If you’re planning a trip to Jordan, you have to add an overnight stay in the Wadi Rum desert to your itinerary.
I spent one week in Jordan, and the night I spent in the Wadi Rum was amongst the best of the whole trip.
The Wadi Rum is a huge desert famous for its characteristic red colour. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Jordan, and rightly so.
However not many people spend the night in the desert, and they don’t know what they’re missing! If you’re planning a Wadi Rum overnight tour, this is the guide for you!
I’ve put together everything you need to know about doing an overnight trip to the Wadi Rum desert, including how to get there, the best things to do in the desert and tips on how to choose an overnight camp.
- 1 About the Wadi Rum desert
- 2 Practical info about visiting the Wadi Rum
- 3 Choosing a Wadi Rum overnight camp
- 4 Best things to do and see in the Wadi Rum
- 5 Our experience doing a Wadi Rum overnight tour
- 6 What to pack for a Wadi Rum overnight Tour
About the Wadi Rum desert
The Wadi Rum is one of the most visited attractions in Jordan. With its distinctive red colour, it’s unlike anything you will ever see.
I thought it would be similar to the Australian outback, but it was actually a completely different sort of landscape. It’s a lot more barren, with vast stretches of sand and huge rock formations.
Many famous movies have been shot in the Wadi Rum, amongst which The Martian and Lawrence of Arabia.
You can visit the desert on a day trip from either Aqaba or Petra, but if you’re looking for a really unique experience, then you have to do a Wadi Run overnight tour and spend a night in the desert.
Practical info about visiting the Wadi Rum
Before we dive into doing the best things to see and do in the Wadi Rum desert, I wanted to go over some of the technicalities and practical information about visiting the desert and arranging your overnight tour.
How to get to the Wadi Rum desert
The easiest way to travel around Jordan is by renting a car. That way you have full flexibility on where you go and your departure times.
The Wadi Rum is in the south of Jordan, close to Aqaba. It’s about a 1-hour drive away from Aqaba, a 1.5-hour drive from Petra and a 4-hour drive from Amman.
Search for “Wadi Rum Visitor Centre” on Google Maps. This is where they scan your Jordan Pass (or you pay the entrance fee) and where you can park your car.
Whatever overnight tour you choose, they will usually come get you at the visitor centre with a 4×4 that can drive in the desert.
The 4x4s used in the Wadi Rum are usually the open back pick-up trucks, perfect for am immersive desert experience!
Wadi Rum entrance fee
The entrance fee for an overnight stay in the Wadi Rum is 5 JOD per person. If you have a Jordan Pass, the fee is included in the Jordan Pass.
The Jordan Pass is a pass that includes both your Jordan visa and entrance to many of the attractions.
If you plan to travel around and see a lot of Jordan, I definitely recommend getting one as it will save you loads of money.
Choosing a Wadi Rum overnight camp
You can have three different types of overnight camping experiences in the Wadi Rum; the proper tent camping experience, the Bedouin camp experience, or the luxury bubble hotel experience.
What you go for ultimately depends on your budget and travel style. While staying in the bubble hotel is without a doubt magical, you wouldn’t get the traditional Bedouin experience.
Similarly camping might be seen as the cheap and not so fancy option, but I find that sleeping with only a thing layer of cloth separating you from the vastness of the desert can be a pretty incredible experience too.
I have listed below some options for every Wadi Rum overnight style and budget.
Budget: Wadi Rum Echo Camp – This camp offers both Bedouin style tents but also proper camping tents for those looking to save some money and spend a magical night in the desert.
Medium: Beyond Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp – This is the camp we stayed at and we loved it. The tents are fairly basic with communal toilets a little further away from the tents, but the hosts are very friendly and we spent both an incredible day touring the desert and a fun evening with them.
Luxury: Wadi Rum Bubble Luxotel – If you’re looking to treat yourself, then this is the place to do so. The bubble tents are far from each other, offering each guest their privacy. They also come with a private outdoors hot tub, where you can relax and soak your muscles at the end of a long day exploring the Wadi Rum desert!
Best things to do and see in the Wadi Rum
While spending a night in the desert is a pretty incredible experience in itself, there is more to the Wadi Rum than just that.
All of the overnight tours will usually include a few hours touring the desert during the day, seeing all the main highlights and beautiful landscapes.
Hike up to Lawrence’s Spring
You’ll find that a lot of things in the Wadi Rum desert are named after Lawrence. This spring was the first stop of our Wadi Rum tour.
Our guides drove us right to the bottom of the spring, and we then hiked up to admire the view. We didn’t find the spring itself particularly special, but the views from the top were simply breath taking.
Admire the view from Lawrence’s House
After Lawrence’s Spring, a visit to Lawrence’s House is a must.
There isn’t much left of the house, which was erected over the Nabatean ruins of a water cistern, but it’s still a popular stop on all the 4×4 Wadi Rum tours. They say Lawrence stayed here during the Arab Revolt.
You will have to scramble over rocks a bit but once you climb over the initial part, you can then walk around the rock formations and enjoy the epic desert views.
