If you are planning to visit Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan, you really have to take a Wadi Rum jeep tour! It is the best way to see the desert, visit all of the things to see in Wadi Rum and have a real Jordan adventure. I also highly recommend spending the night before or after your tour in a Wadi Rum Bedouin camp so you make the most of your time and have the opportunity to see the sunset and sunset in Wadi Rum. However, before you rush off to book your Wadi Rum jeep tour, there are a few things you should know before you go.
What is a Wadi?
Wadi is an Arabic word traditionally referring to a valley or riverbed. This valley may be dry most or all of the time, or have water running through. Most wadis in Jordan are dry, at least until the rainy season when they may return to rivers in heavy rain.
Wadi rum Protected Area
Wadi Rum protected area was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. It is listed as a mixed natural and cultural site; natural for the varied desert landscape, and cultural for the petroglyphs, inscriptions and archaeological remains. Some 25,000 rock carvings with 20,000 inscriptions in Wadi Rum testify to 12,000 years of human occupation here and trace the beginnings of the alphabet and evolution of human thought. The narrow gorges, natural arches, towering cliffs, huge landslides and caverns contribute to a landscape unlike anywhere else in the world. It is a special place indeed!
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Visiting Wadi Rum Desert
Wadi Rum desert was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Jordan. You can take a day trip there, take a jeep tour for a couple of hours or spend the day and night there to get a fuller experience. No matter how much time you have, you really need to make time for a trip to Wadi Rum when you’re planning your Jordan itinerary.
How to Get to Wadi Rum
The easiest way to get to Wadi Rum is by car. We hired a car for our holiday in Jordan, which gave us the flexibility and convenience to drive wherever we wanted whenever we wanted. However, if you are travelling alone or don’t want to hire a car in Jordan, you could take an organised Jordan tour to include Wadi Rum, as well as other places to visit in Jordan like the Dead Sea and Petra. Alternatively, there are buses to the highway junction near Wadi Rum which leave from Aqaba, and from the junction you could hitchhike, or take a taxi from Aqaba to Wadi Rum village. As for prices, the buses are obviously the cheapest option, and I saw an estimate for a taxi costing about 25-30 JD, but make sure you confirm the price before you go.
I struggled to find accurate information about the bus timetables in Jordan, so I would recommend hiring a car, taking a tour or getting a taxi to Wadi Rum.
Choosing a Wadi Rum Jeep Tour
If you plan to spend the night in Wadi Rum, all of the Bedouin Camps provide options for Wadi Rum tours, so choose your camp and an associated tour. Wadi Rum jeep tours could be for just a couple of hours or for a full day, and can also be combined with camel rides, hiking and other activities. If you don’t take a jeep tour, you will only be able to see a small part of Wadi Rum on foot, unless you plan to spend several days hiking in the region. With a jeep, you will be taken quickly from place to place, and see as much of the desert as possible in however much time you have.
Things to Do in Wadi Rum
Before I arrived in Wadi Rum I assumed that Lawrence of Arabia was just a film, not having seen it I didn’t realise that it is based on a true story, where a man called T.E. Lawrence lived in the Wadi Rum desert and participated in the Arab Revolt. Lawrence’s Spring is a freshwater spring where Lawrence of Arabia reputedly washed. It is quite high up on a rocky hill, and you can climb up if you’re careful, but I was afraid of falling and breaking my leg on my first day in Jordan so skipped the climb. On a nearby rock (on the ground) there are inscriptions which we looked at instead.
As you might have guessed, this is where Lawrence of Arabia supposedly lived and stored equipment. Apparently, it was also used as a set for the film.
As you might expect in a desert, there are plenty of sand dunes to explore. We visited one which had built up next to a rocky jebel which had incredible views from the top. Some people were attempting to sandboard down it but without much success! Climbing up the dune was harder than I’d expected; the sand made it heavy going but taking small steps helped.
Burdah Rock Bridge
This impressive rock bridge is a popular stop on the majority of Wadi Rum jeep tours, which does take a bit of the magic away as you had to queue to take a picture. It is a steep climb up (and down) to the bridge, and you can climb up if you like. I stayed at the bottom, still not willing to risk breaking my leg.
The Mushroom Rock
Basically, it is a rock in the middle of the desert which is shaped like a mushroom. Probably the least exciting stop of the tour, but some people seemed to love taking photos with it!
Another popular stop off, this canyon runs through two huge walls of rock. It is narrow in parts so if there are a lot of people it can cause traffic jams! It is a dead-end, but the real attraction of the canyon is the Talmudic inscriptions and drawings in the stone. The rocks are beautiful in their own right too, with different patterns and colours gradually being shaped by the weather.
The White Desert
This is where most of the Wadi Rum jeep tours finish the day, watching the sunset from a rock looking out over the White Desert. The sand is definitely a paler colour than the rest of the red desert.
