Q: What is it? A: Somewhere in the middle of the desert, (sometimes referred to as ‘nowhere’), there’s a bedouin camp where you won’t find business centers and turn-down service. However, staying in the desert is a luxury in itself!
It quickly made it to my list of most beautiful places on earth.
No matter how many sunsets you’ve seen… Nothing in the entire world can prepare you for the light show that takes place daily in the Wadi Rum area. The glowing giant grapefruit vanishes between those spectacular rock formations and you wish that there was a replay button to press. So if you’re here, where have you ended up? You’re in Wadi Rum, baby! OK, what is it then? A wadi is the Arabic word for valley. From the valley floor the rocks of granite and sandstone are towering up to 1754 m. The name Rum is likely to mean ‘high’ or ‘elevated’, (To reflect its proper Arabic pronunciation, archaeologists transcribe it as Wadi Ramm).
Just ask for a guy named Mohammed.
Mohammed Sabah Al-Zalabeh first built an overnight Bedouin camp for visitors 20 years ago. His tribe has made a success of developing eco-adventure tourism, now their main source of income. If you have reserved a tent at the Sunset Camp, you just call Mohammed’s phone on arrival to the visitor center or ask for him as he is a well-known person in the area. You’re then whisked through to the Rum village where you just have to look out for the mobile phone tower. Mohammed’s house is next door. There you will have tea with your host and plan your visit. The camp itself is located about 12 km into the valley. There are private tents for up to 4 people and larger traditional Bedouin tents for larger groups.
Wadi Rum’s biggest attraction is Wadi Rum.
You don’t need much entertainment when in this environment. The location of the Sunset Camp is a blessing. The pictures above will speak for themselves… What about the other facilities? Opinions about the meal varied – I found it excellent. Then the drum and the rababa, the Bedouin one-stringed fiddle deliver the funky groove. Tents by no means offer any luxury and the advice to future travellers is to bring their own sheets or a 1-season sleeping bag. You shouldn’t expect a super clean toilet and shower. Sure it’s in the desert, but with better upkeep that pretty central facility could be improved big time. Sorry, one star goes out the window!
Let’s go on a desert tour, shall we?
This is the desert, so no infrastructure here. They say that private vehicles are prohibited past the village of Rum. I guess that our two rented 4WD were quickly considered property of the Al-Zalabeh tribe. Mohammeds son was drooling over the opportunity to driving them. In fact, if you are going there – ask for another guide than Mohammed’s son as he was ONLY interested in driving brand spanking new American SUVs. Of course he had good knowledge of the neighbourhood, but without any proper guiding… another star ripped out of my book.
I am glad to recommend the Sunset Camp. Mohammed himself is a very warm and friendly person. You will be taken care of. You will be served food that is better than you’d expect. Bring your 1-season sack and make sure that you get a proper guide and you will have a superb time in Wadi Rum. Oh… and bring extra memory cards, (or extra film). Even after sunset the light is out of this world. Not to mention sunrise. After all, this is one of the most beautiful places in the world. No question.
THE SUNSET CAMP, WADI RUM
Mohammed Sabah Al-Zalabeh
Telefax: +962 3 2032961
Mobile: +962 777 314688, +962 799 892446
– Taxi from Aqaba: 20 JD to Wadi Rum and 25 JD back.
– Taxi from Petra: 25 JD to Wadi Rum and 25-30 JD back.
– Local bus lines are also available – they are cheaper but not very frequent and less comfortable.
If you rent a car you take the Desert Highway (road 53) and turn at Rashidiya village (also called the Rum Intersection) about 30 km from Aqaba. After 20 km you will come to the Visitors Center on the boundaries of Wadi Rum protected area. You will have to leave your car on a parking lot and pay an entrance fee for the area (appx. 3 JD).