Wadi Rum National Park – The Ultimate 48 Hour Itinerary

Wadi Rum National Park is probably one of the most memorable places I have visited! It was everything you expect the ideallyic desert landscape to be and so much more! Think vast deserts, towering cliffs, and a sky so full of stars you won’t believe it’s real. From adrenaline-pumping jeep tours and rock climbing to chilling in a Bedouin camp under the stars, Wadi Rum packs in adventure, culture, and history against the backdrop of stunning scenery.

Wadi Rum National Park

Where is Wadi Rum National Park located

Wadi Rum, a breathtaking expanse of desert wilderness in the south of Jordan, is renowned for its towering sandstone mountains, wide sandy valleys, and ancient rock carvings. Its unique landscape has not only attracted adventure seekers but also served as a backdrop for numerous films. Geographically, it’s situated about 60 kilometers (37 miles) to the northeast of Aqaba, Jordan’s only coastal city, and roughly 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Amman, the country’s capital.

Queen Alia International Airport, Amman

As the main international gateway to Jordan, Queen Alia International Airport is approximately 300 kilometers from Wadi Rum. The drive can take around 4 hours, leading you through varying landscapes, from the bustling streets of Amman to the serene vastness of the desert. This airport offers a wide range of facilities and connects travelers to major cities worldwide, making it a convenient starting point for your journey to Wadi Rum.

King Hussein International Airport, Aqaba

For those looking for the quickest route to the desert, King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba is about 60 kilometers away, translating to roughly an hour’s drive to Wadi Rum. This proximity makes Aqaba’s airport an ideal choice for visitors eager to immerse themselves in the desert experience as soon as possible. Aqaba itself is worth exploring, with its beautiful Red Sea coastline, before or after your desert adventure.

For more details on how to get to Wadi Rum, including other parts of Jordan during your trip, read our detailed blog post on this topic.

Wadi Rum Visitors Center

The Wadi Rum Visitor Centre serves as the main gateway to Wadi Rum. Located just off the Desert Highway, about 40 minutes from Aqaba and around 3.5 hours from Amman, it’s accessible by car or tour bus. If you’re driving, follow the well-signed roads leading directly to the Visitor Centre.

You will need to stop here and pay for the entry fee to enter Wadi Rum National Park. Entry to Wadi Rum requires a fee of 5 JD (around 7 USD), which is per person for access, not per day, making it a one-off payment for your stay. This fee grants you entry to the protected area and supports conservation efforts.

There are basic facilities at the Visitor Centre. There are some toilets and a basic cafe for refreshments as well as a gift shop. You can pick up maps and learn about guided tours if you have not pre-booked a tour (which I highly reccommend doing in advance of your trip to Wadi Rum)!

Wadi Rum desert

How long to spend in Wadi Rum

If you’re wondering how long to dedicate to Wadi Rum, aim for at least one full day, and if your schedule allows, two days would be even better. Most tours in Wadi Rum are 1 full day and overnight tours, ending in the following morning. If you want to explore the dessert any longer, which I highly recommend, then consider staying a little longer.

Wadi Rum National Park 48 Hour Itinerary

Below is a suggested itineray based on our own time in Wadi Rum National Park, after having done considerable research to see how we could get the most out of 1.5 days in the desert, feel free to modify this to suit your own preferences.

Wadi Rum bubble luxotel

Day 1: Wadi Rum Bubble Luxotel

5pm: arrive into Wadi Rum National Park

7pm: Having settled in and taken in our surroundings and the camping area, we were in awe of the desert and martain like landscape.

8pm: Dinner at our hotel, we opted for half board at our hotel and there arent any restaurant options at this point in the desert unless you want to drive back to the main roads which we didnt want to do after arriving in the desert.

Wadi Rum bubble hotel

10pm: The sun was set and sky had sufficiently darkened, allowing us to venture out for some stargazing! This was a once in a lifetime experience as I have never seen the sky quiet as clear as you can see it in the desert sky. The further away you can get from the neighbouring towns the better the statgazing! We downloaded a couple of stargazing apps and spent the next hour in complete awe.

Day 2: Wadi Rum National Park Camping Tour

7am: We had breakfast at the hotel and checked out, on our way to start our overnight tour with Wadi Rum/ Nomads Jeep Tours. We were welcomed by the tour owner and our guide at teh start point. Here they explained information on the desert and plan for next day and night over some traditional Bedouin tea.

We then set out for the day in our open 4WD, I would highly recomend doing a tour this way, experiencing the desert landscape is so much better this way! The adrenline rush and steller views are unparalled.

Lawrence Spring Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum Attractions

I would say most tour cover the following main sites on their Wadi Rum tour. These are as follows:

  • Lawrence spring
  • Red sand dune
  • Khazali canyon
  • Little bridge
  • Lawrence house
  • Mushroom rock
  • Burdah rock bridge
  • Abu Khashaba canyon
  • Um Fruth rock bridge
  • Um Sabatah

I would recomend checking the local tours for their coverage of these main sites as well as the accomodation and evening activities they provide ahead of booking.

Wadi Rum Tour Stops: Morning

Lawrence Spring

Our first stop involved hiking up to Lawrence Spring felt like a treasure hunt, a gentle climb that led up to a beautiful oasis. It was a lush spot that felt a world away from the desert heat.

