There’s a surprising number of options for overnighting in Wadi Rum. Everything from sleeping directly under the stars to keeping that view of the sky, but tucked up nicely in your own bubble tent, complete with indoor plumbing.
We fell in between. While no longer backpackers (and definitely never campers), we also realized that we had been chopping money on our three-week vacation through Egypt and Jordan. So we forwent the bubbles and booked our overnight with Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp. Around for 10 years, the camp offered well-reviewed jeep tours and an overnight in their private tents:
But lets rewind seven hours. We’d been up since 5:45 am and had already spent nearly two hours on a bus. There are other ways to get from Petra (Wadi Musa) to Wadi Rum, but this was the cheapest option at 7 JD/person (heads up, when the bus isn’t full, tickets go up to 10 JD).
Then we had to pay another 5 JD/person to enter Wadi Rum – in addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also a protected area. That means that even if you have a private car, you still need to rent a tour with the Bedouins, as they’re the only ones legally allowed to drive in Wadi Rum (and you’ll have to pay to park your car in the meantime).
We hopped off our bus at the Rest House and met our organizer, Mohammad. We collected another group – a French family of four – and made our way to Mohammad’s house so he could offer us a traditional cup of tea while our lunch supplies were gathered. After that, we were left in the charge of Mohammad’s university-aged nephew.
This kid served as driver, guide, and chef, all rolled into one.
Our first stop was the Lawrence’s Spring – an unassuming place named after Lawrence of Arabia. Only animals are allowed to drink from the spring now and there are Nabatean inscriptions on some of the rock face. But a short hike can take you to the start of the spring and, of course, the views of the desert are beautiful no matter where you stop.
We quickly saw that our truck accommodations could have been much worse (see previous photo). And we happily drove off in our Mitsubishi for our next stop: Khasali Canyon.
Our guide claimed that the Nabatean carvings were 1,700 years old and the Muslim inscriptions could be dated back 500 years. But what struck me was the rock itself. The canyon looked like melted wax dripping down from a candle.
Just like that, we were on the “road” again. It was starting to feel a bit odd. Drive, stop, photograph, repeat. But with the gorgeous desert all around us, it was hard to argue. And luckily, our next stop involved a wee bit of climbing.
Um Fruth Rock Bridge has many different spellings online, but it is a well-known stop in Wadi Rum. We met up with two or three other groups during our 45 minutes there, but it was a fun climb none-the-less.
We had one more activity before lunch: A hike through Barragh Canyon. Brutal on either end – my feet kept sinking in the sand – inside the canyon was charming, and best of all, shaded!
Lunch was some deliciously made, fresh ful (fava beans, spices, and veggies) and hummus, served with pita. There was also a fresh cucumber & tomato salad, but our driver/guide/chef must not have gotten our vegetarian memo, because before we noticed, he added tuna to the mixture.
It took him about an hour to cook – unfortunately he refused all offers to help, but luckily he had found us a shaded place to rest and we only had December heat to deal with.
That afternoon held some odd stops: A mushroom rock, as well as more rock inscriptions. Then we made our way to one of the most famous (and lamest) stops:
The house of Lawrence of Arabia. Not much to look at, is it?
But the hiking all around is gorgeous. And you can climb surprisingly high.
All the way up, people had stacked rocks…whether to mark their way back down or simply now, for tradition’s sake. Chandler decided to build one of his own while I made my way up.
At this point, we just had more sand to overcome, as our driver took us to the red sand dunes. After some laughable hiking attempts – I was wearing Chucks and Chandler had Vans on – we were ready to call it a day and head to camp.
The rooms were sparse, but tidy and the floor was insulated with heat-trapping fabrics. The bathrooms were clean, but the cold showers left something to be desired, though we’d be back at the Movënpick in Petra by the next day.
Before dinner, we had one more climb, but failed to see the sun set through the dense clouds. The food was good and we had plenty of vegetarian options.
We stayed up chatting with our neighbors for the night, hoping the clouds would clear, but they never did. And Chandler’s dream of star gazing in the desert just didn’t work out. Luckily, we had seen some pretty amazing stars during our Christmas outing at Petra By Night.
We woke up the next day, ate a quick breakfast, and watched our French friends take off on camel. For us, we’d be riding back into town in the good ol’ Mitsubishi, before starting our journey back to Petra.