Our Bedouin desert camp was right next to the Little Bridge, so we didn’t visit it specifically on our Wadi Rum jeep tour, instead, we got to explore it at sunrise. It was also a lovely spot to go stargazing at night, although pretty much anywhere in Wadi Rum is good for that!
Hiking in Wadi Rum
Although hiking in Wadi Rum isn’t usually included in the standard jeep tours, various Jordan companies and Bedouin camps offer multi-day hiking trips in the Wadi Rum desert. Alternatively, you take a half- or full-day hiking tour and combine it with an overnight stay. Hiking in Wadi Rum means you can visit places that can only be reached on foot, like a Nabataean Temple, so if you are relatively fit this could be a great option you.
Wadi Rum Camel Rides
All of the jeep tours can be combined with a camel ride if you like. I wasn’t keen on the idea, but the animals do fascinate me, so I preferred to take photos of them!
Lunch in the Desert of Wadi Rum
Tours lasting more than a few hours will include lunch; check what the tour company is offering. We stopped for an hour or so and our Bedouin guides cooked lunch of minced beef stew with hummus, pita bread and other dips which were delicious! Interestingly, the male guides also did all of the cooking – in fact, I didn’t see a Bedouin woman at all in Wadi Rum; it seems they are at home with the children while the men go to work guiding the tourists! Lunch was fabulous, but when the wind blows expect to get a dusting of sand in your food!
Wadi Rum Jeep Tour Bedouin Guides
I must admit that I was hoping for a bit more information from our Bedouin guide, however, he drove us to each place, told us where we were in the most basic way possible and stayed in the jeep until we returned to go to the next spot. Other guides may be more chatty, but most are just there to drive you around. Ours didn’t speak much English, so even if we’d had more time with him I don’t think we’d have managed to get much more information. However, if you spend a night in Wadi Rum you’ll have more chance to chat with the guides.
Spending the Night at a Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp
If you have enough time, I highly recommend spending the night in Wadi Rum. There are bedouin camps in various places around the desert and vary from basic to luxury. We stayed at Beyond Wadi Rum Bedouin camp, which was a good choice thanks to the enviable location right next to the Little Arch. I’ll write more about the nighttime experience, but it includes a Bedouin barbecue, a delicious breakfast and the chance to see the sunrise and incredible stars in the night sky over Wadi Rum.
What to Wear on a Wadi Rum Jeep Tour
At our Bedouin camp, they were quite relaxed about what visitors wore while out in the desert, but they reminded us to cover up in the village, which was more traditional. For women, remember that Jordan is a Muslim country and you should cover at least your shoulders and legs to down to your calves. Make sure you are not showing any cleavage. I wore jeans and a t-shirt one day, and leggings with a t-shirt dress another day, as well as a scarf and cardigan when it got cool. There were a couple of girls wearing short shorts but honestly, it looked out of place.
Practically speaking, wearing more clothes will protect your skin from the sun and the sand. It was quite windy when we visited Wadi Rum, so I was glad of a scarf to cover my face and shield my eyes from the sand blown in the wind.
You will be sat in the back of the jeep in the open air, although most jeeps did have a blanket over the top to provide shade from the sun, the sides and front were open. The wind was very strong (and cold!) as we drove along, so take layers with you to keep you warm.
You’ll need a hat with a brim or a scarf, which a Bedouin can show you how to wrap properly to protect your head, neck and face from the elements. At night it does get cold, especially in the winter months. In November I was glad to have several layers of clothes, including leggings and jeans, several t-shirts, a coat, scarf, woolly hat and gloves – useful for the jeep ride and also for night-time star gazing and the early morning sunrise.
Avoid white clothes as they will turn reddish-brown from the sand. Comfortable shoes are a must too as you will probably be scrabbling around in the sand and over rocks. Hiking boots aren’t necessary for Wadi Rum, comfortable trainers or close-toed trekking shoes will work well.
Wadi Rum Weather Changes
I expected the desert to be hot. I mean, it’s a desert, right?? However, visiting in November meant that the temperatures during the day were in the late 20s which was pretty warm but there was a cool wind. In the evening when the sun went down, temperatures dropped dramatically and can dip below freezing. The coldest months in Jordan are December, January and February, but even in warmer months, there is still a bit temperature change from day to night.
Where else to Visit in Jordan
I totally underestimated Jordan, so don’t make the same mistake I did. We had a week in Jordan, but try to spend at least 10 to 15 days here if you can. Petra is usually top of everyone’s Jordan bucket list, but don’t miss the Dead Sea, Jerash archaeological site, Amman and Aqaba for diving and snorkelling.
What do you think, would you like to take a Wadi Rum jeep tour? And spend the night at a Bedouin camp? Let me know, I’d love to read your comments below.
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By the way, this post wasn't sponsored in any way - I paid for the tour myself but I loved it so wanted to share the information here.