If you’re planning on visiting Wadi Rum, here’s a complete Jordan travel info guide to help you organize your trip.
What is Wadi Rum?
Wadi Rum is a breathtaking desert valley located in southern Jordan, characterized by its unique red sand dunes, towering sandstone mountains, and stunning rock formations.
Also known as the Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum's vast expanse of desert landscape has been shaped by wind and water over millions of years.
The Wadi Rum desert region has a rich cultural history, with evidence of human habitation dating back to prehistoric times.
Bedouin tribes have inhabited Wadi Rum for centuries, maintaining their nomadic lifestyle and traditions amidst this harsh yet beautiful environment.
Wadi Rum's otherworldly scenery has made it a popular destination for tourists, adventurers, and filmmakers.
Visitors can engage in various activities such as camping under the stars, jeep tours through the desert, rock climbing, camel rides, and experiencing the unique Bedouin hospitality by staying in traditional desert camps.
The area's striking and almost surreal landscapes have also served as a backdrop for several movies, most notably the classic film "Lawrence of Arabia."
Wadi Rum's captivating beauty and cultural significance make it a must-visit destination for travellers seeking adventure and natural wonder in Jordan.
Where is the Wadi Rum Desert?
The Wadi Rum Desert is located in southern Jordan, roughly 60 kilometres (37 miles) to the east of Aqaba and about 320 kilometres (200 miles) southwest of the capital city, Amman.
It’s situated in the Wadi Rum Protected Area, covering a vast area of desert landscape within the southern part of Jordan's Rift Valley.
The desert valley is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and is surrounded by sandstone mountains, red sand dunes, and unique rock formations, creating an otherworldly and stunningly beautiful environment.
How to Get to Wadi Rum, Jordan?
Planning a trip to the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan? Then getting there is a key consideration.
A huge appeal of Wadi Rum is how remote and barren the desert landscape is. This means getting there can involve a bit of a trek.
If you’re visiting Jordan, here are some of the most common ways to reach Wadi Rum.
From Amman (Jordan's Capital)
If you are based in Amman, where you probably will be on a trip to Jordan, then you can get to Wadi Rum via a couple of transport options:
By Car: Renting a car and driving from Amman to Wadi Rum is an option, taking approximately 4-5 hours. The route involves taking the Desert Highway (Route 15) towards Aqaba and then heading north to Wadi Rum.
By Bus: JETT or other bus services operate scheduled trips from Amman to Aqaba. From Aqaba, you can take a taxi or arrange for transport to Wadi Rum, which is about a 1-1.5-hour drive.
Tours or Private Transfers: Many tour operators offer guided tours from Amman to Wadi Rum, often including transportation, accommodation, and desert activities.
Aqaba is a closer hub to Wadi Rum, and probably your best major location if you’re planning a trip to the desert. Here’s how you can get to Wadi Rum from Aqaba:
By Taxi or Private Transfer: Taxis or pre-arranged transfers are available from Aqaba to Wadi Rum, taking around 1-1.5 hours.
By Bus: While less frequent, there might be buses or shared minibuses from Aqaba to Wadi Rum. Confirm schedules beforehand.
Petra is another convenient location for travelling to Wadi Rum. You can use these transport options for your Petra to Wadi Rum hike or trip:
By Car: Driving from Petra to Wadi Rum takes about 1.5-2 hours. You can take the Desert Highway (Route 15) south towards Aqaba, then head north to Wadi Rum.
Tours or Private Transfers: Several tour companies in Petra offer day trips or transfers to Wadi Rum, combining both destinations.
If you're in other parts of Jordan, such as Madaba, the Dead Sea, or Jerash, it's possible to arrange transport via bus, private car, or joining organized Wadi Rum tours.
Always verify transportation options and schedules, especially for buses or shared rides, as they might not run frequently. It's recommended to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to ensure availability and a smoother travel experience.
Visiting Wadi Rum offers a chance to experience its stunning desert landscapes and Bedouin culture. It’s an amazing location, but due to the harsh desert environment, it can be a tricky place to plan a trip to.
