A Trip to Jordan – Wadi Rum and Wadi Ghuwair

Some friends of ours in Israel kindly arranged for a trip to the beautiful Wadi Rum in Jordan. Made famous in part due to the fact Lawrence of Arabia was filmed on location there, we were really excited and made a point of watching the film before we went. Armed with clipped British accents, a cold disdain for imperialist manipulation and a Keffiyeh (arab headwear), we drove south through Israel to the Jordanian border opposite Eilat.


Crossing the border between Israel and Jordan at Aqaba. We too, attacked from the land, not the sea (it is written)

Negotiating the border was fairly straightforward and took under an hour. We split into two groups, Israelis and non-Israelis, so that we would not have to have a guide with us at all times (which is required if over a certain group size), and I think because Israelis get processed differently or something (ie shouted at more). Once through we were met and transported to “Saf Wees” in Aqaba, which sounded terribly exotic to us, but turned out to be …… a Safeway’s grocery store. From there we were whisked to Wadi Rum, which took about an hour.

At a small town called Ramm, we met our additional local guides Abdullah 1 and Abdullah 2, and transferred to a pickup to take us to the first campsite.


Transferring to a pickup truck, which would take us into the desert, a big dry place with sand, camels and stuff.

Driving into Wadi Rum was incredible, the scenery really was stunning. Open vistas of desert with deep red sandstone outcrops looming above us, set against crystalline azure skies. The rock is etched into beautiful etherial shapes, testament to the gulf of time that has passed to create them, sand grain by sand grain blown in the hot desert wind.

The overall effect is humbling and made me a little self conscious about pretending to be Laurence of Arabia.


 “Mushroom rock”. No idea why.

We arrived at our first campsite, and our guide Yousef quickly laid out mats and cushions for us to lounge on, and brewed some tea (Bedouin whiskey as he would say). We all mooched about the desert for a bit, a bit shocked by the space. Then we sat down for a delicious dinner prepared by Yousef and team.


The moon peeks out from behind a rock at our first campsite. Nosey moon.

After dinner we all crashed, delighted to be sleeping out in the open. With a full moon, the desert looked hauntingly beautiful, made more so by the fact there was very little wind and so the night was nearly silent.

The next morning Yousef woke us with some Arabic rave music, which admittedly was a bit of a shock, but did the job. After more tea and a breakfast of hummus, date honey, pita, and cheese, we jumped in the truck and drove to the start of our first hike.

The hike was a several hour climb of Jabal Umm ad Dami, Jordan’s highest mountain. The actual ascent wasn’t as much as one might expect for the highest mountain, due to the fact that Wadi Rum in general is quite elevated, but it was quite steep in parts. The view from the top was great, with Saudi Arabia being quite close, pointed out to us in ominous tones of “They catch you and do bad things, so I don’t go there”.



View from the top of Jabal Umm ad Dami.

For more details on the exact route, click here.

After getting back to our starting point, we were driven to our second campsite. Yet another lovely cool niche in the rocks.



Our second campsite


Kindles by moonlight

One of the most special things about our trip was being able to sleep out in the open. It was full moon during our trip, so lying out in the cool air watching the moon rise over the desert, was just stunning. Being the end of the summer – Sep 19th to 21st – we had light cool breezes that gently kissed us to sleep.


For Molly, Wadi Rum was often a place with a red ceiling and blue floor

After another great and slightly fizzy breakfast, we walked out of camp for our second hike to a stone arch. This trip was more scramble/climb than hike, which was a bit scary to begin with – there were a couple of nerve-inducing moves which have drops below- but once we got into the groove (literally) it was a lot of fun and the views on this route were amazing. Towards the top there was a bit of climbing before getting up to the stone arch.

For more details on the exact route, click here.


Abdullah tests the structural integrity of the arch. He is still alive.


Your intrepid author stands bravely, looking brave. Frozen with fear, it took me 2 hours to crawl off, blubbering and whimpering.


Your intrepid author stands bravely, looking brave. Frozen with fear, it took me 2 hours to crawl off, blubbering and whimpering (AGAIN). There was much “For God’s sake man!”, slapping about the face and being told to pull oneself together.

At the end of the climb, things were pretty desperate …

Fast Tube by Casper

After this hike, we had a bit of a dance with Yousef and the Abdullahs’s (which for the sake of humanity cannot be shown here), then we drove for a few hours out of Wadi Rum.


Rush hour.

We camped up on a windy hill with amazing views (albeit a little Mordor-esque, as noted by an acrobat), near the village of Mansura. During the evening there was a little musical jamming, with Yousef’s friend (an Oud player), singing intricate parts while I hacked out really badly formed chords on my Guitalele. I feel the cultural exchange was somewhat one-sided.


Driving to Mordor


Sadly, I did not take off


Fluffy Stuff Above 



The next morning we got up and headed down a hill to a small river called Wadi Ghuwair. Following the stream, this turned into a beautiful 8 hour canyon walk. The top was dry but middle sections required stomping through the stream, and one deep section had us transporting bags via a zip line. A lot of fun! Mine fell into the water and required some heroics from Molly and Shirli to save. It was all very emotional.

The canyon was amazing, so strange to find that the arid landscape viewed from above had a hidden oasis, complete with palm trees and cool pools, hidden below.








 Err, it was gorgeous. …… I’ll get my coat on the way out.

For more details on the exact route, click here.

At the end of the hike we had our final camp, during which Yousef produced a beautiful dinner. I was fed to the point of explosion.


Sadly we then left, though happily Laura and I would return to Wadi Rum by grumpy camel!


Our fantastic guides – Yousef organizer and Abdullah 1 and 2