8 Essential Tips for Visiting Wadi Rum, Jordan

Last Updated on July 23, 2023

Wadi Rum Protected Area is a desert in the south east region of Jordan, along the border with Saudi Arabia. This desert is known for its sandstone rock formations, valleys, gorges, sand dunes, and natural archways. Alongside the Dead Sea in Jordan, and of course, Petra, Wadi Rum is a must see in Jordan!

This desert is also known for its connection to T.E. Lawrence’s original book, “Lawrence of Arabia”. Along with Prince Feisal bin Al-Hussein, Lawrence made his base in Wadi Rum during the Arab Revolt of 1917-1918. 

Visiting Wadi Rum is an exciting experience to have on your Jordan road trip. You’ll adventure through the desert in a jeep with a Bedouin guide who will show you landmarks like Lawrence’s Spring, Khazali Canyon, and the Um Froth Rock Bridge. 

After a day of exploring you’ll watch an epic sunset over Wadi Rum, and then head to a Bedouin camp to learn a bit about Bedouin culture, have a traditional Bedouin dinner, and then stargaze before settling into your tent for the night. 

Read on to learn essential tips for visiting Wadi Rum, what to pack for Wadi Rum, and more. 

Disclosure: This article includes affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through one of those links, I earn a small commission. Affiliate links cost you nothing to use, and keep Pina Travels reader-supported. Thank you!

woman running across a rock bridge in wadi rum desert jordan
Wadi Rum, Jordan

Tips for Visiting Wadi Rum

Ready to plan your own trip to this Jordanian desert? Here are 8 essential tips for visiting Wadi Rum to get you started. 

1. Learn the history of Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum has a long history, stretching back thousands of years. Throughout the desert, over 20,000 ancient inscriptions have been found. This is how human existence in the region has been traced back as far as 12,000 years ago. 

Wadi Rum has sometimes harsh conditions, but nomadic Bedouin groups made their home in the desert anyways by relying on their animal herds. 

Today, Bedouin continue to live in Wadi Rum, and many of them work as tour guides in the protected area. Bedouin run camel and jeep tours, trekking tours, and more. 

This is a super basic overview of Wadi Rum history. For more information, read online, watch documentaries about Jordan, or read books ahead of your visit. 

A woman standing on red coloured rock with the sand dunes of Wadi Rum in the background
Exploring Wadi Rum on our jeep tour

2. Plan your Wadi Rum visit around the weather

Jordan has four seasons throughout the year. Winter and spring are pretty short, and Jordan’s summers are long, dry and quite hot. Although it does get hot, humidity in Jordan is low which makes the heat more comfortable.

When planning your trip to Wadi Rum, you’ll want to consider what season it is. In the summer months, during the day it will be hot, and it will cool off in the evening. 

In fall, spring and winter it will be chillier. You may need a sweater during the day, and you’ll need layers at night. 

We visited Wadi Rum in February, which is winter. The weather during the day was perfect: It was sunny, and a light jacket or sweater with long pants was comfortable. At night it did get quite cold, but our camp had heaters which kept us toasty warm. 

three jeeps parked in the Wadi Rum desert, for wadi rum jeep tours, which is the best way to get around when visiting wadi rum
Three of the jeeps for Wadi Rum tours

3. How to visit Wadi Rum

It is possible to explore without a guide when visiting Wadi Rum, either by hiking, or by taking a 4×4 through the desert. But, Wadi Rum is large and diverse, and it’s very easy to get lost in the desert landscape. 

Given this, it’s recommended to explore the desert with a guide. A guide will ensure your visit goes smoothly, from taking care of transport to arranging your stay (if you decide to stay in Wadi Rum overnight).

Many guides are local Bedouin. They have extensive knowledge about Wadi Rum, and life in the desert. By going with a guide, you can learn first hand knowledge about the area, and also support the local economy with your tourism dollars. 

Guides can be hired online ahead of time, just be sure that your guide is authorized to operate in the Wadi Rum Protected Area. 

