Wadi Rum, the ‘valley of the moon’, is one of the most spectacular desert landscapes on earth. Around 60km northeast of the Red Sea and city of Aqaba, Wadi Rum’s natural beauty draws visitors from around the world who visit for jeep safaris, overnight Bedouin hospitality and experiences, as well as hiking, rock climbing, ATV, and hot air ballooning. Wadi Rum remains open desert with almost zero buildings, and its inhabitants are to this day the same Bedouin tribes who have lived here throughout history.
Introducing Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is the largest ‘wadi’, dry valley, in Jordan. It is a diverse desert area, with tough rocky outcrops of red rock and flat areas covered in sand or salt. Many civilizations have inhabited the area, however always sparsely due to its tough and inhabitable nature. Today only a handful of Bedouin tribes live in the area, mostly in the Rum Village, which is the only population center for the area. Wadi Rum rose to fame in the west following the movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘ which followed the story of TE Lawrence when he fighting in then Transjordan during the Second World War.
In recent years, Wadi Rum has become a popular filming location for movies looking for lunar, moon-like, landscapes. Notable recent movies filmed here include ‘The Martian’, and scenes from ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’.
Wadi Rum is a designated nature reserve and has an entrance fee required. There is also a Visitor Center at the entrance to the area.
Things to do in Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is a desert area, with little in the way of permanent construction or modern facilities. The area is incredibly popular with tourists, however. The main activities here are jeep safaris through the desert, like this Wadi Rum Jeep Safari Tour. Most jeep tours are around 2 hours and cover the highlights of the area although longer half-day, full-day, or multi-day tours are also available.
Many visitors opt to spend one of their overnights in Jordan in a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, to gain a local experience. There are tens of different camps in the area, some of which are quite makeshift with locals just setting up tents in the desert, whilst others are more Western-style resorts, with cabins as well as tents, en-suite rooms, swimming pools, dining facilities, and so on. We recommend this Bedouin Experience Tour.
Wadi Rum is also a major hiking area, with many trails through the desert drawing visitors. Rock climbing is also a draw to the region.
Wadi Rum also attracts more extreme nature lovers, who carry out long hikes through Wadi Rum, as well as those looking for desert thrills with ATV’s or desert buggies, hot air balloons. It is recommended to take a tour guide in Wadi Rum.
How to get to Wadi Rum
With public transport in Jordan a little tricky to navigate, most visitors to Wadi Rum arrive either by private taxi or private transfer or as part of an organized tour (private or with a group). Wadi Rum is around 45 minutes north of Aqaba, and 1 hour south of Petra. Anyone traveling by road from Aqaba to Petra will see a view of the Wadi Rum desert from the main highway, although continuing inside will provide for the most breathtaking views.