Fewer than a thousand people a year go rock-climbing in Wadi Rum, and yet this magnificent landscape is the ultimate playground for it, finds amateur climber Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent.

I dig the toes of my climbing shoes into the rough sandstone wall and turn to look at the view. Far below me spreads the valley floor, its tangerine sands carved into fields of light and shadow by wads of drifting cloud.

Camels graze, a lone goatherd watches their flock, and everywhere, strange, sheer mountains lie strewn across the landscape like gargantuan slabs of chocolate cake, petrified mid-melt. No wonder T.E Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) loved this place. “Rum the magnificent,” he called it, “vast, echoing and god-like.”

Just over a century after Lawrence instigated the Arab Revolt in these “stupendous hills”, Wadi Rum is a 725-square-kilometer UNESCO World Heritage Site in Jordan’s far south. The star of numerous films (The Martian, Prometheus, Star Wars and, of course, Lawrence of Arabia, to name a few) and a poster boy of the country’s resurgent tourism industry, most visitors come here from Petra, pausing for a few hours, or a night at most, to ride a grumbling camel and take a desert selfie.