There are a couple different types of tours, but the most popular are jeep tours. On these tours, Bedouin guides bring you through the desert in a 4×4 jeep, with stops at notable sites (I’ll cover what you should see in Wadi Rum later in this guide). 

You can book a half day tour, full day tour, or multi-day tour. On a full day tour you will see all of Wadi Rum’s highlights, and spend a good amount of time out of the jeep, exploring sites on foot. If you have time for it, a multi-day tour will give you a slower, in-depth experience in Wadi Rum. 

If you only take away one of these Wadi Rum tips, let it be this one. Having a Bedouin guide in Wadi Rum keeps you safe, and gives you an opportunity to learn from the locals about this protected area.

landscape views of wadi rum desert in jordan, showing a large rock formation rising up from the sand
Wadi Rum

4. Book Wadi Rum camping in the desert

There are desert camps all throughout Wadi Rum. They range in price and comfort, from basic camps that provide a tent and a cot to sleep on, to luxury camps that feel more like glamping. 

Most guides are affiliated with a camp, so when you book your guided tour for visiting Wadi Rum, you have the option to include an overnight stay. 

Staying overnight in Wadi Rum is part of the magic of visiting this desert! It means you get to watch the spectacular desert sunset, and once the sun has gone down, gaze at the stars. 

Camps in Wadi Rum also provide evening activities. Typically, a group dinner cooked by the Bedouin, followed by some entertainment. 

We stayed in Beyond Wadi Rum Camp. We chose this camp because it was mid-range in terms of budget, and well-reviewed. Our guide, Salman, was awesome, dinner was delicious, and we had a fantastic sleep in our cozy tent. We definitely recommend this camp!

Ready to book your Wadi Rum tour and camp? Below are two options to choose from, a half day tour and overnight stay, or full-day tour and overnight stay.

Wadi Rum: Half-Day 5 Hour Jeep Tour with Overnight and Meals

This tour is operated by Wadi Rum Fire Camp, a highly-rated camp and tour operator. You’ll spend 5 hours exploring Wadi Rum on a jeep along with an expert guide. At each site you will have a chance to explore by foot or a quick hike. After an afternoon of exploring Wadi Rum, you’ll watch the sun go down over the desert from a viewing point.

The Half-Day Jeep Tour of Wadi Rum includes your tour of the protected desert area, plus one lunch, dinner, and breakfast, along with a one night stay in a private Bedouin tent at Wadi Rum Fire Camp.

From Wadi Rum: 8 Hour Jeep Tour with Meal & One Night Stay

This tour is operated by Wadi Rum Fire Camp, a highly-rated camp and tour operator. You’ll spend 8 hours exploring Wadi Rum on a jeep along with an expert guide. I recommend choosing this tour over the 5 hour jeep tour. There is a lot to see in Wadi Rum – it’s worth a full day!

At each site you will have a chance to explore by foot or a quick hike. After an afternoon of exploring Wadi Rum, you’ll watch the sun go down over the desert from a viewing point.

The 8 Hour Jeep Tour of Wadi Rum includes your tour of the protected desert area, plus one lunch, dinner, and breakfast, along with a one night stay in a private Bedouin tent at Wadi Rum Fire Camp.

5. Pack the essentials for camping in the Wadi Rum Desert

Here are some Wadi Rum tips about which specific things to bring on your adventure. 

Sun protection

The sun in Jordan can be very intense, so you’ll want to be ready for it when visiting Wadi Rum. Be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat or headscarf, and long pants and long sleeves to prevent a sunburn. 

Layers of clothing

It can get pretty cool in the desert at night! Bring a couple layers, even in the summer, just in case. Layers will also help protect you from the wind and sand. 

Comfortable footwear

You’ll be doing lots of walking in Wadi Rum, so wear comfortable and supportive footwear. Sneakers or walking shoes are a better fit than sandals, because they will protect your feet from the sand, which could be very hot. Sandals or flip flops will still come in handy for hanging out in your Wadi Rum Camp, though. 

