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All you need to Know about Wadi Rum in Jordan; Bedouins, camps and Tours

 Wadi Rum in Jordan is one of the most unique and interesting areas to sea on earth - not only in Jordan, and it is uniqueness comes from the fact that it is not just a plain desert with sand dunes as many may think, but because of the amazing formation of the high mountains that  are located in the desert,

not only high, but the variety of these mountains formation and structure as well , where all the lower layers of the mountains are igneous like Granite and basalt, and this layer can be up to 50 -100 meters up from the surface level , and the upper layers are 500 million years old sedimentary  rocks , which means they were formed even before earth start coming up from under the water and gleasures, even before Pangea comes out … Not only the high and variety of mountains on the desert, but the quietness and calmness that you would feel there is unbelievable and it would give you the feeling as if you were taken to another planet - I felt this myself and many of my travelers told me the same on different occasions, You Won’t believe that the desert can be so beautiful till you see Wadi Rum.


Why Wadi Rum is Unique 

 Wadi Rum  also known as The Valley of the Moon, is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan 60 km (37 mi) to the east of Aqaba ; it is the largest wadi  in Jordan. The name Rum most likely comes from an Aramaic root meaning high or elevated . Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, with many cultures–including the Nabateans–leaving their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples. Wadi Rum is everything you’d expect of a quintessential desert: it is extreme in summer heat and winter cold; it is violent and moody as the sun slices through chiselled siqs (canyons) at dawn or melts the division between rock and sand at dusk; it is exacting on the Bedouin who live in it and vengeful on those who ignore its dangers. For most visitors, on half- or full-day trips from Aqaba or Petra, Wadi Rum offers one of the easiest and safest glimpses of the desert in the region. For the lucky few who can afford a day or two in their itinerary to sleep over at one of the desert camps, it can be an unforgettable way of stripping the soul back to basics.

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Wadi Rum Protected Area Boundaries

  The 74,000-hectare property, inscribed as a mixed natural and cultural site, is situated in southern Jordan, near the border with Saudi Arabia. It features a varied desert landscape consisting of a range of narrow gorges, natural arches, towering cliffs, ramps, massive landslides and caverns. Petroglyphs, inscriptions and archaeological remains in the site testify to 12,000 years of human occupation and interaction with the natural environment. The combination of 25,000 rock carvings with 20,000 inscriptions trace the evolution of human thought and the early development of the alphabet. The site illustrates the evolution of pastoral, agricultural and urban activity in the region.


What is the difference Wadi Rum Protected area and the None-Protected area 

  The Protected area in Rum receive protection because of its mountains and broad sandy wadis which they are home to several Bedouin tribes and a surprising range of desert wildlife. This wildlife now includes a herd of Arabian Oryx, reintroduced by RSCN in 2002, Wadi Rum area however, is more than just the protected area which is twice as large compared to the protected area . You would be able to access the protected area after paying the entry fees and passing the visitors center while you are driving toward Rum Village , or you could park your vehicle at Wadi Rum Visitors Center parking area too. If you did not cross the visitors center , then you would be properly taken out of the protected area, it is still Wadi Rum too , but the magnificent scenery and the core is in the protected area. One important fact to keep in mind is that if you were spending the night out of the protected area then you will mostly do the Jeep tour or other activities out of the protected area even if you tried to (areas are divided between trips / clans and they have an agreement not to cross or interfere the work on other trips areas ) .

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Who are the Bedouins 

 The Bedouins are the local people of Wadi Rum. Most of the locals will be happy to be your guides at Wadi Rum, they will help you and explain for you everything you want, especially when you ride the Jeep. They belong to seven tribal groups, of which the three largest are the Zalabia tribe who make up the majority of people living in Rum Village (see Rum map); as Rum village is the only village inside the protected area; the Zalabia tribe is largely responsible for tourism services and operate many of the jeep and camel tours. These services are organized through the Rum Tourism Cooperative, a locally run society that shares the tourism business between the villagers.

 The other prominent tribal group is the Zweideh tribe, based in the villages of Disi on the northern edge of the protected area. They also run tourism services, including campsites and vehicle tours. Zweideh are not entirely dependent on tourism for their livelihood, having access to a large underground water source that enables them to practice profitable agriculture

 Other tribes are Sweilhieen, Omran, Godman and Dbour tribes. They live in different villages depending mainly on livestock raising and partially on tourism.

 Even though most local Bedouin have become villagers, they still maintain goat herds for milk, meat and ‘jameed’, a type of yoghurt. For parts of the year, some families or family members return to a wandering existence with their flocks. Few, however, are able to continue a truly nomadic existence today and the traditional Bedouin lifestyle is fast disappearing.

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Type of Camps at Wadi Rum

Classic Style Bedouin Camps

 You can spend the night in Rum reserve in a privately owned Bedouin style camp - Authentic experience compared to the luxury camps, the camp contains Bedouin style tents with beds and enough blankets , Shared Restrooms - One for men and one for ladies  with showers as well. NO AC “Air Conditioning” at the camp - so tents are NOT heated and this is not a 5 stars camp.  This is calm / quiet and basic style tourist camp operated by a Bedoiun family  in a good location inside Rum reserve.

 Luxury Camps 

 These camps are more luxurious one with AC and private toilets and will cost you more than the classical one. If you want to experience the real meaning of sleeping under the stars you can also book one the Full of Stars or the Bubble Tent (High demands during the season and sometimes you need to book half a year in advance ) - Night Luxury Camp and Memories Aicha camp are the only two luxury camps inside Rum Reserve , while tens of other camps which are located outside of the reserve of Wadi Rum like Bait Ali , Sun City and others . 


Activities That you can do at Wadi Rum

 Jeep Tour at Wadi Rum - The minimum recommended time is 2 hours, and it can be for full two or three days with canyoyin.

 Sunset / Sunrise tours at Wadi Rum will cost 25 JD for the car that can take up to 6 persons (Sometimes of the year this is not necessary and it can be done at the camp itself - but sometimes of the year it becomes far away to observe and it needs transportation.

  •  Camel ride at Rum - can vary from half an hour to full day tour on the valley (What you would cover in 2 hours Jeep tour will require almost a full day riding camels).

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Some recommended hiking trails at Wadi Rum 

 There are many wonderful places to explore on foot, and you can walk to several of the main sights. Always register your route at the visitor centre before embarking:

 Makharas Canyon Hike

 Jebel Rum Round Trip

 Jebel Umm Ad Dami Ascent - A walking trail climbs up to 600 meters from the mountain base which requires around 2 hours going up and down. 


Best time of the Year to visit Wadi Rum


It will be better for you to avoid visiting Rum in summer days because the temperature is so high in the desert. In summer daytime temperature in Wadi Rum is 30 degrees Celsius on average. With peak temperatures that can rise to well over 40 degrees Celsius. The average night temperature is around 10 degrees less than the daytime temperature. And winters are much colder. The average daytime temperature is between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius. During the coldest nights of the year, the temperature can drop below zero. Otherwise, the temperature is just above zero. So the best time to visit is from March to May and September to November. March, April, September, and October are the most popular and busy months. 

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Famous Movies were filmed in Wadi Rum

 Since Wadi Rum is a fascinating site, many directors see that Wadi Rum can be an amazing location to film a lot of Action, Romance, imagination and science movies. These are the most famous movies that were filmed in Wadi Rum;

  1. Aladdin 
  2. Rogue One
  3. Dune
  4. The Martian
  5. Prometheus
  6. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  7. Mission to Mars
  8. Red Planet 
  9. Theeb ….. And many movies were filmed in Wadi Rum