Day 7 (10/12/2011)   Jordan: Wadi Rum, Aqaba and entry to Egypt


Route from Petra to Egypt

   The idea is leaving Wadi Musa early in order to get Wadi Rum Visitor’s Center around 9-9:30h. We would take a tour of three hours maximum asking to pass by Sand Dunes and one of the natural Stone bridges in there as our preferred highlights.

   After this visit, we would arrive to Aqaba around lunch time. Later, a short walk through the market and would save the short distance to Arava border pass where we will deliver the car and go into Israel. As we had already got Egyptian visas, we just would need a taxi to go directly to Taba border pass across Eilat. After formalities to enter to Egypt, a short taxi drive would leave us in our “All inclusive” Red Sea resort sited in Taba Heights.

   We would see the chance of renting a car if we find, once there, an agency which let us to deliver it in Cairo with a good price.

On map:

A- Petra
B- Jordan-Israel border
1- Wadi Rum
Arrow: Taba Heights.


   We do things right this time and leave Wadi Musa by car at 9:00h. One of the Bedouins from last night told us this way would take around a half of an hour, but it takes one hour for us. Just after parking we get a tour offer: 90 dinars for a private tour for all four of us including the highlights I’d got chosen. That’s a deal.

   We don’t even go inside Visitor’s Center, which is just in front of us along the mountain with a strange shape which they call like Lawrence of Arabia’s book: the seven pillars of wisdom.

The seven pilars of wisdomOur van

   We follow our guide’s car until a small village sited just at the edge of the desert, to leaving our car, getting some soft drinks and water and make ourselves confortable on the back of his pickup, which is adapted with sits and tarpaulin.

   The first stop is at a natural spring, which means to be the only one in this place, and where there are some old rock engravings or petroglyphs.

   Next move drive us to a canyon which offers spectacular pictures between the beautiful red desert landscape. It seems as if we would be doing a tour over Mars.

Wadi Rum's canyonIn canyon

In canyonIn canyon

   We go into a big Bedouin tent where we’re offered a cup of a sweet black tea and make jokes with local Bedouins in there. We’re shocked about them getting cover for their cell phones in such isolated place.

   Going on with our tour, it takes us to Lawrence of Arabia’s house (one of them at least), a small natural stone bridge and a big red dune.

Lawrence's housenatural stone bridge

   Sand is extremely fine here and when returning to the van our feet are red.

   We’ve seen a lot of camels in this tour, whether ridden by people or free, grazing from the few can be here for eating.

Red dunesCamels in Wadi Rum

   We return to our car for the last step of our Jordan stage, which ends in Aqaba. This city looks with very few people to us, the streets are deserted, and we know we’re talking about after coming from Wadi Rum.

   Some random choices on roundabouts in Aqaba make us end out of the city, on the road driving to Mecca and, obviously, to Saudi Arabia border. I turn round back to Aqaba to end by parking the car close to McDonalds, which is one of the references rent Car Company gave us about the delivery point. As we have still more than one hour to spend before delivery time, we go into a nearby shopping mall where we cannot see a soul, and after checking several restaurants on it, only a Chinese one is opened. We lunch by 35 dinars all four and spend the rest of our time in the only two opened stores in there until the Montecarlo rent a car guy arrives.

   After the usual car verifications, he drives to Arava border and leave us ready to cross to Israel at 17:00. We’re alone and formalities are very quick. Exit taxes for Jordan are 8 dinars each.

   Once in Israel we take a taxi has just left two young women doing the opposite pass than us. Taximeter on, we go across Eilat very slow because of the traffic jam. It’s not usual, this is due to a Jewish holyday called "shukrut" or something similar – Isn’t that something I ate in Jerusalem? – and it is an eight days bridge starting precisely today, which makes a lot of people move to the only Red Sea beach of the country. We manage to see the beach completely occupied by tents. The taxi costs 90 shekels for the trip and Israel exit taxes 101 more per person. On this border there is a long queue, though. When we arrive to Egypt is already dark. The pass Jordan to Egypt across two border passes has taken two hours and a half, but we find out Egypt is still one hour less than Jordan, so we are at 18:30 now.

Jorda-Israel borderIsrael-Egypt border

   We only exchange our remaining shekels in border office thinking the change rate would be bad there but, at the end of the day, that resulted to be the best place for exchanging money in whole Sinai – at least, the Sinai we know-. Once in street we don’t have to look for a taxi as we’re offered one immediately. When we answer we’re going to a hotel nearby they ask for 30$. I say they’re crazy and go, but they stop me changing the price to 20$. Then I use one of the tricks better work on these situations: showing an alternative. If they think you have no choice the rates will keep high, so you must show your chances. I took my cell phone off the bag and said loudly I was going to call the hotel for they sending someone to come to picking us up. Price went quickly to 60 pounds (around 7 euros). My cell phone didn’t work still in Egypt, but they didn’t know that.

Room at Hotel Solimar    The van leaves us at our hotel entrance after exchanging us money for paying Sinai taxes: 75 pounds. The exchange is quite bad but ineludible: 7 EGP per euro. On our way, the driver asks me about our plans here looking for more business chances and, as I explain them to him, we’re offered a trip to Cairo on this same confortable and big van by 90€. I just answer I will think about it, with no commitments, and take his car saying I would call to him in case we will accept his offer.

   We arrive on time to the “all inclusive” dinner on a very good looking buffet. As the journey has been long we go to sleep looking forward to a very relaxing day tomorrow.