How to organize a trip to Wadi Rum on your own? Our own experience in Jordanian desert and practical tips.

When planning our trip to Jordan, I knew that we can’t skip Wadi Rum desert, called by many as the Valley of the Moon due to its particular landscape with red sands, granite and sandstones which give an out of the world feeling.

The history of Wadi Rum dates back to prehistoric times, it is known that the desert was inhabited by the Nabataeans – an ancient Arab people who lived in northern Arabia and the southern Levant.

If you’re a film fan you’ve probably had opportunity to see few captures of the Jordanian desert in the movies such as Lawrence of Arabia, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; Aladdin and The Last Days on Mars and those are just a few productions which were shot here (you can Google many more movies with scenes being filmed in Wadi Rum).

Lawrence’s house (the real one) and the surrounding area. When having a stop here, climb the rock for great views.

If you’re a nature lover and like the remote, quiet areas filled with natural beauty, then Wadi Rum is a perfect place to visit when in Jordan. If you visit the country without a travel agency, you may wonder how to organize your stay.

In this post I will write you about our own experience as well as other options we know that independent tourists often choose.

Book your stay via (hotel + tour)

The most popular option among tourists is to book accommodation in the dessert. Bedouin families are running the hotels here, it can be a simple tent or fancier capsule style rooms, some of them come with private bathrooms, obviously the more you pay, the more amenities you get. When you arrive to the Wadi Rum Visitor Center you leave your car and get picked by your host (you need special car to be able to ride the sandy desert roads).

Cars used for excursions. In the background you can spot hotel facilities built closer to the rocks.
During excursions you will stop many times in the Bedouin tents for traditional tea which is a symbol of local hospitality.

When driving further into desert, you will soon loose the mobile network connection and find yourself immersed in the world dominated by barely touched nature with row granite rocks formations, red sands and lonely camels searching for sparse tuft.

Many tourists opt for two nights at the desert, coming in the evening, having a full day tour next day and being deposited to the Visitor Center in the morning the following day. Most of the accommodation offers come with breakfast and you can opt for lunch and traditional Bedouin dinner which is a very interesting experience on its own. I think that it’s best to settle all meals with your host since in the desert there is no network nor shops so it will be quite difficult to get the food from other sources.

Most of visitors choose the desert tour offered by their Bedouin host which is the most hassle-free option. At here comes a very important point: since most probably you will have a tour proposed by your host, it’s important to read the Booking and Google reviews from the previous guests to verify their experience. Read carefully about the opinions on pricing, car used for expedition, and places which you are about to visit. See the prices of extra attractions such as sandboarding and camel riding.

We have chosen 30 minutes camel ride at the end of the trip. You can opt for longer experience, also at different points of the excursions. When riding a camel you will be of course slower and see a bit less, on the other hand it’s a very fun adventure and after some short time of adjustment you’re sitting quite comfortably. I recommend opting for 60-90 minutes ride. From what we saw, the camels were treated well and knew their guides, we had impression that animals are used to their owners who treat them with respect. We wouldn’t have decided for a ride otherwise if we would have seen some bad treatment of camels.

To understand the pricing a bit better you can also check first the offers at the Visitor Center where daily tours are also available to book. Alternatively, you may choose the excursion with some Bedouins at the center, however I read that the experience relies heavily on the guide and there is quite some luck factor involved to have positive experience. I think it’s more reliable to choose a Bedouin accommodation with tours offered on or other websites of this type after careful verification of opinions. Don’t hesitate to also write to different hosts to confirm their offer and ask for possibilities to customize the trip according to your needs.

One day trip from Aqaba

If you don’t want to stay for a night in the desert, it is possible to organize your trip from Aqaba which is just a one hour drive away by car. This is the option we have chosen since we didn’t want to change hotels every few days. We have arrived to Aqaba after 2 intense days in Petra where we did many hours of hiking and wanted to have more relaxing rest of our stay. Anyway, I don’t recommend going to Wadi Rum directly from Petra if you did a lot of hiking, you may be just too tired to fully enjoy your stay in Wadi Rum. I think it’s reasonable to come for at least one day to Aqaba and relax in the Red Sea or in swimming pools and explore the desert after such refresh.

