Why you need to visit Wadi Rum, Jordan (2023)

Everything you need to know about Wadi Rum, aka Mars on Earth, Jordan!

Skip ahead to the sections that are relevant to you:

About Wadi Rum

The Bedouins of Wadi Rum

How long do you need in Wadi Rum?

Things to do in Wadi Rum

Is Camel Riding ethical in Wadi Rum?

Where to stay in Wadi Rum

Is Wadi Rum safe?

What to wear in Wadi Rum

The Weather in Wadi Rum

About Wadi Rum

If you're in Jordan, you must stop by Wadi Rum a UNESCO world heritage site. Take one step into this desert and you'll understand why it's called Mars on Earth, and you can see why it was the chosen site for the filming of the movie The Martian. Stay in Bedouin camps for an authentic experience.

This is located in the deep south of Jordan on the border of Saudi Arabia. It has some incredible landscapes, mountains that jut impressively out of the sand with vast desert spaces in between, and let's not forget the ancient carvings to be found down lush red canyons.

The Bedouins of Wadi Rum

The Bedouins are nomadic Arabic tribes that live in the desert. They come across as very gentle, very relaxed people, and I feel the same amount of calm as I do in a yoga class. They know everything about the desert, and I mean everything. I asked Abdullah, our guide, whether he would ever get lost out here and he just laughed softly and shook his head. I asked him how he always knows where he is? He tells me he knows every jutting rock of the landscape, and I test him, being the immature person that I am, by pointing at random mountains and asking what they're called. He can name every. single. rock. on our journey home. Abdullah is a 22 year old, who seems a little shy but is kind and smiles a lot. 22 seems young, but he's been driving in the desert since he was 12. It's normal for 11 and 12 year olds to start driving jeeps in the desert out of necessity; they need to help their parents round up camels and grab supplies.

I can imagine a lot of people loving the Arabic guides, I've definitely seen lots of TikTok videos of women swooning in the comment section and it's not hard to see why. This amuses me as the comment section and the real life Bedouins seem in stark contrast to each other.

How long do you need in Wadi Rum?

We stayed for 4 days, but I think you need a max of 2-3, depending on what tours you choose to do. Most tours will give you a 2-3 day itinerary.

Things to do in Wadi Rum

Jeep tours are the most popular way to explore Wadi Rum; it's quite fun sitting in the back of the jeep watching the world go by, but you will be expected to climb in and out of the back. I have the build of a lanky spider so I had no problem with this but I do wonder how my shorter friends would fare with this as they don't open the back door. Our guide took us through the most iconic sites in the desert, such as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Khazali Canyon, and Um Frouth Rock Bridge. You can book a jeep tour with a local guide or a tour company, and you can choose a half day or full day tour, or even a 2-3 day tour. We did a 2 day tour.

  1. Canyon hiking - Hiking through deep red canyons is a must in Wadi Rum, there are plenty of them. The most popular canyon to hike through is the Siq Um Tawaqi, which has twisting passages, and beautiful colouring.

  2. Visit the Lawrence of Arabia House - The famous British soldier and writer T.E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, was stationed in Wadi Rum during the Arab Revolt of 1916. You can visit the house where he lived during his time in the desert, which is now just a crumbling ruin, but you can climb up part of the mountain to see hundreds of stacks of rocks, a nice memento to the location.

  3. Camel Riding - generally, I am super wary of animals used in tourism. My concern is that animals are exploited and treated badly. However, looking at the way the Bedouins treat their camels, I felt super comfortable. The camels roamed free around the desert a lot of the time, and make up an important part of the desert lifestyle. Income from tourism helps maintain and feed the animals, as well as supplement the local people's way of life. The camels I encountered looked well cared for and healthy. Camel riding is quite simply, fun! Although I did spend half the time wondering if I might get spit on.

  4. See Ancient Carvings - over 25,000 petroglyphs (rock carvings) have been round in Wadi Rum and our guide showed us a few. We saw ancient carvings of old texts, hunting and pictures of animals.

  5. Famous shaped rocks - there are loads of famously shaped rocks that for some reason had me laughing all the time. Mushroom rock. Camel's Eye. Cow or chicken rock (questionable).

