8 Great Things To Do in Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp
I guess many visit Jordan and think of Petra as the only highlight of their Jordan itinerary. It’s one of the seven world wonders, it’s super insta-famous and must thus be one of the best things to do in Jordan, right? I was guilty of thinking the same. However, the vast quietness of Wadi Rum desert quickly overtrumped the hustle and bustle of Petra as my favorite thing to see in Jordan.
That’s mostly due because I found one of the best camps in Wadi Rum which will give your Jordan holiday a different touch. Let me share with you the best things to do in Wadi Rum desert and its Bedouin Camps.
To me, Wadi Rum looked like the exact opposite of Petra. Because even during low-season, Petra was a stressful experience. If you’re not among the first visitors, you’ll likely be overrun by groups of bus tourists, you’ll constantly be invited to buy or take a camel ride and you’re stressed to see as much of the huge Petra complex as possible.
Whereas Petra is all about how humans left their footsteps and their remnants carved into nature, Wadi Rum is how human civilizations live in accordance with nature. They simply blend in seamlessly.
The deep-red desert is vast, you feel lost in space and sometimes you don’t see anybody for several kilometers. There is no wifi, desert life is rough and subject to the extreme weather in Wadi Rum.
After being the setting for blockbuster movies such as “The Martian”, “Lawrence of Arabia” or upcoming “Aladdin”, Wadi Rum is becoming an increasingly popular destination. Of course, you can visit the desert in a day trip from Amman or Aqaba. However, if only possible, I especially recommend staying in a Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp: you’ll learn a lot and get a unique insight into the Bedouin lifestyle.
Disclaimer: I have been a guest of Wadi Rum Quiet Village in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions, as always, are my own. This post contains affiliate links. In case you purchase one of the items, I’ll receive a small commission. The price remains the same for you.
Wadi Rum Travel Tips
How to get to Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum entrance fee is 7 JOD to be paid at the Visitor center. It’s free with the Jordan Pass.
You can visit Wadi Rum in several ways:
- Rental Car. I visited Wadi Rum with a rental car and drove from Petra to Wadi Rum. If you are staying in a Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp, you’ll need to leave your car in Wadi Rum village and get picked up by the camp staff. Don’t drive in the desert with your rental car as you can easily get stuck. Driving in Jordan is not dangerous but still, you need to be more prudent than on EU or US streets. Check here the best rates for rental cars in Jordan
- Petra – Wadi Rum Tours from Amman: Many day tours take you from Amman to Wadi Rum and Petra. It is a convenient way to do most of your time. Book here your Wadi Rum tour from Amman.
- From Petra to Wadi Rum: Calculate 50 $ for a 2 hours ride in a private taxi. Bus transfers can be arranged at your hotel’s reception. Petra to Wadi Rum distance: 105 km. Book here your day tour from Amman to Wadi Rum and Petra.
- Wadi Rum Tours from Aqaba: Aqaba, Wadi Rum and Petra form the so-called Golden Triangle. It takes one hour to get from Aqaba to Wadi Rum. Calculate avg. 30 $ for a private taxi from Wadi Rum to Aqaba. Many operators offer day tours from Aqaba to Wadi Rum. Book here your Wadi Rum tours from Aqaba. Book here Petra and Wadi Rum tours from Aqaba
The best camp in Wadi Rum
Before booking your stay in a Wadi Rum Bedouin camp, you’ll need to ask yourself: am I ready to renounce on some comfort in exchange for a more authentic desert experience? Or do I want to visit Wadi Rum in a more convenient, luxurious way?
Most Bedouin camps come with Western-styled commodities such as wifi in common areas, super comfortable beds, and fabulous food. However, you’ll have a shared bathroom and they sometimes lack a heater. In exchange, you get unique, first-hand stories told in the main tent or around a bonfire.
We went for the authentic experience with Wadi Rum Quiet Village and I wouldn’t trade our stay for any luxury stay in the world. That being said, the Wadi Rum Quiet Village can easily keep up with the best desert camps in Wadi Rum: the tents are spacious, the beds are super comfortable and the food was OUT OF THIS WORLD. There was even wifi in the main tent.
