Wadi Rum Desert – What to do, see and Where to go?
Wadi Rum is a protected desert in Jordan, it has border with Saudi Arabia and is without a doubt one of the must see places in Jordan, nowadays competing with the most famous one – Petra. Most of the people who come to Wadi Rum relate the desert to Mars or another planet, because the landscapes are totally different from what our eyes are used to.
What to do in Wadi Rum
What to see in the desert
Tourists scams related to Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum entrance fee and Jordan pass
Volunteering in the desert
When to go to Wadi Rum
Safety in the desert
Getting there & away
What to do in Wadi Rum desert in Jordan?
There are no questions that you can do a lot of stuff in the desert. Some people come to spend one day here, while others stay a week or more and it is not enough for them. There are people who come to the desert every year, to relax after busy season of work or to skip cold winters back home. Check out what you can do in the desert during your stay:
If you are into extreme sports then you should try rock climbing in Wadi Rum. There are numerous trad & sport routes available in the desert. But the local bedouins are not really into climbing and they do not provide gear rentals and belaying services. You can hire them to drive you to the places for climbing, but cannot count on them for belaying or climbing with you. Bring your climbing equipment with you!
- Camel riding is also an option for adventure seekers. Many bedouins in Wadi Rum have their own camels. Some of them are for milk, while others are for tourism purposes. Speak with your guide about renting one of them and get into real bedouin lifestyle while crossing the desert with a camel.
Definitely spend a night in a traditional bedouin camp. If you decide to come to Wadi Rum, make sure you have available night and book your stay with one of the bedouin camps available in the desert. Do not stay in Rum village, there is not much things to see, so do not waste your time and go straight to the desert!
- Try traditional bedouin food called Zarb. It is a must try dish in the desert and it is cooked under the ground, covered with sand. Bedouin camps have special holes in the ground for cooking zarb. Usually it is chicked with various vegetables cooked for couple of hours.
- Hiking and climbing peaks is a popular thing to do in Wadi Rum. You can arrange a trip to the highest peak in Jordan – Jabal Umm ad Dami, also hike to the second highest peak in the desert called Jebel Rum is available. There are also different other hikes and summits in the desert for your pleasure.
Take a jeep tour in Wadi Rum. This is the most famous and popular options among tourists. Get into the back of old Toyota pickup car while your local bedouin guide is driving the it into the sandy desert. Decide what you want to see before going into the desert and arrange it with your guide before your trip.
What to see in the desert of Wadi Rum?
There are many nature monuments to see in Wadi Rum desert. Depends on your length of stay you can choose what you want to see and ask your bedouin guide to see if all of it would be available during your stay. Some things are quite far from the camps and you might need longer time, especially if you plan to do hiking and camel riding during your stay. If you need ideas for your Wadi Rum itinerary – here is what I saw in Wadi Rum:
Mushroom rock. One of the most interesting rock formations in the desert. While I was volunteering with one bedouin in the desert one of the girls on the guided tour asked if bedouins made this mushroom by themselves to attract more tourists. This rock is that impressive!
- One more interesting thing to see is red sand dune. In Wadi Rum you can find couple of red sand dunes, some of them are more busy with tourists while others stay empty. You can climb up the dune and sandboard or run down barefoot while enjoying the sand between your foot fingers.
- Lawrence house. The legend says that the famous Lawrence was staying in this house during the Arab Revolt. Usually the house is included to most of the daytrips in the desert. Nowadays it is a pile of rock bricks stacked near the rock wall. Also there is a shelter nearby where bedouins provide super sweet tea.
There are couple of rock bridges in the desert and you must visit at least one of them! Um Fruth rock bridge is probably the most famous one in Wadi Rum, it has shelter for bedouin tea and it is possible to easily climb up the bridge for a nice picture. There is also a little rock bridge which is a smaller version of Um Fruth and it is also easily accessible by jeep or camel. Jebel Burdah rock bridge is the hardest to get to as it is requires to climb up the mountain. But it might be the most impressive one!
