Wadi Rum is a vast desert in southern Jordan, near the ancient Nabatean capital of Petra. It is full of massive Granite and Sandstone rock formations, with a near-limitless number of climbing routes, many yet to be discovered. Access generally involves riding deep into the desert on camel, although Toyota Landcruisers are also available, and 'Bedouin Camping' out in the desert.
History (from Wikipedia):
"Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, with many cultures — including the Nabateans — leaving their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples. As of 2007[update], several Bedouin tribes inhabit Rum and the surrounding area.
In the West, Wadi Rum may be best known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence, who based his operations here during the Arab Revolt of 1917–18. In the 1980s one of the impressive rock formations in Wadi Rum was named "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" in memory of Lawrence's book penned in the aftermath of the war, though the 'Seven Pillars' referred to in the book actually have no connection with Rum (see the Foreword in the book).
The area was "discovered" as a climbing area in 1984 by Tony Howard, Di Taylor, Mick Shaw, and Al Baker. Howard and Taylor have since written two guidebooks: Treks & Climbs in Wadi Rum and Jordan - Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs & Canyons, both published by Cicerone Press.
The area centred on Wadi Rum (the main valley) is home to the Zalabia Bedouin who, working with climbers and trekkers, have made a success of developing eco-adventure tourism, now their main source of income. The area around Disi to the NE, home to the Zuweida Bedouin and erroneously also thought to be part of Wadi Rum by visitors, caters more for Jordanian visitors from Amman, with campsites regularly used by party-goers."
There are two options, depending on which airport you fly into:
1) Fly into the capital city of Amman, rent a car, and drive about 4 hours south to Wadi Rum.
2) Fly into the beach resort city of Aqaba, on the coast of the Red Sea, and take a bus to Wadi Rum. I have heard the bus is not such a great option, so I would recommend renting a car and making the short drive (45 minutes) to Rum.
Hire a local guide service before you arrive, and they will set you up with transportation (camel), their Bedouin campsite, and a local rock guide. The approach on camel back ranges anywhere from 2-5 hours. Bring plenty of water (it's a desert).
- Beware of sandstorms. Bring sunglasses, and get yourself a 'Hutta' to protect your face from the sun and sand.
- Nearby Petra is not to be missed. Add another day or two to explore this ancient Nabatean city.
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BETA PHOTO: Old Toyota Landcruisers are also available.
BETA PHOTO: Bedouin Camp