And most importantly, the entire camp is managed by a local Bedouin family that has been living in the desert since many generations. Thus, they know the Wadi Rum desert like their trouser’s pocket.
All activities described in this post can be booked at this Wadi Rum night camp at very affordable rates. Read more about where to stay in Jordan.
Where to stay in Wadi Rum
There is a large choice on where to stay in Wadi Rum, Middle East. You can either stay in the Wadi Rum village, a Bedouin camp in the desert or a Wadi Rum Luxury camp. Some even spend the night in a sleeping bag below the desert’s stars. In total, the more you sacrifice on comfort, the more memorable the experience. Read more about where to stay in Jordan.
Wadi Rum Desert Camps:
The one and only: Wadi Rum Quiet Village
Luxury Desert Camps:
Every desert camp in Wadi Rum is different and the personality of your hosts will make or break your Wadi Rum trip. Also, the offered tours vary a lot: some even offer air balloon excursions.
Wadi Rum General Information:
Weather in Wadi Rum: weather conditions are rough in summer and in winter. During winter, temperatures can go as low as 0°C at night and go up to 15°C during the daytime. Thus, bring an extra pyjama! In the summer months, the heat can be really intense: always carry water, apply a lot of sunscreen and plan your activities for cooler times of the day. At nighttime, even in summer, temperatures can go very low: make sure to bring extra warm layers.
Dress appropriately: wear comfortable hiking shoes (I don’t recommend sandals) and wear light, long, cotton clothes. The Bedouin have traditional values, thus it would be inappropriate to wear miniskirts and short tops in a Wadi Rum Bedouin camp.
Photography lovers: the desert holds countless scenic photo motives. However, the best are probably the colors of Wadi Rum desert at sunset or sunrise. Ask your Wadi Rum camp staff where to find the best spots. Wadi Rum is also a great location for night photography.
Be open-minded and listen. The Bedouins have unique stories to tell and their sense of community is something you won’t find everywhere. For me, it was a deeply touching experience, listening to the songs of Hussein in the Wadi Rum Quiet Village and how the desert shaped their lifestyle during generations. Even though there is wifi in the main tent, I didn’t touch my phone for 2 days. I felt like renewed after this digital detox and fueled up with the positive energy of Saleem and his staff from Wadi Rum Quiet Village.
1. Do a Wadi Rum Jeep Tour
One of the most popular things to do in Wadi Rum is a jeep tour to the highlights of the desert. The jeep tours can last anything between a few hours or an entire day.
In the old days, Bedouins used to roam the desert with camels or on foot. Nowadays, almost every camp has a few jeeps to pick up clients. Also, the Bedouins living only in the desert often have a jeep. Thus, even if I prefer to travel sustainable, a jeep tour in Wadi Rum is like joining the Bedouins on their daily routes.
Most Jeep tours can be booked at the camp or at the Visitor’s Centre. If you go for a day trip, don’t forget to bring water and food. You can buy some food in the Rum village.
The Wadi Rum Jeep Tour was the first I did in my life and I found it quite fun. As the Wadi Rum desert is large and the main attractions are spread out all over the area, the jeep tour was the best way to see as much as possible.
The highlight of the Wadi Rum Jeep Tour, however, was the camel mummy and her baby. As you’re free to stop whenever you feel like it, we took a couple of minutes to pet the camel baby. I can only recommend taking a desert tour.
2. Go Camel Riding in Wadi Rum
The second unmissable thing to do in Wadi Rum is going for a camel ride. Unlike the camels in Petra which looked to be a little too skinny and exhausted, the camels of Wadi Rum are living in the desert since many generations and are cherished by their owners.
During many years, they were the main mean of transport to roam the desert and particularly helpful in everyday life. Also known as the “ships of the desert”, they can carry up to 270 kg and are often the main source of wool, milk, and meat in the desert. On top, their entire body is made to resist the harshness of the desert: they can close their nostrils against sandstorms and two rows of long lashes protect their eyes. On top, they are some of the most resistant animals you can find out there: they can survive up to 6 months without food or water!
The Camel Trek in Wadi Rum was one of my highlights as it allows to be close to nature and to travel slowly. It gives you plenty of time and quietness to appreciate the beauty of the breathtaking orange-pink landscapes.
