Eid Mubarak friends!
This past week, Ramadan ended and the celebrations for Eid el-Fitr began. Qasid gave us a 5 day weekend, so many students spent this time traveling Jordan and going abroad. A group of friends and I decided to spend Eid break traveling to Wadi Rum and Petra. Being these are two of the most famous destinations in Jordan, I encourage everyone to check them out.
We began our journey on Tuesday by taking a shuttle bus (organized by Qasid) to Wadi Rum. There are other ways to get to Wadi Rum, but there are no direct shuttles to the town. Many people take a bus to Aqaba and then hitch hike or take a taxi to Wadi Rum village. Since we were a larger group, we decided to arrange for a private shuttle to take us. This is a little bit more spendy, but the shuttle had air conditioning, and the driver was fantastic. He gave us many tips and even got us out of a scam, so it was definitely worth it. Wadi Rum is about a 4 hour drive from Amman, so we set off early in the morning to get there by the afternoon.
When you arrive in Wadi Rum, you must purchase a 5 JD entry ticket. This is actually where people tried to scam us. You have to be careful of who you purchase a ticket from and demand a hard copy of the ticket. Not knowing this, we almost fell for a scam, but luckily the driver knew and helped us navigate through it. Once we finally bought the tickets, we arrived in Wadi Rum village. Wadi Rum village is very small town that has about 3,000 residents (it felt a lot smaller honestly but this is what a local told us). There’s really not much there besides houses and some small shops. Wadi Rum village is also separate from the actual desert Wadi Rum, so once we arrived in the village, we met with a beduin who owned the campsite we were staying at. We were staying at Beduin Lifestyle Camp (I highly recommend this camp to everyone as we all had such a great experience). The campsite from the village was about 10 KM away, so we had different options of how we wanted to get there. We decided to ride camels half way there and then they picked up us on their desert trucks and took us the rest of the way there. Riding camels was actually an amazing experience, but no one warned me that it’s terrifying when they stand up. Many of us almost lost our balance and fell off, but it was so much fun.
Once we got to the campsite, meals and unlimited bottled water was included so we spent our first night eating traditional beduin food, listening to their music, and watching them dance. Words cannot begin to describe how beautiful Wadi Rum is. Our campsite was surrounded by caves and mountains and the desert was so red that it felt like we were on Mars. The beduin people were also incredibly warm and inviting. Knowing that we had a long day ahead of us, we all went to bed early and many slept under the stars. Since you are far from civilization and light pollution, the view of the sky at night is breathtaking.
The next day we all woke up early to begin a 12 hour jeep tour. The jeep tour is an essential activity for a Wadi Rum visit as the desert is huge and you can’t just walk around in the scorching heat. On the jeep tour, a local beduin spends the day taking you around the desert to all the different amazing hiking spots and famous sites. We essentially spent the whole day hiking, sand boarding, and exploring the desert with no one around us for miles. This tour also included a lunch and unlimited water (this is a necessity). We finished the long day with another hike up a mountain to watch the sunset. This moment was probably a highlight for me. Looking around the red desert and seeing nothing but beauty for miles.
We also had some hilarious moments throughout the tour and it was really fun getting to know the beduin taking us on the tour. We were able to talk about our families, the economy, and most importantly the Euro Cup. Our jeep also broke down near the end of the tour (this is very commen as the jeeps are old), so it was fun having to push the jeep through the desert. As it happened though, another jeep drove by so they were able to help us. It’s very obvious that the locals of Wadi Rum all know each other since it is an incredibly small community.
We arrived back the camp after sunset and we were exhausted from hiking all day. We spent our second night once again drinking tea and eating dinner with beduins. However, this time, they had a treat for us. During the jeep tour, we had all mentioned how we were dying to watch the Wales vs Portugal game, so they drove us around 10 pm to watch the game at a house in the village. After the game, we drove back to the desert and camped one final night.
My tip for Wadi Rum is that don’t listen to what people tell you. Many people told us that two nights in Wadi Rum is too much, but we all loved it. If you love camping, hiking and the outdoors, I highly recommend doing two nights.
Also, bring bug spray!! I did not expect any mosquitos to be there as it is an extremely dry desert. However, all of us woke up to terrible bites. My face was swollen with bites the next morning!
That following morning, the shuttle came back and took us to Petra, which is about a 90 minute drive away. We planned on spending two days and one night in Petra and booked a room at the Rocky Mountain hotel. An entry ticket for Petra is 50 JD for one day, or 55 JD for two days. We also purchased a ticket for Petra At Night for 17 JD.
Petra was stunning and much larger than I expected. We spent the first day exploring the main areas of Petra and hiked up the High Place of Sacrifice. The view at the top was amazing, but the hike up was difficult because we were doing it during the heat of the day.
That night, we also attended Petra At Night. They shut Petra at 6 pm and then reopen at 9 pm after the sun set. They light up the streets of Petra with candles and ask for attendees to not speak or use a flashlight. This way people can experience Petra under the stars and see its beauty at night. Once you arrive to the treasury, you are asked to sit down and they serve you tea and tell stories of Petra. The experience was pretty cool, but honestly not my favorite. Out of all the things we did, this was definitely the most touristy. I’m not sure if it was worth the 17 JD, but I know some people loved it.
The next day, we woke up at 6 am to hike up to the monastery before it got hot out. Luckily, Petra was almost empty, so we had so much space to explore. At the top of the hike, you have a beautiful view of the ancient monastery. You also have an incredible view of Palestine/Isreal. We sat up there relaxing for an hour and ate our packed lunches.
For Petra, I recommend taking in all food and water with you, as everything inside of Petra is VERY expensive.
Another tip is watching out for tourist scams. People are constantly coming up to you and trying to sell you things. Just say no and keep walking. Also, be wary of the animal rides. In Petra, people are constantly trying to sell camel, horse and donkey rides. Unfortunately, these animals are not always well taken care of and are carrying extreme amounts of weight under intense heat. I personally would not ride the animals at Petra and recommend to friends interested in doing a camel ride to do it at Wadi Rum instead of Petra.
My last tip is that Petra is enormous, so I would recommend spending two days there if you enjoy history and hiking. There is a lot to see, but it’s also quite exhausting, so remember to drink lots of water and eat throughout the day.
After exploring Petra, our shuttle brought us to Amman. After only sleeping 3 hours a night multiple days in a row, we all fell asleep by 9 pm that night. Sadly, I woke up in the middle of the night with food poisoning and have been sick since. But overall, the trip was amazing and I loved every second of it.
Here are some photos of our adventures: