You hold your breath as each second becomes an eternity, not wanting to exhale for fear of breaking the spell.

The silence, not even broken by the slightest gust of wind, is as overwhelming as the vast expanse of golden red desert before you, threatening to engulf your senses.

You try to take in the panorama, the rippling dunes broken only by the occasional scrub of brush, an ocean of sand which finally breaks like a wave on to the sandstone crags which thrust into the sky.

Yet as you attempt to assimilate the breathtaking sight, it changes moment by moment as the setting sun sinks down towards the peaks.

The hue of the sand turns blood red and the crest of the mountains seem to catch fire as the sun first begins to disappear behind their vista.


The sandstone rocks darken as twilight tints the impossibly clear blue sky with hints of darker purple.

As the first stars begin to battle through the fading light of day, you finally exhale.

This is sunset in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, a vast tract of dunes where the legend of Lawrence of Arabia began life.

It was this sea of sand which he crossed on camel-back with a handful of Bedouin tribesmen to attack and capture the heavily-fortified city of Aqaba during the First World War.

Among the first sites to greet the traveller are the impressive crags named The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by Lawrence. Jutting out of the red carpet, they resemble a castle guarding the entrance to the sands.

The sheer size and silence of this region is daunting and makes you feel a very small part of a very large universe.

Surrounded by all that vastness, humdrum routine seems unimportant. Wadi Rum is worth visiting if only to be reminded that there is more to life than simply getting up and going to work.

It isn’t just a place, it’s an experience and one which leaves you curiously refreshed and wanting to go back into the world with a smile on your face.

And perhaps that explains the hospitality of the desert’s Bedouin tribes who redefine the word “warm”. These are a people who genuinely want to meet you, sit down, share a fire and simply talk.

The perfect end to a day in Wadi Rum is a night with its people. Candle-lights surround the camp in the cliffs above while on offer is the roaring fire, singing, food (wine if you are lucky) and conversation, often exchanged while sucking fruit-flavoured smoke from a bubbling Hookah – a day to savour in more ways than one.

* From Muscat, Oman I flew direct to Amman, Jordan with Oman Air in under four hours. It is about a four-hour drive from the airport to Wadi Rum desert. I booked a driver (the excellent Abu Rami) with rather than drive myself.

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