Traveling to Jordan soon? If so, you should know that Jordan is home to one of the most beautiful deserts in the world, Wadi Rum. Because it looks so similar to a moon landscape, Wadi Rum Desert is also known as Valley of the Moon.
It’s therefore unnecessary to say that the number of tourists who visit Wadi Rum desert is countless. As a result of this, several desert camps have been built in the desert. Of course, there is no better way to explore the Wadi Rum National park than to spend the whole night immersed in one of the most magical places in the world.
There is also a countless number of tour operators who arrange excursions of any kind to give the travelers a memorable desert experience and adventure. If you choose to go on this trip with the Bedouins, it is certainly going to be an experience of a lifetime. Yes, we had this opportunity. We did a desert Jeep trip with Starlight Camp Bedouins and I have to say that the Bedouins know their land – they took us to the most unknown corners to admire the wild beauty of the desert.
Wadi Rum is home to the Zalabia Bedouin who, working with climbers and trekkers, have been able over the years to develop successful form of eco-adventure tourism as their main source of income. Our experience can only confirm this.
It was in January that we visited Jordan and of course our itinerary could notleave out a visit to the Wadi Rum desert. What can I say? It was really a unique experience.
What is Wadi Rum?
Wadi Rum is a 720sqkm valley about 320km south of Amman, 100km south of Petra, and 60km east of Aqaba. With its red sand desert and majestic rock formations, it really is one of the most dramatic places in terms of landscape. We were so impressed by its beauty.
How to reach Wadi Rum from Amman?
Wadi Rum desert was one of the highlights of our Jordan itinerary. Once we landed at the Queen Alia International airport in Amman and got our car rented with Arena rentals, we drove straight to the desert through Kings Road first and Kings Highway after the sunset. It is a five hour drive away from Amman if you don’t stop along the way. But this is quite impossible since this route with its breath-taking views, especially along the Kings road, will blow your mind at each step.
You can travel there directly by pre-arranged private transport or public buses from the nearby tourist hubs in Amman. There are frequent bus runs also from Aqaba or Wadi Musa.
Entrance to Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan.
When we reached the entrance of the protected area we were asked to pay the fee which was only 5 JD each. After that we drove for 6 km until we reached the village where one of the desert camp staff was waiting for us. We were then taken to Starlight camp by his jeep and our car was left at the village. It was a pity that we arrived after the sunset and couldn’t see a lot. We both got caught up in the excitement and thankfully, the moonlight was pretty enough to see the impressive mountains surrounding us.
Where to stay in Wadi Rum?
As I wrote above, countless are the number of desert camps located inside the protected area in Wadi Rum. Most of them are owned and managed by the Bedouins and here is where you should stay. Besides taking you to the unknown corners of the Wadi Rum Desert, you can learn a lot about the Bedouin culture which is really interesting. As for us, we stayed at Starlight camp which is owned by a Bedouin called Suleiman Sabbah. Definitely there is no better way to experience the Bedouin food and hospitality.
Excursions in Wadi Rum.
Staying overnight in the desert is no doubt the best way to explore the area. Stay at least one or two nights. You can hike by yourself around the camp, hike with a guide, go for a Jeep tour, take a camel ride, go rock climbing, discover the rock paintings of the different cultures who have inhabited the desert throughout the centuries, hike up Jabal Al-Hash to see Wadi Rum from ‘up there’ or even take in the sunrise from a hot air balloon. Be careful because unguided hikes might be too dangerous. In our case, we did the 4 hour Jeep tour with Starlight Camp Bedouin. The local young Bedouin showed us around some of the touristic spots of the desert but also some hidden gems.
We had a jeep which got a punctured tire at the exit of the Canyon in the middle of nowhere and we had to wait a bit before it got fixed again, but it was quite an experience! Half-day jeep tours can give you a taste of Wadi Rum, but for a richer experience, I highly recommend that you stay at least 2 days. All in all, I don’t suggest you stay more than two days in Wadi Rum but it is a special place that I recommend to any traveler heading to Jordan. By the way, for a best hiking experience remember that taking good trekking shoes and a backpack is rule number one. We had normal trainers and we couldn’t do our best.
Things to know before you go to Wadi Rum.
- Wadi Rum is used as a setting for many famous movies. Filmmakers are particularly drawn to it for science fiction films set on Mars. In 1962 the movie Lawrence of Arabia (a British officer-turned-author who was based in the area during the Arab Revolt of 1917) introduced the beauty of Wadi Rum to the rest of the world, attracting a wave of tourists and a growing number of film crews.
- Wadi means Valley.
- The village of Rum stands exactly one mile above sea level, but the surrounding protected area is home to Jordan’s highest point.
- Stop by the railway station in Wadi Rum to see the old Turkish steam train used in the Lawrence of Arabia film.
- Sunset is said to be the most beautiful time to the day. Try your best to plan your trip accordingly. Sadly we missed it. It is a good reason to return.
- Friends of Rum Villa Restaurant in the village make superb Jordanian sandwiches for1 JD. It was so good that we ate two each.
- Many desert camps provide Bedouin dressers so that you can dress up and have some pictures taken.
- When going for a jeep tour make sure there is a spare tire and necessary tools.
- Summer is said to be the best season to visit Wadi Rum. There are countless parties and entertainments.
- A flashlight can help.
- Remember that the desert heat can be intense during the summer season but at the same time temperatures can drop down fast after the sunset. A warm pyjama is highly recommended.
- Whichever camp you choose, the Wi-Fi is only in the main tent.
- Make sure you have good trekking shoes and backpack.
- Even though there are several camps in Wadi Rum, I highly recommend you book in advance, especially during the high season, because most of them own few tents and can’t host many people.
- We never saw Bedouin women in Wadi Rum.
- Bedouin men use kohls eyeliners.
- Last but not least…. there is no hot water in Wadi Rum (not even in the winter). Learn to shower cold.