“Vast, echoing and god-like” – TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk on Mars? Would you like to go but are unsure about the whole one-way ticket thing? Well, Wadi Rum comes pretty damn close and is somewhat more accessible 😉
The Wadi Rum desert stretches 100km north to south with sands shifting in various shades of yellow, orange and red, and rugged sandstone hills jutting out of the desert. It is no surprise that it is the location of a number of well-known films, including Lawrence of Arabia and The Martian. Also a film called Theeb that sounds really great and is now on my ‘movies to watch’ list. When I was there they were also filming the new Aladdin movie somewhere in the desert.
By day you can hike, scramble up the hills and mountains, rock climb, go on a jeep or camel tour or simply sit and enjoy the quietness of this place with a good book and copious amounts of Bedouin tea. Then scrambling up some hills for the most amazing sunset, watching the sandstone glow all kinds of different colours.
By night the silence is almost deafening and the stars shine bright and shoot across the dark, clear abyss. Back at camp, a delicious bedouin meal is accompanied by shishas by the fire and traditional Bedouin song.
Wadi Rum is a place that is not to be underestimated. Like any desert it is rugged and extreme. It can be easy to get lost in the beautiful landscape and water is hard to come by. However, in the hands of the friendly and knowledgeable Bedouins you can explore this amazing place to your hearts content.
I absolutely loved my time here, and will definitely be back another time 🙂
The nitty gritty:
- Wadi Rum can be visited on a day trip from Aqaba or Petra, but do yourself a favour and spend a few days here. You will not regret it.
- When to go:
- Spring (March/April) or Autumn (October/November). Summer can be excessively hot and the winters very cold.
- How to get there:
- Bus, taxi or hire car. You will get dropped off or need to park your car at the visitors centre and the owner of whichever camp you are staying at will come and pick you up form there. This is because they limit traffic in this protected area. But if you do have your own 4WD and know how to drive in sand
- Buses run from either Aqaba or Petra.
- See my post on traveling in Jordan for more information on transport.
- Where to stay:
- There is a push towards eco tourism and all the accommodation options in the desert are simple Bedouin camps or upmarket glamping. There are many small bedouin camps tucked into the nooks and crannies of the sandstone mountains. I stayed at “Martian Camp” run by a really lovely group of Bedouins for 20JD per night including a delicious breakfast and dinner. This was the cheapest deal I could find, but there was certainly no lack of quality. Contact Emad on WhatsApp on +962777517240 or find them on Booking.com. Here you can find plenty of tother accommodation options.
- Your Bedouin Camp manager can organise all activities for you. Jeep tours, camel rides, hikes, rock climbing.
- Some areas of the desert can only be accessed on foot, this area is known as the “Wilderness Area”.
- Where to eat:
- Besides a few small stores in the village, the best place to get food is to have it provided by your Bedouin camp, which is usually part of the package.
- Be prepared to drink large amounts of Bedouin tea. This is very strong black tea, with added herbs (habuck and marmaraya) and an almost diabetes-inducing amount of sugar. It sounds a bit much, but after you have tried it, plain black tea just won’t cut it anymore 😉
Check out my other posts from my time in Jordan here:
- Traveling through Jordan on a budget
- The Dead Sea – Jordan
- The ancient city of Petra – Jordan
- Amman – Jordan
- Crossing the Jordan-Israel border at Wadi Araba (Aqaba/Eilat), and back again