Extra snacks and water

Food and water is included with most tours, but sometimes the food given is pretty light. It’s nice to have some snacks and extra water with you in case you’re hungry between meals. 

Small backpack or daypack

You won’t be bringing all your luggage with you into Wadi Rum. Your luggage can be left in your rental car, or, at your Wadi Rum Camp’s office near the visitor centre. If you’re staying in a camp, some camps will transfer your luggage to your camp so it’s waiting for you when you arrive for the night.

A small backpack or daypack is all you’ll need for your tour of the desert. 

Torch / flashlight

If you stay overnight when visiting Wadi Rum, a torch or flashlight will be very handy once it’s dark out. Of course, these days, most smartphones have a flashlight too, so you can rely on that, too. 

Jordanian dinars

Bring some Jordanian dinars in case you’d like to make any purchases in camp, or book extra activities. Most purchases in Wadi Rum are cash only. 

a camel and baby camel standing in wadi rum desert together
We spotted baby camels in Wadi Rum!

6. Plan how you’ll get to Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum is easily accessible from basically anywhere in Jordan. It’s at the southern end of the country, near Aqaba, and near the border with Saudi Arabia.

To help you plan, here’s how you can reach the desert from the main tourist areas of the country. 

Getting to Wadi Rum From Amman

Wadi Rum is about a 4 hour drive from Amman. Driving in Jordan in a rental vehicle is easily done, but alternatively, you can hire a private transfer, which will take about 5 hours. 

There are no direct buses connecting Amman to Wadi Rum. But, you can still reach the desert by combining a JETT bus ride with a taxi ride. 

JETT buses leave from Abdali station in Amman. You’ll grab the JETT bus to Aqaba. When you arrive in Aqaba, hire a taxi to take you to Wadi Rum. All told, the bus and taxi will take between 6-8 hours. 

Getting to Wadi Rum From Petra

The easiest way to travel from Petra to Wadi Rum is by car or private transfer / taxi. The trip is comfortable and takes about 1.5 hours.

It’s also possible to take a public bus from Wadi Musa (the town near Petra) to Wadi Rum. This is a more economical option (about 10 JOD), but it isn’t as reliable. 

The bus departs around 6:00 AM daily from Wadi Musa’s bus station. The bus typically doesn’t leave on time, because they wait for it to fill up. The trip to Wadi Musa takes around 3 hours because there are stops along the way. 

The bus should get you to Wadi Rum Visitor Centre for 9:00 AM, but if there are delays, you may arrive later in the morning. 

Getting to Wadi Rum From Aqaba

Aqaba to Wadi Rum is an easy trip by car, private transfer, or taxi. The trip only takes about 1 hour. If you are on a Jordan road trip, you can leave your vehicle in the parking lot at the Wadi Rum Visitor’s Centre, which is right by Wadi Rum Village. 

You can also get to Wadi Rum from Aqaba by catching any bus or minibus (1-3 JOD) from the Aqaba bus station, just as long as it’s headed to Amman, Ma’an, or Petra. 

Just be sure to get off at the Wadi Rum turnoff. The turnoff is well-marked on the highway to Amman, about 40 km out of Aqaba. From the turnoff, you can walk to the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre.

a woman sitting on a rock formation in wadi rum desert
On our jeep tour we made a few stops where we could climb up on rock formations for beautiful views

7. Buy your Wadi Rum entrance ticket at the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre

To enter Wadi Rum Protected Area, you’ll need to pay a fee. This fee is charged to all visitors that are going into the desert, and the fees are used to support local Bedouin communities and to protect Wadi Rum.

Currently (July 2023) the fees are: 

  • 5 JOD per international visitor. 
  • 1 JOD per Jordanian. 
  • 0.5 JOD per Jordanian student. 
  • Children under 12 are free. 

Entrance into Wadi Rum is included in the Jordan Pass. 

a wadi rum bedouin camp showing tents and rock formations in the distance
The camp we stayed in in Wadi Rum, Jordan

8. Know what to see in Wadi Rum

Knowing what there is to see in Wadi Rum will help you decide on the right tour and guide. Most full day tours will cover all the listed sites below. 