I think that going to Wadi Rum for just one day is perfectly fine, however you will miss the star gazing and Bedouin traditional dinner. On the other hand, you will avoid extra hassle with changing hotels, packing and unpacking and in the evening you can just relax in your swimming pool after long day on the desert. I think that both options are attractive and worth consideration.

When searching for tours in Aqaba, I advise asking for tours at the reception of your hotel, however often the offers will be overpriced. I didn’t find in Aqaba city center many agencies selling excursions and finally decided to search the trips on the Internet. When scrolling through different offers I found a family run business Wild Wadi Rum Tours which have very good opinions (4.9 on Google) and very good prices (in the hotel and in the city I was finding twice more expensive tours). They offer short and long one day tours and you can also book with them longer stay (with accommodation).

If you travel without a car, they can also arrange the taxi or you can ask for it your hotel, this way you can get better price, the taxi both ways should be around 40-50 JOD.

We have chosen the extended 5 hour tour with 30 minutes camel ride. Our tour had the following programme:

  • Lawrence’s spring
  • Khazali Canyon
  •  Small Rock Arch Umm Fruth Rock Arch
  • Lawrence’s house
  • Sand Dunes
  • Anfeshiyeh inscriptions
  • Burdah Arch

And 30 minutes camel ride but we could choose from 1/2 hour hike to the Abu Kashaba Canyon or 1/2 hour sandboarding .

Khazali Canyon. At some point climbing gets a bit tricky.
Ancient Anfeshiyeh inscriptions.

We paid 70 JOD for two persons for the trip and in the hotel and on the other websites we would normally need to pay 70 JOD per person, so the double cost! Thus, I find Wild Wadi Rum Tours a good option especially that we saw plenty of other cars stopping in the same places as we did which means that the excursions have quite similar programmes. Wild Wadi Rum Tours have a website with accurate descriptions of tours and precise price list which made all services very clear and I felt I don’t have to dig into misty world of negotiations which requires hours of reading and comparisons to understand what fair price would be for different attractions.

If you choose the shortest tour (3 hours) you will stop at the must-see points which are Lawrence’s spring, Khazali Canyon, Small rock arch, Lawrence’s house, Anfeshiyeh inscriptions and see some  sand dunes. To be completely honest I had impression that the drivers are feeling a bit forced to make the same stops all the time, at every site you get off the car, often climb some particular rock from where you have nice panoramic views, take few pictures and get back to the car to drive to the next spot. I was finding this way of desert discovering a bit generic. From the perspective of time, I would search for more customized 7-8 hours jeep safari where I don’t need to stop every 15 minutes, climb the rock, take few pictures and jump back to the car, all that with plenty of other tourists doing exactly the same, but would prefer to more drive around, to see different rock formations, enjoy vast landscapes and enjoy a bit more off beaten track natural sites. If coming for second time, I’d also choose longer camel ride (around 1.5 hour). I think that such customized trip would have to be arranged a bit more in advance with your tour guide. Ideally, I also think that few groups should be gathered for lunch in one tent with locals with whom visitors could chat a bit. In my opinion, the daily tours are so invested into following the programme that there is little time for some friendly interaction. It would be nice to have a possibility to have informal conversation during a meal so the tourists and Bedouins could know each other a little bit. There is so many questions I’d love to ask the locals about their daily life, customs and the desert itself, but I didn’t find a good moment for it, since we were mostly busy driving from point to point as settled in the programme. Maybe the overnight stays provide such opportunities, for instance in the evening?

Stunning Wadi Rum landscapes.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to go by taxi and arrange a tour in advance, you can jump into Jett bus in the morning and arrive to the Visitor Center and there buy a tour. Make sure to choose the one which will bring you back for the evening bus back to Aqaba (around 7pm).

A trip by Jett bus from Petra to Wadi Rum (Visitor Center)

It is not clear on the Jett Bus website whether the buses from Petra to Wadi Rum are operating or not, however we checked it ourselves when travelling from Petra to Aqaba and stopping in Wadi Rum. It is true that such connection is not possible to purchase on the website but you can easily get your ticket in Amman or Aqaba bus station. I generally advise that if you plan to use buses around Jordan, go to Jett bus station in Amman or Aqaba shortly after your arrival and purchase all tickets needed there to set up your trip.

