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Wadi Rum, Jordan

Destinations - Asia - Jordan - Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum - For me the most memorable part of my Jordan adventure

Many people have said to me - But surely Petra was your favourite part of the trip? When I think about it, it wasn't! Don't get me wrong, Petra was outstanding and exceeded my expectations, but personally, Wadi Rum was just something totally different and an amazing experience.

Wadi Rum (Also known as the valley of the moon), is a valley in southern Jordan, just 37 miles east of Aqaba. The land has been inhabited since prehistoric times and this continued inhabitation can be seen through the various petroglyphs that have been carved into the rocks. It has become an important area of tourism for the Bedouins who offer various activities such as rock climbing, jeep rides and overnight desert camping.

During my time in Jordan we spent an unforgettable night in Wadi Rum, Rode Camels, had a jeep ride, slept under the stars, hiked through the desert at night and much more - I would highly recommend a visit to this magical place if you are staying in Jordan.

An exhilarating keep ride through the desert

One of the optional extras available on our tour was a Jeep ride through the Wadi Rum desert – Unsurprisingly, all of our group opted to take this, and for 17 JD it was understandable why. The pickup point was the desert camp we had lunch at – I must admit it was quite difficult to drag myself away from the comfortable seats and sunshine, however the thought of racing through the desert in an open-top pickup truck proved more alluring.

The golden Wadi Rum Desert

The vehicles were 4x4 Pickup trucks with open top rear compartments so the "jeep" part was not strictly true. The ride lasted over 3 hours and we had several stop offs at various points in the desert including a rock formation with ancient Nabatean script on, a beautiful rock arch, and a small Bedouin camp. I found the ride to be totally exhilarating and immersive – It was really something else whizzing across the hot sand with the wind blowing through my hair, while marvelling at the stunning landscape before me. The ride was bumpy, it felt a little unsafe at times, and I got to see some really memorable sights.

Stopping for a break to get some photos

A sunrise Camel Ride (My first time riding any kind of animal!)

I was quite apprehensive about the Camel Ride as I have never rode any kind of animal before – It was a totally new experience for me and I was unsure what to expect. That being said, I had such an amazing time and I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had, and how comfortable I felt. The camel ride was 15 JD and was taken with some local Bedouins – The camels looked healthy and well cared for and the Bedouins were friendly, gentle and appeared to enjoy their work.

I was quite nervous when it was my turn to mount the camel, but it was quite easy – I just popped a leg over and sat on the saddle and the friendly chap stood up of his own accord. Once we were all mounted, the Bedouins led the camels through the desert – I imagined what it would have been like for the trade caravans in ancient times, and how useful these animals would have been. We progressed at a steady pace, and I found the rocking motion of the camel to be quite relaxing – At no point did I feel unsafe or that I would fall off.

Again as with the jeep ride, the scenery was stunning – We set out around 5:30am and the sun was still quite low, so the light and shadows cast on the rocks and sand were delightful. After an hour or so of riding, our jeeps picked us up – The dismount was quite fun, the camel rocked forward onto its front legs, then rocked back again to lower its back legs, and finally came to a rest in the middle – Just make sure you lean away from the direction it's lowering and you will be fine!

A truly memorable night hike

After we had our evening meal at the Bedouin camp we embarked upon a night hike through the desert. The temperature had dropped significantly – I wore long shorts, a t-shirt, a shirt and a hoody and also borrowed one of the girls scarf. If you are going to Jordan I would advise packing a mix of clothes for both cooler and warmer climates. The hike was so much fun, and I would recommend it to anyone if you get the chance. It was pitch black and the stars were lit up so bright and clear, the only lights were from our flashlights. We walked for quite some time, and collected firewood on the way – This was quite a challenge as we had to collect only dead or nearly dead wood.

