Wadi Rum


Backpacking Jordan: Day 009 (23-April-2024)


Into the wild 

We woke up a bit late next morning and were ready to leave by 8AM. On our way out of Wadi Musa, we stopped at a view point near a local park located at an elevation from the village. From here, the entire archaeological site of Petra was visible. 

We hit the highway and drove towards Wadi Rum. On the way, I stopped a local falafel wrap place. A young boy and his father ran the store. The boy made me a vegetarian wrap. He was kind enough to patiently ask me what all I wanted in it. When it was time to pay, his father said to him something and I was charged 1JD. I smiled and paid. I knew by now that the average cost for a Falafel hummus wrap in Jordan was .50JD and the lowest I had had was for .35JD. 

From the store nearby, I bought some sweet that was displayed on the table. It seemed tempting. The shopkeeper was kind enough to suggest that he could pack some of it for 1JD. This sweet is called Halva. In Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine halva is typically the sesame flour or tahini-based form, which can be flavoured with pistachios, almonds or chocolate. Halva in Arabic means sweet. It was delicious. Extremely rich and also sweet. 

We reached the Wadi Rum visitor centre where we had to make an entry. Many tour organisers meet the tourists here and take them to the desert on a jeep. I had booked our tour through Wadi Rum Jordan Guide. This agency was suggested to me by the Australian boy whom we had met at the hostel in Petra. We had booked a day tour for 50JD. All booking and coordinations in Jordan happen on WhatsApp. WhatsApp calls are not allowed in Jordan. Therefore, it is through messaging that you fix all the bookings. The organiser had asked us to come and meet him at the village. After showing our Jordan pass at the visitor centre, we proceeded to the Wadi Rum village. Many men approached us to offer a jeep tour. 

Wadi Rum known also as the valley of the moon is a valley cut into sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan, near the border with Saudi Arabia. With an area of 720km2 it is the largest wadi (River valley) in Jordan.  Several Hollywood movies and some Indians movies have been shot here. The desert is inhabited by the Bedouins.

Bedouins are Arabic-speaking nomadic people of Middle Eastern deserts, especially of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Syria and Jordan. Most Bedouins are animal herders who migrate into the desert during the rainy winter season and move back toward the cultivated land in the dry summer months. The Bedouins head to the desert just like the shepherds of the Himalayan region head to the meadows. 

The village of Wadi Rum is very small. I saw no women or children outside. There were only men, most of whom seemed to be jeep drivers or guides who would take people to the deserts. At the office of our tour organiser, we met our driver/guide Mohammed. We parked our car there and headed out with him. On the way, he packed some Pita bread form a bakery. As the village ended, the sands of the Wadi Rum desert began and led us to the most untouched areas of the country. Needless to say, that the views were spectacular. 

Our driver first stopped at a canyon where we saw the Nabatean Petroglyphs.

We then headed to another canyon where we were united with a group of 9 French tourists who were also doing the tour with the same organiser. However, they had booked a 65JD tour with two guides. There were some differences in the package. They visited bigger canyons and took longer walks while we had shorter ones. That suited us perfectly as we were in no mood to go on long walks after having walked almost 25km the previous day. 

Mohammed would drop us off at one end of the canyon and ask us to follow the route and meet him at the other end. In most places, it was just the two of us. The feeling of being there itself was amazing. I wondered what would happen if one got lost in this vast deserts. Tracing the way back to the village seemed impossible. 

The entire group gathered under a rock to pause for lunch. I spoke to a middle-aged couple and their sister who lives in Amman. I enjoyed speaking to them in French. 

For lunch, the guides and drivers offered us Pita bread, dips and Gallayah. It was delicious. We relaxed there for about 2 hours as it was too hot to head out. 

Post lunch, we visited more canyons and took some leisure walks. The views were spectacular where ver we went. 

We then visited a beautiful canyon with red sands. A landscape I had never seen before. Jose was dead tired by all the walking we had done the previous day. He dragged his feet along with great difficulty. But the views kept us going. 

We reunited with the group again and headed to the Um Fruth arch. We could climb on top of this arch. It is interesting how things are so lenient here in Jordan. This formation is fragile and, in few years, they might restrict people from climbing over it. 

