4WDing around Wadi Rum and spending a night in a desert camp

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
10
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
4
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
8
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
5
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
6
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
80 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Asia / Middle East
country
Jordan
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 160
Time of year visited
January
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
40th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 20% SUMMARY RATING: World Class

Summary

No wonder they filmed The Martian, Star Wars, Dune and Prometheus here – Wadi Rum has an otherworldly feel to it and driving around in 4x4s with the wind in your face watching the sandstone cliffs and red desert pass you by really gives a sci-fi feeling of adventure.  Expect to find yourselves regularly stopping to gawp at the latest stunning vista throughout the day

I’m sure there is a bunch of things that can take multiple days up, but we had half a day plus staying over night in one of the Martian tent, and that felt like the right amount of time.  Especially as we had time for both the sunset and the stunning first light.  A must if in this part of the world

highlights

#1 Sitting in the open back on the 4x4 watching the otherworldly landscape zip by

#2 Catching first light from one of the Martian tents as you see those wonderful pinks and purples change into oranges and reds

#3 Climbing up one of the rock formations to see the red desert all around you

#4 Watching the desert life go by around you and imagining what it must have been like before the Bedouins switched camels for 4x4s

#5 Spending the night in one of the many desert camps and seeing the stars through the clear evening sky

#6 Venturing into one of the openings to find hidden worlds within the sandstone monsters

Rough itinerary

  • Arrive at the Wadi Rum visitor centre around midday
  • Arrange there for a driver to take you on a half day trip (it is very clear how to do so with the options clearly marked)
  • Spend 5 hours driving around to see the key sites
  • Catch the sunset from any of the spots that your driver will recommend
  • Head back to your camp (we stayed at the Hassan Zawaideh Camp) for the evening and to see the stars
  • Wake up super early to catch the dawn and the changes in colours it brings
  • Head off after breakfast for your next adventure

Travel Tips

  • Arranging your 4×4 – we took one of the half day tours from the visitor centre which is very simple to do and the various options for where you want to go are listed out clearly on the board (there are around 15 options depending on how much time you have and if there is something specific you’d like to see).  You pay at the counter (note they only accept cash and there are no ATMs) and are allocated one of the waiting drivers.  The 5 hour tour including sunset was JD75, which was for an aircon 4×4 with a panel at the back if you fancy sitting outside and with a guide who was pleasant but had limited english (it is pot luck which driver you get).  The cost is per vehicle so, if you’re on a budget, it makes sense to find some others who would like to join you.  If you’re not, its quite nice having the driver and 4×4 to yourself
  • Go with the 4×4 with aircon plus panel at the back – there were a lot of other 4×4 / pickup trucks with the seats / cage added at the back.  I think this makes sense if you’re on a budget, but I’d imagine this gets very hot in the summer and will get tedious after a few hours being bumped around (it gets super bumpy at times)
  • The 5 hour tour felt enough.  I’m sure there are some extra areas that would be great to visit (such as the hike up to the main rock bridge) and, as always, it would be nice for an extra day to chill out in an area of such unusual beauty, but overall the combo of this and the evening in the camp felt like a great experience
  • We went in Winter which was the perfect temperature, but could get a little chilly in the shade so be prepared.  Summer must be interesting
  • Try to take your time to enjoy the surrounding scenery rather than rushing between spots – ideally in the panel out the back of the 4×4.  Your guide will be fine driving to other less busy spots and you won’t feel like you’ve missed out if you skip 1 of the rocky outcrops to get away from your fellow tourists
  • Bring your flip flops – if you’re heading for one of the mini climbs up the sand dunes, bring your flip flops as often it turns to rock at the top and just easier with something on your feet
  • The camps are cool, if just a little on the tacky / touristy side.  We stayed at one of the Martian tents in Hassan Zawaideh Camp which was pricey at USD250 / night, but the morning view made up for it.  My tip though would be to not bother with the Martian Tent as, from what we could see, most of the windows / plastic looking out were quite dirty.  Just set your alarm for super early for a warm drink seeing first light come in
  • Camel trekking?  Yeah maybe if you’re planning on an epic multi-day trip from Petra to Wadi Rum, or maybe if you’v never been on one and its purely for the novelty.  But, I’d stick with the 4x4s
  • The online Jordan pass is worth getting if you plan on visiting a few sites and staying for in Jordan for 3 nights or more.  JD75 includes 2 days in Petra, entrance to Wadi Rum and most sites in Jordan and covers your visa fee (note though – it is not a visa.  You still need to apply for one, this just covers the fee)

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Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone