Your Complete Wadi Rum Guide, Jordan – Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting
The Wadi Rum Desert is one of Jordan’s most famous and exciting destinations and a real must-see for every travel-aficionado. Red sand, rock formations, jeep tours and more – any visit to Wadi Rum is a complete adventure! Scroll down to find my complete Wadi Rum guide which will tell you everything you need to know before visiting, from the best sights to accommodations and some trust-worthy tours that you can take.
By the way, Wadi Rum is HUGE. You can easily spend a couple of days just roaming around and you still won’t reach its end. Because of this, it’s extremely important to choose your itinerary wisely – or book the right tour for your needs. And that’s exactly why I’m here to help!
Let’s get started, shall we?
Quick facts about Wadi Rum, Jordan
300 square miles/720 km². Red sand dunes. Bizarre rocks. Wadi Rum Protected Area is not just beautiful and unique, it’s also RICH in history! This place has been inhabited ever since Prehistoric times; in fact, there are many traces of the prehistoric Nabatean society here such as ruins and weird inscriptions. Nowadays there are no less than 600 Bedouins living here.
If you know about Lawrence of Arabia (the ’62 film about T. E. Lawrence), then you’re surely familiar with Wadi Rum’s alien-like landscape. Speaking of which… did you know that this place is also called the “Valley of the Moon”? Yep, that’s because of its overall out-of-this-world look and odd rock formations.
And when I say that this is a desert – I really mean it! Other than sand dunes, there’s only one settlement here, called Wadi Rum Village, where you’ll find a visitor centre, some houses and some camps as well.
When to visit Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert can be visited all year round, although certain times of the year will make for a much more enjoyable visit. The temperatures here can be quite extreme, being very hot during the day and very cold during the evening. For that reason, the main factor when planning a trip is the temperature and Wadi Rum weather in general. Here are some useful guidelines:
Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September – November)
The temperatures start to get warmer in March, ranging between 15-20°C. During early March, the evenings can still be very cold, so be wary of that. Early September is the most popular time to visit, as the temperatures are still high but bearable (around 35°C max), and you’ll get a good amount of sunlight with relatively late sunrises to enjoy.
Summer (June – August) and Winter (December – February)
During summer, the temperatures can get up to 40°C on some days. Don’t worry too much though, as the tours usually adapt to the temperatures during the summer, but you’ll need to be somewhat resilient to heat! In winter, the temperatures can get to around 10°C during the day but be prepared for cold nights. The bonuses during low season are that there are a lot fewer tourists visiting Jordan in general, prices will be lower, you’ll have more accommodation options and you’ll have many sites to yourself.
How to visit Wadi Rum
In case you’re wondering how to visit this ah-mazing place, I have two words for you: organised tours. Period. Exploring Wadi Rum with local Bedouin guides is THE BEST way to go for an in-depth, hassle-free experience. A Jeep tour is the most common and efficient option. You can choose between a half-day, full-day or multi-day excursions. Most travellers doing day trips choose to depart from Aqaba or Wadi Musa. You can either book your tour on the spot at the visitor centre or book it in advance (my recommendation!). Tours start at 95 US$ per person for the half-day option.
Tours usually include hotel pick-up and drop-off, but you’ll need to talk to your accommodation the night before if you’d like them to prepare you a packed lunch. They’re usually very friendly and eager to do it!
Apart from jeep tours, you also have the option of booking a camel ride (slower but a special experience), hiking and rock climbing tours or even balloon rides. Scroll down a little bit more and you’ll find my recommended organised tours for each of these options!
TIP: I recommend doing your research into which landmarks in the Wadi Rum desert you would like to visit, as tours can be adapted to include the locations you’d like to see. Not sure what you want to visit? Scroll down to find my list of main sites and attractions.
Main sites and things to see
Wondering what to do in Wadi Rum in order not to miss anything important? Below are some of the incredible landmarks that I visited (and you should consider visiting too) during my trip to the Wadi Rum Protected Area:
BURDAH ROCK BRIDGE
There are plenty of rock bridges around the desert, but the Burdah Rock Bridge is definitely the most beautiful and striking one – and the biggest as well! It’s 80m high and it will take you a bit of energy and attention to climb up to it. But it’s definitely worth it!
