Wadi Rum is famously known for being the setting of the movie, Lawrence of Arabia. Indeed, the three hundred square miles of stunning desert landscape are perfectly suited to the big screen. The author of the novel of the same name, T.E. Lawrence, served as a British Army officer and was, in fact, based in the desert during the Arab Revolt which took place between 1916 and 1918. Furthermore, it is easy to understand how the sublime desert terrain inspired him to write a book. We took a day trip to Wadi Rum from Aqaba, but would have loved to have spent longer there. Although, we had dinner under the stars, it would have been wonderful to stay in a Bedouin tent overnight and have more time to soak up the splendour of the desert.
In addition to sand dunes, Wadi Rum has an abundance of cool rock formations, mountains and canyons together with natural bridges and arches. Activities include multi-day hiking, biking, sandboarding, hot air ballooning and rock-climbing along with horse and camel riding. Rum Village is the gateway to the area and the Bedouins who live there are known for their hospitality.
Wadi Rum has, in fact, been inhabited since pre-historic times. Among those who have lived there are the Nabateans, who left their mark in the form of petroglyphs on the rocks. These days, the desert is still home to a few nomadic Bedouin families, although most have now live at Rum Village. Although wildlife is rarely seen by visitors, Wadi Rum is home to the Syrian wolf together with the striped hyena and the Nubian Ibex.
Wadi Rum is known as ‘The Valley of the Moon' and the scenery is certainly out of this world. There are many ways to enjoy Wadi Rum, but the most popular method of transportation is by four-wheel drive jeep. Our jeep ride was certainly exhilarating. Indeed, we sped over the desert terrain taking in such sights as Mushroom Rock, The Seven Pillars and Little Arch along with Khazali Canyon. At sunset we sat on a rock watching the sun sink over the distant mountains.
How to Get There – By road, Wadi Rum is approximately an hour from Aqaba (70 km), 1.5 hours from Petra (112 km) and 4 hours from Amman (110 km). If you are able, hiring a car is a good option in Jordan as it allows much more independence. There are, however, buses that leave from Aqaba and Petra. From Amman, it is necessary to change buses in Petra.
Tours – Tours can be arranged from Petra or Aqaba. Alternatively, it's possible to roll up in Rum Village and arrange tours there. A variety of tours are available depending on your interests.
Entrance Fee – There is an entrance fee of 5 JD (approximately 7 US dollars).
Accomodation – Staying in a bayt shacar, a traditional tent made of goat hair and sheep wool, is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the Bedouin experience. Alternatively, there are plenty of other choices and all budgets are catered for. Options range from the high-end Bubble Luxotel to backpackers hostels.
When to Go – Summer in the desert is extremely hot and it is consequently wise to avoid visiting Wadi Rum then if you don't like intense heat. Winter, on the other hand, can be very cold at night. Nevertheless, we were there in January, but we wrapped up in plenty of layers and had a wonderful time under the clear night skies gathered around a roaring fire. As a matter of fact, another advantage of visiting during winter or summer is the lack of crowds. The best times to visit, however, are in the spring between March and May or autumn between September and November. Indeed, the temperature is more agreeable at these times. Additionally, Spring is the best time to enjoy the desert flowers which are in bloom.