Wadi Rum, or the Valley of the Moon, as it’s sometimes known, is like no other place on Earth. A 720 square kilometer protected area located in the south of Jordan, it boasts towering mountains of sandstone, swathes of red sand, and intriguing ancient canyons. It’s an other-worldly place, and regardless of whether you explore it by foot, camel, or jeep, you’ll come away with the kind of memories that last a lifetime. If you’re considering visiting this beautiful destination, here are 10 very good reasons to convince you.
1. The landscape is other-worldly
Wadi Rum is like no other place on earth. The deeper you travel into the desert, the more otherworldly it becomes. The sand itself is spectacular enough, ranging from deep red in some places to golden yellow in others, but the towering sand dunes, jagged rock formations, and scrub brush are all equally spectacular. The sunsets are enough to take your breath away, although even at mid-day, when the sun is at its peak and the desert takes on a still, barren appearance, there are still endless photo opportunities to be had.
2. There are multiple ways to explore it
When it comes to exploring Wadi Rum, you can choose between one of three different methods. If you’re short on time, jeep tours offer a quick, convenient way to pack in some of the most well-known scenic and archaeological sites in the area. If you’re looking for a more unique experience, camels tours (which typically last from between 1hr to a full day) can be arranged at the visitor center. It’s also possible to hike, although if you choose that option, it’s best to arrange a Bedouin guide to accompany you as maps can be difficult to source.
3. It’s blissfully peaceful
Petra, the historic city that serves as a gateway to Wadi Rum, is a stunning city with a ton of things to do and see. The problem is, everyone’s in on the secret, with the result that it can sometimes feel overwhelmed with tourists. Wadi Rum gets its share of tourists too, but thanks to how expansive it is, you’ll rarely see a single one. If you’re looking for the kind of place where you can snap photos all day long without day-trippers photobombing every picture, this is it.
4. It’s bristling with history
History buffs are guaranteed to get a major kick out of Wadi Rum. It’s been inhabited since prehistoric times, with the result that the entire desert bristles with reminders of its past inhabitants. The Nabataeans were some of its earliest settlers, and their temples, rock drawings, and inscriptions can still be found scattered throughout the region. One of the key historic attractions to check out is the Nabataean Temple. According to arabiannightsrum.com, the temple, which was built in the first century AD in honor of the goddess Allat, was discovered in the 1930s. It incurred significant damage in the mid-1990s, but it’s still possible to view its foundation sandstone blocks.
5. It’s perfect for an overnight adventure
You don’t have to turn your trip to Wadi Rum into an overnighter if you don’t want to, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t. Despite the barren, lifeless feel of the desert, it actually boasts numerous desert camps that offer intrepid adventurers the opportunity to spend the night under the stars. The price range is enormous, with some camps offering beds for as little as $35 a night and others offering a luxurious glamping experience for around $800. The Points Guy recommends the Wadi Rim Night Luxury Camp, which offers sumptuous accommodation for around $270 per night. Other recommended options include the Bait Ali Lodge, which even comes with a pool.
6. It’s like being in a movie
If you’ve ever watched “Lawrence of Arabia,” the landscape of Wadi Rum won’t take you by surprise. The movie was filmed here, and today, you can explore the same train station and train that feature in the movie. Not that “Lawrence of Arabia” is the only film that used Wadi Rum’s astonishing scenery as a backdrop. Over the years, it’s provided the setting for “The Martian,” “Passion in the Desert,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Prometheus,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” and “The Last Days of Mars.”
7. There’s an excellent visitor center
If you want to find out a little more about Wadi Rum before venturing into the desert, leave plenty of time in your schedule to explore the visitor center. Located just opposite the Seven Pillars of Wisdom (the mountain named after Lawrence of Arabia’s book), the large, stylish center contains everything you need to get your trip off to a flying start, including reception areas, interpretation halls, restaurants, and craft shops. As the starting point for all vehicle tours of the protected area, it’s pretty much a compulsory part of the Wadi Rum experience, but fortunately, it’s got more than enough to justify a few hours in its own right.
8. The rock formations are spectacular
There are rocks, and then there are the kinds of rocks that Wadi Rum boasts. Some hold secrets to the past, others are simply magnificent to look at. Key formations to watch out for include the Border Rock Bridge, which is widely considered to be one of the most magnificent (and largest) natural rock formations in the world, and the Khazali Canyon, which boasts Nabatean inscriptions of humans, goats, and other animals that are believed to date back to 200 B.C.
9. You can walk in Lawrence of Arabia’s footsteps
If you’ve ever wanted to travel in the footsteps of a legend, Wadi Rum is where you get to do it. Lawrence of Arabia helped put Wadi Rum on the map, and at Ain Ash-Shallalah, or Lawrence’s Spring, as it’s usually referred to, you get to see one of the central places he describes in his book, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom.” As jordanprivatetourss.com notes, some of the key features to watch out for include an antiquated water channel and numerous engravings on the stone face.
10. The camel spotting opportunities are immense
As Nomadette explains, camels don’t just serve as a useful means of transportation in the desert, they also serve as a point of comparison. With nothing but mile upon mile of plain desert in front of you, it can be easy to forget just how high or far away you are from everything – until that is, you spot the movement of camels in the distance. When you see how small the camels look, you’ll realize just how far away you are.