No visit to Jordan would be complete without seeing the vast and wondrous destination of Wadi Rum. I would defy anyone not to feel a sense of awe as soon as they enter this place. With pink sand dunes, towering rock formations and natural miracles all around you. It’s as if Wadi Rum has been painted with every vivid colour that nature could imagine. If you’re lucky enough to stay in Wadi Rum for just one night of your life, you’ll remember it forever.
As the sun rises, light dances around the land, showing unimaginable spectacles as far as the eye can see. When it’s time for sunset, a peace descends, so quiet that you could seemingly hear a pin drop from kilometres away. And as night falls, you become surrounded with a dark veil of sky, punctuated only by the bright twinkle of star light and the occasional shooting star. Throw in the warmth of Bedouin hospitality and the gentle flicker of a campfire, and you quite simply have a recipe for the escape of lifetime and uncoincidentally, for the best night’s sleep of your life.
- What is Wadi Rum?
- How to visit Wadi Rum?
- Where to stay in Wadi Rum
- Where to stay in Wadi Rum for the best stargazing
- Where to stay in Wadi Rum for the best sunrises
- Where to stay in Wadi Rum for the best sunsets
- Where to stay in Wadi Rum for the best facilities
- Tips for booking campsites in Wadi Rum
- What to do in Wadi Rum
- What to pack for Wadi Rum?
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What is Wadi Rum?
Wadi Rum is the largest Wadi in Jordan, situated to the South of the country. It is also referred to as the “valley of the moon”. A “wadi” is a valley or gulley, and there are many to be found across Jordan. Wadi Rum in particular has been formed as a valley within sandstone and granite rock. Famously, this is where the movie Lawrence of Arabia was filmed. Less-famously, a number of other movies have been shot here, including The Martian and Star Wars.
The area of Wadi Rum has a complex history, having been inhabited by many different cross sections of society over the years. Today, the area of Rum and the surrounding Wadi Village are the territory of one tribe. The Zalabieh Tribe are a group of Bedouin’s who have transformed Wadi Rum into a thriving eco-tourism hot spot with around 80 camps and tour companies. The tribe refer to each other as “family” and businesses in Rum are part of a co-operative. It is this family that make it possible for us to visit and stay in Wadi Rum.
Wadi Rum was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site only as recently as 2011, owing to the natural beauty and cultural significance of the area.
How to visit Wadi Rum?
The area of Wadi Rum is approximately 1 hour away from Aqaba to the East of the beachside resort. It also sits approximately 2 hours South of Petra. By car, it is relatively straightforward to visit Wadi Rum. However, cars cannot be brought into the “protected area” and must be left either here or here in the free car parking available.
If you are visiting to join a tour, then you will likely be collected in the car park near the visitor centre. If you are planning to stay overnight in Wadi Rum, then the camp you book with will likely collect you in the Wadi Rum village car park.
Public transport options are also available from either Aqaba or Petra – see here (Tourist Jordan Site) for more information.
If you plan to stay in Wadi Rum overnight, you will need to pay 5 JOD to enter the protected area or show a valid Jordan Pass. It is also good practise to register your stay with the Police Station next to the visitor’s centre. This is for security reasons.
Where to stay in Wadi Rum
With 80 camps to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which campsite is best for you. Whilst many of the camps appear similar, there can be big differences between the experience that you’ll have. We set out below our advice for where to stay in Wadi Rum to get the most from your trip.
Where to stay in Wadi Rum for the best stargazing
The star gazing opportunities in this area are plentiful. Enjoying the night sky has to be one of the best activities you can do in Wadi Rum. In truth, you can see stars from any of the camps. But there are some factors to consider if you want the best stargazing in Wadi Rum.
Firstly, avoid booking any of the camps that are close to Wadi Rum village. The further you get into the protected area, the better when it comes to star gazing. Although not significant, the slight light pollution from the village can be enough to lessen the star gazing experience.
Secondly, Jebel Khazali (mountain) can block some star gazing opportunities if you stay near to the centre of Wadi Rum.
Try Rum Stars Camp, which is deep into the desert well away from light pollution.
Or if you want to star gaze from your tent, then you could consider booking one of the more luxurious bubble tents. These offer views of the night sky whilst you lay horizontal in your tent!
Try Wadi Rum Bubble Luxotel for the ultimate in bubble tent luxury. Tents are complete with a hot tub so you can stay warm whilst you gaze into the night!
Where to stay in Wadi Rum for the best sunrises
The sunrise in Wadi Rum is unmissable. Many campsites in Wadi Rum will offer sunrise tours. But if you want to see it from your tent, or even the comfort of your bed, then read on!
With the sun rising in the East, the best places to view the sunrise are of course facing East. But you must ensure that the view is not blocked by mountains.
Three options with good reviews and epic sunrise views are:
Where to stay in Wadi Rum for the best sunsets
The sun sets in the West, therefore the best sites in which to view the sunset in Wadi Rum are those with views to the West that are not blocked by Jebel Khazali (the large rock formation in the middle) of Wadi Rum.
