March 27, 2016: After spending a great (and relaxed) time in Aqaba, I was all packed for my next destination which was Wadi Rum. It wouldn’t be wrong to confess that Wadi Rum was the real reason that I always wanted to come to Jordan. Wadi Rum is really unmissable on any trip to Jordan. It is a big desert valley spreading 720 square kilometers on the South of Jordan and extends further to Saudi Arabia. Its often referred to as the Valley of the moon and have been successfully as the surface of Mars in big movies like The Red Planet, The Martian, Prometheus, The last days in Mars and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
There is only one local bus (not the regular JETT bus) which goes from Aqaba to Wadi Rum very regularly as it shuttles locals between Aqaba and Wadi Rum mostly. The bus fare is 3 JD (they tricked me by charging me 5 JD as I was a foreigner!) and it leaves from the Aqaba local bus station (close to the police station) at 6:30am, 11am, 1pm and 5 pm. Make sure to be at the bus stop 30 minutes before or else you wont find a seat and sometimes, the bus will leave before time if it gets already filled. It is important to remember that there is also a JETT bus which is more expensive, but much more comfortable which is headed to Petra from Aqaba which takes you to Wadi Rum too. Check the bus website for the timing. Its the major bus company in Jordan and can be used to get from every major tourist attraction in Jordan, but Wadi Rum still being an off-the-beaten track attraction, the bus service is highly unreliable in this route! One more thing is, I call it unreliable as if there are not enough passengers (during off-season), the bus gets cancelled abruptly on the spot as the driver can decide whether its worth to do the trip or not with such less passengers. So, good luck!
I had a cultural shock when I entered this bus! It was filled with locals and women were sitting at the back of the bus (all men were in the front)! This was something strange to me as in my home-country, women would always get the better seats which are in the front rather than get dizzy at the back because of all the jerking when the bus is on the road. To my surprise, I found another backpack in the bus which meant there was someone else like me too! 😀 So this is how I met Garry (a guy from Singapore who was also backpacking in Jordan) and hence the boring bus ride of 2 hours became very interesting and entertaining. We shared many stories of our travels and turned out that last night it had just not rained in Aqaba, but also Wadi Rum which is why bedouins in the desert were very happy! The bus driver dropped us at the WadiRum’s visitor center for getting the tickets to get inside the Wadi Rum desert.
I had to wait for my Bedouin friend Atallah who had offered me a volunteering opportunity. Atallah was a very hospitable bedouin and he lives both at the village and in the desert with his parents. Because I was a volunteer, I could skip the 5 JD entree fee to Wadi Rum! He had asked me to help with his Wadi Rum tour website (he organizes Jeep tours, climbing, trekking and camel rides in Wadi Rum). Atallah picked me up in his jeep with his cousin and we headed towards the bedouin village where he had his house. It was lunch time by then and Atallah offered me a great meal before we headed to the desert. ! Atallah paired me up with 4 more Swedish girls for a 2 days 1 night tour in Wadi Rum and I felt so so safe with them as it was indeed a bit scary that I wanted to sleep in an unknown big desert all by myself. Thankfully, that was solved!
I also met a big German group at his place who had just returned from the desert after 2 days and were very excited! I got more and more excited about this whole sleeping under the stars thing. Atallah assured me that I will have the best time of my life in Wadi Rum. So, did I have a great time in Wadi Rum ? Follow my next post to know how was it.
Still wondering whether to visit or not? Well, the big blockbuster “the Martian” was shot entirely in Wadi Rum. Liked the moon landscape in the movie? Then Wadi Rum should definitely be in your bucket list!
Read my next post on how I slept under falling stars in Wadi Rum here: Jordan Chronicles 6: Wadi Rum (sleeping under the stars) Day 1
Missed my previous post on snorkeling in Red Sea? It’s here: Jordan Chronicles 4: Aqaba Day 2