The sparkling night sky filled with thousands of stars, soft red sand on the ground, alien-looking rock formations, and traditional Bedouin tents tucked into the corners of the moon valley. Peace and silence away from any cities. Wadi Rum camping experience is one not to be missed on the trip to Jordan. How to organize it, which Wadi Rum Bedouin camp to choose and how to have the best experience of camping under the stars?
Camping in Wadi Rum was a must on our 10-day Jordan itinerary. Staying the night on the desert definitely has a romantic feel about it – the stars, the vast desert, the freedom. Even though it was a bit different from my usual wild camping trips in Scotland or Norway, I really wanted to try it.
No Scottish grass, no roaring sheep, but a boundless field of silky sand and orange rocks with intriguing shapes. The only Wadi Rum hotels that are available are actually tents. The types of desert campsites vary from traditional ones to those more on the luxury side. How different is camping on a desert in a typical Bedouin tent from what I know so far?
Table of content
- Wadi Rum Desert
- Where to stay in Wadi Rum – Wadi Rum camping
- Bedouin experience and hospitality
- What to do in Wadi Rum?
- Wadi Rum essential information
#1 WADI RUM DESERT
The largest wadi in Jordan, Wadi Rum, is a desert located in the south of the country, 60 km away from the city of Aqaba. Also known as the Valley Of The Moon, it got its name from the unusual landscape and uniquely shaped red sandstone and granite rocks that can be found in the area. Thanks to its distinctive scenery, the Wadi Rum Protected Area is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Wadi Rum offers many opportunities for outdoor adventures from full-day jeep trips, to climbing and hiking the area. The desert is also home to the highest mountain in Jordan. But what really allows you to get to know this place better is staying a night in Wadi Rum, and better yet – camping with Bedouins.
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Who are the Bedouins?
But who are the Bedouins and why would you want to meet them and, even better, stay with them for the night in the desert? The Bedouins are the nomadic Arab people, who have inhabited the desert regions of North Africa and the Middle East. Wadi Rum is a home for Bedouin tribes, who have been there a long time before the area became a country of Jordan. Even though now they mostly live in the Rum village, they still have a very strong connection to the desert and nature. By staying in the camps run by local families you support their existence and you can learn a little bit more about their fascinating world.
#2 WHERE TO STAY IN WADI RUM – WADI RUM CAMPING
There are several options for camping in the Wadi Rum Protected Area. You can choose the Bedouin camps, that have set up tents with proper beds, access to the bathroom, a common tent area and serve local food. Or, you can try wild camping by yourself with your own camping equipment.
Types of Wadi Rum camps
The accommodation in Wadi Rum is available in the range of camps, that are set up on the sand throughout the desert. The organized camps are run by the local Bedouin families. You can find the luxury tents, traditional, cozy Bedouin camps, and even bubble tents looking like they came straight from the space (or The Martian). Finding the best Wadi Rum camp will depend on your requirements and the budget. We wanted to go for something local and real, with a tent and food provided, but not very expensive.
#Traditional Wadi Rum Bedouin camps
Those camps consist of the Bedouin tents, made in the traditional way. They are simple, but very cozy and built close to nature. During our stay in Wadi Rum, we spent two nights in Wadi Rum Green Desert camp, which offered peaceful, affordable accommodation in the friendly settings. With just a few tents and even the offer of sleeping directly under the blanket of stars, you could feel directly connected with nature. I can highly recommend staying there. You can book stay in the Wadi Rum Green Desert camp here. More about our experience below.
#Wadi Rum luxury camps
Want to try Wadi Rum glamping? Then you can consider staying in a Wadi Rum luxury camp with all the amenities you might need, while still being (relatively) close to nature. However, those type of hotels come with a steep price tag. I haven’t tried any of the luxury camps myself, but if you want to treat yourself while sleeping on the desert, you have the option. Some of the top luxury camps in Wadi Rum include:
- Bait Ali Wadi Rum – the camp looks like a city in itself and has access to the swimming pool. Swimming pool in the desert? I haven’t heard of that before. Check the rates and availability here.
