Wadi Rum desert in Jordan: attractions, history, accommodation

Jordan #2: Wadi Rum Desert

Wadi Rum, Jordan

I invite you to a journey through the Jordanian desert of Wadi Run, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a place many times chosen as the scenery for famous film productions such as "The Martian", "Prometheus" or "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story".

The history of Wadi Rum in a few words

Let's start with a few words about the history of this amazing desert. In the past, Wadi Rum was inhabited by people from many different cultures, the most famous of which were the Nabataeans, who lived here from around the 4th century BC, up to 106 AD, when their kingdom was incorporated into the Roman Empire. In those days they built one of the seven new wonders of the world - the famous rock city of Petra (detailed link to my trip to Petra in Jordan, worth reading).

The Wadi Rum desert started to by famous because of a British officer named Thomas Edward Lawrence, who was in these areas during the anti-Turkish Arab uprising in the first half of the 19th century. After the war, he wrote a book called "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", after which one of the rock formations in the desert was named, although it is difficult to say why, because the book had nothing to do with Wadi Rum itself. However, this name has been accepted and has remained until today.

Bedouins in Jordan

Currently, mainly Bedouins live here.

How to get to the Wadi Rum desert?

Personally, I drove the car to the Wadi Rum desert from Amman (capital of Jordan), where the entire route (excluding breaks) lasted about 4.5 hours. Along the way, it is worth stopping in the passing villages, where for 2 JODs (less than 3 USD) you can eat a good kebab or buy a lot of water.

Interestingly, driving on Route 15 I expected the worst - it was bumpy, full of holes and poorly maintained. However, after about 20 kilometers it changed completely to quite good. I was most surprised by the concrete bumps, after which we passed from time to time (on the highway!), So it's worth looking at road signs that will inform us in advance.

After a few hours of driving on Route 15 (at some point it turns into Route 47), in the town of Rashidiyah at the mosque, turn left into the Wadi Rum Road, which after about 30 kilometers will lead us to the village of Wadi Rum. If you haven't bought food or water by then, you should meet several sellers along this route (but it will be more expensive). Around the middle of this road we will see the Wadi Rum Visitor Center, where in one of the rooms we will get a stamp on our Jordan Pass - if we do not have them, we will pay for entering 5 JOD (about 7 USD) per person.

How to get to the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan?

After passing through the gates, we are ready to go straight to the village of Wadi Rum, where we can, for example, rent a 4x4 car with a guide to explore the Jordanian desert.

When to go to the desert?

I went to Jordan and the Wadi Rum desert in mid-June, which did not seem like a wise ideaa, as the temperatures in theshadow in this time range from 32 to 36 degrees. However, as it turned out, due to the low humidity, the temperature felt about five degrees lower and in addition all the cars and coaches I traveled had air conditioning, so it was possible to function normally. Hotels the same.

However, after all, it was quite hot, and a few hours in the desert, often in full sun, did its job. Plus, it is definitely such that the holiday period is a kind of "off-season" time, so not many tourists had the opportunity to enter into my camera frame :-) Hotels were also a bit cheaper. However, if you have a problem with high temperatures, and the solar filters do not work on you, then I suggest going to Jordan and the Wadi Rum desert in spring or autumn.

Source: Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp.

Accommodation in tents and hotels in Wadi Rum

In Wadi Rum you will find many different accommodations, most of them are camps with tents. It is worth arranging accommodation in advance via the Internet, or at least know the prices, because Arabs by nature like to inflate prices, which is also normal in Jordan. When choosing, it is also worth following the TripAdvisor or Bookings ratings. There is also a free car park near the camps where you can leave your car.

We chose the Wadi Rum Dream Camp, although it was quite expensive (40 JOD / 56 USD per night for two people), but you can easily find accommodation for 25 USD. If you are rich, it is worth to be interested in, for example, Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp, where for around 250 USD per night you can sleep in a dome-shaped tent with a view of the starry sky. For me, unfortunately, it was not affordable, moreover, I do not like huge luxuries.

Accommodation in tents and hotels in Wadi Rum. Source: Wadi Rum Dream Camp.

From what I've heard, not all tents have electrical outlet (especially in cheaper camps), so it's also worth taking with you a power bank. It is worth adding that sometimes in the price of accommodation you can arrange a trip to the desert, and even if not, it is definitely worth bargaining.

We are sightseeing! So what we will see in the desert?