To help you out, here's a guide on how to make the most of your visit.
Choose Your Accommodation
Staying in the desert in Wadi Rum is an amazing experience. As it’s a desert, you can only really camp there. You’ve got the option between:
Desert Camps: There are numerous Bedouin-run camps in Wadi Rum offering traditional accommodation in tents or "Martabas" (caves). These camps provide an immersive experience in Bedouin culture, often including meals, desert tours, and stargazing.
Luxury Camps: Some upscale camps offer more luxurious amenities while retaining the desert experience, providing comforts like private tents with ensuite bathrooms.
Explore Desert Activities
There’s a lot you can do in the expansive Wadi Rum desert. This includes:
Jeep Tours: Jeep tours are the most popular way to explore Wadi Rum. Experienced Bedouin guides take visitors on off-road adventures, showcasing iconic sites, rock formations, ancient inscriptions, and viewpoints.
Camel Rides: Enjoy a leisurely camel ride through the desert and take in the serene beauty of Wadi Rum.
Hiking and Trekking: For nature enthusiasts, Wadi Rum hiking is amazing. You can go trekking through Wadi Rum's canyons and trails for an up-close experience of the desert's unique rock formations and landscapes.
Rock Climbing: Adventure seekers can engage in rock climbing and bouldering activities, with routes suitable for both beginners and experienced climbers.
If you’re making the trip out to Wadi Rum, then immersing yourself in the unique Bedouin culture is a good idea.
Engage with the local Bedouin people to learn about their nomadic lifestyle, traditions, and hospitality. Many camps organize cultural experiences like traditional music, dance, and Bedouin-style meals cooked in the desert.
It’s fascinating to see how people have managed to live in such a harsh desert environment.
Wadi Rum is known for its incredibly clear night skies. Spend an evening stargazing in the desert, marvelling at the vastness of the stars away from city lights. This is truly a highlight of any Wadi Rum trip.
Help preserve the natural beauty of Wadi Rum by respecting the environment. Avoid littering and follow the guidance of your guides to ensure the protection of this delicate desert ecosystem.
When to Visit Wadi Rum
Jordan’s Wadi Rum may be beautiful, but the environment is harsh. If you’re not used to the desert, then it's important to choose the timing of your visit carefully.
The best time to visit Wadi Rum in Jordan is during the cooler months, which generally span from October to April. This period offers more comfortable temperatures for exploring the desert landscape and engaging in outdoor activities.
This period is considered an excellent time to visit Wadi Rum.
Temperatures are mild, ranging from around 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F) during the day, making it ideal for excursions, hiking, and desert exploration.
Winter (December - February)
Winters in Wadi Rum can be cold, especially during the night, with temperatures dropping to around 5°C to 10°C (41°F to 50°F). Days are pleasant for activities, but visitors should be prepared for cooler evenings and nights.
Spring (March - April)
Springtime sees a gradual increase in temperatures, ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F) during the day. It's an excellent time for outdoor adventures before the intense heat of summer sets in.
Summer (May - September)
Summers in Wadi Rum can be extremely hot, with temperatures often exceeding 35°C (95°F) or more during the day. Visiting during this period can be challenging due to the scorching heat, making outdoor activities uncomfortable for most visitors.
To fully enjoy outdoor activities and explore the desert comfortably, it's advisable to plan your visit during the cooler months and wear a light and breathable Wadi Rum outfit.
This is usually from October to April, so you can experience Wadi Rum's breathtaking landscapes and cultural offerings without being hindered by extreme temperatures.
20 Things to Know About Wadi Rum
So, what makes the Wadi Rum desert so special?
Here are 20 key things to know about Wadi Rum in Jordan, including some interesting Wadi Rum facts, Wadi Rum activities, and things to know before you go.
Stunning Desert Landscape
Wadi Rum is renowned for its surreal red sand dunes, towering sandstone cliffs, and unique rock formations, creating an otherworldly desert landscape.