Hasan Zawaideh Camp – this is one of the famous Wadi Rum night luxury bubble camps, where you can find the bubble tents. They provide a direct view of the desert. A futuristic design might make you feel like on another planet, or inside “The Martian” movie. Check the rates and availability here.
Sun City Camp – from the outside it looks like camp full of tents. However, the insides are the suites of the modern look. If you miss the modern rooms in the middle of the desert, you can find them there. The Martian tents are also available. Check the rates and availability here.
It’s possible to camp in the Wadi Rum desert with your own tent. But first, you need to get to the desert, which can only be done by 4×4 car. You can arrange it with one of the locals to take you to a suitable place or drive there yourself. You would still need to pay the entrance fee in the Wadi Rum Visitor center, also for the car. Alternatively, you can walk to the desert area from the Rum village until you find a proper place. In any case, remember, that this is still a big unknown area, where you can easily get lost, so take all the needed precautious, enough food, water and communication devices.
I normally prefer wild camping, but being in the Wadi Rum, I also wanted to get to know the Bedouin way of life and meet other travellers. That’s why we decided to try the Bedouin camping instead (ok, maybe also because the tent wouldn’t fit into our hand luggage this time). Staying in the Bedouin camp allowed us to be close to the peaceful nature, but at the same time interact with local people, other visitors, learn about the area and culture, drink the bottomless Bedouin tea and taste delicious food.
#3 BEDOUIN EXPERIENCE AND HOSPITALITY
On our trip to Wadi Rum, we were guests of the Wadi Rum Green Desert camp. It’s a small camp with a quiet and friendly atmosphere, where you can instantly feel at home. There is a family vibe in the camp, that is emphasized by the nicest Bedouins working there.
The small family business has been run for 10 years by 30-years old Nadjah, a Bedouin coming from the local area. What immediately took my attention was how gentle, soft-spoken and attentive Nadjah was to everyone’s needs. He always made sure to talk to each one of the guests personally and spend at least some time on the camp, assuring that everyone is having the best time possible.
The evenings on the desert
In the evenings, everyone would meet in a common tent area, with a big fire joyfully cracking in the silent night. There was an unlimited amount of Bedouin tea constantly supplied to everyone, laughs, talks and even dancing and singing.
And, the dinner, you guys (!). The food was just delicious.
The first night we were served a buffet style, traditionally cooked meat and vegetables, called Zarb. The dish was prepared in a special way – it was cooked underneath the sand for several hours. Thanks to that, the meat and vegetables got a special taste and became very tender. Zarb was then served with rice and multiple choices of sides, salads, and other smaller dishes including the vegetarian options. We ate so much that night and Nadjah was inviting us to have even more. The second night we had kofta meatballs and chicken with other types of condiments, vegetables, and rice.
I can definitely say, that food prepared in Wadi Rum was one of the best that I had during our whole stay in Jordan. I would come back even just to eat a little bit more (frantically throwing the scale away).
The Bedouin tents
The tents in the Wadi Rum camp are made from traditional Bedouin fabric and have comfy beds inside. We stayed in a double tent, with a small cabinet, windows, and electricity. Since we were visiting in winter, it was a bit chilly inside, but we were supplied with as many blankets as we wanted. In the summer, when the weather in Wadi Rum is better, there is also an option to sleep directly under the stars. I might try it next time. We also had our down sleeping bags, that we used several times during our Jordan trip. So if you are coming in winter, I highly recommend taking some with you.
At the camp, there were two shared bathrooms with sinks, toilets, and showers. The electricity was generated by the solar panels.
What I also liked is that it was easy to watch the sunrise just a few steps from the entrance to the camp. Admiring the desert waking up to life was an unforgettable experience.
