The Essential Guide to Wadi Rum

A dramatic desert of sweeping dunes, craggy mountains, and narrow canyons, Wadi Rum is Jordan’s adventure playground. Home to many traditional Bedouin tribes, it’s synonymous with Lawrence of Arabia and also served as the setting for several recent Star Wars films. Plan a camping trip in this fantastical landscape—just don’t be surprised if you run into a movie crew along the way.

Wadi Rum Rd 77110, Wadi Rum Village, Jordan
For some, it’s enough to simply admire the craggy rocks and mountains of Wadi Rum. For others, the landscape presents a challenge that can only be met through climbing and scrambling. Enter Shabab Sahra, a group of locally born guides who have been clambering around Wadi Rum almost since they could walk. Currently the only internationally accredited climbing guides in the area, they cater to everyone from complete novices to experienced climbers, providing equipment and expert guidance for a series of different adventures, including longer camping trips to some of the desert’s most remote and spectacular mountains.
Wadi Rum Village, Jordan
T. E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, will always be synonymous with Wadi Rum, both for the time he spent there during World War I and for the evocative descriptions in his masterful Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Today, tours by local Bedouin guides incorporate several of the sites most closely associated with the British lieutenant, including Lawrence’s Spring near Rum Village. The spring, whose beauty Lawrence wrote about, sits in the shade of a cliff and still serves as an important watering hole for Bedouins and their herds. Other stops include Lawrence’s House (a small building erected on the ruins of an ancient Nabatean structure, where Lawrence allegedly slept during the Arab Revolt) and the Seven Pillars of Wisdom (a series of rocks near the Wadi Rum Visitor Center named in his honor).
Wadi Rum Rd, Jordan
While the camel is prized by the local Bedouins, no desert animal is more romantic than the pure-bred Arabian horse. See for yourself at Wadi Rum Horses, a stud farm and horse-trekking company on the desert highway just outside Wadi Rum proper. Here, the team raises fine stallions and mares so beautiful even the Emir of Dubai is an admirer. For experienced riders, the company can also arrange short excursions in the Rum area, as well as fully supported, multi-day riding and camping treks.
Wadi Rum Village, Jordan
While the Nabateans were certainly based in Petra, the civilization spread its influence far beyond the city’s walls. One of their main trade routes passed through Wadi Rum, where they left several fascinating petroglyphs carved into the craggy rocks. Some of the best examples can be found on the rocks at Alameleh; look closely at the cliffs and crevices and you’ll discover charming herds of camels and lively hunting scenes.

Including Alameleh, there are more than 20,000 petroglyphs in Wadi Rum, some pre-dating the Nabateans and others as recent as the early Islamic period. At Jebel Umm al-Ishrin, there are some particularly fine depictions of desert animals as well as ancient Kufic inscriptions—an early form of Arabic script.
wadi rum village wadi rum، Wadi Rum Village, Jordan
Why we love it: A secluded stay that’s as close to a traditional Bedouin camp as you’ll get

The Highlights:
- Classic Bedouin hospitality, with plenty of opportunities to learn more about the culture
- A remote location with stunning views of the sunrise and night sky
- Authentic but comfortable accommodations

The Review:
Visitors come to Wadi Rum to experience the grandeur of the desert, and there’s no better way to do it than to spend a few nights in a traditional Bedouin camp run by a local tour operator. Rum Stars is one of the best. It takes a serious drive in a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach the camp, but when you get there, you’re immediately struck by the beautiful isolation of it all. Walk just a few paces into the sand and you can truly hear the great emptiness of the desert.

Accommodations are refreshingly simple—there are basic cots in stripy tents and a semi-permanent seating and dining area where guests dine on delicious Bedouin fare and listen to traditional songs around the campfire. At the end of a long day exploring Wadi Rum, you can retire to your tent, or haul your cot out into the fresh air and stare up at a magical star field as a gentle breeze lulls you to sleep.
Why we love it: A luxury campsite with bubble tents for sleeping under the stars

The Highlights:
- Bubble tents with private bathrooms so you can camp in luxury
- An on-site restaurant and lounge area decorated with traditional Arabian furniture
- Activities like four-by-four and camel tours of Wadi Rum

The Review:
A night at Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp makes you feel as if you’re exploring some alien world. Here, a long boardwalk links a collection of space-like silver bubbles that are actually inflatable tents, kept round and sturdy by a nifty airlock entrance that enhances the extraterrestrial vibe. Inside, guests will find their own bed and even a small bathroom with a shower, but the real highlight comes at night when you can pull back the external shade on your bubble and gaze through the domed ceiling at the Milky Way (there’s no need to worry about privacy, as domes are arranged to create distance from your neighbors). Things come back down to earth in the communal dining tent made from traditional Bedouin wool, though the contrast can make your space-age accommodation feel even more surreal.

Should you prefer something slightly more traditional, the camp is also home to 25 glamping tents, equipped with Bedouin sofas, mirrors, lamps, king-size beds dressed in the finest linens, and electricity in the evenings via solar power. Each tent also has a private terrace overlooking the Wadi Rum mountains, and there’s a cozy common area where you can watch the stars at night. During the day, the staff provides four-by-four and camel tours of the surrounding desert, complete with opportunities for sunset photography and delicious meals back at the camp.
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