UM FRUTH ROCK BRIDGE
Yes, another one! This one’s not as high as Burdah, as it only has 15 meters in height, but it’s still picture-perfect!
SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM
I think you can already see that there are many T. E. Lawrence around here! This is both the name of this author’s famous book and an impressive rock formation because of its shape – it looks like little crowded towers. If you ask me, this is one of the most iconic sights around and I’m sure you’ve seen it in many pictures before!
This one’s pretty self-explanatory – it’s a unique rock that looks exactly like a mushroom! Tourists usually flock around it to take funny pictures, so it has become quite a popular landmark around the area.
Yep, another T. E. Lawrence reference, my friends! This rock structure got its name because it is said that the author slept in this exact spot during his adventure in Wadi Rum. But the local Bedouin people call it something along the lines of “Small Palace”.
KHAZALI SIQ / KHAZALI CANYON
This is an easy-to-access, narrow canyon that you can explore by walking for the first 100m. While you’re there, admire the Nabatean, Thamudic and Islamic inscriptions and petroglyphs on the inner walls!
I know I mentioned it before, but I have to say it again: you’ll find an incredible collection of inscriptions and petroglyphs at Wadi Rum, on the sides of the mountains! Historians think that these inscriptions had religious significance, but they’re still a mystery. What’s sure is that they definitely reveal a bit about this area’s history and culture.
EXTRA THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO ADD TO YOUR LIST
- Barrah Canyon – a long canyon expanding over 5km;
- Lawrence Spring – named after T. E. Lawrence, known as “Lawrence of Arabia”;
- Nabataean Temple – an interesting sight, said to be dedicated to Allat goddess. It was once a big, colourful temple, but the place is made of ruins nowadays. Still, a very charming sight;
- Um Sabatah – a nice hilltop where you can admire the sunset and the entire desert.
Best tours of Wadi Rum with a professional guide
Choosing a good Wadi Rum Desert tour that will cover all your needs and preferences is a crucial part of your vacation. It’s basically your entire vacation!
I know I promised to offer you my hand-picked recommendations for trust-worthy tours, so here they are:
MULTI-DAY AND COMBO EXCURSIONS
Most of the longer Wadi Rum tours include a combo of Jordan highlights and destinations such as Petra and the Dead Sea as well. Here are the best ones I could find:
- From Eilat: 2-Day Petra & Wadi Rum tour with Camp Stay
- From Amman: 2-Day Petra, Wadi Rum & Dead Sea
- From Amman: 3-Day Petra, Wadi Rum, Dana, Aqaba & Dead Sea – my top pick!
- From Amman Airport: Jordan 4-Day Private Tour: Mt Nebo, Kerak, Petra, Wadi Rum, Baptism Site & Amman
Where to stay in Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum has a lot of accommodation options for different budgets, but the most popular are the bubble camps by far; these have started to pop up all over the desert. This out-of-this-world style of accommodation, also known as luxury glamping, comes at a higher price and is a bit of a novelty, but it’s such a unique experience to stay in a blow-up bubble with a transparent roof where you can enjoy the night sky full of stars! There are also authentic Bedouin tents to choose from, which tend to be more basic but provide a more authentic Jordanian experience.
I’d recommend you book at least one night in a camp in Wadi Rum, as one day exploring the desert is not enough. Also, trust me when I say that an overnight stay is an experience by itself. Sipping mint tea while the sun goes down on the desert horizon and spending a cosy evening under a starry sky… how can you miss that?!
Here are my recommended camps:
LUXURY. Wadi Rum Bubble Luxotel
MID-RANGE. Memories Aicha Luxury Camp
BUDGET. Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp
As for the traditional Bedouin-style tents, you have various options here as well. Usually, the tents are clean, but most of them have a shared bathroom and a communal area with a lounge, a dining area and a kitchen. But no worries, one way of enjoying the Bedouin culture is to stay in this type of accommodation and appreciate their hospitality! Here’s an excellent option: WADI RUM-Bedouin Tents.
