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The instantly recognizable expanse of Wadi Rum, a desert wilderness in southern Jordan, spans millennia, with a past that includes a vital role as a trade route connecting the Arabian Peninsula with the Mediterranean. It has graced the silver screen in legendary films like Lawrence of Arabia—and it’s no wonder that Wadi Rum was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in recognition of its exceptional beauty and historical significance.

If this region intrigues you, read on to learn a little about its landscapes, history, and more!

Wadi Rum’s Landscapes

Red Sand Dunes

The landscapes of Wadi Rum are a fusion of red sandstone cliffs, dunes, and canyons carved by the forces of nature.

One of the most recognizable features of Wadi Rum’s landscapes is its enormous red dunes. Travelers here can hike to the summit for panoramic views of the desert or even go on a sunset camel ride—a fantastic opportunity to experience the dunes during nightfall.

Rock Formations

The region is also known for its rock formations, with towering spires, arches, and bridges. Many travelers are particularly interested in the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a must-visit destination named after T.E. Lawrence’s book of the same title. This rock formation of seven side-by-side pillars is a beautiful place to hike—and for adrenaline-seekers, rock climbing lessons can be the perfect blend of challenge and reward.

Canyons and Valleys

Wadi Rum’s canyons and valleys are a respite from the arid desert, providing shade and water to travelers. Hike through the narrow Siq Al Barrah canyon, a popular trail that winds through the red rock formations and into secret springs. Or traverse the expansive Wadi Rum valley on a Jeep tour, which will give you an immersive exploration of the region and incredible views of the desert.

Wadi Rum’s Cultural Heritage

Wadi Rum’s human history spans thousands of years. The Bedouin culture in particular constitutes an essential part of Wadi Rum’s heritage, as their traditional nomadic practices have played a major role in building the region’s history. To learn more about the Bedouin way of life, consider staying in a Bedouin camp, where you can get an introduction to their traditions, try fresh local foods, and even enjoy a traditional fire circle in the evening.

The myriad historical sites scattered across Wadi Rum are fascinating as well—while trekking here, you may see ancient petroglyphs and inscriptions adorning various locations throughout the area. You’ll also see ruins from the Nabataean and Ottoman periods.

Two must-visit sites within Wadi Rum include the Nabataean temple (PDF) at Khazali Canyon, where you can learn a bit about the history and significance of this ancient civilization. You may also want to visit the Ottoman-era fortress at Lawrence’s Spring, which offers insight into the region’s development and its role in shaping Wadi Rum’s identity.

Wadi Rum’s local cuisine is a delectable fusion of flavors and traditions—as you explore the area, be sure to try these delicious dishes:

  • Mansaf: Made with tender lamb cooked in yogurt, Mansaf is a must-try for visitors seeking an authentic taste of Wadi Rum.
  • Shakshuka: This savory dish of eggs cooked in a rich tomato sauce is perfect for those looking for a filling and flavorsome meal.

Also be sure to attend a Bedouin tea ceremony—an wonderful experience that gives a small glimpse into the region’s customs. For wine connoisseurs, don’t miss the opportunity to sample Jordanian wine—with a burgeoning wine industry, Jordan is home to numerous vineyards producing high-quality wines.

Adventures in Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum: Exploring the Enchanting Desert Wilderness of Jordan - Frayed Passport

Photo by Alex Vasey on Unsplash

Wadi Rum is a fantastic destination for thrill-seekers, with all kinds of adventures that allow you to explore its desert landscapes. Whether you’re chasing an adrenaline rush or seeking a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience, Wadi Rum has an adventure for everyone, from hiking and climbing to camel riding and hot air ballooning.

Multi-Day Treks

One of the most memorable experiences in Wadi Rum is taking a multi-day trek through the desert. Travel through the region’s rugged terrain and navigate the sand dunes and cliffs, which constantly reshape the horizon. Be sure to spend a night under the stars in a Bedouin camp.


For those seeking an even greater challenge, rappelling down a cliff face is an experience like no other—you’ll get up close with the rocky cliffs dotting the desert, and you’ll have some absolutely amazing views along the way.

Scenic Flights

If you prefer to appreciate Wadi Rum’s expanse from a birds-eye perspective, consider taking a scenic flight over the desert. This unforgettable experience allows you to enjoy the landscapes from an entirely new vantage point.

A Few Tips for Traveling to Wadi Rum

Best Seasons to Visit Wadi Rum

When planning your visit to Wadi Rum, selecting the ideal time to go is crucial. The region can be scorching during the summer months, making spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) the most favorable seasons for exploring the desert landscapes. During these times, temperatures are milder.


Reaching Wadi Rum is relatively simple, with multiple transportation options to suit your needs. If you’re planning your own trip, regular buses run from Amman or Aqaba, providing a budget-friendly and convenient way to reach Wadi Rum.

For a more personalized experience, consider private tours that depart from nearby cities. These tours can be tailored to fit your schedule and interests, ensuring a unique and unforgettable journey.


Wadi Rum offers diverse housing options to cater to various budgets and preferences. Consider these options for your stay:

  • Luxury resorts: Enjoy the comforts of modern living with all the amenities you desire.
  • Traditional Bedouin camps: For an authentic and immersive experience, stay in a Bedouin camp.
  • Budget-friendly guesthouses: Travelers seeking more affordable accommodations can find a selection of guesthouses that offer comfort and convenience without breaking the bank.

From savoring the local cuisine and participating in cultural festivities to hiking through stunning canyons and valleys, Wadi Rum offers every traveler a unique experience. Have you had the chance to visit Jordan? Share your experience and advice with the Frayed Passport community!

About the Author

Heather is a freelance writer who loves exploring the intersection of travel and history. Read her other articles on Frayed Passport here.

Featured image by Konstantinos Kaskanis on Unsplash 

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