Wadi Rum Desert Jordan Travel Guide
Have you ever dreamed of visiting an otherworldly landscape, straight out of a sci-fi movie? Wadi Rum in Jordan is just such a place. This unique desert landscape will stay with you long after your visit. Here's everything you need to know to make the most of your trip to Wadi Rum.
What is the Wadi Rum desert and Where is it Located?
The Wadi Rum desert is a stunning sight located in the Eastern province of Jordan. It’s a vast valley of enormous rockscapes and sand, offering unparalleled views and plenty of opportunities for exploration. It has been home to generations of Bedouin tribes and continues to be an important part of local culture today. Here, visitors can explore ruins and deserted settlements, or marvel at huge stone structures that are millions of years old. This desert paradise is situated just a 4-hour drive South of Amman, and is definitely worth the trip if you’re looking for some adventure!
How to Get to the Wadi Rum Desert
If you're looking to explore the majestic Wadi Rum desert, getting there is relatively easy. Rather than shelling out for an inter-city flight, why not opt for a road trip? Renting a car or booking a taxi are both viable options for visiting Wadi Rum. For those on a budget, public transport is also available; regular buses run from Amman and Aqaba City to the desert every day. With that being said, keep in mind that hiring a driver may be a worthwhile investment as it provides access to places off the beaten track that would otherwise be difficult to reach without your own car.
When I visited, I rented a car right from the Queen Alia Airport in Amman, which I preferred since it gave me the freedom to visit the Dead Sea and Petra as well. Driving is actually quite easy in Jordan, and in my opinion, the easiest and cheapest way to visit the Wadi Rum Desert.
Where to Stay in the Wadi Rum Desert
For adventurous minds looking to wander away from the city and into the beauty of Wadi Rum Desert, deciding where to rest your head can be a difficult decision. Luckily, there are plenty of options available for all tastes and comfort levels. Camping beneath starry skies is a quintessential experience. Glamping is an excellent option to enjoy many of the amenities often associated with traditional accommodations while still indulging in the offering of nature's entertainment. But if resort-style refuge is what you're looking for, several hotels now provide comfortable nights with scenery like no other in the area.
I stayed at the Memories Aicha Luxury Camp and loved everything about it. If you're interested in staying there, check out my review on the unique stargazing bubble hotel, along with some useful tips to avoid tourist scams there.
What to Bring with you when Visiting the Wadi Rum Desert
If you're planning a trip to the beautiful Wadi Rum desert, make sure to plan ahead and bring everything you'll need for your journey. Bring plenty of food, water, and sunscreen, as staying hydrated and protected from the sun is key for a safe, pleasant experience. Depending on the length of your stay and other activities you plan on doing while there, it's also helpful to have a hat or headscarf to cover your head as well as sunglasses to protect your eyes. Don't forget extra batteries for any electronics or cameras that you're bringing along with you!
What to Wear in the Wadi Rum Desert
When visiting the majestic Wadi Rum desert, remember that you must dress accordingly to protect yourself against the elements. If you're traveling during the warmer months, opt for lightweight and natural fabrics such as cotton and linen – these will help keep you cool in the heat of Jordan. You should wear comfortable clothes that cover your skin such as long-sleeved shirts, loose trousers, and breathable scarves or hats; all of which can be easily removed if it gets too hot. In the winter, it can get extremely cold in the mornings and nights, but pretty hot during the day. So, be sure to layer accordingly and bring a jacket or coat if you're visiting during this time.
Don't forget to pack sunglasses and sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun's rays! Most importantly, make sure to wear shoes with sturdy soles and good grip so that you stay safe as you explore this incredible Arab world wonder.
Things to See and Do in the Wadi Rum Desert
Visiting the Wadi Rum desert is truly an unforgettable experience; there are so many amazing things to do! Part of what makes a trip to the Wadi Rum desert so special is that you can pick and choose between activities that range from low-key sightseeing hikes to higher-intensity adventures like camel riding. For those of us with our heads in the stars, a nighttime stargazing session will be one of the highlights – but don’t forget your camera! Apart from all that you can experience, the beautiful sunsets, rugged arid terrain, and sandstone cliffs really make for picturesque moments. If you're looking for specific things to do, these are some must-do activities!
4x4 Jeep Tour
For a more thorough exploration of the desert, go for a 4x4 jeep tour. The experienced guides will show you all the best spots and share stories about the area as you explore. Most of the luxury camps out there can arrange for Jeep tours, but we decided to go with Wild Wadi Rum for our tour. It didn't cost that much and we were able to personalize our private tour to fit exactly what we wanted to do. We were able to do a 3 hour tour that included various sites with a short camel ride to a sunset viewpoint.
Wadi Rum has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its breathtaking landscape and the many ancient rock inscriptions that can be found in the area. There are plenty of amazing places to explore, such as Lawrence's Spring (named after T.E Lawrence, also known as 'Lawrence of Arabia') or The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The Treble Stones, a group of huge sandstone blocks that form an archway, is also worth checking out.
Take a leisurely camel ride through the sand dunes and get to know one of these noble animals up close! For an extra adventure, try riding a dromedary (two-humped camel) and experience the unique way of travel used by ancient traders.
Take a hike in the Wadi Rum desert to explore its rugged beauty up close. There are plenty of trails that range from easy to moderate difficulty levels, so you can choose whichever one suits your needs best. Just make sure to bring plenty of water and wear sturdy shoes with good grip.
Looking for a unique way to experience the desert? Why not try sandboarding? This activity is popular among thrill seekers looking for an adrenaline rush. All you need is a sandboard (which most resorts provide) to start sliding down the sand dunes.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
For the most magical way to experience the Wadi Rum desert, hop in a hot air balloon and soar high above its sandstone cliffs! You'll get breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape from up in the air and will never forget this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just be sure to book your ride in advance, as the balloons can get very busy during the peak season.
No matter the time of year you visit Wadi Rum, be sure to stay up late and stargaze with a telescope. This is one of the most unforgettable activities you can do in the region – it's like stepping into another world! The night sky here is so clear that you can see planets and constellations clearly, making it a great spot for amateur astronomers. Plus, you might even be lucky enough to see the Milky Way in all its glory. We got a panoramic dome at our camp and stayed up late marveling at the stars.
Trying Traditional Bedouin Cuisine
No visit to Wadi Rum is complete without trying the traditional Bedouin cuisine. Some of the most popular dishes are Mansaf, a lamb dish served with rice and yogurt; Mujaddara, which is lentils and rice cooked together; Kousa Mahshi, stuffed vegetables with seasoned meat filling; and Maqluba, an upside-down chicken and rice dish. The flavors are unique and you'll be able to taste the history of this area in every bite. We had a delicious dinner at our camp, full of traditional Bedouin dishes, but you can also go into the Wadi Rum Village and eat at one of the restaurants there.
Enjoy and Respect the Wadi Rum Desert
More than anything, it's important to remember to enjoy and respect this special desert. Be sure to take only photos and leave only footsteps, so that future travelers can also experience the wonders of Wadi Rum!
Happy travels and I hope you have an amazing time in this incredible desert!