Play in the red sand dunes
If you’re expecting rolling red sand dunes as far as the eye can see, then you’ll be disappointed by the Wadi Rum. The Wadi Rum isn’t an entirely sand desert like the Sahara.
It’s mostly rocky or packed dirt, but there are sand dunes to be found. There is one huge sand dune that all the tours go to, which you can hike to the top of and admire the epic desert view.
I actually prefer the variety of the Wadi Rum to a fully sand desert, it makes for more interesting landscapes. Just be careful on your way back down the dune, it can be easy to trip in soft sand!
Visit Um Frouth Arch
This is one of the most famous spots in the Wadi Rum desert, and one you’ve probably seen photos of all over the Internet. Time, wind and water have eroded these rocks to form an arch with a huge gap below it.
The fact that the arch is strong enough to support people on top of it makes it all the more mesmerising. The scramble up isn’t particularly smooth, so make sure to be careful when you do it.
The top of the arch is quite wide, but you should still be careful and not get too close to the edge. Just ask one of your friends or your tour guide at the bottom to snap a shot of you and you’ll have that iconic Wadi Rum shot!
Explore the Khazali Canyon
The Khazali Canyon is a 100 metre long crack in Jebel Khazali. It’s a deep and narrow canyon whose inner walls are covered with numerous Nabatean, Islamic and Thumadic inscriptions.
To me it’s an incredible reminder that thousands of years ago people were standing in the same spot as us.
Living in an environment that seems barren and hostile, but which actually supported a thriving civilisation.
Hike through the Abu Khashaba Canyon
Unlike the Khazali Canyon, the Abu Khashaba Canyon is quite wide and you can hike all the way through it.
Our guides dropped us off at one end, we hiked through the canyon and then met up with them at the other end.
Most of the walk is fairly easy, on a flat terrain with a well beaten trail, however there are moments where you will have to climb over rocks to get through.
All throughout the hike you will have the tall canyon walls on each side. It reminded me a bit of the Siq Trail in Petra, but less touristy and wilder.
Go for a camel ride
You will do most of the driving around the desert in a 4×4 truck, however there will usually be the opportunity to go for a camel ride if you’re interested.
Just let your driver know before you start the tour and he’ll add a stop at a camel point. Prices usually range from 5 JOD to 15 JOD depending on how long your camel ride is.
They usually take you for a short 30-minute ride around the desert, more to get the camel experience than to actually tour the desert with a camel.
Watch the sunset
Sitting down at the end of a long exploration day, and just watching the sun drop lower in the sky is always one of my favourite things to do.
Combine that with a bright orange sky that matches the desert, and you have a winner. At the end of the day our guide drove us to a sunset lookout spot. There were a few other tourist there but it wasn’t too busy.
We waited for the sun to go down and then made our way to our Bedouin camp for our desert overnight stay.
Our experience doing a Wadi Rum overnight tour
I loved our time in the Wadi Rum. I had explored deserts in Oman, Australia and Morocco before, but the landscapes of the Wadi Rum were unique and simply breath taking.
We set off from Wadi Musa early in the morning, and arrived at the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre around lunch time.
We spent all afternoon driving around the desert in our 4×4, exploring the highlights listed above.
Once the sun went down we drove to the Beyond Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp. The camp has a big communal tent where they will serve dinner, and where you can relax and spend the evening.
There is Wi-Fi at the main tent but not all night long, and the connection isn’t great.
Personally I recommend not worrying about that and switching off for one night, spending a night in the desert doesn’t happen every day!
We were served a traditional Bedouin dinner. The food had been prepared in special dishes that had been under the sand all day, and had been cooking due to the heat of the sun and sand.
They made us all gather around as they took it out of the ground, it was unlike anything I’d seen before! The food was then served inside the main tent buffet style.
After dinner you should definitely venture out in the desert and admire the night sky. But don’t go too far, you don’t want to get lost! Just far enough that the camp lights don’t pollute your vision of the stars.
Unfortunately it was raining on the night I stayed in the Wadi Rum so we were unable to see the incredible night sky and Milky Way.
We spent the night playing charades in the main tent and it ended up being the most fun night of the trip.
What to pack for a Wadi Rum overnight Tour
Given that you’re going to spend a night in the desert, there are a couple things you should remember to pack, beyond your usual travel essentials.
Warm hoodie – I know what you’re thinking, but it can actually get pretty chilly in the desert at night! Even if you visit Jordan in summer, make sure to have a hoodie with you.
Power bank – Depending on the type of camp you go to, there might not be plugs in the tents. Bring your own power bank so that you can keep your phone and other electronics charged.
Water bottle – Some of the guides might give you drinks and snacks during the tour, but not all of them do. Make sure to bring your own water, being thirsty in the desert isn’t a pleasant experience!
Small overnight bag – I made my group pack everything they needed for the night in a smaller backpack, that way we could leave our big backpacks in the parked cars. If you’re staying in a tent there isn’t much space for suitcases!
There you have it, the ultimate Wadi Rum overnight tour guide! Spending a night in the Wadi Rum desert was a magical experience and one of the highlights of my Jordan trip.
I hope you find this guide useful in planning your own overnight stay in the Wadi Rum! If you have any questions just let me know in the comments below.
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