The Wadi Rum desert is undoubtedly one of the most unusual places.
The Wadi Rum desert is undoubtedly one of the most amazing places I have had the opportunity to see during my travels. It left an absolute feeling of needing to come back here longer. Because how can you get to know the area of 720 km2 better in less than 2 days? I am not surprised that the local desert has been chosen more than 10 times as the main setting for famous high-budget film productions, such as “The Martian”, “Prometheus” or “Rogue One. Star Wars – Stories”. The photos only to some extent reflect the majesty and beauty of this place, so I highly recommend you to visit Wadi Rum in person. You will not be disappointed. No wonder that in 2011 this protected area was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Wadi Rum, a desert with a rich history.
Treasures hidden by red dunes and desert rocks.
In the prehistoric period, Wadi Rum was inhabited by many different cultures, including the Nabataean. They left a trace in the form of rock paintings, petroglyphs and temples. Currently, Bedouin groups live there.The entire area is concentrated around the main Wadi Rum valley. The highest hill in Jordan is Jabal Umm ad Dami, 1840 m above sea level, and located 30 km south of the village of Wadi Rum. On a clear day, you can see the Red Sea and the Saudi border from the top.
How to get to the Wadi Rum desert?
Limited opportunities to reach the desert continue to be a challenge.
After arriving by Ryanair from Krakow to the Jordanian capital, Amman (approx. 11:20) and renting a car, we immediately headed towards the south of the country. We only took a short break for lunch in the nearby town of Al Jizah, where for literally 3 JOD / person we bought a kebab dish and stocked up on basic shopping that could be useful in the desert (lots of water!). Initially road no. 15 is relatively uncomfortable to drive and has already passed its heyday. After a dozen or so kilometers, it changes beyond recognition and is already quite decent. You have to reckon with the fact that from time to time you will encounter a concrete speed beam on the road, which is usually also previously marked with a road sign. Then we turn to road no. 47, from which we will turn at the very end into a 30-kilometer route leading to the Wadi Rum Village.
On the way, we will probably pass sellers of watermelons and melons. We were tempted to buy the first one (approx. 4 JOD), but already on the way from the desert to Aqaba, because we knew that we would not eat the whole fruit at once, and we had a fridge in a hotel room in Aqaba. I recommend. About halfway through this route, there is the official entrance to the desert. This is the Wadi Rum Visitor Center. We have to park the car for a moment and walk to one of the rooms where our Jordan Passes will be stamped. Then we can move on to Wadi Rum Village.
Where to stay in the Wadi Rum desert?
A wide range of accommodation in the desert, comfortable campsites and a night under the stars.
We choose accommodation in one of the camps. There are a lot of them on booking. They are quite similar in price and standard. We used Wadi Rum Bedouin Campsite & Tours and we were satisfied. There is also a very decent toilet and showers in the campsite with around 10 tents. Everything in tiles, culture, water heated by solar energy. For this light, both in bathrooms and in every tent. Unfortunately, there are no electric sockets in the tent. It is possible to use recharging in the main tent where meals are taken from time to time. However, I recommend that you additionally purchase a solid powerbank and a few other useful things.
Ahmed picks us up at the village parking lot. Before that, he will contact you via WhatsApp. It’s worth having this app installed. It’s good to let him know a bit earlier when we will be in the village.
We leave the car in the free parking lot in the village. He’ll be safe here. We change to the Ahmed jeep. First, he takes us to his home, where he offers good, sweet tea and discusses with us plans for this and the next day. He also offers us a dinner. Such a dinner costs around 10 JOD, you can try to negotiate a lower price (even up to 7 JOD). We saw this supper prepared in the traditional Berber way in a “oven” with burning coals buried in the sand. It looked delicious. I think it was lamb with vegetables. Dinner (lunch) costs approx. 12 JOD, you can also negotiate the price. Meals are eaten in a large tent like the one below. You can also order a lunchbox.
We drive about 20 minutes from the village to the camp. On the way, we pass several similar campgrounds. It is clearly visible that the Bedouins made great use of the local tourist opportunities, in my opinion they did not interfere so much with the natural surroundings of this area.It is worth knowing that Wadi Rum is not a desert similar to the one we know, for example, from Egypt. The terrain here is definitely more varied. In addition to the ubiquitous sand, the color of which is insane, golden brown, we are surrounded by huge rocks and mountains, providing some shelter from the sun. The temperature there was a surprise. Despite 35 º Celsius, it felt much lower, especially in the late afternoon.
Visiting the Wadi Rum desert.
Popular desert activities, such as jeep, hiking or camel riding.
I know bloggers who decided to explore the desert all day with the option of lunch in the afternoon. From what I saw, they praised this option. Due to the time limit for this part of Jordan, we chose the 4-hour jeep tour sightseeing version. In total, we paid 40 JOD for it (120 JOD for 3 people). I think that the price of this trip could have been negotiated a bit. Another good option in this company is make online booking before, with better price. We finished our sightseeing around noon, we were taken to the parking lot in the village, from where we went to Aqaba. Check what we were able to visit during these 4 hours.
During this trip, we saw attractions such as:
Lawrence’s house – The “house” itself did not impress me as much as the rock ledge just above it. Not only are there hundreds of smaller and larger mounds of stones, but also a beautiful panorama. Our driver explained to us that caravans with goods from Saudi Arabia to Syria used to travel through this valley.
Abu Khashaba Canyon – This is another place on our sightseeing map. The driver leaves us in front of the entrance to this gorge. The route takes approx. 20 minutes. It is one of the few places with a lot of greenery. So there are bushes and even trees here. Part of the route is sheltered from the sun by high rock walls. This pleasant shade is made even more pleasant by a short walk. This is the only place in the desert where you will meet birds, or at least hear them. Plastic water feeders were hung in several places.
Khazali Canyon – It is a narrow but very charming fissure in the rock. In the photos, he sometimes looks like the American Antelope Gorge. No wonder, since enough light shines through the rock crevices to illuminate the beautiful colors of the local rocks. The passage through this tunnel does not require special skills, it is literally several dozen meters. This route takes about 15 minutes to catch up.
Sand Dune – You can rent a snowboard to try to get off this high red slope, but I’d rather advise against it. I watched those who chose to do so and saw that they were disappointed. Admittedly, sliding down the sand differs significantly from walking on snow. The ground resistance is too high and only a few manage to do it properly.It is worth going to the very top on foot. In the scorching sun it can be a challenge, but it is worth it, because from the top rock ledge there is a beautiful panorama of the surrounding area. You have to reckon with the fact that a lot of sand will spill into your shoes during this climb. Nevertheless, the effort is worth making.
Small Rock Arch – In Wadi Rum, we can admire at least 2 famous arches. Both are very interesting. Both are definitely worth seeing. The smaller one, despite its name, is not small. The more so because it is part of a larger massif towering over the area. Sometimes it is difficult to take a photo without the company of other tourists. But patience pays off.
Umm Fruth Rock Arch – The second, much larger and above all higher bow, the Umm Fruth Rock Arch, requires a bit more wits and agility to get to its very top. We have to overcome a dozen or so steep steps carved in the rock, but the view justifies every effort. There are camels waiting for us right under the arch, if you decide to take such a ride. We gave it up. At the bottom, be sure to take a break for a hot, sweet mint tea at Berber’s. There is no fixed price list here, tossed into the jar on the table for tips. In the shade, the possibility of drinking a hot drink is very refreshing. I must admit that the local inhabitants know very well how to deal with hot days. You might joke that they are tightly wrapped up and wonder how hot tea can help, but it works. Tested many times.