10 Best Things to Do at Wadi Rum

I had an awesome time on my visit to Wadi Rum in Jordan. Here are ten reasons why I loved exploring the desert. 

On my trip to Petra, I visited the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan as part of the tour. With its distinctive sunset sand and dramatic rocky hills, the Wadi Rum Desert is also known as the Valley of the Moon. The unearthly desert landscape has turned into movie sets for a host of films including “The Martian”, “Transformers” and “Star Wars”. And of course, the 1962 epic, Lawrence of Arabia.

Before arriving at Wadi Rum, I didn’t have much expectations for it. My exact thoughts were: “Why do we have half a day in a desert? Does sand look different when you stare at it for two hours what”

Turns out, I ended up loving my Wadi Rum trip.

  1. Hejaz Railway Train

Our first stop was at the Hejaz Railway train, a refurbished retro locomotive. Standing by itself against the starkness of the desert, it looked very out of place. I was surprised to hear that this particular train still runs, though for touristy purposes.

If you choose to ride the heritage train, you will be treated to a show that recreated the Arab Revolution of 1916 – think people on horses charging towards each other with guns. Sounds very cool.

This was a fun, albeit short, pitstop for us. We were able to climb up the train and explore the insides.

  1. 4×4 Jeep Adventures

Our Wadi Rum truly adventure began when we first met our Bedouin driver and his makeshift tourist Jeep. The jeeps took up to six people at the back. The jeep was probably the best and fastest way of exploring the Wadi Rum desert. The jeep moves at a comfortable speed, to get some wind on you, but not at a roller-coaster speed that have you holding on for dear life.

My favourite part was when our driver and guide hung out the doors gaily screaming “lelelelelelelelele!!!” rendering the jeep driver-less… while the rest of us chuckled nervously as we exchanged glances at each other.

  1. Silence is Golden

At our first jeep stop, our guide took us to the top of some rocky cliffs which overlooked the picturesque desert plains.

It was beautiful then, but it got even more surreal when he asked us all to keep silent and stare out the desert. The silence was deafeningly peaceful. It reminded me of the peaceful silence when you’re diving underwater.

  1. Spot the Camels

Being up there on the rocky cliffs, you don’t realize how high or far away you are, because you’re staring out into the plain desert. There are no structures here for depth comparison, just a sandy landscape. Until you spot movement in a distance… camels!

The camels looked tiny, and that was when I realized how far we really were. It became a fun activity trying to spot these gentle animals as they grazed leisurely across the desert plains. One time we spotted a baby camel, it was too adorable.

  1. Join a Bedouin Dance

At one point, we stopped near a Bedouin camp where there were old Nabataean drawings on the rocks.

Our guide implored us to climb down the jeep and along with some of the Bedouins, began to break into song. They began connecting hands and suddenly we were all pulled into a Bedouin conga line of sorts – except with more complicated footsteps. It was insanely fun though. I was sad when the line broke halfway (Thank you for that, Mr Steve-with-two-left-feet).

  1. Ride a Camel through the Desert

At the last leg of the jeep tour, you have the option of riding a camel through the desert, ala Lawrence of Arabia.

  1. Climb a Sand Dune

Nobody warned me climbing a sand dune would be this tough. You shoes sinking into the soft sand adds a whole new level of fitness to uphill climbing.

I don’t regret climbing it though, I was in a desert after all. Only wished I had a heads up that it would require some sweat and heavy panting at the top.

  1. Drink Bedouin Whiskey

Otherwise known as the harmless sage tea. Hilarious.

After climbing down that damn dune, we were ushered into the Bedouin tent, where we were served the hot tea in cute little cups. While we were sipping our teas, we had a demo of how the Jordanian headgear was worn.

  1. Realise Lawrence of Arabia is a real person

Don’t laugh, but I never realized that Lawrence was a real dude who was alive and well at some point. I remembered watching it as a kid, and back then we didn’t have Google to search the movie… and to educate us that this was real. If Google or the Internet did not exist right now, I would live my life assuming The Crown is fake because the British royal family cannot be this scandalous. OH BUT IT IS, the Internet said so.

ANYWAY TLDR; Lawrence of Arabia is a real person. And he might look like this:

  1. Stay Overnight in a Campsite

I didn’t do this, but I almost wished I’d detoured and stayed in one of the campsites on the desert. We passed by a lot of fabulous-looking campsites. One in particular were these ethereal white bubble pods with see-through ceilings. I imagine a night’s stay here to be absolutely breathtaking – utter silence as millions of stars blanket the sky.

I’ve stayed in a Bedouin campsite in Petra and loved that experience as well. These campsites, however, look more upscale – we could see lavish beds and air conditioning units as we drove past one of the pods. So curious to know what these campsites were called – anyone with a clue, let me know!

#1 Tip: Sun Protection is Key

If I could dispense any advice, that would be to pack for the sun.

Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat or a scarf to cover the head. You’ll thank me. I was there in the cooler months of the year, but that didn’t stop the sun from relentlessly beating down our heads and faces.

Sensible advice would be to wear comfortable shoes or sneakers on, but the Bedouins there were more than comfortable in their slippers. I collected a lot of sand in my shoes at the end of the trip too.

Have you been to Wadi Rum? How was your desert experience like?

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