Thoughts from a leader

Sarah Allan is a professional expedition leader with extensive experience of working with both school and adult groups. She has led several trips to Jordan and South Sinai for Wind Sand & Stars.

“It is a grey and wintry afternoon in London and I’m counting down the days to my return to Jordan with The Godolphin & Latymer School for February half term.

I am leading a trip for 22 girls in their final year at school. For many this annual desert adventure is a trip that they have been looking forward to for years. It has become something of a rite of passage on the completion of their school life, before going out into the world. The week away offers them a unique opportunity to pause, to reflect on everything that has gone before and to think about their hopes and aspirations for the future. The desert really allows them to do that. It is very rare to find the time, space – and stillness – at home in London, when every moment of their lives is accounted for, both academically and socially.

Our journey starts in Wadi Rum, where we travel deep into the desert with our Bedouin guides and make camp. We eat our supper together around a camp fire and sleep out each night under the stars. It is amazingly easy to adjust to life without social media and many feel positively liberated by the chance to escape the modern world. During our time here, as well as exploring the stunning surroundings on foot and by camel, we make time every day for ‘dispersal’; this is when each girl can find their own space to be alone with their thoughts.

We travel on through Jordan to the incredible ancient city of Petra and then enjoy a dip in the Dead Sea. Despite looking forward to a final night in a hotel with hot showers, for most girls the highlight of the trip is the simplicity and beauty of the desert. It is a profound and powerful experience. I can’t wait to get back there!”


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A unique experience and a privilege to share the Bedouin’s way of life, for a short time.

Guest, Sinai Summits, April 2019

It was the most wonderful trip, so glad I took up this opportunity. All beautifully organised – well done.

Icons of St Catherine’s Guest November 2022

Enthralling and beyond my hopes, it was a deeply spiritual experience at many levels. I am still raving about it all to anyone who crosses my path!

Icons of St Catherine’s Guest November 2022

“The whole trip was AMAZING – thank you so much.”

Francis Burkitt, St Catherine tailor made, August 2017

We got more out of our adventure than we had ever hoped for, thanks to a country of huge diversity and historical interest and to a very special guide.

Cunningham family, Jordan, April 2017

So many thoughts about our wonderful trip to St Catherine’s; the fantastic warmth of welcome from the Egyptians, Fathers Justin and Nilus, and the unique history which we felt privileged to be given access to. In my book, how could one not enjoy and be inspired!

Julia Palmer, St Catherine’s Retreat, February 2017

“Huge thanks to all at Wind, Sand & Stars for an amazing trip. John’s passion for Ethiopia fires his erudition and he gave us more insights into the country, past and present, than we could ever have gained from local guides.”

Christine Dunmow, Exploring Ethiopia’s Orthodox History with John Binns 2016

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