Up until a short time ago, I had never heard of Wadi Rum. It wasn’t until travel blogger Gary Ardnt mentioned it in one of his posts a year ago that I was introduced to it. Wadi Rum sounded extremely remote and exotic and not knowing much about the Middle East, I knew I had to get there one day.
When the Jordan Tourism Board invited us to come and see their incredible country, we finally had our chance.
Wadi Means Valley in Arabic
We started our day off with a 4X4 adventure through the desert beginning at the Wadi Rum Visitors Centre. It overlooks the Seven Pillars of Wisdom: an imposing rock formation named after the autobiography by T.E Lawrence of the same name. As the main jumping off point for tours out to the desert, the visitors centre is a bustling place.
The Jordanians are a very welcoming people.
A group of men invited us over to have our picture taken and one of them even offered to be our photographer. We enjoyed talking with them and unlike many other places in our travels, they never expected anything in return. They simply said, “would you like to have a photo with us?” We happily replied, “yes.”
Once we had everything in order and said our goodbyes we joined our guide for our very own 4X4 tour of Wadi Rum. It’s not only a scenic tour of the desert but a fun adventure riding in the back of a truck over bumpy terrain.
As it had been everywhere in Jordan, the landscape of Wadi Rum was astounding. Our driver told us to rap on the truck’s roof whenever we wanted to stop for a photograph and we ended giving our knuckles quite the workout. We constantly wanted to to take a closer look or picture at every turn.
It was the famous Rock Bridge of Wadi Rum that was our first “official stop” of the tour. This is the photograph that everyone wants to get. Overrun with tourists when we first arrived, we patiently waited for the clamorous group to finish up before making a run for our own shots. We had exactly 10 minutes to grab our pictures before the next wave of tourists came through. And we are happy to say that we accomplished our mission.
It was now time to move onto our next stop, the Khazali Canyon. This is a small but fascinating canyon filled with Nabatean inscriptions dating back to the 4th century BC. Our guide Ali explained to us that he can read these inscriptions as they are an ancient form of the Arabic language. I thought that was pretty cool, but then again, he never did explain what the inscriptions said.
I am captivated with ancient carvings and structures. How can these inscriptions last for thousands of years when the entire landscape has changed over time? Erosion and wind should have wiped them away and yet here they are.
While the inscriptions are impressive, it is the walk farther back into the cave that is jaw dropping. We couldn’t believe when another group coming in asked us how long of a walk it was to the back of the canyon. When we replied about a minute, they decided to turn around and head back out. Curious.
After our glimpse into history and our walk into the spectacular display of nature at its finest, we needed a refreshment. Acting like true Bedouins, we walked through the sand to a nearby camp where we sipped on sweet and spicy tea. The Bedouins drink their tea with a lot of sugar and we followed suit. They explained that they do not have a lot of sweets in their diet and the tea satisfies that craving.
Known as Bedouin Whiskey you will be served tea wherever you go in Jordan and we developed quite a taste for it. We love this tea so much that we bought two packs to bring home to keep a little bit of Jordan with us.
It was one final quick stop at the red sand dune before heading back to the Visitors Centre. This is where we finally caught up with the rest of the crowds and where we opted out of hiking up to the top to join the throngs of people.
Instead, we were captivated by the guys trying to fix their jeep. Sometimes it’s the oddities in life that are more enthralling than the stunning landscape in front of us. It seemed so surreal to have these men dressed in traditional garb working on a carburator in the middle of the mystical Arabian Desert.
Wadi Rum may be overrun with tourists but it is worth visiting. If you have more time, I would suggest going on a longer jeep safari or camel trek. Like everywhere on earth, it is becoming more difficult to get off the beaten path. But if you work a bit harder and travel a bit farther, you will travel away from the crowd and quite possibly will find yourself among the true Bedouin of Wadi Rum.
For a different Experience, try seeing Wadi Rum from above by Ultralight or Hot Air Balloon.