Wadi Rum, Nature reserve is by far one of the greatest desert experiences I have ever had (Baring Jaisalmer, because Rajasthani for life *wink wink*). Described by Lawrence of Arabia as “Vast and echoing” Wadi Rum is an outstanding desert landscape. This remarkable landscape is a protected area, it covers over 700 sq. km. One can spend days and weeks exploring it.
Wadi Rum is home to the Bedouins, a tribe known for their hospitality, craftsmanship and sweet tea. A lot of them earn their living via tourism in this area. My experience with them has been exquisite. A Large part of the desert is covered by red sand dunes, canyons, mountains and white sand. The fauna includes Syrian Wolf, Nubian Ibex and striped Hyena.
Located towards the south of Jordan, it can be easily reached by Bus. I was travelling from North to South and decided to catch a bus from Wadi Musa to Wadi Rum. There is only one minibus that runs from Wadi Musa, at 6:00 AM and charges 7 JD per person and picks you up from your hostel itself. All you got to do is inform your host a day in advance. The journey is roughly 3:00 hour long (with the stop). Since it stops at a supermarket in between, you can have a quick bite there. It is a good idea to pack up some snacks since there are no stores whatsoever in Wadi Rum. Also note that Wadi Rum does not have any ATMs, withdraw cash well in advance.
Accommodation and Food:
There are many Bedouin campsites in Wadi Rum, you can either book one in advance or else get down at the visitor centre and meet some of the bedouins there. I would HIGHLY recommend Wadi Rum Sky, I had booked that and I was touched by the hospitality of Suleiman and Sallah. It’s priced at 10 JD for a single occupancy tent for a night. These camps are made out of goat hair.
Like mentioned before, Wadi Rum has no departmental stores. The campsite you stay in will have limited option of food items to buy from. If you wish to stack up on any food or drink item carry it with you. Having said that, nothing can beat the meals had at the campsite, the true Bedouin experience. The dinner cost me 10 JD at the campsite and was a good spread. They even made vegetarian dinner on request.
Camel tour: The traditional and eco-friendly way to explore this wonder. Camel treks start from 1 hour and can go on for a day Most popular treks are:
- Nabatean Temple (1 km, 0.5 hrs)
- Lawrence’s Spring (6 km, 2 hrs)
- Khazali Canyon (28 km, full day)
- Sunset Sites (22 km, overnight)
- Sand Dunes (25 km, 5 hrs)
- Burdah Rock Bridge (40 km, overnight)
- Aameleh Inscription (6 km, 1hr)
- Sunset Sites (8 km, 1.5 hrs)
- Sunrise (9 km, 1.5 hrs)
- Um Salab (14 km, 4 hrs)
- Burrah (25 km, 8 hrs)
- Burdah (40 km, overnight)
Put on a hat, loads of sunblock and enough water – it is quite an experience.
Horse Tour: Horseback tours are available if booked in advance. One must check at the visitor’s centre for more information on this.
Jeep Tour: The quickest and the easiest way to go around the Rum. Jeep tours can take about 8 hours at the most and can be customised as per your area of interest. These Jeeps are run by Bedouin Cooperative (in my case, Suleiman’s brother run the jeep for me). Prices are displayed at the visitor’s centre, they are definitely expensive but worth it. I took a 60 km long jeep ride, at the cost of 60 JD, which took me to the following places:
- Nabataean Temple
- Rum Village
- Lawrence’s Spring
- Khazali Canyon
- Little Bridge
- Rock Bridge
- Burdah Bridge
- Sunset Sites
An experience to remember:
I visited Wadi Rum during the time when not many tourists come to Jordan. There were a handful of them in Wadi rum and exactly 4 in the camp I was staying in. The jeep tour was led by my host and accompanied by a young boy named Abdullah. There were too many instances where Sallah would ask me to explore the canyon or the mountain range and wait for me. There was one such hike where he left me at the starting point with a slice of cake a juice and asked me to meet him on the other side. With all my luggage in his jeep. All I had was my passport, some cash, a phone with no network, the food he gave me and not a single soul in my sight. In that vastness, fear was the last thing that crossed my mind. By now I was so touched by the hospitality of Jordanians it did not even occur to me that something could go wrong.
After the 40 min long hike, I get to the other side. What do I see? 3 Jeeps parked, with nothing in sight but the desert. Sallah and Abdullah along with a few other Bedouins sitting on the ground. Upon coming near them Sallah exclaimed “Come on now, you must be hungry after the hike. I made lunch” – that was the most beautiful experience I had. We spent hours lunching together. The food was simple and wholesome – Pita, Hummus, Yogurt, Fool, Cucumber and loads and loads of tea. They made sure there is enough for me to eat. There was no end to the conversations and the tea kept refilling itself! Soon other travellers joined us, more stories were shared, more tea was brewed and more connections made. An experience to remember.
Another equally enchanting sight, one which drew me towards Jordan itself was witnessing the starry night sky. Something one can not do in the city. The sight, I can not explain in words and I know the below image does not do Justice either. Hence, I recommend visiting the place by yourself. It will be worth it.
Glimpse of Wadi Rum: