Jordan. Hiking in Wadi Rum

Welcome to the desert of Lawrence of Arabia, the home of the Bedouins and multiple stories of conflicts within an incomparable setting in one of the most beautiful deserts of the world. Wadi Rum, an authentic festival of color and mountains in a bloated place but curiously full of life in the least expected places. This spectacular desert is located between Jordan and Saudi Arabia, far from a standard of desert that we all have in the head, of infinite dunes as in the Sahara.

Wadi rum

Wadi Rum encloses a multitude of canyons and cliffs and even the highest mountain in Jordan, the Jabal Ramm With 1,734m, it is therefore an ideal place for those who enjoy the mountains and hiking. Do not expect great slopes, simply by walking between its rock formations will leave you speechless more than once. Its beauty lies in its colors and in the great gorges or canyons where Wadi Rum has a presence.

Wadi rum

Although currently the only visited area of ​​the Wadi Rum is in Jordan, it is more than enough, since it occupies a little more than 720km2, so its magnitude gives to miss weeks if one wanted to.

Pleasant company in Wadi Rum

But what has really made Wadi Rum famous are the adventures of an English officer namedLawrence of Arabia during the Arab rebellion against the Ottomans. Remembering the story Paco Nadal told us and a guide from the area about Lawrence's story, we have to go back to the first World War, where a prominent historian of often and fragile appearance, is called up to work for British intelligence, being assigned shortly thereafter to Cairo, Egypt. From a European point of view Lawrence's story differs quite a bit from that of Arabic, possibly due to the film of David Lean, of 1962, which partially falsified the reality of this brave officer. Anyway both versions have something in common, Lawrence of Arabia fought for the independence of the region.


If we focus on the European version Lawrence helps the Bedouin people sabotage the ways of Hiyaz railway in order to avoid the transport of soldiers and armament and thus help the independence of the area. The British army entrusted him to meet with the Jerife of Mecca, Husayn ibn Ali, who when meeting with him and his four children concluded that one of them, Faysal, was the most suitable to lead the Arab rebellion.

Lawrence as a good strategist and connoisseur of the field, applied a guerrilla warfare in order to weaken the Ottoman Empire and thus help win the first world war. In the end he or the British government betrayed the real interests of the Jerife, since the real objective was to isolate the detachments of southern Arabia so that they could not go north to the battles that were being fought in the territory of the current Turkey.

One of the most famous battles during his stay in Wadi Rum was that of Aqaba, where the Ottomans were surprised by the rear guard by an army of Bedouins riding thousands of camels while their cannons looked south to defend against British troops in the Red Sea.

In the end, what is almost never talked about is what really happened. After the march of Lawrence of Wadi Rum the promises made to Jerife they never came true. Instead of creating an Arab state, both England and France in the famous Treaty of Sykes-Picot, the cake was distributed creating two zones, one of English influence and another French, preventing the desire of the Jerife and Faysal.

Nowadays, if you take a map, you will see that the area was divided by a squad and bevel, due to both the first and the Second World War, events that have divided peoples and that make today there are still conflicts over the incompetence and selfishness of certain colonialist nations.

In Lawrence's bookThe seven pillars of wisdomdefends the position that he did not know these facts, but an intelligence officer, a spy to be clear, ignoring the interests of his country makes many historians do not trust the version he exposes in his book, so the interpretation of the truth like many stories of the past we leave it in the imagination of the reader.

The great Paco Nadal

Returning to Wadi Rum, what you really want to do in a place like this is to sleep in a jaima or camping for free to embark on a route between its mountains. Wadi Rum gives off what every traveler is looking for, beauty, adventure and the power to dream. Because Wadi Rum never ceases to amaze you with its colors, changing throughout the day, like taken from a film by Cartoon. To walk through this desert is to look upwards, with those imposing mountains, as challenging and as vertical, black, red or as you like this sun as hot as the one in Wadi rum.

Canyons in the Wadi Rum, capable of making you feel truly tiny

This desert is also a perfect place to explore it in 4×4. The tracks in Wadi Rum are fine sand or small stones, and rarely sandbanks in the style of the African Sahara. At visitors Center, in the town of Rum, or in any camp it is possible to hire the services of a guide to be able to make a 4 × 4 excursion. The routes that we show you are accessible both in 4 × 4 and walking, do not be afraid to go alone, but try to live these two different ways to see Wadi Rum.

Wadi rum

Many wonder, hiking in a desert ?, and why not ?. On our trip to Jordan it was one of the best moments, since places like this for hiking are not seen every day, and less in a place where Lawrence of Arabia was and that every step you take remind you of the multitude of adventures that This English officer must have passed.

One of the peculiarities of the deserts is the absence of water and this could not be less. It is true that in both routes it is possible to find bedouin jaimas where they offer you tea and even water, something really curious when in a place like this where you do not expect to find anyone, total, but do not have it all with you.

Wadi rum

In summer you have to refrain from trekking through the high temperatures and the rest of the year there can be water, sun protection and light clothes. If you decide to camp eye with the crabs and the scorpions, disappeared by day but active at night. In camps, what they usually do is put sulfur around tents as a security measure.

Wadi rum

Recommendations for camping by free

  • You go too far into the desert unless you take a car, enough gas and a GPS.
  • Indicate in any camp the route you plan to do, they will recommend you to be accompanied, but the truth is not necessary if you go with caution.
  • The nights are cold, so make sure you bring a good sleeping bag.
  • Sun cream and a good cap.
  • The water that is not missing.
  • Anti mosquitoes for the night.
  • There are people who recommend sulfur to put around the store, but if you close it properly you don't have to enter any “imp”.
  • Flashlights and not missing batteries.
  • A good option is to walk from Rum and camp several kilometers later.

Then we propose two routes along the Wadi Rum, a somewhat long one, more than 22km, and a shorter one that is part of 4 × 4 and on foot.

Wadi rum

Circular route

Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Coordinates: N29 33.161 W35 29.188
Difficulty: Easy / Medium
Distance: 22.1 km
Approximate duration: 8 / 9h
Total ascent : 345m
Total descent : 315m
Maximum altitude: 964m