Unlike the more popular deserts I've experienced, Wadi Rum is how you imagined a desert to be - beautiful, playful sand beneath your feet, rather than ugly harsh rocks.
Enjoying a little financial comfort from the tourism dollar, you can expect Bedouin guides to take you bombing around the desert in a well-traveled 4x4 truck, stopping off to explore beautiful scenery, jump off sand dunes, and indulge a little rock climbing if you wish.
Expect to camp and eat in simple Bedouin camps with basic amenities, in the middle of the vast desert.
Wadi Rum can be enjoyed as a day-trip from Petra, but budget 2/3 days to properly appreciate it. We booked a two days/one night package through our hostel in Amman.
Everybody we spoke to about Wadi Rum had similar - excellent - experiences.
Google map: bit.ly/cUKlyh
There are few locations in the world that remain as enduring and ageless as the magnificent yet sedate Wadi Rum. It’s longevity is perhaps because time shifts so gradually to the leisurely beat of life. It is conceivable that even the heartbeats of the indigenous Bedouin tribes tick that increment slower, with their face-wide smiles and calm presence. Wadi Rum was romanticised in T.E. Lawrence's magnus opus 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ who described it as ‘vast, echoing and god-like’. Inevitably comparisons will be drawn with the renowned Petra, but it was certainly not overshadowed for me, metaphorically or physically with the epic Jebel Rum reaching the soaring height of 1754m.
The desert of Wadi Rum, however, is not what you would conventionally expect. As if grandiosely carved by divine means, the region known as Wadi Rum is actually a series of valleys about 2km wide stretching north to south for about 130km, found in Jordan. The dunes are formed with a radiant red sand and are accompanied by a glorious backdrop of majestic rock formations. Besides the extraordinary desert scenes, you are also able to visit Khaz'ali Canyon, the site of petroglyphs etched into the cave walls depicting humans and antelopes dating back to the Thamudic times, or Lawrence spring, a large crevice in a canyon with ancient inscriptions as well as what is regarded as Lawrence’s house.
Days flow by so effortlessly, I recommend staying at least one night. You can organise a tour by jeep and night accommodation with a Bedouin tribe through an organisation. At the end of the day of touring, we retired back inside the tent, to be fed some of the most mouthwatering food, baked in an under-ground oven. After we were treated to the soporific rhapsodies of a tribe member, and then to confirm what was already an unforgettable day, we dragged our beds outside and slept under the opulent glimmer of the stars. It is the towering mountains that speak louder than the hubbub of a city ever could.
Wadi Rum can be found in the South of Jordan. You can reach it by taxi or bus from either Petra or Aqaba.
Google map: bit.ly/cEaGfO
I also recommend organising the company on arrival, because you will be able to haggle on arrival for a cheaper price.
Ever since seeing the film 'Lawrence of Arabia' I wanted to visit Wadi Rum, one of the great locations of the film, and see for myself the towering sandstone towers rising from the desert sands. It didn't dissapoint and while I was there I enjoyed the legendary hospitality of the Bedouin.
In Aquaba stay at the Alcajar hotel.
Don't forget to drink mint tea on the beach as the sun sets over the Red Sea and snorkel over the reefs.
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