Wadi Rum: Everything you need to know about visiting with kids
Wadi Rum desert was one of the highlights of our Jordan itinerary. It was almost up there on a par with our long-term bucket list destination Petra which is really saying something. For the kids, it was number three on their kid’s guide to Jordan behind meeting Gladiators and hiking around Petra and that is saying something too! Getting picked up in a 4×4 and driven off into the desert was just the start of our adventure.
Before we went, however, we didn’t know much about it and weren’t sure what to expect. Had we known what we know now, we would have organised to stay longer. Here are the questions we tried to find answers to before we visited. By answering them here, it will help you plan your trip to Wadi Rum so that you don’t feel like you miss out on anything.
What is Wadi Rum?
Wadi Rum is a 720sqkm valley (wadi is the Arabic term for valley) in the south of Jordan. It’s also known as the Valley of the Moon. With its rich, red sand and huge granite rock formations complete with Nabataean rock paintings, it looks a little like Mars, which is why it was the perfect setting for the film ‘The Martian‘ with Matt Damon. It really is an otherworldly experience that has to be seen to be believed. JOD 7 but free with Jordan Pass.
Where is Wadi Rum?
Wadi Rum is about 320km south of Amman, 100km south of Petra and 60km east of Aqaba. It is easily doable as a day trip from either Petra or Aqaba but read our section below on ‘How long do I need in Wadi Rum?’ to see why we think you need more than a day-trip.
Is it worth visiting with kids?
If you think the kids would enjoy a desert adventure riding camels, bouncy 4×4 jeep drives over sand dunes and climbing up huge rock formations to view the sunset and camping out under the stars in a Martian landscape, then yes, Wadi Rum is worth visiting.
How long do I need in Wadi Rum?
You can do a day trip from Aqaba or Petra. Some people may even do a day trip from Amman, but this would be a long and exhausting day. We recommend staying overnight so that you can experience a Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp.
When should I go?
The best times to visit are March to May and September to November. These are the most pleasant times with regards to the weather. It is too hot in the summer and a bit chilly in the winter. It also means that these are the busiest times but Wadi Rum is enormous and your guide should be able to find a way to avoid crowds.
Where do I stay?
These days there are many options of places to stay. All of them promise a luxury tented experience but not all of them deliver. We recommend choosing a camp that is a little way into the desert, away from the main road and the lights of town. This will give you a much more authentic experience.
Bear in mind though, that Wadi Rum is huge and it takes time to get to some camps that are right in the middle of the desert. You also may be far from one of the main sights you want to see which means getting up extra early or getting back late after a sunset drive.
To make sure you choose the accommodation that is right for your family, you should first take a look at a map of Wadi Rum and decide which of the highlights you really want to see. Then choose the accommodation that is most conveniently situated for visiting these. Second, check to see that it is family-friendly. There are quite a few camps with family accommodation so you will be able to find somewhere that ticks all of these boxes.
We picked up this map from the visitor centre. It would have been great to have something like this when we were booking our accommodation showing where accommodation is in relation to the numbered sites.
Here is the legend for the map, telling you which main site of interest corresponds with which number.
You can then pull up the map view in Booking.com and see which camps are located in the area you want, or you can take a look here.
We stayed in Rahayeb Desert Camp. Although it’s not located deep in the desert, it was a good 15-minute ride into the desert by 4×4 and we could not see street lights or hear traffic in the night. They laid on a fantastic Bedouin feast which included showing the guests how they prepared the meat in the traditional way in an underground oven. The management and staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful with booking tours at the last minute. They also had a large family tent with a bathroom. For us, this was essential as we were in the just-out-of-nappy stage with one of the kids.
What is there to do in Wadi Rum?
There is so much to do in Wadi Rum, although not all of it is suitable for kids. These are the main family-friendly highlights for us.
- 4×4 jeep tour. These usually follow a set route to take in the main highlights, but if you book through your camp, you should be able to tailor it to your needs. Instead of a 4-hour tour, you may only want to do a 2-hour tour, which is why making sure your accommodation is in the right location is helpful.
- A sunrise or sunset camel ride. The camels will pick you up at your camp and do a tour of the local area. We did an hour and trust us, that was enough with the kid. They are not the most comfortable of rides. Again, if your camp is located near one of the sights you want to see, you will be able to take a camel ride there.
- Sunset drive. The sunsets in Wadi Rum are pretty incredible and it is worth taking a drive out (if you aren’t out already on your 4×4 tour) to a large rocky outcrop, climbing up and settling in to enjoy the sight.
- Playing in the dunes. Some of the dunes in Wadi Rum are enormous. The kids loved to run up and down. Our camp also had bodyboards that they used to surf down the dunes.
- Enjoy a Bedouin feast. Check to see whether this is included in your accommodation. Most camps will offer dinner, but not all of them will offer the traditional Bedouin feast. Our camp offered the full experience and the food was delicious.
- Camp overnight. If you are visiting Wadi Rum, we recommend that you stay overnight. Not just because there is so much to see and do but because it is an experience in itself.
- Watch the stars. The stars in Wadi Rum are spectacular. There’s no better way to watch the stars than to head out of camp a little after dinner, find a spot on a dune, lay down and look up at the night sky.
- Beach volleyball. This does not feature in many Wadi Rum highlights but what better place to let the kids burn off a little more energy if the running up sand dunes hasn’t completely worn them out already? We always have some kind of ball with us, usually an inflatable yoga ball for easy packing.
We hope this post will help answer some of the questions you may have about visiting Wadi Rum. Feel free to ask a question in the comments or drop us an email if there is anything else you want to know.
If you enjoyed reading this post, why not bookmark it, share it with friends, or even pin it to Pinterest?