There are seemingly countless beautiful, interesting, and unique destinations to visit on this planet and we’re slowly trying to tick as many of them as possible off our list.
Only a very small number of them, however, retain that powerful sense of awe, the genuine thrill of adventure that lets you know you’re doing something really special.
It’s just an unfortunate fact of the travel and tourism industry that once a place becomes well known and popular enough, hordes of touts and hawkers will descend on that place like so many vultures. And just like that, they’re hoping to pick clean the remains of whatever is in your wallet by selling you everything they can possibly think of, usually at ridiculously inflated prices.
This has a tendency to ruin places just a little, and sometimes a lot. The pyramids of Egypt, for example, are still just as majestic today as they were a century ago, but the experience is completely different due to that rampant commercialism.
Running against the trend, there are still some places that are so remote, difficult to reach, or well protected, that outside vendors won’t bother making the trek. Their loss is your gain. Wadi Rum in Jordan is one such place.
One of the jewels in Jordan’s tourism crown, Wadi Rum is still relatively unspoiled and offers an authentic travel experience that you won’t soon forget.
Getting to Wadi Rum
The first step, quite clearly, is to get yourself to Jordan. This is really easy. There are plenty of flights arriving every day. Most visitors will arrive in Jordan at Amman, and it is also possible to find flights directly to Aqaba.
If you are visiting Jordan for between 4 and 14 days, you may get the best value by purchasing a Jordan Pass online before you go. This will give you priority access to many of Jordan’s attractions free of charge, and also means you won’t have to pay the visa fee upon entry to the country.
If you have the funds, a private taxi or hired car is the best option, because then you have complete freedom. Otherwise, from Amman there are buses to Aqaba and Petra. The cost should be around JOD 11 (EUR 14 / USD 16), and the journey takes 3 to 4 hours.
From Petra or Aqaba there are early morning minibuses that are very cheap (3 JOD), or you could get a taxi from Petra for JOD 35 or from Aqaba for JOD 20, which will take you right to the Visitor Center at Wadi Rum. Some of the tour companies at Wadi Rum will also bring you to and from Aqaba or Petra and include the cost in the tour price.
Well before your visit, you should have arranged for a jeep safari to take you into the interior. You should definitely go with a safari because the desert is unforgiving to those who do not know it well and are not prepared for it.
The cost will be very reasonable and you’ll have an expert local guide accompanying you to provide information and take care of keeping you safe.
Why You’ll Want To Get There
The scenery and atmosphere at Wadi Rum are simply stunning. Whatever your expectations are, Wadi Rum will exceed them.
Your guide will know all the best places to take you and when to take you there, but some points of interest include the Visitor Center, Rum Village, Lawrence’s Spring, Al Hasany Dunes, and Barrah Canyon.
There are also some ancient Nabatean petroglyphs carved into the rocks at Jebel Khaz’ali canyon. You can also find more at the Nabatean Temple, about 600m (0.4 miles) east of Rum Village.
You may hear mention of “Lawrence’s House”, but don’t expect it to live up to that description. It’s just a little wall of bricks, but I guess if they called it Lawrence’s Wall, fewer people would pay it a visit.
The rock formation named by T.E. Lawrence as “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” is one of the most striking and memorable vistas you will enjoy at Wadi Rum. The landscape around this formation, and the formation itself, just have such an other-worldly appearance.
It’s easy to see why this landscape is favoured for filming scenes set on other planets.
You can camp overnight, and you’ll quickly learn that in Jordan, camping does not mean “roughing it.” You’ll find the camping experience in Jordan is more on the luxurious side. There are various options, but staying in a genuine Bedouin camp is highly recommended.
While you’re out there, look for the so-called Rock Bridges, natural arch formations that have been created by erosion on the rock surface. You may also notice landmarks from the movie Lawrence of Arabia which was filmed here, as were many others, the most famous recent ones being The Martian, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Prometheus.
Things To Do In Wadi Rum
Snacks and drinks are available at the entrance to the park (not recommended – super expensive), the Rest House and local shops in Rum Village, and at the campsites. If you’re staying in a Bedouin camp, you should have an opportunity to eat traditional Bedouin food and drink their famous tea (so worth it!).
How you get around depends on if you’re with a tour guide and the type of tour you’ve chosen. The safest and most convenient option is to travel by jeep, but you could also go by camel, or you could walk.
If you want to get up off the sand for a bit, you can try your skill at rock climbing or abseiling. You can also view the entire park from above by hiring a hot air balloon ride.
What You Can Take From There
The best things to take away from Wadi Rum are lots of photos, fond memories, and hopefully new friendships with some locals. Keep in mind this is a protected area that the people of Jordan want to preserve so everyone can enjoy this wonder of nature forever.
So enjoy your time at Wadi Rum and leave it just as you found it, and it will always be here for you to return to.
Where We Stayed in Wadi Rum
We had such a great experience in Wadi Rum and that was all down to where we stayed – Obied’s Beduin Life Camp. It was important for us to stay with a local Beduin family and, after reading lots of reviews online, this place seemed like the best camp in Wadi Rum.
Obied opened this camp 16 years ago and he runs it with his two sons. All three are so friendly, welcoming and they love the area of Wadi Rum and are keep to show visitors their home. We couldn’t have asked for better people to spend our two days with.
We also booked the jeep safari with Obied’s son and we really enjoyed it (see photos above). Our dinner was cooked undergroud in true Beduin style and it tasted AMAZING. Seeing the food come out of the ground made for some great photos!
The camp itself was really luxurious and super comfy. Walking to the bathrooms at night and looking up to the stars above was an experience like no other. It will most definitely be a highlight of our travels that we’ll look back on in years to come.