Elevation: 3,142 ft
GPS: 29.574, 35.421 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 55,233 total · 412/month
Shared By: Justin Lozier on Aug 8, 2009 with 3 Suggestions
Admins: Gunkswest
Access Issue: Entrance fee required; you are also supposed to register with the Tourist Police if climbing Details


The Wadi Rum Protected Area is a vast desert area in southern Jordan, about an hour's drive north of Aqaba. Wadi Rum isn't too far from the ancient Nabatean capital of Petra (a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is Wadi Rum). It is full of massive sandstone rock formations, with a near-limitless number of climbing routes, many yet to be discovered. While there is climbing right near Wadi Rum Village, the real reason to visit Wadi Rum is to go deep into the desert to experience the vastness.

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 British climbers 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 The books were last printed in the late 1990s, so they are fairly out of date.

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."

Getting There

There are two options for getting to Wadi Rum, depending on which airport you fly into:
1) Fly into the capital city of Amman and travel about four hours south to Wadi Rum Village. In 2019, a taxi from the airport in Amman to Wadi Rum Village cost about 90-100 JD one way. It is also possible to rent a car and drive yourself. Many of the climbs are out in the desert and you'll need a Bedouin guide to drive you to them (tourists aren't allowed to drive alone out in the desert in the Wadi Rum Protected Area).

2) Fly into the resort city of Aqaba, on the coast of the Red Sea, and take a taxi north to Wadi Rum. In 2019, the standard taxi fare between Aqaba and Wadi Rum cost about 20-25 JD one way. You can also rent a car and drive yourself. Many of the climbs are out in the desert and you'll need a Bedouin guide to drive you to them (tourists aren't allowed to drive alone out in the desert in the Wadi Rum Protected Area).

As of April 2019, you can camp up by the base of the wall at Jebel Rum (about a 20 minute hike up above town with a big pack), stay in a variety of homes and yards in Wadi Rum Village or go camp way out in the desert. Unless you only plan to climb on the cliffs that are right above town (Jebel Rum), you'll need to hire a local Bedouin guide service. Depending on your budget and objectives, they will set you up with transportation and all the logistics you might need (a camp, a guide, food and water, etc.).  

As an example, in March and April 2019 we stayed at two different houses in the village for 15-25 JD/person/night. Both places included breakfast and dinner, a bed and hot showers. The higher-priced place was nicer than the cheaper place, but both were fine. On the same trip, we also stayed at a Bedouin camp about 20 minutes out from the village. For 50 JD/person/night we had three meals per day and transport to wherever we wanted to go (climbs, hikes, seeing inscriptions and springs, stopping for photos, etc.). Daily transport from Wadi Rum Village to incredible climbs like The Haj (5.9) and Merlin's Wand (5.10) will cost roughly 30-60 JD per day. Climbs like these are really the reason you'd want to visit Wadi Rum, otherwise, you might as well save the airfare and climb at Red Rocks in NV. Build funds into your budget to go to these remote climbs or you'll really miss out.

Bedouin guides like Kahled Aodh (www.wadirumnaturetours.com/cell: 07 7720 4215) know the climbs well enough that you can simply ask to be taken to a specific climb. Other guides know the area well, but may not know where specific climbs are located (i.e.: they'll know where Barrah Canyon is, but maybe not the climb Merlin's Wand).

As of April 2019, the entrance fee to Wadi Rum was 5 JD/person. This fee is covered if you buy a Jordan Pass before arrival in the country (see jordanpass.jo). Note that as of 2019, US citizens need a visa to enter Jordan. Purchasing the Jordan Pass waives the visa fee (appx $60 US in 2019). You can buy the Jordan Pass online, then send proof of the purchase to the Jordanian Embassy in DC and get your visa for free. This process takes about 7-10 days.

Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, a sunhat and get yourself a 'Hutta' to protect your face from the sun and sand. There's lots of loose rock at Wadi Rum, so a helmet is highly advisable. The rock is a fairly soft sandstone and everything is sandy. Without care, you can trash ropes very quickly.

Nearby, the archaeological site of Petra is not to be missed. Add another day or two to your trip to explore this ancient Nabatean city. Again, the Jordan Pass waives Petra entrance fees. If you flew into Amman, it's easy to see Petra, the Dead Sea and a host of other cultural sites on your way to/from Wadi Rum. Taxi drivers take hundreds of people to these places every day as they travel between Amman and Wadi Rum.

The people of Jordan are extremely friendly and helpful. Be respectful of their culture by dressing appropriately (no shorts or skimpy clothing) and being polite. You are visiting a very special place that is much different than the US.

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