As you’ve gathered from our other posts Jordan offers an incredible array of things to see and do, from hiking through forests to exploring historic ruins or floating in the Dead Sea and scuba diving in the Gulf of Aqaba. When it comes to dramatic and breathtaking landscapes in Jordan there is nothing greater than those you’ll find in and around Wadi Rum, Jordan. Even if you’ve been to Jordan, but never to the Wadi Rum itself, but have driven the stretch of the Desert Highway between Petra/Ma’an and Aqaba you’ll know exactly what type of landscape I’m referring to. Wadi Rum’s other-world rugged landscape is so ideal that it has been the filming location for several well-known movies, including The Martian and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and for good reason as you’ll see. In our opinion, a trip to Jordan is not complete without a day spent exploring Wadi Rum. The vast Mars-like landscape is unlike anything else found in Jordan, and perhaps the region.
When my brother visited late last year I (Albert) insisted this be one of the things he experiences on his week-long trip to Jordan. I had visited Wadi Rum once before (over a decade ago) and was pleased to see the experience was just as good as I remember, albeit a little more crowded this time around. This is a result of the general increase in tourism to Jordan compared to eleven years ago.
Wadi Rum’s dramatic landscapes start as soon as you turn off the Desert Highway just north of Aqaba and drive east towards the entrance to the park. If you’re driving yourself around Jordan and don’t have the Jordan Pass you’ll have to park at the Visitors Entrance and pay 5 JD to enter. The entrance is free if you have the Jordan Pass, you’ll just need to show it at the entrance. After you’ve paid or shown your Jordan Pass continue down the road another few kilometers to the meet-up point and parking lot at the edge of Wadi Rum village. It’s here everyone agrees in advance to meet their Bedouin guide. After we connected with our guide from Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp we jumped into the back of his Toyota pick-up and set off for our full day of exploring Wadi Rum desert. We met our guide at 10 am so it really is a full day.
The only way to really experience Wadi Rum is to get a guided tour and stay the night at one of the many campsites spread throughout the park. We opted for the full day jeep tour, which the two of us had to ourselves! Lucky us!! The accommodation inside the park has something for everyone, ranging from Bedouin camps to luxury campsites. I hope to experience the latter at some point as the glass pods look really cool!
Our day-long tour throughout the rugged desert landscape was to several different popular sites and follows a fairly prescribed route at times, meaning at some spots you’ll be surrounded by lots of other visitors, while at other sites we were among just a handful. This aspect is very different from ten years ago when I don’t recall seeing many if any other visitors during our guided tour. We spent the first half of the day going to several of the most popular sites including, Lawrence Spring, Khasali Canyon, Um Fruth Rock Bridge, and Burddah Rock Bridge before our guide found a quiet place with some shade to make us lunch.
After lunch, as we sat and savored the afternoon landscape of Wadi Rum desert our guide played his oud, a traditional Bedouin guitar and sang for us. I captured some of it in the video below.
We spent the second half of our day checking out more of the vast park, which if you really want to explore needs several days. At some point, during our two years in Jordan, I’d like to explore the far reaches of Wadi Rum, especially as the crowds continue to grow. My suggestion if you love nature and have the time, opt for a multi-day trip. This will allow you to explore much more of the park and will keep you away from many of the other travelers to Wadi Rum.
As we crossed Wadi Um Ishreen to visit Lawrence’s house (Lawrence of Arabia) I couldn’t help but be awe-struck by the sheer magnitude of the rugged desert landscape. At the end of our full day of exploring parts Wadi Rum, we were dropped off by our guide at our campsite for the night where we had our own Bedouin-style tent facing the vast expanse of Wadi Rum and perfectly situated for sunset. The camp sat at the base of a steep rock formation that was easily climbed to get spectacular views of the valley. Along with some of the other campers we watched the sunset. As a long time city-dweller, I looked forward to the complete darkness of night and the stars, but due to the clouds, we weren’t able to see as many stars as I had hoped. The city lights of Aqaba off in the distance didn’t help either.
Later that evening everyone staying at the camp gathered together inside the large tent to have dinner. We were served Mendi, a traditional dish that is cooked in the ground for the better part of the day. In fact, we all had a chance to see it uncovered and pulled out of the ground. The Mendi was accompanied by a huge assortment of vegetables, salads, bread, and staple Jordanian dishes, such a hummus, tabbouleh, etc, rounded off with a tray of sweets! The food was delicious and plentiful.
The following morning we all gathered back inside the large tent to eat breakfast, also with all staple Jordanian breakfast foods. After breakfast, we packed our bags and caught a ride back to Wadi Rum village where we picked up our car and drove north to drop my brother off at the border to cross over to Jerusalem. We took one of Jordan’s most scenic routes in my opinion, from Tafilah to the Jordan Valley Highway and up along the Dead Sea.
We highly recommend the 1-Day Jeep Tour with Overnight (75 JD per person) experience with Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp. The guided tour, food (lunch, dinner, and breakfast), and camp facility were perfect! Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of options out there all offering slightly different takes on the same Wadi Rum Bedouin experience. As for the experience and value for money, going with Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp was well worth it!
If you love nature and dramatic landscapes then you’re going to absolutely love Wadi Rum. Hopefully, after our photos, which in reality don’t do the scenery justice, you do yourself a favor and add Wadi Rum to your itinerary to Jordan! Feel free to reach out to us directly or comment below if you have any questions about Wadi Rum or Jordan in general!
All Photography by Albert Bond