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21 Fascinating Facts About Wadi Rum, Jordan’s Desert Destination

An otherworldly landscape of dramatic sandstone cliffs, endless red dunes, and breathtaking vistas, Wadi Rum invites you to embark on a journey that transcends the ordinary and transports you to a realm of enchantment and wonder. From camel treks beneath a canopy of stars and exhilarating off-road excursions to the warm embrace of Bedouin hospitality, Jordan’s Wadi Rum Desert has captured the hearts and imaginations of travelers for centuries.

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As you venture deep into the heart of this ancient desert, you’ll encounter a rich tapestry of culture, history, and adventure that is woven into the very fabric of this remarkable place – but how much do you know about Wadi Rum?

In this post, I’ll share some fascinating facts about Wadi Rum so you can be more knowledgeable in advance of your trip to Jordan. From basic facts to the storied history of this important location, you’ll soon be an expert in all things Wadi Rum.

5 Must-Know Facts about Wadi Rum

1. Let’s start this compilation of facts about Wadi Rum with the basics. Wadi Rum is a valley located in the southern part of Jordan and governs approximately 280 square miles (720 square kilometers).

2. Wadi Rum is also known as the Valley of the Moon due to its unique geology. No, that’s not an Indiana Jones reference (though the “Valley of the Crescent Moon” in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed in Petra!)

3. This is one of the most popular facts about Wadi Rum, especially if you’re a movie buff (as I am). The desert has served as a film location for many movies, especially science fiction films set on Mars. Lawrence of Arabia, The Martian, Dune, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are some of them; here’s a full list.

4. Wadi Rum is one of Jordan’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting a monthly average of 9,860 travelers who come to explore the valley’s unique landscape and learn about its rich history and culture.

5. The summers in Wadi Rum are merciless. Temperatures in the valley can reach up to 50°C (122°F) during the summer months! 

Fascinating Facts about Wadi Rum History

6. Due to its unique ecosystem, Wadi Rum was designated a protected area in 1998 and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.

7. Despite the hard environment, Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many civilizations since prehistoric times. 

8. Wadi Rum is a testament to human evolution. This, to me, is one of the most fascinating Wadi Rum facts: there are around 25,000 rock carvings and 20,000 inscriptions in Wadi Rum! Some of them are believed to date back to the 4th century BC. The inscriptions in Nabatean and Thamudic languages are stunning.

9. Back then, Wadi Rum actually went by the name Wadi Iram.

10. Today, it is home to the Zalabieh tribe, a Bedouin tribe who has been living in the valley for hundreds of years, which is why…

11. … the valley is a great door to experience the Bedouin lifestyle. There are many camps run by Bedouin families who want to share with travelers their well-known hospitality and cuisine.

12. Wadi Rum was an important trading route in ancient times, connecting the Arabian Peninsula to the Mediterranean world.

13. The valley was also an important center of Arab rebellion during the First World War and played a key role in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire.

14. T.E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, called Wadi Rum home during the Arab Revolt and wrote extensively about the valley in his book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Facts about Wadi Rum Geology & Ecology

15. Currently, it is often described as Mars on Earth given its distinct red appearance in sandstone and granite rocks. In my opinion, this name seems much more accurate than Valley of the Moon.

16. It’s an adventurer’s paradise. The beautiful landscape has made Way Rum popular with rock climbers and hikers who’re after their next big challenge. 

17. The highest peak in Wadi Rum is Jabal Umm ad Dami, which stands at 6,083 feet (1,854 meters) tall.

18. It’s a fantastic viewpoint. From Jabal Umm ad Dami, on a clear day, you can see the Red Sea and the Saudi border from the top.

19. It is a fantastic destination for stargazing, thanks to its remoteness and lack of urbanization. 

20. The valley is one of the best places in the world to experience a camel ride through the desert. This is one of the Wadi Rum experiences that draws travelers from around the world. 

21. Wadi Rum is home to several rare and endangered species, including the Nubian ibex and the Arabian oryx.

Have any other questions about Wadi Rum? Let me know in the comments below.

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I fell in love with Jordan after my first visit in 2016; now I love returning to explore more – and writing guides to help you do the same.

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