A little bummer was the fact that the guide was all the time walking in front of us. The trek was thus really slow and you know my love for adventure. Camel riding is one of the classic Wadi Rum tours and can be booked at any camp.
You can also choose between a sunrise or sunset camel ride in Wadi Rum.
3. Watch the Sunset
Our camel ride ended at a little hill from where we could watch the sunset. I think after the sunset in the Dead Sea, the sunset in Wadi Rum was one of the most epic experiences of these Jordan holidays.
It was a very quiet moment (until the jeep tourists arrived) and it was awe-inspiring to see how the colors of the desert changed slowly with the sun going down. The colors turned from light pink to dark orange and brown in only a few minutes.
Watching the sunset in Wadi Rum is definitely a highlight of any trip to the Jordanian desert. It is thus just one reason more to stay in a Wadi Rum Desert camp. Because if you only go for a day trip from Aqaba or Petra, it will be almost impossible to enjoy this natural, colorful show.
I found that it was at sunset where Wadi Rum looks the most like Mars and it’s no wonder that it had been chosen as a movie set for blockbusters such as “The Martian”, “Aladdin” or “Lawrence of Arabia”. But at certain moments, the landscape also reminded me of the settings of “Star Wars”.
4. Stargazing in the Desert
Stargazing in Wadi Rum is something you cannot miss when visiting this natural gem. Whether you’re a photography lover or prefer just to be a silent observer, the stars of Wadi Rum will not leave you indifferent.
All you need to do is step out of your tent and watch the starlit sky. However, you’ll appreciate their beauty even more if you walk for a few miles and get out of your Bedouin camp. Indeed, light pollution diminishes the effect of the stars.
There are guided tours in Wadi Rum that will introduce you to the magnificent sky of the desert. The guys from Rum-Sky have modern observatories and give you detailed explanations about the universe, our planets, and stars.
You’ll definitely love the unique stargazing conditions in Wadi Rum desert.
5. Have a Bedouin Dinner
Having a traditional Bedouin dinner is one of the top things to do in Wadi Rum desert. Indeed, the food served in the Bedouin camps is very different from all the other food in Jordan.
Food is being prepared based upon traditional Bedouin recipes and methods: it’s slow-cooked for 2 hours under the earth. The chicken will melt in your mouth like butter and I can’t remember when I ate vegetables with such intense flavors.
I also want to make a big shoutout to the food served at Wadi Rum Quiet Village. It was the best I’ve eaten on the entire Jordan trip. The guides really took care to explain to us the process in every detail and how the cooking methods changed over time.
6. Go Hiking in Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum desert is one of the most extraordinary places to hike in the world. Hiking in Wadi Rum means that you’ll be confronted with vast plains, desert landscapes, dazzling heights, and challenging situations.
There are hiking trails for any level and you’ll find all the information you need at the Visitor’s Centre in Wadi Rum Village. Please remember that Wadi Rum is a protected area and home to many species of flora and fauna. Some of them are endangered and very rare. Thus be a responsible traveller!
Your hike can be combined with a 4×4 tour or a camel tour. One of the most spectacular (and challenging) hikes is the one that will lead you up to Burdah Rock Bridge. However, the views will be worth it all. And, after all, you’re standing on top of Wadi Rum’s most important attractions.
Other popular treks are the “Makharas Canyon Hike”, the “Jebel Rum Round Trip” or the “Rakhabat Canyon”.
Make sure to register your route at the visitor center before heading out.
7. Buy Local Souvenirs and Learn About Desert Life
I highly recommend taking the time to visit the Visitor Centre Museum of Wadi Rum. While you are buying your ticket to enter Wadi Rum, take 30 min to visit the informative museum, which helps to give a human context to the desert. The displays also explain environmental issues through information panels in English and natural history exhibits. You may also ask to see the 10-minute film on some of the highlights of Wadi Rum.
This is a good place to look for local souvenirs and thus support the Bedouin community. Most items are made by local women to whom most of the profits are returned. It’s possible to visit the workshop in Rum village (closed Friday and Saturday) – ask for directions at the Rest House. There are also ceramics, textiles and Bedouin goat-hair rugs on sale.
