While in Jordan, my family and I made sure that Wadi Rum was on the agenda for an exciting adventure in the stunning desert located miles from 70 Petra and 186 miles from Jordan’s capital, Amman. Known as the Valley of the Moon due to its lunar-like landscape, Wadi Rum has been used by filmmakers for films set on Mars, such as Red Planet, The Last Days on Mars and The Martian. We skipped the Lunar Roving Vehicle, and instead, escorted by a guide from Captain’s Desert Camp*, explored the reddish sand and mountainous terrain of this scenic desert valley in a 4x4.

The tour began with lunch at the camp, where we had an amazing and authentic Bedouin meal known as a Zarb, a barbeque of meat and vegetables cooked in an underground pit, accompanied by hummus, falafel, salad, pickles and khubz (pita). We dined outdoors at communal tables with a number of other people, most of whom, unlike us, were overnight guests at the camp.

After having our fill of the wonderful meal, we climbed into the bed of a 4x4 truck, sat on cushioned benches and tightly gripped the side rails as we whizzed and whipped through the desert.

While sliding through the desert in a 4x4 may be a relatively new way to explore the terrain, ancient caravans began transversing these sands centuries ago on camels, leaving their mark – literally – with thousands of petroglyphs and inscriptions etched onto the rocks of Wadi Rum. The tour provided awe-inspiring views of the spectacular desert valley made famous by the iconic film, Lawrence of Arabia, as well as the opportunity to see many of its archeological gems, like the Seven Pillars of Wisdom named in honor of the real Lawrence’s famous book. Wadi Rum’s varied landscape also consists of towering cliffs, gorges, caverns and massive landslides. Our guide stopped a few times during the excursion, including at one of these giant sand dunes where Miss P and Miss V climbed to the top, then ran down at top speed.

We also stopped at one of the Bedouin camps that dot the vast expanse, and enjoyed the spiced tea that is customarily served to visitors. The camp also had a small area selling goods and handicrafts made by the local tribes.

The 4x4 is just one of the ways to experience Wadi Rum. Captain’s Desert Camp also offers ATV tours, hiking trips, hot air balloons, and of course, the more traditional camel and horse tours. Though time did not allow for us to stay overnight at the camp, our brief time there was an awesome experience. However, if you can spare the time and the expense, I recommend staying a night or two, because dinner and music by a campfire with the Bedouins, followed by a night under a star-filled sky in the Arabian desert…hello, why would you not?

To find out how you can have your own Captain’s Desert Camp experience, visit the website.

*My family and I received a discount on lunch and the 4x4 jeep tour at Captain’s Desert Camp. I was not asked to express any particular point of view, and as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.