This is a stupendous, timeless place, virtually untouched by humanity and its destructive forces. Here, it is the weather and winds that have carved the imposing, towering skyscrapers, so elegantly described by T.E. Lawrence as “vast, echoing and God-like…”
Wadi Rum desert is probably best known because of its connection with the enigmatic British officer T.E. Lawrence, who was based here during the Great Arab Revolt of 1917-18, and as the setting for the film that carried his name “Lawrence of Arabia”.
A maze of monolithic rockscapes rise up from the desert floor to heights of 1,750m creating a natural challenge for serious mountaineers. Hikers can enjoy the tranquility of the boundless empty spaces and explore the canyons and water holes to discover 4000-year-old rock drawings and the many other spectacular treasures this vast wilderness holds in store.
Everywhere in this moonscape place of Wadi Rum, are indications of man’s presence since the earliest known times. Scattered around are flint hand axes, while on the rocks at the feet of the mountains the names of ancient travelers are scratched. All around, there is emptiness and silence. In this immense space, man is dwarfed to insignificance.
There are many ways to explore this fragile, unspoiled desert retreat. Serious trekkers will be drawn to Wadi Rum, with challenging climbs some 1750 m high, while casual hikers can enjoy an easy course through the colorful hills and canyons. Naturalists will be drawn to the desert in springtime, when rains bring the greening of the hills and an explosion of 2000 species of wildflowers. Red anemones, poppies and the striking black iris, Jordan’s national flower, all grow at will by the roadside and in more quiet reaches.
Wadi Rum is an ideal location for hiking, climbing and trekking. Except in summer months, climbing the Rock Bridge here is unforgettable. 4×4 Jeep tours and hot air balloon riding at dawn and in the late afternoon are feasible with previous arrangement. Camping, camel ride, Camel trips from the wadi to either Aqaba (several days) or Petra (about a week) may also be arranged..
Before reaching Wadi Rum, visitors will encounter the fort of the Wadi Rum Desert Patrol. The patrolmen are friendly, hospitable and will answer questions willingly over a cup of coffee.
Perfect ambassadors for their country, the men of the famous Desert Patrol wear perhaps the most beautiful uniforms in the Middle East: a long khaki dish-dash held by a bright red bandoleer, a holster with a dagger around the waist, and rifle slung over the back. The headdress is the traditional red-and-white checkered Kouffieh worn by the Bedouins of Jordan, but wrapped under the chin. The Desert Patrol operates out of an old beau guest-style police fort built in the 1930s.
Wadi Rum is also a bird-watchers’ haven with its 110 recorded species. Vultures, buzzards, eagles and sparrows are a few to be seen by those looking skyward. Other interesting creatures to be found include the camel-spider, feared by local Bedouins for its ability to harm camels, however this spider is not dangerous to man.
Seen gracefully in its natural habitat, the Ibex, mountain goat, is often spotted in the desert terrain. Another interesting animals in Wadi Rum are the Gray Wolf, Blandford’s Fox, and the Arabian Sand Cat which is similar in appearance to a domesticated cat and survives in its harsh desert surroundings.
Attractions in Wadi Rum
Weather & Clothing
In the winter, it’s recommended to dress in layers, a jacket over a pullover, over a sweatshirt, over a tee shirt: like this you can peel off as much as you want to. Remember that walking in the sun, and sitting in the shade are quite different, and don’t leave a pullover/sweater at the hotel just because the sun is shining and the sky is blue. You may well appreciate a pair of gloves for visiting Wadi Rum! Almost certainly the desert temperature will go down close to freezing point at night, quite probably beyond, possibly well beyond! A difference of 20 or even 25°C between daytime and nightime temperature is quite normal in Jordan.
Protective clothing should be worn in the summer. Sun block, water and cool covering clothing should be used in the summer months. Conservative clothing should be worn at all times, for respect of the traditional Bedouin culture.