Day 1: Explore Bethlehem
- Our day in Bethlehem includes visits to the Church of the Nativity, the Milk Grotto, the old market, a tour of the separation wall, and Solomon’s Pools
- After this we walk to Artas
- Dinner and overnight with local families in lovely and quiet Artas
Day 2: Walk Artas to Marah Rabah
- Walk through the beautiful Wadi Artas with its Roman aqueduct
- Break for a picnic lunch
- Continue walking to the village of Marah Rabah where we will meet our hosts for dinner and homestay
Day 3: Marah Rabah to the Bedouin camp at Ar Rashayda in the desert (7 hours)
- Enjoy walking in a wild wadi: a deep valley with stunning rocky sides, but an easy walk including a picnic lunch and rest stop
- Arrive at the Bedouin tent in the desert, enjoy dinner, Bedouin music, dancing, a camp-fire, and a chance to count the stars in the clear sky
- Overnight in the Bedouin tent
Day 4: Sun rise and desert walk
- Watch the sunrise over the Jordanian mountains
- Breakfast at 7 am
- Hike from the camp to the viewpoint over the Dead Sea (4 hours walking)
- Picnic lunch and tea break
- Drive back to Bethlehem, where the trip ends
Friends and I went with Hijazi into the desert last weekend. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. It was my first time to really be in the desert, not just driving through it on the road from Bethlehem to Ramallah.
Having lived most of my life on the coast in the northeastern region of the US where the summer is lush with greenery and there are lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, and the sea everywhere one looks, I didn’t think I could love a desert. I was wrong. I was enchanted. I fell head over heels in love. The desert landscape is so varied and so, so beautiful—the shape of the land, the shadows and light, the rockiness, the gnarled old tree, hundreds of years old, defiantly holding its own…
We laughed with delight as we bumped along on the rough track through the magnificent landscape on our way to the cliffs overlooking the Dead Sea. We took tons of photos. As we drew near to the cliffs, our Bedouin guide, Mohammed, parked the truck, and he, the Bedouin kids who accompanied us, Hijazi, my friends, and I walked to the cliffs.
Breathtaking seems a trite tribute. Stunning, enchanting, marvelous do no justice to the exquisite beauty of the place. We walked along the cliff’s edge as the wind swirled round us, pushing us closer towards the precipice. We explored the cliffs and sat on rocks breathing in the sublime beauty of the place, watching the sky turn from blue to lavender blue and violet as twilight descended upon us.
Just before darkness fell, we piled back into Mohammed’s truck and headed back to his tent. On the way back we broke fast sharing spring water and grapes from Hijazi’s vines (they were all fasting for Ramadan). We arrived back in time for the evening prayer.
While the meal was being prepared, my friend and I went in search of the camels, especially the baby. I love all animals and am happy to report that I scratched the ears of a camel, and she enjoyed it. My friend actually sat on the camel while the baby tried to get up enough courage to approach us.
We were served the Iftar meal in a large tent. We sat comfortably on small mattresses on the floor covered in brightly colored, hand-woven fabrics. The meal was a traditional chicken and rice dish served with chicken soup. It was delicious! We spent time talking and then quiet time outside under a starry night sky meditating on life, love, and the blessedness of it all.
I advise you to go. It might alter your life.