
There are lots of sea onion plants, small lizards, blackbirds (Tristram’s Grackle), Desert Larks, Rose Finches, the black and white Mourning Wheatear, African Rock Martins, Kestrels and Buzzards. I’ve since discovered that Mahmoud didn’t really know about the birds, many of which he referred to as ‘Flycatchers’. Whilst that may be what they do, it is inaccurate nomenclature. I’m really impressed by this account by Duncan Dine, who spotted 147 species of birds on his trip to Jordan in October 2005!
We also came across a selection of beetles, including the curiously long-legged Blaps Beetle. There are apparently several types of scorpion, long-legged gerbils, etc, rarely seen during the day. For those of us who later required nocturnal wanderings, the noises from the desert indicated much activity out there in the moonlight.
From the lunch spot it was a two hour plod north, back past the Inscriptions to reach camp at about 3 pm, giving us our first proper relaxation time of the trip, before dinner under the overhang – pitta bread, tomatoes, cucumber, vegetables, houmous, meat and rice – the fare that became usual for the trip. All this is eaten with a spoon, there being no other cutlery. Sue and I bragged about our ‘folding sporks’, recently acquired for forthcoming backpacking trips.
We walked for about 5 hours today, covering around 10 km.
Sunset wasn’t quite as good as last night’s; the moon was up, and Sue and I enjoyed another deep sleep despite the desert noises (a fox was seen in camp).
This is not a remote place. We are on the edge of the Wadi Rum area, and jeep tracks criss-cross the desert where we have been walking. There are locals out with camels (and accompanying tourists) and more tourists pass nearby in the back of open jeeps on their brief tours before they return to the Fleshpots of Rum Village, for belly dancing and boozing.
We also get beer, at £2 a can.

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