Theo Peeters is our desert expert. Having led challenging treks across the ancient Jordan desert for several years now, it’s safe to say he knows a fair bit about the mysterious land and the legends surrounding it. We worked with Theo on our Jordan Desert Trek in 2019 and we jumped at the chance to interview him about the challenge. In 2020, we'll experience the magic again on our women-only Step by Step adventure. Here, Theo reveals what you can really expect when trekking from the Dead Sea to the ancient city of Petra.
What’s your favourite thing about the desert?
My favourite thing about the desert is the fact that you can feel so disconnected from almost everything else. It's the time to really be with yourself and with the other trekkers around you, that you can be with the here and now without being distracted by normal day to day things.
Petra is one of the Modern 7 Wonders Of The World. What would you say gives the city this status?
On the trek, the highlight in Petra is certainly when we arrive there on the last trekking day. We arrive through the lesser used 'back door', with beautiful views over the valley and the desert and then suddenly, it's there; the Monastery, one of the most impressive sites of Petra.
It's very different, compared to entering through the main gate with all the other tourists - it kind of makes you feel superior!
What can we expect from the Jordan Desert Trek challenge?
Every day is a highlight. Participants can expect a very peaceful and easy-going country, very friendly people and stunning, really stunning, surroundings. You experience and appreciate it so much more when trekking through the desert, rather than travelling only on a bus. You can expect to be challenged at some points during the trek, you can expect fantastic nights under the sky and most of all, stunning views and surroundings all the way.
The challenge starts off at the Dead Sea, renowned for its high salt levels, nearly 10 x as high as the ocean! What’s it like swimming in it?
You can't swim in the Dead Sea, you can only float. Accepting that is sometimes difficult as our natural instinct will be to try to swim. You just need to surrender and relax, whilst reading your book when floating effortlessly. The salt and minerals have some healing effects, but most of the beneficial effects for us come from the direct sunlight, filtered by the low pressure of the lowest point on earth. Beneficial effects are proven, but it won't happen overnight - you’ll have to spend some time at the Dead Sea. Nevertheless, enjoyment is guaranteed from the moment you arrive.
Tell us about the stars in the desert!
The viewing of the stars is best done in the desert. There are many Bedouin stories, as well as Egyptian and Greek mythical stories about the stars. To hear them, you will need to go on the trek!! Whilst sleeping in the desert on our trek, you have the option of sleeping in the tents or sleeping on your mattress under the stars. On the first night, most trekkers might be sleeping in the tents, on the last night almost everybody is under the stars!
You see many shooting stars, every evening. Whilst sleeping under the stars, you just can't miss them!
What’s the food and accommodation like?
Food is great, the best, really, of all the desert treks, according to all the feedback we get! Farid has been our cook for more than 15 years and his food is just the best. Time permitting, he sometimes gives us cooking lessons on the Middle East cuisine. The hotel near the Dead Sea is luxurious, the one in Petra more modest but certainly adequate. It will feel like a 5-star hotel after 5 nights under the stars!
Could you summarise what makes the Dream Challenges Jordan Desert Trek so special?
The special thing about this trek is that it's located right on the Dead Sea fault line. Because of this, spectacular views are guaranteed every day. People often think that the desert is boring, but on our trek, this could not be further away from the truth. You start from a world-famous site (the Dead Sea) and you finish at another (Petra). It couldn’t get better than this!
Here at Dream Challenges, we're so pleased to have conquered a number of amazing treks across the Jordan Desert and to have learned more about the Bedouin life and culture every time. Our women-only Step by Step Jordan Desert Trek heroes not only get the once-in-a-lifetime experience of crossing a mesmerising landscape; they can do it all in support of their chosen cancer charity.