WADI RUM - JORDAN
Wadi Rum is a magnificent desert in southern Jordan. It competes with Petra and the remains of the fabled Nabatean Kingdom as a favourite tourist destination.
The silence of the drifting red sands, the unique rock formations and towering mountains belie the area’s history and that there has been a settlement here at least as early as 4,500 B.C.
The freshwater springs were for centuries a place of refreshment for camel-train caravans travelling between Arabia and the Levant and natural gathering locations for Bedouin tribes. Since 1998 a 720 square kilometre area has been protected.
In the Spring there are wildflowers but throughout millennia there has been human life here, there are 154 so far discovered archaeological sites, 25,000 recorded inscriptions and 25,000 rock carvings or petrographs.
The Nabatean people remodelled a Talmudic temple at the base of Jebel Rum in the first century B.C. though there is a recently excavated site to the East of Rum village which is
thought to predate Petra.
T.E. Lawrence, the British soldier who became known as “Lawrence of Arabia” fought the occupying Turkish armies with Emir Faisal here during the Great Arab Revolt of 1917-18. Lawrence’s autobiographical account of the experience was published as “The seven pillars of wisdom” a name taken from a local rock formation.
This captivating area has been used as a location for many films including “The Martian”,
“Aladdin” and the 1962 David Lean directed “Lawrence of Arabia.
Today Ibex are still seen, camels are still used as a mode of transport and Bedouin people still herd their goats here.
Shortly after arriving at the day’s launch site, you will receive a hot beverage and biscuits see our team assemble the balloon and the pilot will give you an important safety briefing. The briefing will normally be in English though we have translation cards in a variety of languages and some of our pilots may be able to augment the briefing with greater explanation in other languages.
You can watch the balloon inflation and take some memorable pictures before the pilot calls you aboard asking you to climb into the basket.
As a standard procedure the pilot will check that you have understood the important safety procedures and then when everyone and everything is ready, they will launch the balloon.
On many days it is as though the ground falls away from you, the scenery moves, and you stand still. A balloon flight is probably the nearest to experiencing a flight on a magic carpet that any of us might enjoy. A balloon flight is like a child’s imagination of flight
before you have been encased in the sealed cabin of an airliner, the noisy confines of a helicopter cabin or the rushing wind of an open cockpit powered aircraft.
A balloon flight in Wadi Rum can be an adventure of romance that might have been imagined by Scheherazade in the stories of “One thousand and one nights”.
The pilot will be your guide pointing out sights and explaining some of the wonders of this unique terrain, they will also be using the different wind speeds and directional flows to steer the balloon towards a place where you will once again meet your skilled ground crew who will be using their detailed local knowledge to be close by when you land.
After landing the balloon will be deflated and packed away, a light snack and beverages will be served while you have an opportunity to chat with your fellow passengers and the pilot who will sign your commemorative certificate.
HOW IT WORKS
There is no steering wheel, a balloon travels with the wind, it rarely lands back at the same place from which it launched.
The wind at different hights travels in different directions, on some days there is a great variation of direction with height and on some days very little.
The wind speed also normally varies with height, usually the wind near the surface is slower than the wind higher up, but this is not always so.
In stable weather conditions and with practice and concentration the pilot can control the height at which the balloon flies very accurately, in this way they can use the changing wind flow directions at height to steer by.
Before the launch the team will usually release several small Helium filled balloons in order to assess the wind speed and directions which might be encountered as the flight
progresses. This is a standard practice with passenger balloon flights everywhere in the world and helps the pilot assess some of the landing options they might have available at the end of the flight. However, the precise location of the landing place is never certain until the basket finally touches down.