One of many good reasons to visit Aqaba is its close proximity to the desert wonderland of Wadi Rum. If you’re not familiar with it, Wadi Rum is a granite and sandstone valley, famous for being one of the most beautiful desert landscapes in the whole world. Aqaba is just 60 km from the entrance to Wadi Rum, making it easy and accessible for a day or overnight trip.
To soak up all the magic that the site has to offer, we recommend spending the night in a traditional Bedouin camp such as Rahayeb, set in a stunning location in the centre of Wadi Rum. Days can be spent with a variety of adventure activities in Wadi Rum; have a look at out top five.
Adventure in Wadi Rum #1: Trekking
Wadi Rum is the largest protected area in Jordan, with a size of 720 square kms. The area presents a variety of landscapes, from sandstone canyons to towering granite cliffs, and some areas of historical interest such as prehistorical petroglyphs. Those pressed with time can opt for a jeep ride; but the best way is to trek across the vast desert expanse. Wadi Rum is the ancestral land of Bedouins, who lead trekkers as local guides. During treks, there are chances to learn more about Bedouin culture, with activities ranging from cooking lessons, to music and dance at night. Accommodation is usually in tented camps or Bedouin villages within the protected area. Contact Rahayeb Camp for more trekking info.
Adventure in Wadi Rum #2: Climbing
Ok, that’s not for the faint hearted. If you do love vertical life, and are fairly experienced, Wadi Rum is home to some of the most stunning routes of the world. Imagine surveying a wide canyon from the top of gigantic rock pillars, with a view stretching all the way to Aqaba and the Red Sea. Most routes are multi-pitch, many of them follow cracks. If you have learnt climbing in Europe, bear in mind that Wadi Rum rock is covered in sandstone, completely different from what you would find in the Alps or Pyrenees. Having a local guide is essential, contact your camp for details.
Adventure in Wadi Rum #3: Microlight
If climbing doesn’t take you high enough, reach for the skies with a panoramic flight on a microlight. Microlights look similar to hang-gliders, but they are engine-powered and operated by a pilot. Flight depart in the early morning from the Al Dissi Bottom area in Wadi Rum; spinning through the clouds with the wind blowing through your hair is the closest you would ever get to experiencing the thrill of flight. Fancy something a little more subdued? Go for a hot-air balloon flight. Contact Royal Aerosports Club of Jordan for info on microlight and balloon flights. They even offer sky diving, for real adrenaline junkies.
Adventure in Wadi Rum #4: Camel Riding
One of the benefits of Wadi Rum is its vast size; it’s never overloaded by crowds. It may sound like a desert cliche, but there’s nothing more romantic than riding across Wadi Rum on the back of a camel. It feels strange and uncomfortable at first, but after a few minutes, the rocking motion and the mellow desert atmosphere make you feel as if you were in a dream. Take a camel ride at sunset to one of many view points, and marvel at the desert changing colours. I assure you, the experience will remain with you forever. All Wadi Rum camps are able to organise camel rides for guests.
Adventure in Wadi Rum #5: Star Gazing
After an activity-filled day, there’s nothing sweeter than relaxing at night lying on a sand dune, counting the stars. Those who have already spent a night in the desert, in Wadi Rum or elsewhere, will know what I’m talking about. The clear sky, bejewelled by millions of stars, criss-crossed every now and then by a shooting trail. The soft sand, the gentle breeze. And all around you, silence.
If you want to see more amazing scenery, check our Wadi Rum landscapes photo story!