Therefore, if you want to see the best sunsets in Wadi Rum, we recommend staying to the Southwest of the area. Three good options for campsites in this location with high ratings (above 9.0) on Booking.com are:
Depending on the time of year, the sunset could be as early as 16:45. If you’re visiting in Winter, make sure you arrive in time!
Where to stay in Wadi Rum for the best facilities
Wadi Rum is a desert. The desert is not perhaps synonymous with luxuries and facilities. But there are a number of options if you’re looking for the best facilities in Wadi Rum. This may sound trite, but if you do want phone signal and WiFi in Wadi Rum, then it’s best not to head too far South. Most of the camps that sit behind Jebel Khazali are complete black spots for signal.
In our experience, the best facilities we found were in Wadi Rum Quite Village Camp. Although this camp is one of the closest to Wadi Rum Village, which may seem off putting at first, this means that it has some huge perks. Firstly, phone signal! Secondly, good Wi-Fi! Thirdly, consistently hot showers. Fourth, you can get there pretty quickly from the village. Finally, if you need anything from the village – it’s easy to get it!
Aside from that, we just loved this camp. Saleem, the owner, is a total gentleman and seems to know exactly what guests at the camp want from their stay. Everything runs like clockwork, but at the same time it feels relaxed. The rooms and communal areas are spotlessly clean, the divine tea is always on the stove and the evenings are filled with Bedouin magic and music around the firepit. Not only that, but the chef also seems to have a lightness of touch that means every single one of his dishes is incredible!
Tips for booking campsites in Wadi Rum
- Ensure that the camp you’re booking is inside the protected area – some camps are in Wadi Rum village and not in the protected area and therefore you will not get the same experience.
- Many camps in Wadi Rum are extremely cheap (sometimes only a few JOD per night) – be careful with booking these unless you are comfortable with a very basic tent and facilities. Often these tents are very close to one another too.
- Most camps will collect you from Wadi Rum village for free, but be aware that others will charge you for this ride if you don’t book a tour within Wadi Rum with them.
- Finally, look out for last minute deals. We noticed that many campsites in Wadi Rum run promotions if they have last minute space available – the discounts can be significant, so if you don’t have a specific camp in mind, it can be worth holding off on booking until a promotion runs.
What to do in Wadi Rum
There are four main activities in Wadi Rum to enjoy:
- Hiking in Wadi Rum: You can book an organised hike with tour operators or campsites, many offer the chance to climb Jabal Umm ad Dami (the highest mountain in Jordan), which sits south of Wadi Rum and overlooks Saudi Arabia. We were quoted between 35 JOD and 120 JOD (vastly different prices!), but the average was around 70 JOD per person to do this hike. There are also independent hikes that you can take in Wadi Rum – take heed of safety advice and guidance from your camp site hosts. Fresh from walking part of the Jordan Trail, we took a few independent hikes in the area and found this really enjoyable.
- Jeep Tours in Wadi Rum: Most camps will run 4 x 4 jeep tours. Full day tours will cost between 30 and 40 JOD, but can cost less depending on group size. Full day tours tend to include lunch and a day of visiting the main sites of Wadi Rum. Many camps also offer sun rise or sun set tours, depending on location (these should not really cost more than 20 JOD.)
- Camel Rides in Wadi Rum: Many camps will offer the chance to take a camel ride for an hour or two. Personally, we did not take up this option as we were not huge fans of how the camels were being kept (many chained up), although we completely understand this is normal within this industry, it is not something that we choose to support.
- Relaxing in Wadi Rum: Finally, don’t feel pressured into filling every minute of your time in Wadi Rum. You don’t have to book tours. Sit back, relax and enjoy your surroundings. Many tourists we met felt that relaxing with a book by the campfire was the highlight of their trip!
What to pack for Wadi Rum?
Once inside the protected area, it can be tricky to get out, especially if you choose a camp in the South of the valley. Therefore, make sure you take anything from your car that you need for your stay in Wadi Rum. Personally, we found it easier to leave the majority of our clothing in the car and just take out what we needed to move more easily into the camp.
We would recommend ensuring that you have the following during your stay in Wadi Rum campsites:
Snacks and Drinks: Most camps provide free bottled water, but it can be helpful to have a few spare bottles just in case. Soft drinks tend to be available in camps but can be expensive, so you could bring these with you too. Alcohol will not be available in camp, so if you want something stronger than tea, then we would recommend picking these up in Aqaba before you arrive to Wadi Rum (noting the duty-free restrictions when leaving Aqaba.) For more information on drinking alcohol in Jordan – check out our guide here.
Hiking and outdoor gear: The ground in Wadi Rum is quite uneven, so you will want some sturdy footwear such as trainers. If you plan to hike, go on a camel ride or take a jeep your then athletic clothing can be useful.
Layers of Clothing: What is the weather like in Wadi Rum? It can be hot and then very cold in one day! As you are out on a jeep tour or hike, you’ll need sun cream and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. But mornings and evenings can be cool as the sunrises and sets behind Jebel Khazali. We recommend packing layers, including jacket and warm trousers for the evening. And of course, women may want to take heed of general advice to dress modestly when visiting Jordan. You can find our guide on what women should wear in Jordan here.
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