- Lawrence spring usually is the first or the last thing your bedouin guide will show for you. It is the nearest sight to the entry of the desert. There is no waterfall or fresh water spring as one might expect, but on the top of the small hill you can see some green plants. The legend is that it was the main place where bedouins got their water from.
Don’t forget to check out Khazali canyon. This place is included in most of the tours around the desert and it is quite impressive. Khazali canyon is a narrow crack in the mountain of Jebel Khazali. There are water pools, different inscriptions on the walls. It is possible to climb up the canyon and do some scrambling or easy rock climbing at the end of the canyon.
Tourists scams and fake Wadi Rum tours
If you are planning to book a tour to Wadi Rum from Amman, Petra or other place in Jordan and the tour price seems very good – be careful! There are some companies which organise trips to Disi instead of real Wadi Rum. It is a nice area nearby Wadi Rum, but it is not the real thing where you had to go. Only local bedouins are allowed to organise tours in the desert and their prices are quite steep, but you are getting the real thing. So before booking a tour with your hostel or hotel make sure that they are bringing you to the real Wadi Rum.
Wadi Rum entrance fee & Jordan pass validity
To enter the village of Rum and desert tourists must pay 5JD entrance fee which is paid at the tourist office when entering Wadi Rum. Although if you are planning to visit Petra, some museums in Amman it is worth to buy Jordan pass before coming to Jordan. It is valid for Wadi Rum and you don’t need to pay the fee when entering with Jordan pass. If you are on a tight budget and you are coming to the desert by private taxi or bedouin driver it is very easy to avoid the fee – just ask them not to stop at the tourists office.
Volunteering in Wadi Rum camps and Rum village
Local bedouins usually speak english, but their writing skills usually are quite poor as they learned the language from listening and trying to speak. They usually need someone from other country to reply e-mails, whatsapp messages, airbnb requests and other stuff. For this easy work they are giving you accommodation and food, sometimes they might bring you to the tours with other tourists.
I was pretty lucky because I came to Rum village without any plan and local bedouin guide approached me with his suggestions. He asked me if I have plan in the desert and how long do I plan to stay here. When I said that I have no plan and I have no idea how long I am going to stay in the desert he invited me to his home and we had a chat. I was offered to help him with his website, reply some e-mails and help him in the camp for the bed, food and tours. While doing that I made a new local friend and had amazing time!
But not everyone is lucky as I was. Some guys I have met on the bus from Wadi Rum to Petra told me that they had to work a lot, local bedouins treated them almost as slaves, they got leftovers to eat and general experience was not so nice. So make sure where are you planning to volunteer before and agree on conditions which are suitable for both sides. You can check workaway or even airbnb for nice bedouins, who need volunteers to help them with their business.
When to go and weather in Wadi Rum
The desert itself is all year destination. When there is winter in Europe it is still pretty warm in the desert during daytime. As Wadi Rum desert is 950 meters above the sea level it gets pretty chilly during the night even in summer. During wintertime it is even possible to see frost in the night, so bring warm clothes if you plan to sleep in the desert camp. During day it is warm any time of the year, but summers might get super hot so don’t forget sunscreen.
Going to Wadi Rum desert alone
There are some people who did it, but it is definitely not recommended. You have to be careful and prepare a lot of water before entering as you will not have where to refill it. There are some people who do jogging in the desert from the village of Rum. If you want to really explore the desert and feel the atmosphere better take the guided tour with overnight stay in bedouin camp.
Getting there and away
Wadi Rum has good connections with most of the tourists places in Jordan. There is a daily bus from Wadi Musa, you should ask in your hostel or bus station for up to date information. Also it is possible to take bus from Aqaba. Hitchhiking from any city in Jordan should be also doable as many tourists are going to Wadi Rum. If you are saving time it is possible to hire private taxi to bring you to the village of Rum.
Enjoy your stay in Wadi Rum, plan your trip carefully and pay money for real tours, not the fake ones. Wadi Rum is amazing place and it is definitely worth to add it to your Jordan itinerary. If you have any questions feel free to comment.