What to do in Wadi Rum, Jordan

This article is part of my trip report 'Westward bound'. The trip report index will appear below once all posts have been published.

Wadi Rum is a the desert showcase of Jordan and has been the backdrop for several movies. Several scenes for Lawrence of Arabia were taken here.

Wadi Rum is not yet on everybody's agenda so no crowds at all and it's less than 2 hours drive from Petra and Eilat/Aqaba making it a great getaway trip if you are in the area.

Wadi Rum is only accessible by 4WD so you will need to park you car outside and hire a 'guide'. Now these people are nice and friendly but they want $100 for a 4 hour 'tour' in a decrepit 4WD. We tried to get a guide with good English but we maxed out on 'Mohammed' with 30 words or so.

Wadi Rum itself is basically a very wide canyon with steep canyon walls. It's made of red sandstone giving away a fantastic red color at sunset or sunrise. I only saw it during midday sun but I can imagine how much nicer it looks once the sunlight changes colors.

Your 'guide' will drive you around and drop you off at numerous places – a hill to climb rocks, sand dunes, a tight canyon and historic inscriptions. It's very interesting but he won't be able to tell you much about it.

I usually use the AroundMe iPhone app which pulls up Wikipedia entries of the nearby area but no cell phone reception for me in the canyon this time. So I did have to research more of what I saw afterwards.

Nevertheless the sheer open space and quietness of the place is awesome. Very few people make it to the park and the ones that do seem to be in serious exploration mode.

It reminded me a bit of Death Valley though the distances are much smaller and the sights are more fascinating in Wadi Rum.

If you have more than a day at Petra or Aqaba – make sure you include a trip to Wadi Rum. It will show you desert life in a wonderful (seemingly unspoilt) natural park.

Annoyances:

Steep fees for the mandatory tour (but entrance fee is just $7/person). The Bedouin village is pretty decrepit but supplies the area with fuel and food.

How to get there:

Drive your rental car from Aqaba or take a twice daily bus from the city to Wadi Rum. Aqaba is just meters away from Eilat, Israel but the border crossing takes one hour or more.