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Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum in southern Jordan is the largest wadi (valley) in the country. About 60 kilometres east of Aqaba, this valley in the Jordanian desert, where famously Lawrence of Arabia was filmed and where the Bedouin tribes reside, cuts into sandstone and granite, producing a varied red desert landscape and unique scenery. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Wadi Rum Protected Area joins the ancient city of Petra near the Red Sea, Jerash, the Dead Sea, and Mount Nebo, as Jordan’s most visited tourist destinations.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

The 74,000-hectare protected desert area, relatively unspoilt and isolated, features towering cliffs and huge caverns. Well-known formations include the Jebel Rum (also spelled Jabal Rum), the Jebel Burdah rock bridge, the Khazali canyon, and the “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” rock formation, named after Lawrence’s book.

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Wadi Rum, Jordan. Photo from hikinginjordan/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
A natural rock bridge in Wadi Rum, Jordan

Human settlements in ancient times left behind their marks in the form of stunning petroglyphs, inscriptions, rock paintings, and temples. British officer T.E. Lawrence passed through Wadi Rum during the Arab Revolt of 1917-18 and wrote about his journey and the landscape he observed. Years later, in 1962, shots of Wadi Rum in David Lean’s film, Lawrence of Arabia, got travellers curious about Jordan and contributed to kickstarting the country’s tourism industry.

Tourism in Wadi Rum is also a source of income for the Zalabia Bedouin, who has settlements in the desert and work with their guests to ensure activities are ecologically sound. On a day tour from the Wadi Araba border (a border crossing between Eliat, Israel and Aqaba, Jordan) or from Aqaba, travellers can enjoy a camel ride or a jeep tour across the desert sand, go hiking and rock-climbing, or ride a hot air balloon for an amazing view of the magnificent landscape below.

Those who have the time and resources to stay overnight can stay in a private tent at a Wadi Rum Bedouin campground and village, or go on a luxury camping retreat (luxury glamping), staying in a bubble tent, a unique accommodation that lets you marvel at the desert sky at night.


Articles about Jordan published by Odyssey Traveller

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External articles to assist you on your visit to Jordan