The thing with Wadi Rum is that while it is remote desert location, it’s actually surprisingly close to civilization (1h drive to Aqaba, which has airport, hospitals etc).
Generally speaking I think that by general population sees Wadi Rum as 1 or 2 day adventure destination. People want to see the desert, be guided around by ‘the locals’, maybe spend a night in the desert camp, but with all the comforts of modern, western hotel.
I’ll try to describe it form a climbers perspective, people who generally are independent, don’t need much beside a bed.
Wadi Rum is located in southern Jordan. You can get there by number of ways – we opted to rent a car and just drive – it’s a long one – over 4h if to be done in 1 day.
Other methods are a bus from Amman, taxi from Aqaba, or an organized tour by your hotel.
The area can be divided into 2 main categories:
Wadi Rum Village – which is essentially a town of couple hundred huts where locals live. It has very basic facilities, with 1 place where you can eat, and 1 or two mini shops.
Wadi Rum Desert – It is vast area of sand and stone – it is around 720km2, where 40km drive through the desert (no roads!) will eventually get you to Saudi Arabia Border (not recommended!).
Some 30+ commercial camps have been setup, and every local will try to ‘recruit’ you to stay at their site. Those things cost more than a hotel room in a city.
There are no hotels, b&b’s, hostels or other organised accommodation in the Wadi Rum Village – so you have 3 options for accomodation.
- camp (wild in the desert)
- stay with a local family
- stay in a luxury camp
There is nothing stopping you from just driving to the desert yourself and setting up your own camp in the shade of one of many high mountains that are out there. Locals don’t seem to like it though – they seem to be under the impression that it’s their ‘turf’ and one should be using their ‘guiding’ services.
Now, it is the desert – it is VERY easy to get lost or get stuck (driving in sand is hard, there are no roads!), and it would be costly to get rescued.
Either way those are the choices. For serious climbers specifically, I feel the best no hassle approach is to have your own tent, food and water supplies for few days – and just get driven to the area of your choice, climb, and be picked up after few days.
Now, our group was definitely not of the ‘hardcore’ climbers types so we picked middle option – stay with a local family.
Initially I was planning to bring the camping gear and just go to the desert (like we have in Oman), but the group decided we will stay in the village and make our way from there.
It was probably a good choice, since there is plenty to explore on foot, without having to go deep to the desert. On top of that the immense heat meant we couldn’t really climb any way and we cut our visit to Wadi just to 5 days.
Having said all of that, the views are absolutely stunning, but again – it’s not for everyone.
If the weather is not cooperating, there isn’t much to do – its sand & rock everywhere.
On top of traditional climbing, mostly long multipitch , there are plenty of ‘Beduin Routes’ – which is the local name for scrambling to the top of surrounding walls. Those can be all completed in runners and with no rope – mostly run at M with occasional S.
Sport climbers won’t find much – its all about that trad on questionable rock – we did though find 2 spots with bolts, but honestly, they were poor.
The draw is with sense of adventure, breathtaking views and humus. Humus for breakfast, lunch and dinner.