The main reason for anyone to visit Wadi Rum is to experience the vast, unique natural beauty of this desert landscape.
The area has a rich cultural history, with evidence of human habitation dating back to prehistoric times. Bedouin tribes have inhabited Wadi Rum for centuries.
As mentioned earlier, gaining insight into the local culture and Bedouin history can be fascinating.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Wadi Rum reserve was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 due to its outstanding natural and cultural significance.
Situated in southern Jordan, Wadi Rum lies about 60 kilometres (37 miles) east of Aqaba and approximately 320 kilometres (200 miles) southwest of Amman.
"Valley of the Moon"
Wadi Rum is often referred to as the "Valley of the Moon" due to its lunar-like landscape and surreal beauty. When you visit the Wadi Rum landscape, you soon see why the desert got this nickname.
The stunning scenery of Wadi Rum has been featured in various movies, most notably in "Lawrence of Arabia" and more recent films like "The Martian."
Visitors can experience the hospitality of the local Bedouin people by staying in traditional desert camps and learning about their nomadic lifestyle and traditions.
This lets you experience the Wadi Rum desert in a completely unique way, offering the best chance to connect with the ever-changing desert sands and admire the impressive stars.
Wadi Rum offers a range of outdoor activities such as jeep tours, camel rides, hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing due to its clear night skies. If you’re looking for adventure, you can certainly find it in Wadi Rum.
Many camps in Wadi Rum offer overnight stays in traditional Bedouin tents or luxurious "Martabas" (caves), providing an authentic desert experience. Whether you’re looking for a simple, or luxurious Wadi Rum camping experience, Wadi Rum has plenty of options available.
Clear Night Skies
The desert's remote location makes it an excellent spot for stargazing, offering breathtaking views of the stars and constellations. This is one of the main attractions for visiting Wadi Rum and staying overnight.
If you’re interested in ancient history, then Wadi Rum is a fascinating destination.
The Wadi Rum desert boasts ancient rock inscriptions, petroglyphs, and archaeological remnants dating back thousands of years, showcasing human history in the area.
Wadi Rum is a protected desert wilderness area managed by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) to preserve its natural and cultural heritage.
Summers are extremely hot, while winters can be cold, so the best time to visit is during the cooler months from October to April.
Whenever you visit, prepare yourself for extreme weather conditions and pack wisely. Visiting Wadi Rum with people experienced with the desert is always a good idea.
Visitors can engage in various cultural activities such as enjoying Bedouin music, and dances and partaking in traditional meals cooked in the desert. This is recommended for anyone visiting Wadi Rum.
Respect for Environment
Sustainable tourism practices are encouraged to preserve the delicate desert ecosystem and heritage of Wadi Rum. Don’t leave a trace behind after visiting this magnificent desert.
Local Bedouin guides offer insightful tours, sharing their knowledge of the area's history, geology, and culture. These tours are highly recommended, as there is so much fascinating information to learn when you visit Wadi Rum.
Various transportation options are available from Amman, Aqaba, and Petra to reach Wadi Rum, including buses, taxis, and organized tours. Although the desert is remote, it’s still relatively easy to access.
Wadi Rum appeals to adventure seekers, offering opportunities for exploration and adrenaline-pumping activities amidst its rugged terrain.
Silence and Serenity
The vastness and tranquillity of Wadi Rum make it an ideal place for those seeking solitude and a break from bustling city life.
Visiting Wadi Rum promises unforgettable experiences, allowing travellers to immerse themselves in the beauty and mystique of the desert.
Exploring Wadi Rum unveils a world of natural wonders, cultural richness, and breathtaking landscapes, making it a must-visit destination in Jordan.
Jordan’s Wadi Rum is a destination that leaves a lasting impression on anyone who visits. From the magnificent natural beauty to the unique culture and history, this desert is full of things to see, do, and experience.
No matter when you go or how you choose to experience it, Wadi Rum will always offer an amazing adventure.