Multi-day tours will cover what’s below in depth, with potentially extra stops. A half tour will cover a selection of these stops. 

Lawrence’s Spring

Lawrence’s Spring is typically the first stop on a Wadi Rum tour. It’s a natural spring that flows from a cliff in the red rocky desert. This spring still serves as an important watering hole for Bedouins and their herds. It was made famous by T.E. Lawrence in his book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

T. E. Lawrence, who’s also known as Lawrence of Arabia, is often considered synonymous with Wadi Rum, because of the time he spent there during World War I and for the beautiful descriptions he wrote about Wadi Rum in his book. 

Khazali Canyon

From Lawrence Spring you can see a rocky mountain which is known as Jabal Khazali. In the rock face of the mountain is a narrow canyon that stretches 100 meters in. You’re able to adventure into it, you’ll just need to navigate over streams that flow through the canyon. 

As you explore the canyon, you’ll see that its inner walls are covered with Thamudic, Nabatean, and Islamic inscriptions, and petroglyphs that show humans and animals.

Anfishiyyeh Inscriptions

The Anfishiyyeh Inscriptions are carved into a massive rock wall in Wadi Rum. They are some of the best Thamudic and Nabatean petroglyphs and inscriptions in the desert.

The inscriptions show herds of camels, with both adult and baby camels. You’ll also notice hunters riding some of the camels. And, the inscriptions include interesting circle and line symbols. 

Barrah Canyon

This 5 kilometer long rock canyon through the desert is one of the most famous ones in Wadi Rum. Barrah Canyon is a common stop on Wadi Rum tours. It’s possible to hike through, trek through on a camel, or even do rock climbing on the walls of the canyon. 

Burdah Rock Bridge

The Burdah Rock Bridge is a massive, natural stone archway. It’s a popular stop on Wadi Rum tours because it’s possible to climb up onto the top of the rock arch. From there, you have beautiful views of the desert and nearby mountains. 

a person standing on top of Um Froth Rock Bridge in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Um Froth Rock Bridge in Wadi Rum, Jordan

Um Fruth Rock Bridge

Um Fruth Rock Bridge is another popular stop in Wadi Rum. This natural rock bridge rises up about 15 meters from the desert. Getting a photo of yourself at the top of the archway is a popular photo opp in Wadi Rum!

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom are a rock formation that’s part of a mountain in the Wadi Rum desert. The mountain has 7 rounded pillars which slant downward from tallest to shortest. From a distance you can easily see the first 5 pillars, with the 2 others around on the side. 

The mountain face was originally known as Jabal Al-Mazmar. The name “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” comes from T.E. Lawrence’s memoir of his time in the desert. On most tours, you’ll admire the mountain from a distance. It’s also possible to do a hike that circles the mountain via the Makharas Canyon.

Um Sabatah

Um Sabatah is a mountain in Wadi Rum known for its unique colour. The mountain is mostly red rock, with some white coloured rocks at the top. Before the use of maps, Bedouin nomads used the mountain as a point of reference for navigating through the desert. 

a unique rock formation known as "mushroom rock" in  the Wadi Rum desert
You’ll likely get to drive by this unique rock formation (known as “mushroom rock”) on your Wadi Rum jeep tour

Responsible Travel Tips for Wadi Rum, Jordan

Being a responsible tourist is all about traveling in a way that has either a neutral, or positive impact on the places and people that you visit. 

And so this is one of my most important Wadi Rum tips! Try your best to visit the desert responsibly.

Pack in and pack out

Regardless of where you are in the world, be sure to “pack in and pack out.”  This is the practice of leaving no trace when you’re exploring natural areas. To pack in and pack out, don’t leave behind any litter, even if it’s organic.  

Tip your guides

Tipping your Bedouin guides in Wadi Rum is a great way to thank them for showing you their homeland. 