We then walked to the camp where we were to watch the sunset. While speaking to one of the 4 girls in the group, I learnt that she had studied in the Colorado College. This was interesting as I used to often visit the college for events or my driving lessons. I would always pickup a free copy of the college magazine called "The Independent" to make a note of free events, talks, poetry or book reading sessions around the town and attend them. So, this was a group of three sisters and a Mexican-American friend of theirs who spoke fluid French and descent Arabic too. Apart from them there was another old couple from Paris. 

On our way to the campsite, we saw a lot of camels. Earlier that day, I had seen some shepherds leading the sheep to the desert. 

We climbed a small cliff behind the campsite to watch the sunset. It was truly a magical moment. In whatever direction one looked, one could only see the red sands, brown cliffs and canyons spread across the dessert. I thought of the drastic contrast between this landscape and the ones I see during my treks in the Himalayas.  

After Sunset, Jose and I were taken to another campsite. There, we met 6 other French tourists. There was a group of three old people and one old man who was traveling solo. The other two were a young father and son duo. The boy was perhaps around 10 years old. Their guide was a jovial man. He cracked a lot of jokes that perhaps an urban educated may find a bit unpolished. He joked about being ready to get married again. He told one could offer a camel to a Jordanian woman in exchange to the marriage and asked if he could find an Indian woman, and in exchange if he had to offer a cow. But it was not in bad taste that he said those things. He wanted to lighten up the scene. I therefore did not want to over analyse his statement. 

He and the other locals gathered there had questions to me about India. The guide wondered if all Bollywood stars were actually as fair as they appeared on the screen or were they darker in real life. This colour consciousness is common in India too. But what was interesting to me is that the men who were asking this to me themselves were brown skinned. He also wanted to know how much Indians earned. Another man asked me about our cuisine. He had apparently watched a youtuber put in all sorts of things into a dish and make a mess of it. I told him that such dishes are only meant for YouTube views and in reality, we do not eat that way. It made me aware of how Instagram reels and YouTube videos that some Indians make for fun or sometimes carelessly, can be a major source of misrepresentation of the country.

I had a good conversation with an old French man in the group. He is a retired General physician. Back in the 80's, he had chosen to do a part of his education in India, at AIIMS. During his stay in India, he had travelled extensively around the country. He literally retraced his route across India and mentioned the name of all the places he had visited. At that time, he had even planned to settle down in India. He was well-versed with the Indian politics and most importantly, I think he understood the Indian way of life very well. He joked – “I had plans to marry Priyanka Gandhi and become the Prime minister of India.”  He was beyond 60 years of age. So, I smiled and asked - "Do you mean Priyanka or Sonia?" To which he replied - "Oh no! Priyanka of course."

At night, our Bedouin camp came to life. Candles were lit and the locals played some Bedouin music. There was singing and dancing. The song was soothing but I wished that the singer had not used the microphone and a speaker because it modified his natural voice. But overall the music was catchy and seemed like a perfect end to an eventful day. 

I realised, how art is crucial to human existence. Not only does it allow us to express our emotions but as Aristotle notes, through art, we can gain insights into human nature and learn how to be better citizens. 

After that short music and dance session, it was time for dinner. Our cook, I must say is passionate about his job. He invited us to watch the unearthing of the Zarb.


Zarb or Bedouin barbeque is an ancient technique of preparing food in underground pits. The food is placed on metal racks and it’s then slowly roasted in coal-filled pits that are carefully covered with blankets. I had enough grilled vegetables to choose from. Baked onions, zucchini and carrots tasted flavourful. We were also served rice, vegetable gravy and bread. 

After a good meal, everyone decided to go to bed. The weather was pleasant. It wasn’t too cold. Jose had been sceptical about sleeping under the stars as he had had a bad experience with terrible cold in the Sahara deserts of Morocco. 

It was a full moon day and therefore we missed seeing the stars, but a clear, bright moon, glared at the cave all night. It was so bright that I could walk around without a flashlight. I slept well that night. There was absolutely no disturbance. I imagined how wonderful life would have been back in the olden days when you could spend a peaceful night in the desert, disconnected from the human civilisation. 

Jordan Roadtrip Day 05: Petra -> Wadi Rum (112KM)

COTINUED HERE: Wadi Rum To Aqaba


  1. Wow! I missed your latest travelogue ... I must catch up ... Those canyons look really great. I am not surprised that a number of movies were shot there!
    (My latest post: UK Tour 06 - Beamish Museum)

    1. Thanks Pradeep. Will check it out.


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