Magical Wadi Rum, in southern Jordan, is the quintessential Arabian desert, made famous in the western world by Lawrence of Arabia. Vast landscapes filled with rolling sand dunes, rugged rock formations and relics of ancient civilisations characterise the Wadi Rum Desert, sometimes referred to as the ‘Valley of the Moon’. Travel to Wadi Rum to experience dramatic vistas of sandstone and basalt mountains, reaching 800 metres in height and eroded by the wind over the centuries into otherworldly shapes. Between the rocks and mountains are hidden natural pools, such as Jebel Khazali. Travellers who visit Wadi Rum come to explore the mars-like landscapes and to experience the regions rich Bedouin culture. The Zalabia Bedouin have lived in the desert for generations and today, host travellers in a number of desert camps, sharing their traditions and lifestyle with curious visitors.
The dramatic red landscapes of Wadi Rum, coloured by iron oxide, cover an area the size of New York City and it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected due to its unique topographical features and the fascinating insights it reveals about civilisations of by-gone eras. More than 20,000 petroglyphs and rock paintings are scattered throughout the Wadi Rum desert, documenting 12,000 years of history and if you take a tour of Wadi Rum you’ll be able to discover them for yourself. Wadi Rum’s universal appeal has only been boosted by its use as the setting for a number of blockbuster movies, from Lawrence of Arabia in 1962 to The Martian in 2015.
A trip to Wadi Rum is sure to be filled with unique and unforgettable experiences as you traverse the dusty plateaus and wind-swept canyons of this desert enclave. There are many things to see in Wadi Rum and if you’re able to stay overnight in the desert during a tour of Jordan, you’ll be greatly rewarded by the serene tranquillity one can only find in the depths of the desert. With accommodation in Wadi Rum ranging from simple tent camps to luxurious martian tent lodges, sleeping under the stars and waking to the silent sunrise over the mountains is an opportunity available to all travellers and a bucket-list-worthy experience. Many of the desert camps offer exciting dune safaris, one of the best things to do in Wadi Rum. Other activities to enjoy in Wadi Rum are hiking, rock-climbing and visiting a number of fascinating archaeological sites, the most famous of which is the Anfishiyyeh Inscriptions, a collection of revealing Thamudic and Nabataean petroglyphs featuring depictions of a camel caravan, carved into the side of a rock face. Khazali Canyon is home to even more ancient inscriptions, where the canyon walls are almost completely covered with drawings and writings from thousands of years ago. If you travel to Wadi Rum inspired by the writings of T. E. Lawrence, be sure to visit the Seven Pillars of Wisdom Rock Formation, an incredible, gravity-defying formation, named after Lawrence’s famous book. The trail leading to the rocks is close to the entrance of the valley so you’re likely to see the imposing formation when entering or leaving Wadi Rum. On the other hand, if you’re a nature-lover, a trip to Wadi Rum is worthwhile just to discover the resilient animals which call this lunar-like landscape home. The Jabal Khazali area is well-known for its wildlife, such as snakes, scorpions and lizards, as well as Arabian sand cats, mountain goats and foxes.
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