July 30, 2014

Camping in Jordanís Wadi Rum: Petroglyphs, Lawrence of Arabia, Stargazing and More

Our first night in Jordanís magical Wadi Rum began with a sky-high bon fire, exotic Arabic music and a food table piled high with hummus, olives, lamb and rice. We partied late and woke even later to a leisurely breakfast of ful, pickled vegetables, flatbread and tea. After a dayís worth of rest and reading, we set out to explore all that this ecological destination has to offer. Here are some of the things you can expect to enjoy on your own Wadi Rum camping trip.

Taking a tour of the Wadi Rum desert area will involve exploring some ancient petroglyphs.

Itís a given that we would have understood more of the information being presented to us if we had actually spoken Arabic during our visit. That being said, we were able to stop and explore several sets of petroglyphs on our tour of Wadi Rum. As a location hosting human inhabitants for thousands of years, the evidence of past cultures is prevalent. If you know where to look.

Phenomenally-dark skies are built in to the Wadi Rum camping experience.

For an avid stargazer like my husband, this is a huge draw. The absence of urban lighting and the remote location of Wadi Rum combine for the ultimate dark-sky observing conditions coveted by serious astronomers. If youíre able to bring your telescope on your Wadi Rum camping getaway, fantastic. Otherwise, a blanket and a sharp eye will have to do.

Lawrence of Arabia was filmed in Wadi Rum, as was the film Red Planet.

Additionally, it has been reported that T.E. Lawrence himself visited Wadi Rum on numerous occasions and any of the local guides will be able to show you to the enclosed spring traditionally believed to be his water source. While some may disagree as to precisely where he stayed, it is known that he spent time in that area of Jordan, making his presence in Wadi Rum quite likely. At any rate, the movie magic is undeniable and the atmosphere of this protected desert environment quite thought provoking.

Rock climbing is a popular activity for those visiting Jordanís Wadi Rum.

Numerous rock formations are available for enthusiasts of this sport, and at least one fun stone arch that David and I were able to stroll to the top of and enjoy. These same rock formations make for fantastic photo opportunities as well, as their subtle color variations and looming shapes break up the flatter sandy landscapes. It was a bit dusty and gray when we visited, but the photos still look interesting. If you are able to get some of these same images with a darker blue sky, the result would be smashing, Iím sure. (Editorís note: This video of Wadi Rum that David put together shows several of the areaís rock formations, albeit in the middle of a slight dust storm. It also shows the camp where we stayed, and a few local camels.)

Riding around Wadi Rum for the sheer pleasure of it should not be underestimated.

Whether you are bouncing around on the back of a pickup truck, or riding on Arabian horseback, experiencing the serenity of the desert with a knowledgeable local is a fun ďlife listĒ event. Donít miss out on it. Pack a picnic, have tea with a local or stop and climb to the top of a rock arch for a rest with a view. Just get out there and see as much of the area as you can. You might even see some strolling camels on your expedition.

Wadi Rum accommodation options are definitely rustic.

You should know this going in. Bring a bottle of water to brush your teeth with and a package of baby wipes in case the campground you choose is between water deliveries. That being said, thereís something exotic about vacationing in a place where you have to sleep in huts, or tents made of canvas or goat hair. Evening entertainment options include star spotting, bonfires and chatting with the locals along with the occasional late-night outdoor dance fest with drums and Arabic pop tunes.

All in all, Wadi Rum is a great place to relax and unwind, especially if youíre a fan of deserts in general. Many vacationers pair a getaway to this part of Jordan with a trip to Petra after visiting Amman, the Dead Sea, Jerash and Madaba further north. †Our top tip? Bring a book.


Photo Credits: The pictures of Wadi Rum used in this article were photographed by the Trek Hound team, and are available for online publication through a creative commons agreement with our sister site, Pictures of Travel Places.

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