8. Top Things to See in Wadi Rum
You’ll wonder what to do in Wadi Rum? Maybe you’ll think for a second that you’re in the desert and there’s nothing to do… but you couldn’t be more wrong! There are plenty of things to see and do in Wadi Rum. This list will give you a good overview of the most important things to see in Wadi Rum.
Some are a must on any Wadi Rum trip, others are more off the beaten path. Most of them are included in classic Wadi Rum tours. Book here you Wadi Rum tour. Book here you Wadi Rum Tour
- Lawrence Spring: Marked by a water tank near the entrance of Wadi Shallalah, this spring is named for T.E. Lawrence – “Lawrence of Arabia” – who famously made the area his military base and home. The official name of the small spring is Ain Abu Aineh, and views are spectacular from the top. This spring, on the edge of the open sands, is a regular stop on the 4WD circuit. Alternatively, it can be reached on a soft sand hike from the Rest House; the walk takes about 1½ hours return. Look for a white water tank at the opening of Wadi Shallalah. After the tank, a path climbs the hill to the spring.
- Lawrence House: There is little left of this building, erected on the Nabataean ruins of a water cistern. Nonetheless, legend has it that Lawrence stayed here during the Arab Revolt and that makes it a must on the regular 4WD circuits of the area. Near the building is a Nabataean inscription that mentions the area’s ancient name of Iram. The remote location and uninterrupted view of the red sand dunes are the main attractions.
- Khazali Canyon: A long, narrow canyon known for the impressive number of ancient petroglyphs and inscriptions on the rock walls. The first 100 yards are accessible to all visitors; beyond that point, you’ll need rock climbing skills (and gear).
- Anfishiyyeh Inscriptions: Located on the side of a mountain, this is an especially impressive collection of Thamudic and Nabataean petroglyphs, complete with ancient drawings of camel caravans.
- Barrah Canyon: At five kilometers in length, this expansive canyon is a popular tour stop, perfect for a variety of activities: hiking, rock climbing, and camel tours to name a few. One of the most visited of numerous canyons that riddle Wadi Rum, this 5km-long corridor of rock through the mountains offers opportunities for hiking, camel trekking, climbing or simply napping in the shade and absorbing the special atmosphere of Wadi Rum’s hidden heartland.
- Burdah Rock Bridge: The tallest natural rock bridge in Wadi Rum, worth the moderately challenging climb to the top for the fantastic views.
- Um Fruth Rock Bridge: Another unique arch, and one of the most photographed landmarks in the area, this fifteen-meter high bridge is featured on many guided tours.
- Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A rock formation named after the famous book by T.E. Lawrence, accessible by hike or easily visible from the visitor center.
- Um Sabatah: An ideal perch for sunset views, this hilltop affords gorgeous vistas of the desert.
- Khazali Siq: An easy siq to explore is the narrow fissure that cuts into Jebel Khazali. You can explore on foot for about 150 m, far enough to appreciate the cool shade and to see inscriptions made by the ancients who used the siq for the same purpose. Look out for drawings of ostriches, pairs of feet and a woman giving birth. You need ropes and a guide to penetrating further and 4WD transport to reach the siq.
- Al Hasany Dunes: While there are dunes in several places around Wadi Rum, the most striking are the red sands that bank up against Jebel Umm Ulaydiyya. If you are on a 4WD or camel tour, drivers will stop near a pristine slope for you to plod your way to the crest of the dune. They’re particularly lovely at sunset.
- Jebel Rum: The western flank of Wadi Rum is formed by Jebel Rum (1754 m), which towers over Rum village. It is a popular destination for scramblers and climbers who tackle parts of the ancient Thamudic Way to the summit (guide required – ask at the visitor centre). Similar pathways, once used for hunting ibex and collecting medicinal plants, link one massif to another throughout the area, giving limitless scope for hiking, scrambling and climbing.
Wadi Rum Map
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap a ton of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations. Get here the best deals for action cameras + free shipping.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries. Get here the best deals on walking shoes + free shipping
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport. Buy here your eco-friendly sunscreen + free shipping.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case. Get here the best deals on rain jackets + free shipping.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected against all odds with World Nomads.
To make the most of your Jordan trip, I recommend Lonely Planet Jordan