There are many options for exploring the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, I chose the full-day option (about 10 hours), but you can also choose a 4-hour option if you don't have too much time. It is worth noting, however, that even the whole day is not enough to fully explore this Martian desert. Below you will find a list of all interesting places that I visited during the trip.

Lawrence's Spring, Wadi Rum, Jordan

Lawrence's Spring

Have you watched the movie "Lawrence of Arabia"? It is a production based on real events that took place at the beginning of the 20th century. The film is about a young Thomas Edward Lawrence (British archaeologist, traveler, military officer, writer and diplomat) who came to the Middle East and joined the Arab army to fight against Turkey. Being in the army he accomplishes something amazing, because with a small military unit he manages to conquer the city of Aqaba, which earns him the title of a national hero in Jordan.

Introduction to history was needed here, because Lawrence was an important figure in Jordan's history, and he also made the Wadi Rum desert famous. As for Lawrence's Spring itself, it is a small puddle of cold water hidden deep under a rock, roughly 100 meters above the level of the desert itself. To get there, you need to walk about 30 minutes on a fairly difficult terrain, but we will be able to not only cool off, but also see the Nabatean (the people who built Petra) ruins and a beautiful view of the desert from above.

Wadi Rum desert, panorama

Interestingly, the travel guide said that the spring we just hiked is not really Lawrence's source, but another, called Ain Abu Aineh. Lawrence's original spring is called Ain al-Shalalah (described by Lawrence in the book "Seven Pillars of Wisdom") and is a waterfall near a village to which a camel path leads, somewhere else. Well, this spring probably is more "on the way" :-) Regardless, it's worth climbing Ain Abu Aineh even for the very nice view that stretches from above.

Lawrence's House, Wadi Rum, Jordan

Lawrence's House

Fortunately, there are no similar doubts, as in the case of the spring, in the case of Lawrence's house, which is undoubtedly what it should be, his old house in the Wadi Rum desert. The house itself did not make me a particularly big impression - it consisted of three walls (the fourth is a rock), of which two remained, without a roof and floor. However, after all, my exuberant imagination gave me a picture of an English-speaking Englishman sitting here in Turkish in Arab costume, sipping strong black tea and talking with the ruler of Quebec Arabs named Auda Abu Tayi. It made Lawrence's home much more pleasant to see.

A much larger impression than the house made a rock shelf just above it. There is an amazing panorama of the desert from here, which in combination with hundreds of stone mounds heaped up here creates a very atmospheric scenery. Especially when I learned that it was this valley caravans that transported goods from Saudi Arabia to Syria in the history.

Abu Khashaba Canyon, Wadi Rum desert, Jordan

Abu Khashaba Canyon

Canyons are one of the more interesting and unusual landscapes in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, and the Abu Khashaba canyon is one of the few places where we will find quite a lot of plants, and not only bushes, but even trees. In addition, rock walls that cover a large part of the passage make it a place where you can rest from the heat of the desert sun. It is also the only place where you can meet birds, even several water feeders were hung here.

At the very beginning of the route we will see a very nice tree that is worth photographing (or photographing yourself on it, because it is easy to climb on it). It is also worth paying attention to how amazing nature shaped the rock walls of Abu Khashaba during the erosion.

Passing through the Abu Khashaba canyon takes about twenty minutes and during this trip we met almost no one. Our guide was waiting for us on the other side of the canyon, so we didn't have to go back the same way.

Wadi Rum desert, Jordan, going to the canyon.

Khazali Canyon

Khazali Canyon was used by former Bedouins to hide from the sun. Passing this way, it is worth paying attention to rock inscriptions about God and Mohammed or drawings, among which you can distinguish carved figures of people and interesting-looking feet (apparently they showed the Bedouins the right way).

The canyon itself is not very big, and also much more crowded than Abu Khashaba. Unfortunately, more than one group of visitors causes so much crowds here that you have to wait for your turn to move on. At the very end of the passage through the Khazali canyon in Jordan there is a stream or water reservoir, which, surprisingly, was not so small and we had to jump on the stones (attention, slippery!) To go to the other side and not make our shoes wet.

Small Arch

In the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan we will find several different rock arches, we planned to see 3 of them. The Small Arch, despite its deceptive name, is not the smallest at all. Especially if we add to this the fact that the arch is part of a much larger massif, which together creates an unusual atmosphere.

Entering the Little Arch is not complicated and takes about two minutes in total. There are no large crowds of tourists, but usually you have to wait for a while to get into the arch.