Campfire in the Wadi Rum desert

We stopped at a rocky outcrop and our guide Ayman made a beautiful fire with the wood we had collected and then toasted some Marshmallows for us. It was just perfect – Sitting under the stars around the warmth and glow of the fire and just getting lost in my thoughts. I did take some time photographing the fire and was really pleased with the results. After an hour or so at the campfire we headed back at a leisurely pace. It really was a special night, and one I will never forget.

The Bedouin desert camp

After our jeep ride we were dropped off at the permanent Bedouin camp where we would be staying the night. The camp was nestled in a corner and sheltered from the winds by a large rock formation - It looked perfect. It consisted of a sheltered eating area, two rows of tents and porta-cabin washroom facilities. After choosing our tents and dropping our bags off we settled in the eating area for a traditional Bedouin style lunch - roasted vegetables, lamb, chicken, flat breads, rice; it was delicious. The cooked food was all done in the traditional way - in an underground oven covered by sand.

Sitting round the campfire exchanging stories

When we had finished lunch, we sat round the campfire as a group and just talked about our experiences and shared stories - It was really peaceful and relaxing. I loved just gazing into the fire and getting lost in my thoughts. After returning from our night hike, we settled down for the night in our tents. I had formed a good friendship with several of the younger people in the group and we decided to pull our beds out of the tents and sleep around the campfire under the stars. It was simply fantastic! If you want to do this, I would advise putting on plenty of layers to sleep in - I initially went to sleep in shorts and a vest and was extremely cold, so I went to my bag and got another t-shirt and a hoody and was much more comfortable.

Wadi Rum train station

This was a pleasant and unexpected stop during our outbound journey from Wadi Rum. The railway that runs through Wadi Rum is seldom used anymore and parts of the line were damaged after the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist in Jordan in 1918. I believe the railway was part of the Hejaz line that was intended to run from Damascus to Medina. The Wadi Rum train station remains as a relic from that era and the abandoned rail carriages still carry the Turkish flag. It was really interesting to see the station and the trains and take some photographs – Definitely worth the stop.

Railway track at Wadi Rum train station
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I heart this place because

For me this was the best part of my trip to Jordan; it was just so different from what I have experienced before and really memorable. The landscape itself is so beautiful and colourful and the activities you can do in Wadi Rum are really varied and fun. From night hikes to camel rides and drinking tea with Bedouin's there is something for everyone in this captivating place.

Dont miss out on

This was hard to choose, there were many things I wouldn't have wanted to have missed. However the one thing that really stood out was sleeping under the stars in the desert camp – A group of us pulled our beds out of the tents and put them around the camp fire. There was no light pollution so the stars were easy to see and I just felt so peaceful and relaxed. It was such a memorable experience.

Information and resources for Wadi Rum - links will open in a new page

Wadi Rum Wikipedia

General information about the Wadi Rum Desert and its history - Link

Al-Zawaideh Desert Camp

Reviews on one of the Desert Camps - Link

Photos taken using a Canon EOS-M with 18-55mm EF

I found that I was quite reserved when using my camera in Jordan on the whole – I was much more concerned with enjoying the sights and getting fully involved in whatever I was doing. That being said, Wadi Rum was quite straightforward to photograph – The sun was out and the sky had a nice dash of cloud. The most challenging photos were at night – I took my Gorillapod and it was so useful to take photos of the camp fire.

Chilling in the VIP section of the desert camp Rock formations in the Wadi Rum desert Rare plant life in the desert Beautiful natural arch formation Surveying the landscape Beautiful sunset across the Wadi Rum Desert Insignia on the rail carts at Wadi Rum Station Patterns in the golden sand Racing through the desert in Jeeps! Traditional horse hair Bedouin instrument Natural arch formation Sun setting on the rocks in Wadi Rum Campfire at our Bedouin desert camp Sunrise Camel ride through Wadi Rum Sunrise Camel ride through Wadi Rum Sunrise Camel ride through Wadi Rum Abandoned railway cart at Wadi Rum station
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