If you want to try the real Bedouin hospitality on the Wadi Rum desert you can book your stay with Wadi Rum Green Desert Camp through booking.com. You should be able to find a good price on the portal and booking.com also offers free cancellation in case your plans change.
#4 WHAT TO DO IN WADI RUM?
There are a lot of activities worth doing on the Wadi Rum. Nadjah from Wadi Rum Green Desert also organizes them, so it is easy to arrange everything from the camp. We went for a traditional full day jeep tour visiting the main attractions on the first day and then the hike to the highest mountain in Jordan – Jabal Umm Ad Dami, the next day.
The desert tour included the stops in the Lawrence Spring, Khazali Canyon, Red Sand dunes, view to the Burdah Arch, and climb to the Um Frouth Arch, Lawrence house, Anfishieh rock Inscriptions, and ended by the sunset in the famous sunset spot.
The best activity to do at night is stargazing. The show in the sky is spectacular. And definitely, wake up for the sunrise!
Additional activities are almost endless, covering camel rides and horse riding (make sure that animals are well treated if you decide on any), sandboarding, walking trips, hiking or even hot air balloon.
#5 WADI RUM ESSENTIAL INFORMATION
How to get to Wadi Rum?
If you rent a car, as we did on our Jordan trip, you can get to Wadi Rum following the King’s Highway and then Desert Highway and turning at the junction point.
If you travel by bus from Amman, you can take a JETT bus or local bus going towards Aqaba. Price for JETT bus is around 8-10 JD. From Aqaba to Wadi Rum, you can travel by another local bus. There is one going directly to Wadi Rum, which departs from Aqaba between 1 and 3 PM and costs 3JD per person. It doesn’t operate on Fridays. There are also other local buses, that can drop you on the junctions from where you can hitchhike. The taxi from Aqaba to Wadi Rum is around 25 JD. The bus from Petra to Wadi Rum costs 7JD.
How to get to the camp?
If you book a stay with Wadi Rum Green Desert (I am not sure about other camps), you will be picked up at the Visitor Center by their jeep and taken to the camp. You can arrange the details with the owner, Nadjah.
Entrance fee to Wadi Rum for foreigners is 5 JD. Luckily, if you have Jordan Pass, it is already included. The officers in Wadi Rum Visitor Office check and stamp the pass, but nobody really asked us for it any other time.
When to go to Wadi Rum?
We visited Wadi Rum in winter, in January. The Wadi Rum temperatures during the day were pleasant, but they drastically dropped at night and it was very cold. The summers are hot with temperatures reaching 35 °C -40 °C. Nicer time for a visit is in spring and autumn, but this also means more people.
What to take for Wadi Rum camping?
In general pack for Wadi Rum:
- Water bottle – you normally get food and water on the camp, but for easier carrying, and for keeping the water cold (or hot) for longer, the isolated water bottles are the best. Check the prices and models here.
- Suncream – you don’t want to get burnt, especially on your face. I always take this suncream as it has great protection, good skin care and is perfect for kids and adults on face and body.
- A hat for the sun protection or for cold at night
- A scarf – the Bedouins wear this type of scarfs to protect themselves from the sun, heat, and sand.
- Sunglasses – the sun is strong on the desert so protect your eyes. Check sunglasses in good price here.
- Biodegradable wet wipes – very useful on the go!
- Camera with landscape lens for all night and day photography – I use Fuji X-E1 and Samyang 12mm, which I used to capture photos in this post
- Tripod – I use Manfrotto tripod which is very light.
In winter add:
- Sleeping bag – in winter I recommend taking a warm sleeping bag – goose down sleeping bags are the lightest, but if you are looking for a vegan option, this one from Marmot is also good. You get several warm blankets on the camp, but I was happy I had my own sleeping bag and felt warm.
- Thermal underwear – like merino wool top and bottoms, together with woolen socks.
Would you like to camp in Wadi Rum desert in the traditional Bedouin camp? Let me know in the comments!
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