Night under the Stars: Wadi Rum

A trip to Jordan is incomplete without spending a night or two at Wadi Rum. Some believe that you have be a brave camper to want to do this, I disagree. First of all, you don’t have to rough it up, use outdoor toilets and get sand in pretty much everything anymore. Alongside the traditional camping, there are many glamping spots available at Wadi Rum at the moment. So you’re technically neither roughing it up nor camping but that’ll be our secret. More importantly, who wants to miss out on gazing at millions of stars surrounded by comforting silence?

taken at camp, courtesy of Memories Aicha Camp

In fact I’ll start with this, the highlight of it all. I have seen a few clear night skies with a blanket of stars, but nothing came close to what I saw on that night. If you’re going, try to pick a non- full moon night for a better experience. The famous Wadi Rum Mars like terrain, chosen as the set location for a number of movies such as The Martian, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story , Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and others, will not disappoint.

Our campsite

The stars will be seen wherever you’re staying but most camps will arrange for group walks where there’s no light in sight for a more magical experience. This is one of these moments that old and young will remember.

Back to the start. The trip to amman is around a 4 hour drive give or take. After much deliberation we chose to hire a bus and driver, a great choice given that we were 3 families of 12 with little ones in tow. The bigger bus gave them space during the long hours as apart from snacking / playing there isn’t much to do en-route.

The drive is a fairly easy one if you prefer to rent you own car, but for a group trip; I think you’ll miss out on the fun of being together. Some companies, like Jett, offer bus transport but again, I think this will confine you with times of pick up drop off whereas we had the leisure of chosing when to start / leave. For a bit extra, the driver indulged us in taking the hour or so drive to Aqaba on our way back ; a decision we took on the go.

There are many camps to chose from; from the basic tent facility all the way to 5 star accommodation complete with AC and ensuite bathrooms. We opted for the latter , just for the kids sake :) 

The trip to camp starts after you park your transport at the wadi rum parking. You will ride in the iconic ”jeeps”; trucks fitted with makeshift steel benches. Needless to say, the kids and us had a great time riding the dunes in these. No belts being the bonus here. Drivers are native Wadi Rum bedouins.

We stayed at Memories Aycha Camp , a fairly new luxury camp nestled between 2 mountains. The rooms, staff and services were amazing. After settling in, the usual would be taking the jeep rides once again. Depending on the time you have, this will include many stopovers around the reserve. Make sure you agree with your driver on where to be once the sun sets, many chose the Valley of the Moon. The pristine sandy mountains that kids like to roll over at, the rocky cliffs to climb , the Valley of the Moon could all be done in a few hours. If you have more time, a trip to Burdah Rock Bridge, the highest in Wadi Rum, via the Seven Pillars of Wisdom is a full day by car or an overnight trip by camel. 

For the adventurous mountain climbers there are a few options to choose from, the vistors center on site will be able to assist you. Horse and camel riding, hot air balloon rides are also available but these are all best arranged beforehand especially if you want to trek/ ride for hours. For more on what you can do check their page.

 Once retired, dinner is served at camps and most provide the Arabic zarb, meet cooked underground eaten around campfire or in our case served along with a dinner buffet.

the restaurant dome at camp

 Nighttime, you can either just relax around the fire ( if weather allows ) , go stargazing , or  both. Next day, we opted to head early after breakfast  as it was hot to do more around . Aqaba with its beautiful beaches seemed more tempting. Many usually couple Wadi Rum with Aqaba or Petra, either is less than an hour away. However, once there , unless you’re short on time ; it’ll be good to spend another night or more at either site.

We have taken this trip in summer, but I think that spring and fall would make it an even greater experience since the weather would be just perfect for huddling around a fire and spending more time around.

If there’s one word to describe Wadi Rum for me it would be, timeless. It really is one of the few places I’ve been where only nature, not mankind, has worked havoc and beauty.

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