The sky glittered with more stars than I could ever imagine the night we camped in Wadi Rum, a desert valley in southern Jordan. I lay for hours watching the constellations trace a gentle arch overhead and losing count of shooting stars. I closed my eyes just as the Milky Way began to sink behind the mountains and woke to a herd of camels nibbling the shrubs at my feet. Wadi Rum is a maze of sandstone and granite peaks separated by sand-swept valleys and once served as T.E. Lawrence’s base of operations during the Arab Revolt. Led by our Bedouin guide, we climbed sand dunes, scrambled over rocks, studied prehistoric carvings, and gazed across the Saudi Arabian border from the top of Mount Um Adaami, the tallest peak in Jordan.
The best way to explore Wadi Rum is with a Bedouin guide based in the nearby Wadi Rum Village who will take you into the desert by camel or jeep. You can make arrangements for a guide in advance online or when you arrive at the Visitor Center, where many guides wait for business. We rented a car to drive the four hours from Amman to Wadi Rum, but there are also buses that run from Amman, Aqaba, and Petra. If you visit in the summer, check out the natural spring on the outskirts of the village (about a 30-minute hike), where you’ll find some of the sweetest figs you’ve ever tasted!