Wadi Rum

The largest wadi in Jordan is a unique valley with sandstone and granite rock faces

Wadi Rum is Jordan's famous desert. It is a desert, but one with an unprecedented amount of beautiful rock formations. You can do lots of hikes, spend the night under the stars and simply enjoy the rugged landscape.

It’s raining superlatives in a small tourist group in the Bedouin camp. It’s always fun to listen in: ‘It’s like a moon landscape’ says one. ‘It’s the most beautiful thing in the world’ says another. And another, a bit less lyrical: ‘It’s a giant sandpit.’ ‘I feel like painting it’ calls another. There is a moment’s silence in the group. Wadi Rum is a talking point, that’s for sure.

I visited this huge desert twice. It has many attractions, some famous, some totally unknown. These are the main attractions to discover during your visit.

Sand, sun and clouds in Wadi Rum. ©Corno van den Berg

Sunset in Wadi Rum

The sunset colours the rocks with reds, yellows and every shade in between. You can try and capture those striking colours with a camera, but it’s not easy, and there’s something to see at every turn. Do you photograph the endless desert, or the intriguing rocks? Or both?

The best way to discover the rugged landscape of Wadi Rum. ©Corno van den Berg

The movie Lawrence of Arabia

Many parts of Wadi Rum are worth visiting. You can follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia, a real person the 1962 movie was based on. He was a British military diplomat Thomas Edward Lawrence, who helped combat the Turks who ruled over large parts of the Middle East for more than 500 years. And that while he was actually a writer.

A guide points to a depiction of Thomas Edward Lawrence in Wadi Rum. ©Corno van den Berg

His many accounts tell the story of the hard desert life. This place is home to Bedouin peoples, who now embrace tourists and share their culture, giving them a taste of this rough life between the strange rocky desert.

Khaz’ali Canyon

Make sure you stop at Khaz’ali Canyon, where you can find lots of rock art dating from 400 BC to 400 AC. You’ll notice scripture and also plenty of depictions of humans and antelopes.

One of the many rock carvings in Khaz’ali Canyon. ©Corno van den Berg

Other interesting tours

There is much more to do in Wadi Rum:

  • A trip on a camel is the way to bounce through the sand. The animals often do not smell too fresh. That means it is useful to wear old clothes.
  • From a hot air balloon you have a unique view of the landscape. And you can take wonderful photos.
  • With a guide you can look for the animals that live here. And there are more than you think. Think of desert foxes, but also circling vultures and rare ibexes.
  • You can climb the various rocks on all fours. This is only possible with a guide, who also has the necessary equipment.
  • A mountain bike tour is a real challenge here, although there are paths where the sand is not so loose.
  • An evening in the desert is often here with music and (male) belly dancers ...

Spend the night in Wadi Rum

A Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum.

You should really spend a night in Wadi Rum, in a tent in a Bedouin camp. It’s a special experience because you can’t just see the sunset, but also the sunrise, and those are magical here.

Do I have to go one or two days and nights?

Many travellers stay overnight in the desert of Wadi Rum. They are there for two days, but these are often half days. If you want to optimally experience the sand, but especially the rocks and mountains, you should actually stay two nights.

If you stay overnight you don't go far into the area. And are you with several tourists. That's why I would spend two nights here. For example at two different locations. So that you can fully enjoy.