Be respectful of wildlife 

In Wadi Rum you’ll see all kinds of animals, like camels and mountain goats. It’s important to practice responsible wildlife tourism when you come across these desert creatures! Avoid touching, approaching, or feeding animals that you come across, and instead, admire them from a distance. 

Our Bedouin guide Salman (photo taken and posted with permission).

Our Wadi Rum Desert Experience

My partner and I spent 1 full day and 1 night in Wadi Rum as part of our Jordan road trip. We headed to Wadi Rum after spending some time exploring the historic city of Petra, and before heading to the seaside city of Aqaba. 

We booked our tour and overnight stay with Beyond Wadi Rum Camp. We arrived early in the morning of our tour, and our guide, Salman, met us at the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre.

After checking in at the centre, we were on our way! Salman had us hop into the back of his jeep, which was open air with seats along the side and blankets in case it got chilly.

Driving through the desert was tons of fun. Bedouin drivers are super experienced, so they make it seem so easy to drive over the sand dunes. But even still, at one moment, our jeep got stuck in the sand.

My partner and I hopped out and helped Salman with the digging, and of course, giving the jeep a big push so it could get moving again. It wasn’t long before we were back on our way.

Throughout our jeep tour we saw all the highlights of Wadi Rum. When the began to set, Salman drove us to tall rock formation, easy to climb. We climbed up as high as we could go and settled in to watch the as the sun drifted down behind the horizon of the desert.

After sunset, Salman brought us to Beyond Wadi Rum Camp. We checked into the camp, and were brought to our private tent. It had a big bed with heavy duvets to keep us warm, and a small heater just in case. Bathrooms were shared, but just a short walk away.

For dinner, we headed to the big dinner tent. The Bedouin guides brought everyone in the camp outside to show us zarb! Also known as a “Bedouin barbecue,” zarb is a traditional underground oven.

Food is placed on metal racks, and lowered into a pit dug out in the sand, that’s filled with burning coals. The top of the pit is then covered in blankets to keep the heat in. Chicken, goat, sheep, and various vegetables can be slow cooked by zarb.

After showing us how our dinner had been cooked, the guides brought it inside the dinner tent, and we all dined together, listening (and dancing to!) traditional Bedouin music.

Before bed, we wandered out into the dark desert to gaze at the stars. After a busy day, we had a cozy sleep in our tent, and woke up late the next morning. Once we were ready to go, a drive back to the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre was arranged for us.

Wadi Rum FAQ

When is the best time to visit Wadi Rum?

Spring and fall are considered the best time to visit Wadi Rum. Between March and May, and between September and November, Wadi Rum is warm without unbearable heat, and there are plenty of daylight hours. The winter months can also be a nice time to visit, just chillier, so be sure to pack warm layers.

Can you visit Wadi Rum on your own?

As long as you pay the fee to enter Wadi Rum Protected Area, yes, you can visit the desert on your own. Just note that Wadi Rum is a big desert that can be challenging to navigate. If you go into the desert by yourself, it’s safest to drive a good 4×4 vehicle, have plenty of supplies, and a good GPS.

Is it worth visiting Wadi Rum?

Wadi Rum is famous for its connection to T.E. Lawrence and the original “Lawrence of Arabia.” Lawrence, along with Prince Feisal bin Al-Hussein, were based out of  Wadi Rum during the Arab Revolt of 1917-1918. Today, Wadi Rum is absolutely worth visiting to see its beautiful desert landscapes, to discover Bedouin culture, and to learn about the history of this region of Jordan.

How long should I stay in Wadi Rum?

Spending 1 or 2 nights in Wadi Rum is enough time to see the desert and experience staying overnight in a Bedouin camp. If you’re able to spend longer in Wadi Rum, you can have an even more in-depth experience, and fit in extra activities like a camel ride.

How much does it cost to go to Wadi Rum?

There is a standard fee charged to all visitors entering Wadi Rum Protected Area. The fee for international visitors is 5 JD. A 2-hour jeep tour in Wadi Rum starts at 35 JD (per jeep), and an overnight stay in Wadi Rum starts at 10 JOD (for a shared room).

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