What to see in Wadi Rum, the great Jordanian desert

September 24, 2019

Wadi Rum is one of Jordan's most impressive natural attractions, a desert expanse of 720 square kilometers in the south of the country.

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Seven pillars of Wisdom, Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum is one of the most impressive natural attractions of Jordan, a desert expanse covering 720 square kilometers in the south of the country. It's been inhabited by bedouins for centuries: they have survived harsh living conditions by hunting, breeding cattle and trading their goods.

Jordanian government declared Wadi Rum a protected area in 1998, also acknowledging its important tourist value.

"Immense, echoeing, divine": this is how it was described by T.E. Lawrence and surely Wadi Rum is an incredible palce, with its sand dunes and rock formations, a place for amazing excursions during a Jordan tour, even spending a night in a tented camp under the spectacular starry sky.

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Man in Wadi Rum desert, Jordan
Man in Wadi Rum desert.

Excursions

Wadi Rum, or Moon Valley, has been fascinating vistors for centuries due to its millenary monolithic formations, alternating with immense desert plains, canyons and caves with ancient inscriptions. It is easy to understand why a trip to Jordan can be complete without an excursion in the desert.

Wadi Rum Visitor Center arranges 4x4 jeep excursions with guides and drivers lasting about three hours. It is also possible to take a guided camel ride, maybe the most thrilling option.

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Wadi Rum rock formations in Jordan
Wadi Rum rock formations.

What to see in Wadi Rum? Sites of interest include:

  • Rock bridge: one of the most famous attractions in Wadi Rum, a spectacular rock formation recalling a bridge.
  • Khazali Canyon: a gorge cutting a mountain side, full of rock inscriptions.
  • Burrah Canyon: a long deep gorge between two mountains, impressive at sunrise and sunset.
  • Siq Un Tawaqi Canyon: a small canyon containing a historic site deriving its name from a novel by T.E.Lawrence who visited Wadi Rum and was impressed.
  • Lawrence Spring: it is the spring where Lawrence of Arabia washed himself several times during the Arabian revolt, a site with rock inscriptions nearby.

Wadi Rum in a tented camp

Spending a night under the starry skies of Wadi Rum in a tented camp is an experience that will make your stay really memorable. While overnighting in the desert, you'll have the chance to get close to bedouin culture, maybe sharing a meal or a tea with local people.

The chances for camping in Wadi Rum are many, there are simple camping options, where comforts and services are basic, and luxury tented camps. These deluxe camps are mainly located around the Disi village area. There is also a permanent camping site in Wadi Rum village, with toilets, showers and restaurants, offering the opportunity to spend the night in a traditional bedouin tent.

There are no hotels by Western standards near Wadi Rum, the closest are in Petra and Aqaba, about one hour and a half away by bus.

When you get close to the beduoin culture, remember to dress in a sober way, since local customs are different from the Western use, so it is recommended to avoid shorts and T-Shirts.

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Night in a Wadi Rum camp, Jordan
Night in a Wadi Rum camp.

Weather

Wadi Rum has a desert climate. The coldest month is January, with maximum temperatures around 15 degrees. The hottest is July with maximum 36 degrees and minimum 19.

The middle seasons are also hot: in April temperatures reach 25 degrees, in October 29.

Wadi Rum has a wide temperature range between night and day, so if you spend the night in a camp remember to bring warm clothes.

How to get there

Wadi Rum desert is located in the south-western part of Jordan, sixty kilometers north of the coast. It is easily reached by car or bus from Amman in about three hours and a half and one hour and a half from Petra.

Several local operators and agencies arrange tours to reach Wadi Rum. There are also daily domestic flights connecting Amman and Aqaba, from which you can reach the desert by bus in one hour and a half, even though public transport is limited and trusting local agencies is recommended.

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