Wadi Rum, alternatively known as the “Valley of the Moon”, is a desert wilderness in southern Jordan, just about 60 km to the east of Aqaba, the port city of Jordan by the red sea. The plain spans approximately 778km2 area, and is well renowned for its spectacular sandstone and granite rock scenery. This is the popular desert landscape setting with spectacular canyons, dunes of sweeping sand, bright night skies and remote, scattered Bedouin villages used in movies and story books. It’s reddish hue is as a result of the presence of iron oxide. It’s well carved gorges, sandstone towers and arches are the craft of years and years of floods and sand storms.
According to the inscriptions and drawings on the cliffs, human habitation in Wadi Rum dates back over twelve thousand years ago. The old trade routes between Africa and the Arabian foreland, down to Syria and the Mediterranean thousands of years ago, cut through Wadi Rum.
Most of the Bedouin population at Wadi Rum today reside in Rum Village, the only habitation in the region. The locals still maintain their culture, but are also active in the tourism, providing accommodation for tourist, cultural entertainments and desert tour guide services.
Wadi Rum's rugged scenery can be toured on camelback, on a exciting jeep cruise or on foot. Rock climbing, star gazing and hot air ballooning are some fun events one can do. In Wadi Rum, there is plenty to feed the eyes with, and so much to do as well, there are numerous thrilling sights including more than 40,000 paintings of historical rocks and inscriptions; ancient ruins and unusual rock formations formed by the elements.
Lawrence of Arabia
T.E. Lawrence brought Wadi Rum to the limelight through his literary works, to the Western world. Lawrence served in the region as a British soldier and supported Prince Faisal Bin Hussein during the 1917 Arab Revolution against the Ottomans in World War I. He described Wadi Rum in three words “vast, endless and Godlike”. The success of the 1960s movie "Lawrence of Arabia" introduced Wadi Rum to the public, and attracted a vast coalition of tourist.
Things to do in Wadi Rum
The highest peak throughout Jordan and in Wadi Rum as well, is Jabal Umm ad Dami, hence it is a famous destination for hikers and climbers. There are old writings inscribed on the rock walls at Anfishiyyeh and Khazali canyon. The appealing inscriptions at Anfishiyyeh feature petroglyphs of Thamudic and Nabataean trace, and also images of camel cavalcade.
Jabal Ram is a colossal hill. The highest natural arch in Wadi Rum is Jebe Burdah, also known as the Big Rick Bridge; you can be sure to get amazing scenic views atop the hill. Jebel Umm Fruth, or Middle Rock Bridge as it is otherwise known, is one of the most filmed rocks in Wadi Rum, due to its unique formation. In his writing, Lawrence mentioned the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The rock formation seems to have seven pillars that were formed naturally.
You can visit Lawrence's House in the region, to learn more about him, also near the entrance to Wadi Shalalah is a spring, called Lawrence's spring, named after the legendary Lawrence of Arabia. For climbers, hikers and camel riders, another famous destination is the Barrah Canyon, which is 5km long.
Visiting Wadi Rum
Itinerants going from Israel to Aqaba and Petra could include Wadi Rum in their tourism plans, overnight stays are possible too, in desert camps. The way the sun plays on the rocks casting shadows of gold, yellow and red, is one sight that forms part of the beauty of Wadi Rum. At sunrise and sunset, the view of the desert is exceptional.
The best time to visit Wadi Rum is between September to November, or March to May when the climate is milder than it normally is all year long.