Coming to Wadi Rum
If you have read Petra – with Grandma and Kids, then you might want to know how we continued our trip to Wadi Rum. We came from Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp in Little Petra Friday afternoon. We drove along the nice scenic road through some small villages and the King’s Highway until reaching Wadi Rum. From the Police Checkpoint, depending on if you stay in one of the Northern camps or more Southern, you will either turn left or go straight until you reach Wadi Rum Visitor Center, after a few more minutes. Once there, you have to buy your ticket there, which is 5 JD when you are a non-resident, 1 JD for residents or included, if you are a Jordan-Pass holder. From the visitor center, you will continue your way towards Wadi Rum Village, where you usually meet your host.
Staying at a Bedouin Camp in Wadi Rum
We booked “Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp” (the actual name of the camp) via Booking.com. I wanted to have something confirmed since we had my mom visiting us. Of course, this is just one of the ways. If you don’t want to book in advance, you can also organize a camp from Wadi Rum village. Another option is to contact the hosts directly if you have their numbers. If you are coming from outside of Jordan, then it probably gives you more peace of mind to book in advance.
Of course, it is just one of the many camps in Wadi Rum and I also heard good things about Hasan Zawadeh, but it seems very close to the road. Other reputable camps include Desert Star, Palmeracamp, Rahayeb Camp, or the luxury camp Aicha with the Bubble tents. You can also opt for something smaller and more remote. The idea of going into the desert is to experience the true Bedouin lifestyle as close as it gets.
See here a map overview of the camps you can book in Wadi Rum
Facilities at Bedouin Camps
I personally think that regarding sustainability and environmental reasons, people should opt for less luxurious options. Pools, massive air-condition or even Jacuzzis are not so much typical Bedouin lifestyle and consume a lot of energy. In our camp, you would actually find shared showers. However, the water is heated via solar panels and if it is cold and cloudy, so the water is. For us, it was totally OK to skip the shower. The small huts also don’t have anything fancy except a light bulb. The beds were quite comfy and there are blankets to keep you warm. If you go in the very cold season between November and February, you might want to take a sleeping bag.
Mohammed’s brother picked us up and on the back of the pickup, we drove into the desert. We were a bit late and just in time to watch the sunset if we only were able to see the sun. We quickly dropped off our stuff in the tent huts. Next to Mohammed’s camp, there is a very nice spot for sunset watching. On our day it was pretty cloudy though, so it was not as spectacular as other times.
What to do in Wadi Rum
After the sunset, you can wander around, sit in the big communal tent, and enjoy some Bedouin tea or sit next to the fire until dinner is served. Around 8 PM, the traditional food (Zarb) was pulled up out of the ground. Zarb is the traditional Bedouin meal and most of the camps serve it their guests. It is traditionally lamb, sometimes chicken and vegetables with potatoes grilled/smoked over charcoal underground. Depending on the number of people, you will have some layers filled with food, that is smoked for hours until ready. It is really delicious and the buffet was enlarged by some simple salads, mezze, khubz and other food such as meatballs, rice, and vegetables.
After dinner, you are welcome to reside in a large communal tent. Next to the open fire, you can enjoy the view of the stars or go to your hut to sleep. Titus very much enjoyed listening to the Oud and running around the tent. There are two- and three-bed huts as well as family rooms. Also, Mohammed is building some more spacey, luxury rooms with a small terrace facing into the desert. However, these were not finished, yet. They might be nice for families, bigger groups, or if you desire more space.
Exploring the Desert
The next morning, we opted for a jeep tour. First, Titus sat on a camel for some time, which he, of course, couldn’t resist. You can discuss with your hosts, which activities you would like to do, or for how long you want to drive. You can explore some special sites in Wadi Rum, such as natural bridges, canyons with Nabataean, Islamic or more recent inscriptions as well as the red sanded mountain. Other highlights include famous filming locations within Wadi Rum from movies such as Star Wars, Aladdin, or The Martian. We visited the spring that was featured in the movie Lawrence of Arabia. It is right next to the only two trees in the Wadi Rum desert. Again, keep in mind that we kept things short because of our young kids and my mom.
Other Activities in Wadi Rum
The best activities in Wadi Rum include hiking, exploring on foot, cycling, horse riding or a quad tour. You can also do some more adventurous actvities such sandboarding or even fly over Wadi Rum in a hot air balloon. Hiking tours can last from a few hours to multiple-days and you can combine of them with camel rides or Jeep tours. The more time you have, the more likely you will get off the beaten track.
Our tour was nice for the 2-3 hours we had and when I climbed up a mountain above the water springs. I was able to discover a blue lizard and got some nice pictures and a video from very close by. Of course, you can also decide to ride a camel instead of a driving a jeep if that is what you are looking for. Either way, it is a great protected area which you should respect and treat as such. Again, when I compare to how it was 10 years ago, I would tend to say, it is already too crowded. On the other hand, it is difficult for me to judge that as it also creates livelihoods for the local community in Wadi Rum and around.
Enjoying Silence, Nature, and Animals in Wadi Rum
Last but not least, Wadi Rum is still one of my favorite spots in Jordan. It is something truly unique. I haven’t seen and experienced something similar in any other place or country before, so it will always remain a highlight. When it is warm enough, most places will give you the chance to just drag your bed out of the tent and sleep under the stars. You can enjoy pure silence – no cars, no people, no animals, no plants, just emptiness.