When we think of the desert we normally imagine endless expanses of sand and dust. But the Wadi Rum desert valley in Jordan, also known as the “Valley of the Moon,” offers so much more. A journey to this ancient landscape is a journey to a vast, silent, and timeless place.
In this arid valley, dug in a superb fashion by the water and the wind over the millennia, there are fabulous and unspoiled landscapes made of high sand dunes, rocky mountains with incredible shapes, narrow canyons with a thousand shades of color, water sources intertwined between the heights, impressive rock arches, 4,000-year-old rock engravings, and many other wonderful treasures.
One of the area’s main attractions is the ruins of the house where, according to legend, T.E. Lawrence aka “Lawrence of Arabia” lived during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in the First World War. Another historical site is the inscriptions of Anfaishiyya: Etchings depicting camels, warriors, and animals cover a stretch of the huge rock face, reminding us that these areas have been inhabited for millennia.
Among the many natural wonders, a highlight is the Al-Hasany Dunes, the most spectacular sand dunes of Wadi Rum. Though they occupy a relatively small area, they rise for many feet accumulating against the slopes of the Jebel Umm Ulaydiyya mountain. Another is the Ain Ash-Shallalah, or “Lawrence’s Spring,” a cave in which water gushes from the lush vegetation above, while the inside is adorned with ancient carvings in Arabic and filled with the scent of mint. Also look out for the Burdah rock bridge, a spectacular 260-foot-high natural bridge that is truly breathtaking. For the bravest travelers, it is also possible to reach the summit.
Wadi Rum is an ideal location for adventurers and off-roaders, with plenty of places to hike, climb, and trek. True climbers can test their skills by ascending Jordan’s highest mountain, Jabal Rum. A guide is recommended for the trip to the summit, and arrangements should be made previously at Rum village or at a tourist agency.
Know Before You Go
The main route to Wadi Rum is well marked and easily navigable both from the north (Amman) and south (Aqaba) on Desert Highway or King's Highway. Public transportation to the village is very difficult. Tourist agencies in all the main cities offer trips with or without a driver. In case you won't have a driver, renting a vehicle in general in Jordan is also easy (and it will be in many cases the low-cost solution). From the main crossing, the road extends about 35 kilometers through the desert. The meeting point is usually the Wadi Rum Visitor Center, indicated by the above map coordinates. It is located in the small village of Wadi Rum, which consists mainly of Bedouin tents, houses, and few shops.