In a country full of incredible sights, why would you visit an empty desert? When that desert is as fascinating and otherworldly as Jordan’s Wadi Rum, of course! Located in southwest Jordan, Wadi Rum is a popular tourist spot, but there are some important things to know before traveling there – so you have the best experience possible.
I visited Wadi Rum during my first trip to Jordan, as part of the traditional tourist trail that everyone does. It was one of my favorite sights in Jordan – and that’s saying a lot as it’s really hard to choose. I was so enamored by my night in Wadi Rum that I knew I had to return one day to sleep under those stars again.
If you’re planning on traveling to Wadi Rum as part of your Jordan itinerary, there are some things to know before you go. In this post, I briefly cover some things I think it’s best to know about this desert destination; after reading, you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect and how to make the most of your visit to Wadi Rum.
1. Wadi Rum Weather is Seasonal
Though it might surprise you for a desert climate in the Middle East, Wadi Rum has very distinct seasons – at least when it comes to temperatures in each of the four seasons.
The weather in Wadi Rum is pleasant year-round: daytime temperatures range from an average of 10°C (50°F) in winter (November to February) to 35°C (95°F) in summer (June to September). Average nightly lows are roughly 10 degrees (Celsius) colder than during the day.
In terms of precipitation, there’s not much to worry about: Wadi Rum receives 50-100mm (2-4 inches) of rain per year, over an average of 15 days. Most of this is rain, though it does occasionally snow in Wadi Rum during the winter.
2. The Best Time to Visit Wadi Rum…
…Depends on how much heat and sun you enjoy.
For most people, spring and autumn are the best time to visit Wadi Rum. Between March and May and between September and November, you’ll experience warm days without blasting heat, and plenty of sun (12 hours per day on average).
You can certainly visit Wadi Rum during the other seasons, but it potentially be blazing hot during the summer days and close to freezing during winter nights.
3. You Have Options for Where to Stay
As you plan your trip to Wadi Rum, you’ll soon realize: there are lots of options for places to stay. Most of these are called “Camps” and are permanently located in parts of Wadi Rum (rather than more traditional nomadic Bedouin camps).
There are several dozen camps in Wadi Rum and some specialize in different activities or experiences. To choose one, I recommend comparing properties and reading reviews online.
4. Human History in Wadi Rum Dates Back to Prehistoric Times
Why are we drawn to visit Wadi Rum? It could be that – like many ancient sites – our human heritage dates so far back that we are inextricably drawn to the location.
In Wadi Rum, human history has been dated to prehistoric times. Here you’ll find petroglyphs from lost civilizations, and marks left by explorers in more recent millennia. The Bedouin people are the traditional inhabitants of the region and many still live semi-traditionally in the village of Wadi Rum.
If you find this fascinating, be sure to book a tour of Wadi Rum that includes a visit to one of the petroglyph sites; your guide can tell you more about the history first-hand.
5. Wadi Rum is Famous in Movies
If Wadi Rum seems familiar for another reason, it could be that you’ve likely seen it in at least one movie over the past few years. Jordan – especially Wadi Rum – has become a popular filming location. Some of the most popular ones have been:
- The Martian
- Star Wars Rogue One and The Rise of Skywalker
- Dune (coming in 2021)
You can see my list of movies filmed in Jordan if you’re curious about other movies you might see Wadi Rum in.
If you love movies as much as I do, you can also ask your local guide to point out movie locations when touring Wadi Rum.
6. There’s Loads to Do when Visiting Wadi Rum
As I’ve already alluded, there are lots of sights to see and things to do when traveling to Wadi Rum. The most common activity is taking a tour – by 4×4/Jeep or Camel (or both if you have the time!). A local guide will show you the famous formations and areas of Wadi Rum over the course of a few hours; some also include sunrise or sunset to make the experience more otherworldly. Here are the best Jeep tours in Wadi Rum if you need some guidance on choosing one.
But you can also go hiking, try rock climbing, enjoy culinary experiences (like the Bedouin Zarb dinner), and go stargazing. This last one is my favorite (again, something we’ll do on my Jordan tour) as there is virtually no light pollution in Wadi Rum and you’ll have a truly incredible view of the night sky.
7. There is One Wadi Rum Scam to Avoid
When booking your trip to Wadi Rum, I recommend arranging everything in advance. That’s because there is one common scam you might encounter if you try to book a day tour from Aqaba to Wadi Rum. Specifically, some taxi drivers will offer you a ride and discount on your tour, but take you to a location near (but not in) Wadi Rum. You’ll see some beautiful scenery, but it won’t be Wadi Rum – which is what you traveled all that way to see!
Do you have other questions about traveling to Wadi Rum? Let me know in the comments!