Wadi Rum in South Jordan, Where Lawrence of Arabia Led the Bedouin

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Wadi Rum is 37 miles North from Aqaba and is the home of the Zalabica Bedouins. Wadi Rum has become a world wide center for eco-tourism and rock climbing. Its 720 square kilometers provides outstanding desert landscape combined with world class climbing and trekking. Guides can be booked prior to your visit or at the Wadi Rum Visitor Center.

Wadi Rum, which when translated means Valley of the Moon, is one of the most extraordinary places in the world in which to experience the desert and Bedouin culture. This huge valley located in southern Jordan half way between the Red Sea port of Aqaba and one of the 7 wonders of the world, Petra, should not be missed if visiting Petra is on your “bucket list”.

You can either fly into the King Hussein International airport in Aqaba or visit via one of the many cruise ships that use Aqaba as the jumping off point for visiting Petra. Aqaba itself is interesting in that 4 counties counties represented by 4 cities share a peninsula on the Gulf of Agaba which enters the Red Sea. Three of the cities share the coast line and are important ports for their counties…Aqaba for Jordan, Eilat for Israel and Taba for Egypt. A forth city less than 10 miles away, Hagl, Saudi Araba, gives Muslim pilgrims entry into Saudi Arabia. All the port cities exist side by side and, in fact, except for the entry restrictions into Israel you would assume it is all one large city.

Many famous movies had been filmed in Wadi Rum including one of the Transformers films, Prometeus (where Wadi Rum was used for scenes of the Alien Planet) and Red Planet in 2000. But the most famous was Lawrence of Arabia, the story of the WWI British solder (T.E. Lawrence) who along with Sheriff Hussein led the Beduoins of Jordan and Wadi Rum in the capture of Aqaba from the Turks and later the capture of Demasscus by the Beduoins before the British could reach it on their own. His exploits helped to give Jordan the critical port of Aqaba, which cemented its position as a leading Arabian country.

When we visited Wadi Rum this week we arranged for our Bedouin guide, Yasser, to meet us with a four wheel drive vehicle at the Visitor Center. Yasser, who was born, raised and still lives in Wadi Rum, spoke very good English, since English is a required subject in Jordan’s schools. We spent well over 4 hours with Yasser visiting the valley, sand dunes, trekking areas and the climbing rocks of Wadi Rum. Along the way we visited with his many “cousins” and shared Bedouin tea, coffee and stories. The following photos give a little impression of this beautiful Valley, the Bedouin who live there in their tents, and climbing the sand dunes.

Along the way we shared dates and visited with one of the most celebrated climbing guides in Wadi Rum and his son. We also were given head scarfs (Keffiyeh) to bring home. Of couse, we had to be taught how to wrap a Keffiyeh (we took videos so we could wrap the Keffiyeh when we got home).
And, Beduoin tea which is a wonderful sweet tea made from desert plants was shared a each stop at a Beduoin tent during our visit.
So my advice is to make sure to include Wadi Rum on your “bucket list” when you do finally managed to find a way to visit Jordan and visit the famous ruins of Petra.
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