Team Outpost—on Expedition in JORDAN!

Follow Team Outpost in Jordan this November—let us be your eyes and ears to all the cultural icons and iconic adventures the country has on offer: from mighty Petra to mountain biking, trekking to camel-riding, diving to desert camping, join Team Outpost as we uncover Jordan’s hidden adventures. 

 

Time Disappears: Al badia part 11

After taking the bottle, he asked Abu’l Shalaan what the date was. “It’s the 28th,” my guide responded. The shepherd nodded sagaciously, mumbling something inaudible to him­self. Then, as if suddenly remembering why he had asked, he added: “Yes, but what month is it?”

God help them!: Al badia part 10

“What are these smugglers carrying?” I asked.

The Black Basalt City: Al Badia part 9

Just a few kilometres south of Jordan’s border with Syria, on the western edge of the lava flows beneath Jebel Druze, lies the black basalt city of Umm al-Jimal.

Lawrence of Arabia: Al Badia part 8

The famed First World War British officer, who led a Bedouin guerilla war against the Ottoman Turks in what is now Jordan and Syria, used al-Azraq, and particularly its ancient fortress Qasr al-Azraq, as his base in the winter of 1917-18.

Abu’l Shalaan: Al Badia part 7

I saw Abu’l Shalaan disappear into the recesses of his memory. By the look on his face, he seemed to be reaching back many years. 

En­dangered Arabian Oryx: Al Badia part 6

“These were the best years of my life,” he told me, as we walked into the holding area where the oryx were being kept while renovations took place on the reserve.

Natural Harmony: Al Badia part 5

But the innocent and untouched nature of al-Azraq that led to those special memories would not endure. 

A Local Dignitary: Al Badia part 4

The oasis’s legendary waters (from which Azraq, meaning “blue” in Arabic, derives its name) were so famed that migrants from nearby regions travelled there to start new lives. 

Byzantine Excess: Al Badia part 3

To this day its interior remains adorned with Byzantine-style mosaics depicting scenes of nudity, dancing and wine-fuelled revelry. 

Desert Castles: Al Badia part 2

Abu’l Shalaan got out of the vehicle and parked himself quietly on the edge of the pond. He took a front row seat before an unlikely group of birds and insects, and sat amid a spectacular silence. I followed suit, embracing the moment where less was certainly so much more.

Bedouin Guide: Al Badia part 1

How anyone could know precisely where to drive off a flat desert highway without the benefit of landmarks, or a GPS, to find a little known fort that is poorly depicted on maps and hidden in a wilderness of rock, was the question I kept turning in my head, as Ahmed al-Shalaan steered our vehicle tentatively off the asphalt. “I came this way once before, many years ago,” he said, smiling as though he had divined my thoughts.

 

Perspective: Sands of Time part 9

I see the entire world and my life in it in a grain of sand.

Camels, canyon floor, Wadi Rum: Sands of Time part 8

We ride through bizarre rock formations that look like cutaway models of an anthill or of an antediluvian beast.

Outside Wadi Rum: Sands of Time part 7

Gone are the monolithic peaks and fantastic shapes that dwarf the traveller in Wadi Rum; now we are in a Field of Mars landscape of reddish stony mountains and coarse sandy flats.

Camels, coffee and tradition: Sands of Time part 6

It’s my first big step towards mastering the beast. 

I am Bedouin: Sands of Time part 5

The land causes mirages of thought as readily as it does visual hallucinations.

Bedouin life: Sands of Time part 4

I’m given a sturdy male breeding camel called Azaran. I like to think that he’s needed to carry my notebook, which is compact in size but dense with potential.

Jordan's Desert: Sands of Time part 3

There’s ample variety to delight the eye. It’s just that the manufactured, vibrant hues of the outside world don’t belong there. Neither, truly, do we.

Jordanian Society and the Bedouin: Sands of Time part 2

The reputation of the Bedouin as “masters of the desert” was solidified by explorers like Sir Richard Francis Burton, Colonel T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) and Wilfred Thesiger, who travelled among them and experienced the most desperate rigours of desert travel. Those stories had fuelled my dreams.

Bob

Our first glimpse of the legendary body of water at the lowest point on earth came from an escarpment in the rugged hills that overlook it.

Horsepower

The race was born some years ago, replicating contests that the Bedouins have waged for centuries for prestige and pride. 

A Different Perspective

There was silence from our group. We wandered forward to the edge of the cliff-top and gazed in awe and wonderment at one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

Magical Petra

One of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

Mountain Biking With Bedouin

Yesterday was the first time I have ever been on a mountain bike.

Feynan Eco-lodge

Despite the lack of electricity—or perhaps because of it—the lodge is an oasis of comfort and perfect hospitality in a starkly beautiful landscape…

Nouveau Cuisine

Finally, the meal was finished.

Galloping To Adventure

A rare privilege indeed.

Sands of Time

Having long ago succumbed to an obsession with deserts, my goal for the trip is to pick up enough camel skills to do a desert crossing entirely on my own. So in an effort to connect with this special region of the earth, photographer Jason George and I set out with Raad Abou M’aitik, a 22-year-old Bedouin of the Howeitat tribe. 

Jordan—Lawrence’s Arabia

When David Lean’s cinematic masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia premiered in London on the evening of December 10, 1962, Peter O’Toole wasn’t the only star born that night.