Wadi Rum desert, Jordan

By Andrada Costoiu

The desert always seemed a foreign landscape to me, until I took a trip to the Jordanian desert, Wadi Rum.  This desert is not well known, perhaps in the past years it started to attract an increasing number of foreign tourists, but it is still not so popular. This is why now it is a good time to go visit.

Getting there

We drove from Amman to the village of Wadi Rum. It takes about four hours to get there, the distance is about 200 miles. The road is all highway, the Jordanian Desert Highway and it is pretty easy to drive. It becomes a bit more tedious after leaving the highway as you will drive on a two lane road, all the way to the Visitor center. Watch out for camels!! They sometimes might be by the side of the road and could cross in front of you. 

At the Visitor center there is a guard and he’ll ask where you’re going. After clearing with them, you will drive all the way to the Wadi Rum village( the Wadi Rum Visitor Center).This was our pick up place because we stayed over night at a camp and we took several tours.

The history

Wadi Rum has been the home of many human cultures since prehistoric times. The Nabataeans, the ones under which Petra flourished, also lived there. There are many marks in the form of rock paintings and graffiti. It looks like an open-air library! Too bad I can’t read Nabataean or Thamudic …haha.

In more recent times, Wadi Rum became known in connection to a British officer, T A Lawrence, also nicknamed Lawrence of Arabia. He was renowned for his liason role in the Arab revolt of 1916. The Arab revolt was a military uprising of Arab forces against the Otoman Empire. Lawrence developed a close relationship with Faisal, one of the leaders of the uprising, and supported him. Faisal later became the king of of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and the King of Iraq from 23 August 1921 to 1933.The movie Lawrence of Arabia(1962), which was inspired by T A Lawrence, was filmed here, in Wadi Rum.

Welcome to Mars

I am not kidding! Once you enter the Rum you’ll feel like you have left Earth! The red sand and the strange shaped sand stone mountains create a Mars like landscape. No wonder  the movie the Red Planet (2000) used Wadi Rum as the surface of Mars! 

There is a large diversity of landforms here, from the gargantuan rock mountains with towering cliffs, to sweeping sand dunes and narrow gorges.

Why you will fall in love with the desert

Wadi Rum is a strange and beautiful place. I loved everything about it, but most of all, I loved the silence!!! I have never ever been in a place where all the sounds are shut down, no….not like this….

You feel like the world stops, that your thoughts begin to settle down and that you start accessing the deep layers of your mind and soul….

You find the deeper you in the stillness of the desert.

The stay

There are no hotels in Wadi Rum. But there are several Bedouin campsites with many facilities and also wild campsites with no amenities. We stayed at the Wadi Rum Luxury Camp Site.

There is AC and a hot shower inside every tent…..

I chose this place because I wanted to experience those bubble tents that have a clear roof. I read before that Wadi Rum is also known as the Valley of the Moon due to the beautiful night’s sky. I wasn’t disappointed!  The desert sky has no match. It was so clear with an astonishing show of stars, as if you could see the entire Milky Way and its sister galaxies.

The sunrise

We woke up at 5 in the morning to go see the sunrise. I put a scarf on because I didn’t know if it will be windy and I’ll need it to cover from dust. The other day while we were driving we experienced a mild sandstorm and the sand got into our eyes, nose and ears. Never forget to get a scarf with you in the desert!

We hired two Bedouins who promptly presented themselves with their jeep and whisked us away. After driving through the desert for about 40 minutes we finally stopped . They said this was the best place to see the sunrise….and they were right……

The sun came up behind the mountains and the darkness became day……….just like that, here in the desert, where everything seems still.

Our Bedouin guides and companions came well equipped. We had no idea what they were doing….but we were watching them gathering something! It was dried roots to build a fire!They made us tea ..….

I highly recommend you try something like this, it is not very expensive and the Bedouins are very friendly, kind people and professional guides. For many of them this is the main way they support their families.

Wadi Rum is a special place that I recommend to anyone planning to travel to Jordan. 


© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Petra, Jordan

by Andrada Costoiu

 Petra is one of the most impressive archeological sites in the world. It was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom and it was established more than 10,000 year ago. Along with the the Great Wall of China, the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil, Machu Picchu in Peru, Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Colosseum in Rome, and the Taj Mahal in India, Petra was voted to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

I visited it during the month of August. I was lucky, it wasn’t so hot! But you never know, the summer has usually very hot weather and they say that the best time to visit is during spring (March-May).

The place is more incredible that you can imagine, and nothing that you read can prepare you for immersing in its immensity and its history. 

When you drive the desert to reach Petra’s site, you don’t see anything. Petra is so well hidden by the mountains that you would not imagine that anything, really anything, not to mention a city the size of Petra, lies hidden there! It was also called the “Lost City” because it is said that was inhabited for over five centuries until it was rediscovered in 1812 by John Lewis Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer.

At the entrance you buy the ticket for your visit. The tickets are 50 JD for a tourist that stays at least one night in Jordan and 90 JD for tourists on one day trip tours.  In the same area where they sell tickets there are also few coffee shops and restaurants for the thirsty and hungry. A few stores also sell local items. I suggest that you buy a hat or a keffieh(a bedouin headscarf) if you got nothing to cover your head. The place has been modernized a lot, compared to what it was few years ago when I also visited. Yes, I came here twice!

When you start walking towards Petra, at the beginning there is a wide-open road. Then the road becomes a narrower path that has been carved through the mountain, called the Siq. The Siq is about 1.2 kilometers long.

If you’re hot, or tired and want to save your breath for the inside visit, or you just want a fun local adventure, you can take a horseback or carriage ride all the way through the Siq. The rides are ran by Bedouins and you can bargain with them for the price. We did that and it was fun.

At the end of the Siq, the mountain walls open. The Treasury stands in front of you; this is probably one of the most famous buildings in the city. When you’re facing it, it feels like you’re in the Indiana Jones movie! The film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed here, in 1989.

It is best to take a tour guide, which is what we have done. Our guide was very knowledgeable and we learned so much more about the place than we would have done on our own. After all, a local is a local!

There are many locations to visit in Petra, the Street of Facades( a collection of houses all carved in stone) , the Theater(carved from the rock in one piece; it could seat thousands of people), the Palace Tomb, the Silk Tomb, the Monastery (you will have to climb a steep set of steps to get there)….and many, many others. Petra is a magical place and you cannot stop but wonder, how could the Nabataeans build something so sophisticated such a long time ago! What kind of tools did they have to carve the stone? Who and how did they design the layout of the city? 

The facades are beautiful, not only because of their carving details but also because of the type of rock that they are carved in. Petra is called the Rose Red City because the stone is red-rose limestone.

If you’re tired, you can take a camel ride back to the Siq’s entrace. But be careful! Some of the Bedouin owners they will let you drive the camel on your own, which can be a bit scary and funny at the same time. First, you have to lean backwards for take off ! Yeah, it feels really weird , you feel almost like you’re going to fall backwards and then you’re suddenly so high up!

Then you have to learn how to steer the camel but this is not a difficult skill to pick up, so by the time you’re getting back to the Siq you’ll be a professional….

Petra is a travel back in time! It is a beautiful, unique place…..so put it on your bucket list !


© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.