Could anything possibly be more romantic sounding than a place known as The Valley of the Moon—especially to our moon-phase-obsessed selves? We think not, which is why you should hurry up and book your birthday extravaganza in southern Jordan for a truly out-of-this-world experience in Wadi Rum. This sand valley has a seriously cinematic Mars-like aura to it, and we’re pretty sure you won’t stop asking yourself, “Is this for real?”, especially when you see a caravan of Bedouins stride by on camelback. Better yet, plan to spend most of your trip glamping with these wise native nomads, and see the desert via camelback yourself. Also, don’t miss the chance to visit the world-renown “Rose City” of Petra (just a couple hours away), a stunning architectural masterpiece of a town carved out of pinky-peach stone.
With multiple options to choose from in terms of accommodations in this dusty wonderland, we’ve picked the cream of the crop to simplify your birthday plans.
Photography: Tim Landis
Bubble Glamp & Ride Camels at Wadi Rum Night
Wadi Rum Night offers a full-on outer space experience where you can stay in one of the Full of Stars rooms—a dome-shaped bubble tent with a see-through ceiling for endless stargazing throughout the night. The Bedouins of Wadi Rum Night also plan daytime excursions for seeing the wild lands, which can be experienced safari-style while in Jeeps, on 4X4s or, of course, on a camel ride. For the even wilder at heart, plan to do some sand boarding amidst the unparalleled dunes.
Photography: Florence Liang | snappbenlert | Tim Landis | Jona Grey | Emily Hensley
Glamp in Bedouin Tents & Hot Air Balloon at Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp
Offering a similar all-around (though slightly less luxury-inclined) adventure is the Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp, complete with chic black-and-white striped goat-hair tents that include double, triple or family-sized spaces. The private tents are anchored around the larger main upholstery-clad community tent where evening tea is served for all the guests, followed by a traditional Bedouin meal of rice, veggies, salads and meat. Activities available here include rock-climbing next to the camp, jeep and camel rides and our personal favorite, hot air ballooning. Genuine Bedouins are the only ones allowed to venture into the protected lands, so rest assured you’ll be in good hands throughout your journey.
Photography: Scott Borrero | Yulia Denisyuk | Roberta Goodrick Comerford | gridzanda
Glamp in Futuristic Domes & Hike at Wadi Rum Nomads
Lastly, Wadi Rum Nomads has the additional advantage for the natural-born adventurer (apart from its similarly cozy, futuristic-looking basecamp tents) of offering hiking and bivouac camping in the heart of the desert. Forget glamping; this is good old sleeping-under-the-stars, eating meals and hearing stories around the campfire, and roughing it (sort of) in the land of Lawrence of Arabia—for real: this is where he allied with the Bedouins against the Ottoman Empire and later the movie was filmed.
Photography: Zoey Poulsen
The Rose City of Petra
For an authentic dose of movie magic, make sure to top off your traveling birthday bash with a visit to Petra, which is honestly a place like no other—just watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and you’ll know what we mean. The epic beauty of this place is only rivaled by the fantastic history behind it; it’s believed to have been settled back in 9000 B.C. Truly, there's no better place to make you feel like a young spring chicken before your next revolution around the sun.
Photography: Heather Goodman | James Lloyd Cole