Red Sand Dun

Our next stop was the Red Sand Dune climbing up in soft sand is a challenge itself. Reaching the top, we were rewarded with an epic view, probably one of the best landscape views in the desert in my opinion.

Khazali Canyon

Khazali Canyon was like stepping into a secret passage. Our guide did a great job of explaining the inscriptions high on the walls as we wandered through its narrow paths.

Mushroom rock

Mushroom Rock

Next we stopped by Mushroom Rock for our lunch. Here the tour guides made us some decolcous tea and hot food on a fire which was a welcome nourishment after all that walking and heat in the desert!

Wadi Rum Tour Stops: Afternoon

Little Bridge

Our post lunch climb the Little Bridge was easier than I expected. Standing on top of this natural rock arch, I felt like I could see the whole desert. It was a quick climb but one of those ‘top of the world’ moments.

Burdah Rock Bridge

Next, we did a short hike to Burdah Rock Bridge. The massive natural arch, looking out over Wadi Rum, was incredible. The view was something I’ll never forget.

wadi rum desert

Abu Khashaba Canyon

We also covered the Abu Khashaba Canyon which offered a peaceful break from the sun. surrounded by towering rock walls.

Um Fruth Rock Bridge

Um Fruth Rock Bridge was a perfect mix of thrill and beauty. The climb up wasn’t too tough, and standing on the arch, I felt a rush of excitement mixed with a deep appreciation for the desert’s vast beauty.

sandune

Um Sabatah

Ending our day at Wadi Rum national Park at Um Sabatah to catch the sunset was magical. We sat there with our phones and camera set up, watching as the sky and sand turned shades of gold and red. It was the perfect, peaceful end to an epic day. As soon as the sun set though, the desert definitely gets cold! A lot colder than you would expect! I highly reccomend packing some warm layers and chapstick to brave the cool winds, especially if you are going in the winter months.

Traditional Bedouin Camp

Upon sunset, we were driven to the Bedouin campsite we were staying for the evening. Upon arrival, we were welcomed into the traditional Bedouin tent, the main large tent where dinner is served. There fire going in the middle of the room with traditional Bedouin music as our backdrop.

Camps Wadi rum

The guides then exchanged stories and gave a us a beaufitul history lesson and explained the traditions of the Bedouin people. We ended the evening with a hearty meal, playing a few card games with our local guides and exchaning stories. A special experience getting to know the local people, something we don’t think we would have done without the tour on our own.

Day 3: Sunrise and Camel Rides

AM: We headed out first thing to a sunrise spot our guides had advised us about the day before. It was a rare treat to be in such a quiet and serene place at the break of dawn. After breakfast, it was time for our camel rides.

Camel ride

After awkwardly hopping onto a camel for the first time (this was not something that comes naturally to most people) we got moving. The rhythm of the camel’s steps and the vast, open desert around us was mesmerizing. There’s something about seeing the landscape from that height, moving at the slow, steady pace of a camel—it makes you feel like you’re part of an old-world caravan, experiencing the desert as travelers have for centuries.

Camel

We got to ride the camels through the desert for an hour with our guide, getting back to the start point of our tour.

Wadi Rum Packing List

The weather in Wadi Rum National Parlcan change a lot across different times of the year and even between day and night so its important to make sure you pack adequately for a comfortable nights in the desert!

Here’s a quick checklist I used:

  • Sunscreen: A high SPF to protect against the desert sun.
  • Wide-brimmed hat: For added shade and sun protection.
  • Reusable water bottle: Stay hydrated and eco-friendly.
  • Sturdy hiking boots: Essential for navigating rocky terrains.
  • Breathable clothes: Lightweight fabrics for summer visits.
  • Lightweight scarf: Useful for protection against sun and sand.
  • Sunglasses: To shield your eyes from the bright sun.
  • Long-sleeve shirt: Offers extra protection from the sun, even in summer.

For winter trips, add:

  • Thermal underwear: Keeps you warm during cold nights.
  • Fleece jacket and windproof outer layer: For layering up against the cold.
  • Warm socks, hat, and gloves: Essential for chilly evenings and nights.

Don’t forget:

  • Chapstick: The dry desert air can be harsh on your lips.
  • Spare slippers or sandals: Great for relaxing at camp.
  • Headlamp or flashlight: Handy for nighttime navigation.
  • Camera: To capture the stunning scenery and starry skies.

Wadi Rum in Movies

If you’re a movie buff, you may recognise part so the Wadi Rum landscape as movie backdrops. There is no shortsage of iconic movies filmed here, the most famous ones being:

  • “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962): This classic film, which tells the story of T.E. Lawrence’s adventures in the Arabian Peninsula during WWI, showcases the vast, untouched desert of Wadi Rum, bringing its historical significance to the forefront.
  • “The Martian” (2015): Wadi Rum stood in for the Martian surface in this sci-fi hit. Its red sands and unique rock formations provided the perfect alien landscape for the movie’s Mars scenes.
  • “Aladdin” (2019): The live-action remake of this beloved Disney animated film used Wadi Rum to create the magical, fictional city of Agrabah, capturing the enchanting atmosphere of the Middle East.
  • “Star Wars: Rogue One” (2016) and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (2019): Wadi Rum’s otherworldly terrain was used to represent alien planets in these entries of the Star Wars saga, adding to the franchise’s rich, intergalactic settings.