How to plan your trip to Wadi Rum and what to do
Wadi Rum may be best known for its connection with British officer T.E. Lawrence, who based his operations here during the Arab Revolt of 1916 – 18. In the 1980s one of the impressive rock formations in Wadi Rum was named “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” in reference to Lawrence’s memoir of the same name, penned in the aftermath of the war.
The exploits of Lawrence have become part of local folklore, and some popular tourist sites are named after him. The government of Jordan declared Wadi Rum a protected area in 1998. Here the landscapes are amazing, sheer cliffs, rock arches, ancient inscriptions and drawings, limitless sand, quiet cool canyons, breath-taking views and the blood red of approaching night. So any tour of Rum must capture some of this magic to be worthwhile.
Exploring the area and camping in this mountainous desert, under thousands of bright stars, is an unforgettable experience. There are many ways to stay overnight in Wadi Rum, with a different range of Beduin campsites offering day trip, breakfast and dinner.
You can choose from “wild campsites“, with minimum facilities, where you can take your own tent, campsites with all facilities to luxury Bedouin style campsites. Most of these sites are outside the protected area around the village of Disah.
There are also some Beduin campsites in Rum Village with showers, toilets, and restaurants nearby and it is possible to stay in a genuine Bedouin tent in the desert. The wadi rum visitor center is located 10 km before the Rum Village, opposite the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, the mountain named after Lawrence of Arabia’s book, to provide the main gateway to the protected area and has all the facilities, information and services including reception areas, interpretation halls, restaurants and craft shops. Here you have to pay 5 JD for the protected area ticket and you can also arrange your trip.
There are different trip options, it depends on the time you’d like to spend in the desert. I suggest you stretch your desert safari to full day but if your time is not a lot, you can choose a 3 / 4 hours trip. You’ll also have the chance to split your trip with a couple of hours riding a camel before going by Jeep.
I slept 2 night in a Bedouin Camp choosing the full day trip, starting around 8.30 am until the sunset. With a 4×4 open vehicle, I visited the most interesting spots throughout this amazing place.
First of all Lawrence’s spring, where Lawrence of Arabia reputedly washed during the Arab Revolt, then Khazali canyon, a narrow fissure in the mountainside, containing many rock inscriptions, third stop the amazing Sand dunes a large area of sand dunes piled up against the mountains. It was so fun to climb to the top sure harder than what I expected because the dune was steep and the sand so soft, but once got the crest the scenery is spectacular.
The fourth stop was the ruins of Lawrence’s House where the British officer supposedly lived and stored equipment, then the Burdah rock bridge, a spectacular natural rock arch that I climbed up to take a pic on the top.
After walking through the Abu Khashaba, a quite deep canyon between high mountains, I had my lunch lied on the sand under a nice warm sun. The next stop was the funny Mushroom shape Rock, then an amazing viewpoint over a sand dune overlooking the desert and finally the Siq Um Tawaqi, a short canyon containing a carving of the head of T. E. Lawrence.
Before going back to the campsite I completed my visit climbed up a rock enjoying a fantastic view of the setting sun moving behind the desert mountains.
Need to Know
Wadi Rum lies in the south-western corner of Jordan 60 kilometers north of the coastal town of Aqaba (1 hr), 320 km south from Amman (4 hrs) driving on the desert highway and 140 km from Petra (2 hrs). Getting there by bus is not so easy, I couldn’t find a direct bus to Disah, so at first, you have to reach Petra or Aqaba (Jett Bus) then take a taxi or a minibus.
From Petra, the minibus leaves early in the morning from Wadi Musa bus station (better asking your hotel) and the taxi should costs around 40 JD, from Aqaba the taxi is around 30 JD and there are more minibus rides starting close to the Police station.
From Rum village the rides to Petra and Aqaba start early in the morning. If you don’t want to overnight there, you can also arrange a daily tour from Petra and Aqaba (ask your Hotel).
Alternatively, you can book your Jordanian Tours on Viator, reliable Online Travel Agency which offers different deals and packages.
Where to sleep
All the Bedouin camps offer breakfast, dinner and arrange the 4×4 desert trip. I slept at Hasan Zawaideh Camp, close to the road (near Disah) and accessible by car: this simple but atmospheric camp is in the undercliff of the escarpment, on the edge of a wide plain. They also have a Bedouin camp in the desert with minimum facilities, 20 minutes drive by 4×4 from the main road.
Other Camps: There are many different camps, all very nice and comfortable. Have a look and choose the more suitable for you:
Wadi Rum Hot Air Balloon
If you want to experience the desert from the sky while the sunrise is coloring the mountain don’t miss a ride on the hot air balloon (1hr = 130 JD). Click here to get more info.
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