  6. Climb Stone Arches - we were taken to at least 3 stone arches, the most famous arch to climb is Burdah Rock Bridge, which is 35 meters tall. I didn't climb this one as I had come down with full flu by the end of the day and was about to die but Mike climbed the arch successfully.

Where to stay in Wadi Rum

There are only 13 fully permitted and licensed camps in Wadi Rum and you must stay in a Bedouin camp for an authentic experience!

Each 'camp' will run their own tours, find a list of all hotels/camps here. There are luxury camps to stay in as well, but I really wanted to get in the thick of what it's like to stay out in the desert.

Whilst I use the word 'camp', I want to make it clear you aren't lying on the sand at night. We had our own personal building made of brick, with private bathrooms and A/C units.

We stayed in 2 different camps in Wadi Rum for 2 nights each.

Rum Stars Camp, voted Best Camp in Wadi Rum by Lonely Planet

Good enough for me. It is run by 5 brothers who can trace their family back for 17 generations. Our guide Abdullah is a 22 year old, who seems a little quiet but is kind and smiles a lot. The Rum stars camp made us feel very welcome by the fire, serving us tea also cooked traditional Bedouin food that had been cooked for several hours under the sand. The food was delicious.

You can choose a half day, full day, 2 or 3 day tour with Rum Stars. We did the Jebel Al Hash 2 day, 2 night tour. It was great.

Camp 2:

This is a cheaper option, with board starting from £35 per night, with the option of adding on additional tours. But bear in mind, you're in the middle of the desert with very limited WiFi and not much else to do, but the tours.

Is Wadi Rum Safe?

I found Wadi Rum to be one of the most relaxing places in Jordan. I felt super comfortable in the presence of the local Bedouin people. The Bedouins are known for their hospitality and kindness towards visitors.

They are always willing to share their culture and way of life with visitors, and make sure that they feel at home in the desert.

What to wear in Wadi Rum, Jordan

Remember the desert gets hot, but at night the temperature can drop significantly:

  1. Loose and comfortable clothing - trust me, you want some breathable fabrics like cotton or linen.

  2. Trainers and sandals - Trainers (or hiking shoes) are best for climbing up the mountains and rock formations, and sandals can be worn around the campsite.

  3. Layers for Cooler Nights - don't forget that after sunset, the temperature drops! Bring a few layers of clothing to keep you warm during the cooler evenings.Wear clothing that covers your shoulders and chest and thighs - don't forget that although Jordan is liberal, it is a conservative country.

  4. Sun Protection - take a hat, sunglasses, and apply sun cream regularly. The sun can be quite intense, and it's easy to get sunburned quickly.

The Weather in Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum is hot and dry and the weather varies with the season. Temperatures can range from very hot during the summer to chilly in the winter. Here is an overview of the weather in Wadi Rum throughout the year:

  1. Summer (June to August): Expect extremely hot temperatures with average highs of 40°C (104°F) during the day and average lows of 22°C (72°F) at night. The heat can be intense, so it's important to take precautions and stay hydrated.

  2. Autumn (September to November): Autumn is a pleasant time to visit Wadi Rum, with temperatures ranging from 27°C (81°F) during the day to 12°C (54°F) at night. The weather is generally dry and sunny during this time, making it a good time to explore the desert.

  3. Winter (December to February): Winters in Wadi Rum are generally cool and dry, with temperatures ranging from 15°C (59°F) during the day to 3°C (37°F) at night. We went in January and the temperature during the day was around 20-25 degrees. It got super chilly at night though so don't forget a jumper!

  4. Spring (March to May): Spring temperatures range from 24°C (75°F) during the day to 10°C (50°F) at night. The weather is generally mild and sunny, making it a good time of year to go hiking.

That's it! Read my in depth guides on other locations in Jordan, including The Dead Sea, Petra and Amman and a 1 and 2 week itinerary.

Wadi Rum, Jeep Tours, Hiking, Canyons, Lawrence of Arabia House, Camel Riding, Ancient Carvings, Mushroom Rock, Stone Arches.

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