Wadi Rum, the largest wadi in Jordan, is a dramatic desert landscape with beautiful rock formations. It is located in Jordan’s south, 60 kilometres east of Aqaba.
Because of its springs, the area has been inhabited at least since Neolithic times. For millennia it was used by nomadic tribes and traders en route to or from southern Arabia. Many left drawings and graffiti on the rock faces in Thamudic or Nabataean script (in which they called the area ‘Iram’). Wadi Rum lies on a base of pre-Cambrian granite at least 2,000 million years old. Above it are sandstones of varying ages and colours. Wind and rain have sculpted the sandstones into amazing forms resembling rounded domes, organ-pipes or dripping candle wax, as well as rock arches over canyons. The second highest mountain in Jordan – Jabal Ramm (at 1,754 m) is located within Wadi Rum.
Wadi Rum was made famous during the Arab Revolt of 1917-1918 by T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). In his book “The 7 Pillars of Wisdom” he refers to Wadi Rum as “vast, echoing and God-like” and indeed a sense of peace settles over everyone who visits. The 1962 film “Lawrence of Arabia” by David Lean was filmed within the Rum.
The area, one of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Jordan, is now one of the country’s main tourist destinations and attracts an increasing number of foreign tourists. The Rum offers a wide variety of activities – hiking/trekking, rock climbing, camel and horse safaris, 4WD jeep tours and hot air ballooning..
Wadi Rum is home to the Zalabia Bedouin who continue to live a semi-nomadic lifestyle. They are hospitable and offer a friendly welcome to visitors, often inviting them to sit and enjoy a coffee or even a meal. The village of Rum is headquarters of the Desert Patrol who ride camels instead of horses.
Whilst a large proportion of Wadi Rum can been seen and experienced by day visitors, true appreciation for this magnificent desert can only be obtained by spending a night in the desert. Campsites are discreetly set up throughout the desert. Some are quite basic with shared facilities whilst others offer private facilities within each tent. Whichever camp you choose, you will receive a very warm welcome and have the opportunity to befriend some of the local Bedouins. Most camps will prepare a traditional Jordanian dinner (zarb) which is cooked in the ground. After watching a spectacular sunset, sit down to this fabulous meal , under one of the clearest skies in the world. Don’t be surprised to see shooting stars.