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Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp
What is it really like staying in a Wadi Rum Bedouin camp? I can say, hand on heart, it was one of the most special experiences of my life.
When thinking about highlights of a trip to Jordan, the first thing that might spring to mind is Petra. But staying in a Wadi Rum Bedouin camp, and experiencing all the desert has to offer will definitely challenge that!
This post will cover activities you can enjoy when visiting Wadi Rum, as well as what to expect when staying in a Wadi Rum Bedouin camp.
What is Bedouin?
The Bedouin people are a group of nomadic people who historically lived in the desert areas of Jordan. It is difficult to count, but it is generally thought that most of the population of Jordan are of Bedouin origin. They have lived in Jordan long before the borders existed and migrated seasonally depending on where their livestock needed to graze. The language of the Bedouins is Arabic, however other Arabic speakers do have a hard time understanding the dialect.
In the south, the Bedouins can be identified by their traditional tents, which are handwoven by the women of the community. And it would be in traditional tents such as these, that you would stay in when visited a Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp.
When to visit Wadi Rum
When visiting Jordan the ideal point at which to visit Wadi Rum, is to make the next stop after Petra. It will be the antithesis from the busy, bustle and hectic time spent in Petra. Wadi Rum is vast, quiet and predominately empty. There will be other tourists around, but dispersed across the vast area.
Due to it’s climate, Wadi Rum is actually an all year round destination. However, March, April, September and October are the most popular months and therefore the busiest.
How to get to Wadi Rum
Located in the south of the country, about 300km from the capital and 70km from Aqaba .You take a day trip to the desert from Amman or Aqaba, however I would highly recommend taking at least a night to spend out there. The experience of staying over night in a Wadi Rum Bedouin camp will become one of the highlights of visiting and will make the distance definitely worth travelling.
To get there, there is at least one minibus a day from Aqaba leaving at around 7am. However, the easiest way to get there is by car. You can hire a car in Aqaba, and if you combine this with Petra it makes a sensible round trip. However, off-road driving and navigation in the desert can be extremely dangerous without experience. So the best thing to do, is to drive to the visitor centre and book a guide or tour from there.
If you are heading to Jordan make sure to check out these posts with more great things to do in the country:
Things to do in Wadi Rum
Any stay in a Wadi Rum Bedouin camp, would not be complete without experiencing some of what the desert has to offer before you get there. Tours will often incorporate a lot of the below, before taking you to your camp. Check the itinerary of tours, to make sure you will see the highlights of this huge, empty, beautiful place.
Definitely the best and easiest way to get around Wadi Rum, and by booking on a Jeep tour you will get to explore the vastness of the desert. Starting on the outskirts of the desert, often with a delicious cup of tea. Chill in the shade and make the most of relaxing under the beautiful landscapes around you.
You are then loaded into the back of a converted pick up, and head off into the distance. Its such an incredible way to experience this place, the feeling of bumping along, up and down sand dunes with the wind in your hair is quite extraordinary.
Hike a sand dune
Hiking a sand dune is one of the most exhausting things you will ever do, but potentially also one of the most rewarding. Standing at the bottom of the dune, you will look up and think it doesn’t look that large. Trust me, it is bigger than you think! But when you get to the top you will be rewarded by the most amazing views! And the most fun part, is the running down again. Such a freeing experience!
Find the camel carvings
Such an interesting part of the desert! High up on the rock are carved little images of camels. Years ago when these were first carved into the rock, it would have been at floor level. But in the years gone by the level of sand had dropped. They were carved along the camel caravan routes that intersected Jordan many many years ago. The locations of these would have been one of the stops for traders heading to Petra. So interesting to see these images carved into the rock, in what seems like such a remote part of the desert.
Visit the Arch
Wadi Rum is famous for being the setting of many movies – the Martian, Lawrence of Arabia and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It is often chosen to represent Mars, as it’s landscape looks very similar! But one of the most recent movies to be filmed here is the new live action remake of Aladdin.
There is a famous scene, depicting the opening of the cave of wonders, filmed next to this huge, magnificent arch. It seems even larger in real life! It’s pretty impressive to see, and then seeing it on the big screen (and knowing Will Smith stood there) it just an added bonus!
Watch the sunset
Some of the most stunning sunsets can be found in this desert. And even if the weather isn’t quite playing ball (it was a little cloudy when I was there), it is a fantastic experience. There is something so peaceful about sitting in the sand watching the sun drop behind the epic horizon.
Staying in a Wadi Rum Bedouin camp
What to expect
Finally, onto the Bedouin camp! There are a whole range of different types of camps in the Wadi Rum desert. If you are looking for something very different and a bit of luxury then take a look at the Bubble Luxotel! Live out all your martian landscape dreams in complete luxury!
For the more authentic, rustic style there are plenty of options. I stayed in the Al Zawaideh Camp which located, well, here if that helps at all.
This camp was used by tour groups, so the area we had dinner was quite busy. However, the area where we hung out in the evening and slept was just for us. It was down a path way away from the main camp and super peaceful.
The tents themselves are made by traditional methods, by hand using goat and sheep hair. Each room is separated from the other by a little walls made of the tent and they are all arranged in a ‘v’ around a central fire and seating area. Each tent is quite basic, with two single beds inside. There is also a very basic shower block and toilet with each camping area.
Eating a Bedouin dinner
One of the highlights of staying in a Wadi Rum Bedouin camp is the dinner! Compromising of lamb, chicken, rice and vegetables. However, it is cooked in the traditional Bedouin method. A fire is light in a hole in the sand, the pot lowered into it then covered over and left for four hours in the ground. It made for such a tasty meal – the meat was so tender!
One of the most amazing things to see in the desert are the stars. It is a darkness unlike any I had seen before! Took a small walk away from the camp, and was enveloped in the blackness. Lie down on the sand and look into the endless depths of the sky. As always, the more you stare the more you see. Couple of tips – make sure you wear shoes (cuts from the rocks on the soles of your feet hurt) and download a star gazing app on your phone to identify the constellations!
What to bring to Wadi Rum
Firstly, when going on the jeep you are going to get wind and sand swept! Take a hat, tie your hair up and also consider a scarf to cover your face.
As you are, most likely, travelling in a jeep to get to the camp it is best to pack light. Just take a change of clothes, pjs, and a sleeping bag liner if you feel you might want it. The camps are equipped with blankets but they can be a little scratching. Also make sure you take a warm jumper as the temperature can drop dramatically in the evening.
Finally, take some marshmallows to toast over the open camp fire for the perfect night experience!
I visited Wadi Rum as part of a G Adventures tour. If you are interested in the tour, take a look here: Highlights of Jordan
For all my Jordan posts take a look at my section:
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