wadi rum desert
In southern Jordan you will find the 280 square miles (720 km2) Wadi Rum desert. One of the five properties in Jordan, on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Wadi means “valley” and because of its breathtaking views, Wadi Rum is also called “The valley of the moon”. It features an iconic landscape with spectacular sandstone mountains, valleys, sand dunes, cliffs and natural arches. These landforms represent a million years of ongoing landscape evolution. Blowing sand and winter floods shaped the sandstone into natural bridges and curving arches. The presence of iron oxide gives the mountains and sand a red color. The Rum Village sits one mile above sea level and the surrounding desert area is home to Jordan’s highest point, Jabal Umm ad Dami (6,083 feet). The government of Jordan recognized the unique natural and cultural history of Wadi Rum, and in 1998 declared Wadi Rum a protected area.
For thousands of years, people have lived in Wadi Rum, trying to survive its harsh environment. There are over 20,000 documented inscriptions inside Wadi Rum, tracing human existence back to 12,000 years. The people living in Wadi Rum are of Bedouin origin and used to led nomadic lives, herding goats for meat and milk.
wadi rum in the media
The 1962 film “Lawrence of Arabia”, partly shot in Wadi Rum, introduced the beauty of Wadi Rum to the rest of the world. The film is based on the life of T.E. Lawrence, a young British army officer who was sent to Arabia to unite the rival Arab tribes into one Arab army, in order to defeat the Turkish Empire. Lawrence’s book “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom also made many references to Wadi Rum. The title is even inspired by one of Wadi Rum’s imposing mountains. Some popular tourists sites are named after Lawrence. The 2015 film “The Martian” used Wadi Rum as a location for their “red planet”.
Because of the featuring’s in films, Wadi Rum became known worldwide and tourism increased. In 2018, a total of 200,000 tourists visited Wadi Rum. A few locals continue a truly nomadic existence depending on livestock’s raising, but most of them now depend on tourism. There’s a total of 40 camps that accommodate tourists, ranging from basic camps to luxurious glamping.
wadi rum highlights
Wadi Rum is the ultimate destination for hikers, climbers, campers and nature lovers. Popular activities in the desert include riding camels, riding Arabian horses, hiking and rock-climbing. Jeep tours are available to visit sites of interest like: Lawrence’s spring, Khazali Canyon, Burrah Canyon, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Siq Um Tawaqi, sand dunes, rock bridges, Alameleh inscriptions, Anfashieh inscriptions, Nabatean temple and sunset sites (Al Ghuroub).
wadi rum protected area
To protect and support the conservation of the Wadi Rum desert, there are special by-laws and codes of behavior. The most important for visitors are:
Only drive on the designated tracks
Protect nature: no hunting or collecting plants, animals, rocks, artifacts or firewood
Camp and climb in the official sites only. For fires, use gas stoves or charcoal
Minimize the use of fixed climbing gear and chalk and avoid damaging trees and shrubs
Keep the area clean. Take your litter away. Burn toilet paper or use water. Bury organic waste.
Minimize noise. Refrain from playing loud music.
Respect the lifestyle of local people. Wear appropriate clothes and ask before taking pictures.