We set off in our comfortable Nissan Patrol from the ramshackle village of Rum, the gateway to the Wadi Rum Protected Area. This is Bedouin country, and our driver Ali is a local. The Bedouin have lived in this harsh landscape for millennia, so Ali knows every track and trail, every rock, every person and indeed every camel we see. We pass an imposing monolith prosaically named The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, made famous by Lawrence of Arabia. Yes, he was here too, and gave the region some renown as a refuge for his Arab Army as they fought the Ottoman Turks in World War 1.
Ali steers us into the shade of a forbidding overhang and we look at images carved into the rock, mostly camels and human stick figures throwing spears, images that attest to the many centuries of human presence here. He introduces us to a couple of young shepherds who are part of his extended family. They are shy and nervous but acquiesce to pose for photos holding up a bleating lamb.