Wadi Rum, also known as The Valley of the Moon, is located in the south of Jordan, approximately four hours south of Amman, and an hour north of Aqaba. This desert wonder is easily accessible; all you have to do is decide if you want to visit for a few hours, or stay for longer…and once you’re here you’ll definitely be wanting to stay just a wee bit longer!
Wadi Rum is typically included on many of the tours that are longer than a couple of days (including tours from Israel), but you can also visit here independently, choosing to rest your weary head at some of the amazing desert camps in the region.
This protected desert wilderness is untouched by the extremes of modern man – apart from the 4x4s that roam the desert, often filled with tourists – and extends to the Saudi Arabian border. Its unique red sands and pink tinged rocks will truly rock your world…
Wadi Rum: why you’ll fall in love…
Wadi Rum is a place of spectacular natural beauty, and a wonder to behold, largely unchanged for thousands of years! Its lunar-like landscape, with sandstone mountains, deep canyons, rock formations and large dunes, have not only impressed many a tourist, they’ve been used to imitate the geography of Mars in many Hollywood films!
Wadi Rum is also the desert location where TE Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, was based during the Arab revolt of 1917, and who was one of the first modern writers to bring Wadi Rum to the attention of the western world.
Lawrence of Arabia fell in love with the region…its people, the desert vistas, the sheer magic of the desert. If you’re not careful you’ll end up staying for years on end too…
When is the best time to visit Wadi Rum?
The best time to visit Wadi Rum (as with any trip to Jordan) has to be though March-May and September-November, especially if you’re looking for moderate temperatures. In the Spring you can enjoy the desert in bloom, as well as baby goats and camels to coo over in local Bedouin herds. If you fancy braving the elements in the winter you’re likely to freeze at night (though most desert camps will provide plenty of blankets to keep you warm through the night) but you’ll have the bonus of reduced crowds and the desert terrain (almost) to yourself!
What to see and do in Wadi Rum
There are some amazing things to see and do in Wadi Rum, and what you can squeeze into your itinerary will depend on how long you have to spend in this desert oasis. Note that you cannot access Wadi Rum on your own, and you have to access the Visitors Center (there’s an entrance fee of 5 JD) to meet up with your tour guide, whether pre-planned or on the spot.
The must-sees that really have to hit your bucket list are (but discuss with your guide as to other options available, especially if you’re here for a couple of days)…
The Rock Bridges at Burdah and Um Fruth: Chiseled over time by Mother Nature, these much-photographed rock bridges are accessible to climb too. It takes a few hours though, so planning and preparation are key. Climbing a rock bridge is only for the fit and fearless though, nerves of steel are needed to traverse these majestic natural bridges and you might also need the co-ordination of a mountain goat. Or maybe we’re slightly exaggerating!
Lawrence Spring: This spring, named after TE Lawrence, offers spectacular views! Its official name is Ain Abu Aineh and can be found close to the entrance at Wadi Shallalah.
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: This majestic slice of mountain is one of the first things you’ll see after leaving the Visitor Center at Wadi Rum. Named after the TE Lawrence book, this stunning rock formation is accessible by hiking or via 4×4 when you leave the Visitors Center.
The ancient drawings in the Khazali Ravine: These stunning old inscriptions and drawings are accessible to all in this amazingly narrow ravine – well, after the first 100 meters or so you’ll need climbing gear, but you’ll definitely get a good taste of this ancient art believed to be some 4000 years old.
Barrah Canyon: This amazing canyon, some 5km in length, is where many of the 4x4s will take you to get a taste of the desert. You can do a number of activities here, including hiking, rock climbing, and camel tours.
ebel mountain range: Located near the Bedouin village of Rum, climbers from across the Middle East venture here to climb the mountains and canyons. Local companies provide trekking and camping equipment, from simple basics to luxury tents.
Um Sabatah: If you’re looking for the perfect spot for a sunset photoshoot, this hilltop is the place!
The sand dunes of Wadi Rum: If you’re 4x4ing or on the back of a camel, your guide will probably stop off at one of the many sand dunes in Wadi Rum. These are incredible, hard to climb up but great fun to tumble down!
One last unique event to add to your Wadi Rum experience is the 2 day WReFestival, an electronic music festival in the heart of Wadi Rum. This now twice-yearly festival typically takes place in March and October, and is a pretty unique music festival, with plenty of chillout tunes and top local DJs, including from neighboring Israel. For more details, check out their Facebook page.
How to get to Wadi Rum
If you’re on a tour, whether from Israel or from within Jordan itself, you’ll have no problem in being taken to Wadi Rum.
If you’re traveling independently to Wadi Rum, there are a number of options to choose from, ranging from re-arranged private transport, taxi or bus from two of the main towns in Jordan, Aqaba and Petra.
Aqaba is the closest large town to Wadi Rum, and you can reach Wadi Rum from there within an hour. Expect to pay upwards of $30 for a taxi ride each way; if you’re looking for a cheaper option, try the Aqaba bus station for the ONE bus that leaves for Wadi Rum every day in the early afternoon.
If you’re coming from Petra (or the nearby Wadi Musa), you can catch a bus from there each day at 06:00, just get in touch with your hotel reception to arrange a ticket ($10). You could also take a private taxi, which will set you back some $50 for the two hour drive.
When you arrive at Wadi Rum you’ll arrive at the Visitors Center, where, as we previously mentioned, you can meet up with your pre-arranged tour guide, or book someone on the spot.
Note that the Jordan Pass includes the entrance fee to Wadi Rum, but does not include any of the tours.
How to explore Wadi Rum?
Your next step in exploring this amazing desert is deciding how…do you want to go with the regular sand-busting 4x4ing or perhaps ride a camel…or are you looking for something a little bit extra, like a hot air balloon ride or even a micro-light flight? Heck, even helicopter rides and flights can also be booked from Amman airport. Whatever your choice, we’ve got you covered with a range of Wadi Rum tour options here, or get in touch with us here if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for.
Where to stay in Wadi Rum
If you’re planning on sleeping over in Wadi Rum, we can promise you won’t regret living like a local, and getting a taste of the way of life that has remained unchanged for centuries. The Bedouin tribes are nomads, and, to this day, live in the desert. The Bedouin are also very hospitable, and you may be invited to share a meal with a family, even as a day visitor to the area.
But best of all, enjoy a meal around the campfire, listen to Arab music, gaze at the stunning star-filled skies above you, and even partake in smoking a hookah. Camping in the desert is a wonderful experience, as you get to enjoy the timeless beauty and wondrous scenery of the desert.
There are different levels of accommodation available, from simple campsites to luxury tents. Check out our guide to the best desert camps in Wadi Rum.
Extreme temperatures alert!
The desert has some truly extreme temperatures. It will get very hot in the day, but temperatures will drop like a stone in the evenings. It’s important to dress appropriately and take hats, as well as light clothing for the day and warm clothes for the evening. Sensible shoes, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and lots of water, are ESSENTIAL when visiting Wadi Rum.