Jordan | Wadi Rum


wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hikingWe recently hosted our first visitor in Amman, our friend Lisa, who was traveling on her last RRB from Afghanistan. Her trip spanned two weekends, so we took advantage of the time for our second trip to the Dead Sea and — the real highlight — our first trip to Wadi Rum and Petra.wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hikingEveryone knows about Petra — one of the New Seven Wonders of the World — but comparatively few people know about Wadi Rum, a large sandstone and granite valley (wadi means “valley” in Arabic) in southern Jordan.wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hikingThe little bridge.wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hikingThe little bridge, with perspective (that’s Lisa, Kail and me).Wadi Rum was recently made semi-famous because scenes from “The Martian” were filmed there. It’s easy to see why: The vast, orangey-red sand and mountain facades look unearthly.wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hiking, sunsetIt’s hard to get perspective. In the photo above, that small white speck enclosed in the red box is a truck. That is how huge Wadi Rum is. At night, the sky was so clear and dark — we saw a million stars and the Milky Way galaxy.wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hikingA “small” canyon.I booked our two-day trip through a colleague, Mustafa, who is a licensed tour guide with his own tour company, Jordan Petra Private TourOur tour included pickup from our home in Amman; transportation (including four-wheel-drive transportation in the Wadi Rum Reserve itself); lodging at Bait Ali, a rustic lodge near the reserve (pretty much the only place to stay other than the Bedouin camps in the reserve, which do not have electricity), including dinner and breakfast; and water/sodas.wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hikingAlso included: hubbly bubbly (argileh).As I noted in my TripAdvisor Review, the tour did not include other meals/snacks or entry fees, which for Petra is 50 Jordanian Dinar (JD) for foreigners, or 1 JD for locals or diplomats with local residency cards. The trip was a bit on the pricey side ($249 USD per person), but it was a good decision for multiple reasons.wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hiking, sunsetWaiting for the sunset.First, it involved essentially no planning on our my part (we all know who the planner is in this family). I asked Mustafa if he could take us to Petra and Wadi Rum, and he said yes. With long days at work followed by schoolwork, I have very little free time. Planning a trip, even a two-day weekend trip, involves some time and research.wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hiking, sunsetMars.Second, we know Mustafa, which was nice since the tour involves a lot of time together in the car and on hikes. He’s not just some random tour guide. Our tour group consisted of just the three of us plus Mustafa, so we didn’t have to interact with other tourists. Third, even though we have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, it would be impossible for us to navigate our way around the Wadi Rum Reserve on our own. Everything looks the same (sand, mountains).sunset, wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hikingSunset.Mustafa took us to several sites in Wadi Rum to do mini-hikes up mountains and sand dunes, in canyons and finally, to a beautiful lookout point to watch the sunset. I think we could probably figure out Petra on our own next time, but it was nice to have someone who has hiked a variety of the trails and had a pre-planned itinerary.wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hiking, sunsetWhen it’s warmer, we’d like to go back and spend the night in one of the Bedouin camps in the reserve. Some of these camps also include guides who will take you around, so that might be a less expensive option in the future for a repeat visit. There’s a lot more to do in Wadi Rum: rock climbing, canyoning and tons of other hiking trails.wadi rum, jordan, petra, tours, hikingAnother bonus of booking a tour with Mustafa: excellent photographs. I’m usually the one taking photos so I’m rarely in them, but he had his own camera and shared a couple hundred photos with us after our trip.I would definitely recommend Mustafa for first-time, out-of-town visitors who do not have a car and who are short on time. He offers packages beyond Wadi Rum and Petra, to include the Dead Sea, Aqaba, Jerash and other archaeological sites in Jordan. For expats who actually live in Amman and have their own cars, once you’re a bit more familiar with the sites you can probably just go exploring on your own.Next up: Petra. Have you ever camped in the desert?See more photos of Wadi Rum.

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

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