Looking for an old school style of accommodation? Unfortunately, there are no classic Wadi Rum hotels. Instead, you should spend your night a bit further away from Wadi Rum, in the town of Aqaba, for example, which is 77km away. You’ll find different types of accommodations there, including 5-star resorts.
Here are my hand-picked recommendations for Aqaba:
LUXURY. Kempinski Hotel Aqaba
MID-RANGE. Lacosta Hotel
BUDGET. Hotel Prestige
TIP: If you find yourself with no accommodation once in Wadi Rum Village, it is possible to be hosted by a local family. You just need to go to the Government Rest House.
How to get to Wadi Rum
AMMAN TO WADI RUM: If you’re arriving at Amman Airport (you most likely will), know that most tours include transportation from the airport or from your hotel. If you want to spend some time exploring Amman or you have a different itinerary planned, you can arrange for private transport to Wadi Rum. This 1-way option is an excellent choice I can recommend. It has the same price as the local taxi for the same route. The ride is 4 hours. Alternatively, for those taking care of their budget, you can take the bus – it’s way cheaper (around 30 US$) but it will take you an entire day to get there.
AQABA TO WADI RUM: If you’re in Aqaba, you can take a taxi to Wadi Rum for around 40 US$ one-way or 70 US$ roundtrip. Taking the bus is again a possibility, but I don’t really advise it as they don’t have a fixed schedule (especially if you’re visiting during low season), so you’ll have to first go and ask about the bus in the early morning.
BONUS: My top tips for visiting Wadi Rum
I simply can’t let you go without a couple more useful tips to keep in mind before starting all the planning and daydreaming about this wonderful destination. I tried to keep it short and sweet:
STAY THE NIGHT IF YOU CAN. OR EVEN TWO NIGHTS. TRUST ME!
If you want to truly experience this unique place, the best idea would be to book a 3-days tour with 2 nights sleeping there. A short 4-hour tour should be last on your list of possibilities and I only recommend it if you have a very, very short timeframe on your hands. Otherwise, go big or you WILL regret it when you go home. Plus, spending the night in the desert under the stars in a bedouin camp will surely make for an unforgettable experience!
BOOK YOUR JEEP TOUR IN ADVANCE.
Unless you want to book a half-day or one-day tour - those can be booked on the spot when you arrive at Wadi Rum visitor centre. For all the other options (2, 3, 4 days), I recommend booking in advance.
MAKE SURE YOU CATCH THE WADI RUM SUNSET.
It’s unforgettable - and this is 100% not an overstatement.
NO, I DON’T RECOMMEND A SELF-DRIVE TOUR.
In fact, they recommend strongly against using your own car beyond the visitor centre.
WEAR COMFY SHOES AND CLOTHES.
You’ll be out and about, exploring the desert during most of your time here, so the last thing you want to be is uncomfortable. And don’t forget to pack some hoodies and pants as well in case you’re visiting during spring or autumn.
DON’T FORGET YOUR SUNSCREEN.
You’ll be in the desert, after all! Make sure you apply plenty of sunscreen lotion and drink lots of water during the day. And you may want to bring some bug spray as well, just in case!
TAKE YOUR PHOTOS IN THE EARLY MORNING OR PRE-SUNSET.
These are the times when the desert will show its true colours.
That’s it! Now you know everything there is to know about visiting Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan! I absolutely adored every second I spent there, with tons of photo opportunities all around, so I decided to share some of my knowledge with you about the unmissable sights, recommended tours, where to stay and how to get there.
Wadi Rum is a gem of the Middle East and people from all over the world come to explore it each and every year. Regardless if you’re opting for a jeep tour or a camel ride, if you’re sleeping in Bedouin camps or in a luxury tent, I’m sure you will absolutely love your time in Wadi Rum!
If you want to dive deep and read more about this part of the world, here’s where you will find all my articles about Jordan. Enjoy!