Red and orange sand, as far as the eye can see. No sounds of birds, animals or people, just absolute silence. Gigantic rocks, some of which have tent camps set up in its shadows. I think the Wadi Rum desert is one of the most magical places I’ve visited thus far. We spent two days in this gorgeous place in Jordan. Days which were filled with climbing rocks and sand dunes, hiking until our shoes were completely filled with sand, relaxing and taking in those magical views, watching a stunning sunset and staying the night in a bedouin tent camp.
Is Wadi Rum worth visiting?
Yes, for sure. For me it was one of the highlights in Jordan, together with Wadi Mujib. Petra is nice, but it’s very busy and touristy (#touristtrap). Wadi Rum is also catered for tourists, but it just doesn’t feel like it.
Fun fact: many movies have been recorded here. In The Martian, in which fellow astronauts accidentally leave behind their colleague Matt Damon on Mars, the desert is used as Mars. It’s the main filming location. More recently the live action adaptation of Aladdin was filmed in this desert. A few other movies which are filmed in the Wadi Rum desert are Star Wars, Lawrence of Arabia and Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen.
Which Wadi Rum tour / camp should you choose?
We only tried one, and we liked it a lot. We decided to book our tour & night’s stay at Wadi Rum Nomads (click here for their website). Which tour? The 1 day & 1 night jeep tour. It’s a full day jeep tour which shows you all the highlights of the Wadi Rum desert. After sunset you’ll be dropped off at the campsite, where you can have a shower, have dinner and then go to sleep in one of the bedouin tents.
Altough there are many different Wadi Rum tour companies, we decided upon this one because of the good overall reviews and some comments about good food. Because, you know, food’s important :). Other than that, all the food plus water were included. And the water was actually cold, all day long. A nice little extra when you’re cruising a desert at 45°C / 113°F.
A little sneak preview:
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Yep, if you’re lucky you will see the most magificent starry night you’ve ever seen. There is no artificial light (so no light polution) for many many miles around you, so you might see the milky way or at least more stars than you’ve ever seen before. Unfortunately we weren’t as lucky. It wasn’t cloudy, but the moon was too bright. Other members of our tour group, who did the desert night’s stay the night before, already warned us that we wouldn’t be able to see anything spectacular. Of course we wanted to try anyway, so we set our alarms at 2.30am to look for ourselves. Too bad: the moonlight indeed was way too bright.
How much is this Wadi Rum jeep tour?
This particular tour will cost you between 60 JOD ($85) and 85 JOD ($120), depending on how many people you are travelling with. We booked for the two of us, so we paid 65JOD ($90) per person. Of course they will add groups together. So in the end we shared a jeep with 6 other people.
Where is wadi rum located?
If you wonder where the Wadi Rum desert is: here’s a little map:
So it’s very much in the south of the country, relatively close to Aqaba. Wadi Rum Village and Aqaba are actually in the same Governorate, as you can see on the map above.
Also read: Dead Sea in Jordan – do’s and dont’s
How to get from and to Wadi Rum
RENTAL CAR >> Well, we had a rental car in Jordan, so that makes it extremely easy. You just drive to Wadi Rum village (mostly one straight road). It’s about an hour drive from Aqaba and about a two hour drive from Wadi Musa (Petra). When in Wadi Rum Village, you can leave your rental car at the office of the tour company where you’ve booked your tour. Then you’ll get in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, in which you will actually cruise the desert.
BUS >> When you don’t have a rental car, there are busses which can take you there from cities like Aqaba, Wadi Musa and even Amman. You can take a local bus, but I’d recommend taking the JETT. You can book tickets in advance, they have a set bus schedule and the busses are comfy. It’ll cost you around 8 tot 11 JOD to go from Amman to Aqaba, and from Aqaba you can take another (local) bus to Wadi Rum. Just check the JETT website for bus schedules and prices.
TAXI >> If all else fails, you can always take a taxi. From Aqaba, depending on the point of departure, you will pay somewhere between 25 JOD (city centre) to 40 JOD (Eilat-Aqaba border) for a one-way taxi to Wadi Rum. From Amman it’s very expensive: around 110 JOD. From Petra it’s around 40 JOD.
My recommendation? I’d go for a rental car in Jordan, because it’s the cheapest option and you don’t have to work around any public transport schedules.
What to wear?
Prepare to get dirty: sand will be everywhere. Your shoes will be orange, your pants will be orange, everything will be orange. So don’t wear fancy clothes and for the love of God don’t wear sandals. I absolutely love my Teva sandals (the perfect travel footwear), but they are not desert-proof.
So, what to pack for Wadi Rum?
Since Jordan is a quite conservative country, you should dress modest and cover your knees and shoulders. So take below-the-knee trousers, preferably with a loose fit (because it’s HOT in the desert). Take short- or longsleeved tops (not too tight) and a pair of sneakers. Also take sun protection: a hat or scarf and a pair of sunglasses will do. Don’t forget to take a vest and long pants, because after sunset you’ll immediately notice a big drop in temperature.
Are you staying the night in the desert? Take a flashlight (or use your phone’s flashlight) so you can get from the sleeping tent to the bathroom and communal tent.
How long should you stay in Wadi Rum?
If you’re doing a Jordan trip, you don’t want to underspend or overspend time in certain places. So how many days & nights in Wadi Rum? I would say: One or two days / one night is enough. But definitely sleep one night in the desert. It’s a unique experience!
All in all it depends on how much time you have in total. But if you have a 10 day road trip in Jordan like we did, I’d recommend 2 days max in Wadi Rum.
Anything else you’d like to know about travelling in the Wadi Rum desert, or generally in Jordan? Drop your questions in the comments!