Big Arch Umm Fruth

Umm Fruth is another, much bigger, arch we reached in the desert, carved by water and wind. It is also much higher than the Little Arch, which makes it harder to get to the top. To do this, we will have to go through a dozen stairs carved in the rock, which I will definitely dissuade to people with fear of heights.

Rock arch, Wadi Rum desert, Jordan

However, when we manage to get to the very top of the Umm Fruth arch, the view will justify all our climbing effort. However, we have to take into account not only the steep entrance, but also the queue. Some people gave up just before entering the arch (fear of heights), so I advise you to think about it before climbing :-)

If we want, after returning from the big arch Umm Fruth, we can go on a paid camel ride or drink mint tea at the Berbers (what is worth doing, because such tea drunk in the shade works very refreshing).

Camels, Wadi Rum, Jordan. They can be found at almost all the attractions of the desert.

Burdah Arch

Burdah is the third arch in the Wadi Rum desert that I had the pleasure to watch. Unfortunately, only from a distance, because this natural rock bridge is located high, on one of the hills (more precisely on the Jebel Burdah mountain), about 300 meters above the place we reached.

If you are interested in climbing the Burdah Arch, it is possible, however, as a separate trip. This is mainly because the hike takes more than 3 hours, so with a return way back it is difficult to make it less than in six hours. Those who are determined can talk to local Bedouins, guides or at the Wadi Rum Visitor Center.

Red Dunes

The next stop is Red Dunes, a beautiful area with rocks and sand that glitter with different colors. It is worth climbing one of the dunes to see the landscape of the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, but be careful because they can be quite steep.

Red Dunes, Wadi Rum desert, Jordan

If you arrived here quite early, you can try to climb the Red Dunes barefoot, otherwise uyou will have to reckon with sand, pouring into every nook and cranny of shoes. However, as I mentioned, the view of Wadi Rum and the entire endless desert is really worth it.

Anfishieh Inscriptions, Wadi Rum, Jordan

Anfishieh Inscriptions

It is not known exactly whether the Anfishieh inscriptions are from the Nabatean or Thamudean times (historical entries say that the inscriptions were created by either or another).

Unfortunately, this is where not the best competency of our Jordanian travel guide came out, which when asked about the age of the inscription Anfishieh answered that it was probably created 200 - 300 years ago. Given that the above civilizations lived in these areas 2000 years ago, the guide had to read something wrong :-)

As in many places in the Wadi Rum desert, also in Anfisheih Inscriptions you can take a camel ride, of course for a fee.

Mashroom Rock, Wadi Rum desert, Jordan

Mushroom Rock

Well, in some sense you can guess what the Mushroom rock is after its name. It is a sandstone formation that resembles a huge mushroom. Being very characteristic, it has become one of the more recognizable signs of the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan.

Note: The Mushroom Rock is not always in the travel plans around the desert with Bedouins, so it's worth asking about it (often guides can add it to our sightseeing plan for free).

Chicken Rock

Another amazing rock in the Wadi Rum desert. This rock really resembles not only a chicken, but also a huge egg. The scenery of the Chicken Rock is amazing, so it's worth taking a few photos here, and if it's possible (we did it), watch a beautiful sunset, that was painting the entire desert in red.

Wadi Rum

Interesting facts

Below you will find a collection of information and interesting facts about the Wadi Rum desert.

  • The Wadi Rum desert was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011.
  • In the desert, because of its amazing landscapes, many well-known Hollywood movies were shot, such as "The Martian", "Prometheus" or "Rogue One: Star Wars Story".
  • The Wadi Rum desert in Jordan is huge, its area is about 720 km2.
  • The highest hill in the Jordanian desert is Jabal Umm ad Dami, 1,840 meters above sea level. It is located about 30 kilometers south of the village of Wadi Rum, and on a nice and sunny day you can often see from the top not only the Saudi border, but also the Red Sea.
Sunset in the Wadi Rum desert, Jordan


The Wadi Rum desert in Jordan is an amazing area full of interesting places and tourist attractions and my second favorite Jordanian place, right after Petra. Not only will we experience an amazing accommodation in tents in the desert, but we will also follow Wadi Rum on the trail of British General Lawrence and see a huge space with huge rocks and arches shimmering with reds.

I highly recommend a visit to Wadi Rum, it's really worth it!

Wojciech Kuźma

Hey there! My name is Wojtek and I am very happy that you came to my travel blog. I've been traveling the world for a few good years now and I still want more.

On my website I describe the adventures that have happened to me, you will also find here a collection of valuable tips for tourists and travelers. If you liked this article, be sure to leave a comment and read some more!

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