THE PIONEERS OF ADVENTURE TOURISM
 


Photo  M. VERIN

With his British friends, Tony Howard and Diana Taylor, Wilfried Colonna was one of the first to explore the mountainous area of Wadi Rum and the south of Jordan. This was in 1985.


Tony Howard and Di Taylor

At that time, the desert of Wadi Rum was known to the general public only through the images of the film "Lawrence of Arabia" produced by David Lean; all the outdoor scenes of this film were filmed in the desert there.

4200 meters Mont Blanc massifWilfried's main object was originally the discovery of new places for adventure. He was already a qualified mountain guide, and he had worked as such in many different parts of the world : Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and the USA.

At the request of the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism, the Anglo-French team examined all the activities possible within the sumptuous framework of the mountains of Wadi Rum; hiking, horse riding, camel riding, climbing, para-gliding... Bernard Domenech, also a mountain guide, who works for the French Centre Nat ional de Recherche Scientifique, provided invaluable assistance on the ground.

In 1986, they organised an international meeting of specialists in adventure tourism with the aim of publicising the immense potential of this "desert" for tourists. It was a great success. Little by little visitors from the four corners of the world began to make their way to Wadi Rum, after visiting Petra, that extraordinary "must see" site.
 

Standing from L to R :Wolfgang Na´rz (Austria), Alberto Re (Italy), Rowland Edwards (Great Britain), Hans HŘttl (Germany), Otto Schedda (Germany), Sabbah Ataeq (Jordan), John Hogg (Switzerland/Canada), Bernard Domenech (France), Wilfried Colonna (France), Breda Arkless (Great Britain). Sitting from L to R : Gilles Claye (France), Diana Taylor (Great Britain), Tony Howard (Great Britain), Claude Gardien (France).
International guides' meeting in Jordan in 1986

Sabbah Ataeq Rabain al ZalabiehTheir collaboration with the authorities of the country and the local tribes led to the training of the first Jordanian [mountain] guide - Sabbah Ataeq Raba´n  Al Zalabieh  whom you might have seen in various emissions on French television ("Ushua´a", the magazine "The Mountain"...) and various other countries (Austria, BBC programmes in Britain etc). It was he, his family and his friends, who gradually introduced Wilfried Colonna to the wonderful world of the Great South  - not just as a visitor, but showing him how to learn and understand from the heart, the habits, practices and social life of the local people.

"Wilfried Colonna & the Desert Guides"  through its official Jordanian travel agency, puts its experience and its professionalism in all the sporting or leisure holiday activities currently practised in Jordan at the disposal of visitors:  horse and camel trekking, climbing, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, diving and all cultural tourism.

In 1993, he reintroduced the first Arabian horses into their original milieu - the desert. Before doing this, he worked out the present day possibilities  of the splendid  route originally taken by the caravans from Wadi Rum to Petra.  Later, together with his friend Atallah Sabbah Sweilhin, he started the "Wadi Rum Horses & Camels" -  a horse and camel centre at the edge of the desert.

In 2000 Wilfried and his guides introduced the mountain bike, and conceived the marvellous route from Dana to Aqaba ("The Nabatean Trail") while continuing with its equestrian sister "The Kings' Ride".

Bernard DomenechWilfried in partnership with Bernard Domenech is at present working on the new edition in French of a climbing guide to the cliffs and mountains of Wadi Rum.

With "Wilfried Colonna & the Desert Guides" you can be sure that you will visit the country in the best possible conditions : you will be guided by authentic local experts who will take you along the best routes in perfect security. The contacts that you will have with the local population are not in the least "touristic" nor set up especially as is done by certain European agencies.

 

 

 

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