The Jett bus from Petra arrives in the evening to Wadi Rum Visitor Center, so option with a bus is a good one for a one night stay and one day excursion with an evening bus to Aqaba.

You can search for your capsule hotel or tent via and inform the host about your arrival so you’re picked from the Visitor Center directly from the bus stop. Always conform a pick-up location with your hotel prior to arrival to avoid misunderstandings.

Going to desert without a tour

It is possible to explore the desert completely on your own without a tour. In order to do so you will need to have a 4×4 car to be able to drive through the sand. You will need to obtain a special permit in the Visitor Center.

Tour on your own will allow you to visit more remote areas at your own pace. A special car is needed and most importantly you need to be experienced to drive in such demanding natural conditions.

This option gives you the most independent and tailor-made experience since you can really explore the desert as you like. However, note that in the desert there is no mobile network reception, and there is no real roads and there is a serious risk to get lost. Also driving in the desert is a completely different experience and is it easy to get stuck in the sand. In more remote areas there is much less cars with tourists so it can get quite long to get some help. I recommend this option only for people who are very experienced and very well-prepared for these kind of trips.

Practical tips: 

  • Take with you closed sporty/hiking shoes since you will be hiking the rocks. Sandals will not protect your feet from sand and stones when walking around.
  • Take a hat or scarf to cover your head and neck. Traditional keffiyeh head scarf does the job very well, ask the local to wrap it for you. You can also use part of it to cover your mouth and nose during windy day.
  • Bring the suntan creams.
  • Light long sleeve shirt and long trousers from natural materials like cotton and linen are most comfortable during hot and dry days on the desert.
  • Bring warmer clothes if you’re planning to stay during the night.
  • Note that mobile Internet and in general mobile reception can be limited on the desert.
  • Search few weeks in advance for desert tours, don’t hesitate to write extra messages to your hotel/ tour guides for extra information.
  • Normally your tour guide and hotel will provide you with bottled water but make sure you take with you few litres just in case.
  • Bring cash, on the desert there may be no possibility to pay by card, especially for camel rides and in the Bedouin tents for small souvenirs, tea, coffee, etc. Tipping (your driver, camel guide, etc.) is also expected in cash.
Wish you a great Wadi Rum experience!
  1. Theo

    Interesting read since on the most blogs I’ve read only about option with a night on a desert and I actually prefer to go to a hotel in Aqaba or other town to refresh in a pool and don’t pack/unpack all my stay. I’ll check the company you mentioned but as you said I’d also prefer more custom trip without the programme everyone is having, just to enjoy the ladscape and nature and not necessarily go from point to point and I guess it was all invented to create some itinerary to attract tourists since saying we will just drive around for few hours won’t tempt people to come since everyone wants to have everything scheduled..

  2. Jasper

    This website online is really a stroll-through for all of the information you needed about different destinations. I hesitate between going to Jordan and Egypt

  3. Amy

    You found a really good price! I’ve been searching for some tours and was sure it’s around 70 JOD per person. I like when there’s a website with prices so I know on which ground I’m standing huh

  4. Patty

    Hi, I very much like your practical posts 😁 I’m curious how the mobile network worked for you in the desert? How much you were without reception?

    • Gabriela Mozharovskyi

      Hello Patty, it didn’t work more often than did, I had reception closer to the village and on some higher rocks we climbed but normally I was without network. I don’t recommend relying on that, I suggest to inform people in advance that you won’t be available if you expect someone may contact you during the trip.

  5. Inka

    Thanks for the tips, I was wondering can one arrive there by bus since I don’t like to drove abroad. Do they have many departures during the day?

    • Gabriela Mozharovskyi

      Hi Inka,

      As far as I remember there was only one departure a day.I suggest asking in the Jett Bus office for current schedule when you buy your tickets since they always can make some changes and add more buses 🙂

  6. Arcadius

    Just curious how to organize effectively the trip on our own, without tours and guides,all these trips do similar routes and we don’t care for it, want to enjoy the nature and not the ‘highlights’. I have experience in riding in the difficult terrain but never went on my own to the desert

  7. DavidJet

    Thanks, this is a nice post with proper facts, now I know what prices we can get for the trip to desert, what our hotel suggested was 3 times more expensive

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