A luxury horseback ride in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia

With the desert as a natural environment and a luxury bivouac… in the movement of experience tourism, luxury riding tours develop with enthusiasts who want to venture to the four corners of the world. For its fourth edition, Gallops of Jordan took its participants in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia in Jordan. Reportage.


Horse Jordan Tourism Galops Photo @pascalrenaudon

Travel on long walks in a desert of dunes that stretches to the infinite, glowing white of the sun, and where the variations of red and ocher in the sand contrast with the blue of the sky … We are in the desert Wadi Rum in Jordan, a film set reminiscent of some epic scenes from David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia ‘. The Desert as the director of this cinematic masterpiece is also the setting for the 4th edition of Galops: a riding tour created and organized by Bady Kebir, president of Gallops and Benoît Perrier, communications director and leader of the Polo Club of Chantilly. On the tracks of Lawrence of Arabia but also from Indiana Jones to the mythical Nabataean city of Petra, 133 participants of 15 different nationalities experienced this winter the unique experience of a 200-kilometer horseback crossing that combines sport, competition and discovery.

A race with regularity and orientation in 5 stages of teams of six riders, which is similar to the spirit of “Paris Dakar” with ” -one assembly of horse enthusiasts living an adventure in the desert and all meeting around the large bivouac in the evening. explains Bady Kebir. The love of horses, but also the mastery of riding is recommended to unite, or even unite, during the five days of this disproportionate journey. Cast to withstand reality in a terrain with multiple reliefs between waves of dunes and sandstone gorges dug by erosion, the young Arabian thoroughbreds in Jordan have the fiery temper that comes with their reputation.

We are very pay attention to the riders’ level -at least 4 gallops- because they are generally quite young horses, not easy but extraordinary. Each edition of Galops is an opportunity to discover different breeds: this little Arabian horse is very surprising, and it is in Jordan that you must look for the last representatives of the Arabian horse, an animal that has conquered the world. . he adds.

princess jalila bint ali gallop horse racing jordan
princess jalila bint ali gallop picture @christophe bricot

The man at the heart of the experience

A long-term race that does not value riding talents as much as perseverance, solidarity and self-discipline among riders. Driven by the common desire to live an extraordinary experience, the participants – with equality – often find isolated in the many riding disciplines (dressage, hiking, jumping, polo, endurance …) here the opportunity to meet, Benoit Perier welcomes: ” we managed to break down the silos a bit with riders coming from all walks of life: from weekend carousel riders to professional polo players. For example, one of the greatest polo champions participated in the race. “. With this year on the starting line an extraordinary participant : Emeline Parmentier, a 26-year-old Belgian who had both legs amputated after a car accident in 2019, competed with a custom saddle. ” This race is also an opportunity to show that through riding we can overcome many barriers, such as the handicap with the lesson of courage and humility that Emeline gave us. We can hear that participation in Galops, which represents a significant cost, is an elitist encounter, but it is above all a human adventure. “says the latter.

Desert Wadi Rum Jordan horseback riding
Galloping with Tourism Desert Wadi Rum photo @christophebricot

Tourism, where luxury is reinvented

During this raid through lunar landscapes and wild landscapes, the riders had to tame fatigue, heat and pain: ” In this type of event, there is a condensation of emotions because everything is stronger. We have to outdo ourselves on horseback but also in “living together” with sometimes hostile relationships, but they always leave with stars in their eyes. “. In the evening at dusk, traditional shows and the lavish” white party “around the fire characterize this hike with meetings and exceptional moments. Desert, action and freedom are the ingredients of a flourishing tourism, as the arrival on horseback to the feet of the lost city of Petra . ” It is unusual to enter Petra on horseback, which is usually forbidden. We have obtained permits to set up a different course than the one offered by the tour operators: it is our signature. remembers Bady, a specialist in traveling around the world.

Unexplored destinations, atypical forms of accommodation, activities related to their passions … so many expectations to be met for these tourists in search of the “something” that is worth telling when they return. When you travel far, but differently, while pressing the slider for the unique, this is the new bet for the tourism industry, which will have to move upmarket to respond to this new young and active clientele in search of emotions. In this luxury market, which today represents 14% of the tourism sector’s revenue, there is a sharp increase in the growth rate of 6.4% according to the Allied Market Research report (2021 “Luxury Travel”).
A paradigm shift that nevertheless raises the question of the cultural interaction between these new tourists and the locals. An attitude that our organizers do not compromise on: ” At each edition, we make sure the country participates with its riders. Being in a cultural exchange is more than a process: a postulate. It is unthinkable to arrange an event like this without involving the locals. The goal is precisely that our riders can meet them and exchange their experiences. . economic potential locally – especially after two pandemics with catastrophic fallout – with an event that mobilized 80% of the workforce in the Wadi Rum region (5-star hotel, 4X4 convoy, local guides or horse owners) “We are in regular talks with the authorities in countries that are very interested in this type of tourism promotion, such as those in the Middle East (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, etc.). “.

raid race jordan tourism
gallops a raid race jordan tourism [email protected]

An adventure with a different itinerary each time, attracting more and more graduates: ” Even with our experience of the 4 previous editions, we take as our starting point a blank page: a new place where we will have to recreate everything (sourcing, course and quality of the horses). The priority is that the host country has good horses. “.

Between Tunisia and Patagonia, the choice of the fifth edition is already under consideration for the two passionate founders: ” there are also many emotions for us as organizers. Managing two hundred people from one bivouac to another gives us a glimpse of what a cavalry army was like. We have things to learn from the military genius of the Napoleonic era, which alienated thousands of men (laughs).“. The formula has been a great success … with limited seats and already many registered re-registrations. To quote Thomas Edward Lawrence alias Lawrence of Arabia:” All people dream but odd. », The adventure nourishes the dreams of these new travelers.

Petra Jordan Horse Tourism
Gallop [email protected]

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