Review: Glamping In Wadi Rum

Introduction: Road-Trip Through Jordan
Review: Emirates Lounge San Francisco Airport
Review: Emirates First Class A380 San Francisco To Dubai
Review: Emirates First Class 777-300ER Dubai To Amman
Review: Mosaic City Hotel Madaba Jordan
Driving The King’s Highway In Jordan
Review: Feynan Ecolodge
The Sharah Mountains & Little Petra
Review: Glamping In Wadi Rum


Now you’d think, given that we were just up the hill in Little Petra, that Petra itself would be our next stop. Instead, we stopped for lunch in Wadi Musa (and worked for a few hours, I couldn’t help it!), before continuing south to Wadi Rum.

We arrived in Wadi Rum as the sun was starting to set, which made for a beautiful drive in.

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I’ve already detailed the adventures of getting walked from our previously-booked Airbnb in Wadi Rum, so won’t go into that here, but you’ll want to read it if you haven’t yet voiced your opinion on the scam/no scam question. Instead, I’ll review the camp we actually stayed at — the Teva Milky Way camp.

We met our guide at the Wadi Rum guesthouse, and then followed him into the desert. This isn’t typical — tourists are supposed to leave their cars outside of the protected area, but as you’re learning, my husband loves to drive, so 4-Wheeling through the desert ended up being a highlight of the trip.

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I’m still not sure why we were allowed to do this, other than being experienced drivers and enthusiastic about the opportunity. We didn’t see anyone else self-driving.

We stopped to watch the sunset and let air out of the tires before we got into the serious sand.

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While we’d been spoiled by the sunsets in Dana Reserve, there was nothing to complain about in Wadi Rum!

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As the sun drifted behind a ridge we drove deeper into the desert, and to our camp for the night.

Milky Way Camp

To start, we really could see the Milky Way at night, given the complete lack of light pollution. So points for truth in advertising.

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The camp consisted of a double row of tents facing out towards the desert, a “bathroom” tent along the ridge wall, and a main tent for socializing and meals.

We were assigned tent number 12, which was located about half-way down the row. No emergency-exit schematics to share here!

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The tent itself was, well… I’ll just show you the picture.

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So that’s that.

To be fair though, those blankets were really warm. It was 11°F overnight when we were in Wadi Rum (-12°C for non-Americans), and while we initially thought we were going to have to go to bed in all our clothes and gloves, the tent got quite warm. You’re not going to sit around in swimwear by any means, but it wasn’t actively unpleasant at least.

The bathroom tent was a shared facility, with two showers, four toilets (half Western, half Arabic), and three sinks.

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There was a motion-activated light that illuminated the general area, but the stalls didn’t have their own lights. Even in the daytime they were a bit dark, so I’d recommend bringing headlamps (those are on my suggested packing list for Jordan anyway, more on that at the end of the series).

Basically, it might be “glamping,” but that still shares a lot of letters with “camping,” and you’ll want to plan accordingly.

The solar situation was a bit more primitive than at Feynan, but apparently still resulted in hot showers during the day. We didn’t make the attempt (tip: many of these camps don’t provide towels), so I can’t confirm how well that worked.

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The main tent was large, and could easily hold 50 people.

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There was a main fire with a chimney, and a backup fire pit, which I think is only used when it’s exceptionally cold or crowded. There was always a kettle on for tea.

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Dinner was cooked underground on hot coals. The unearthing was quite a production!

The meal was served buffet-style (no pictures of the buffet because it was dark, effing freezing, and there were 40 other people in the queue), and consisted of the baked chicken, several types of roasted vegetables, rice, and pita bread. Everything was tasty.

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The mixture of guests was interesting. Nearly all of the guests were expats from Commonwealth countries who were taking holidays in Jordan from their teaching or marketing jobs in Gulf Coast countries. There was one aid worker from France who lived in Amman and had brought his family to Wadi Rum for the weekend, and one other couple on vacation from Germany. We were the only Americans, which now that I think about it was consistent nearly everywhere we went in Jordan.

Hey other Americans! Go to Jordan! And not just to Petra! It’s safe there, and everyone will be happy to see you!

We happened to be in Wadi Rum over New Years, so the conversations and dancing went late into the evening. I’m not sure how much of the music and dancing is typical, or if this was a special occasion.

As y’all know, I’m an early-riser, so to the chagrin of our hosts we awoke as the first hints of dawn started creeping across the desert. We had more tea, along with a breakfast of yogurt, cucumbers, tomatoes, ful medames, and hummus. It was all much more basic than what we’d had at Feynan (again, camping), but was filling, and kept us sated for several hours of hiking.

Exploring Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum is gorgeous in an almost-alien way. While some features seemed similar to Monument Valley or the Utah National Parks, there was certainly a unique aura to Wadi Rum. It may have been all the Bedouin tea. 😉

The petroglyphs etched into some of the canyon walls certainly didn’t hurt either.

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When it comes to interest levels in hearing about our time in Wadi Rum, my sense is that there are going to be two groups:

  • Rocks are rocks are rocks, and the only thing less interesting than other people’s dreams are other people’s hiking trips
  • ZOMG GEOLOGY PORN!

So we’re going to split the difference. For those who are really here for the airplanes, and are just reading about hiking in a frigid desert to be polite (Hi Ben!), here’s a very mediocre selfie taken by some very cold travelers who hadn’t really slept or showered for a few days, with the landscape of Wadi Rum looking like a matte painting:

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Note for the concerned: my hair is covered because it was damn cold and windy AF, not because there’s any requirement to do so. I had a knit headband on too for warmth, but that of course didn’t help with keeping sand off my face. So, pashmina.

For those who love outdoorsy destinations, appreciate vistas, or want to help us justify schlepping ~20 lbs of camera equipment, here’s a gallery with more photos (click to make them bigger):

Pretty, yeah?

Bottom line

Wadi Rum is stunningly ethereal, and I absolutely recommend making time to explore the desert while you’re in Jordan. Staying overnight in the Bedouin camps may not be for everyone — accommodations are certainly basic.

If you decide to camp in Wadi Rum, I highly recommend reading lots of reviews before booking. Based on what we saw as we were hiking around, most of the camps have a similar setup, and use the same general tents. The variance will come from the furnishings, the bathroom facilities, and possibly the meals. There’s a variety of price points (including an inexplicable $900-a-night option), but most of the camps we saw really looked quite similar. Before I found the Airbnb option I’d been planning on booking the “Night Luxury Camp,” which looks a little less basic, though of course there’s no way to really know.

Regardless, I would make sure to choose accommodations inside the protected area. There are several “resort-style” camps just outside the park, which don’t seem like a great trade-off versus just staying in Aqaba or Wadi Musa.

The Milky Way Camp was a fine option for what it was, and I think if we’d been expecting to stay there we would have had a bit better of a time. The hosts were welcoming, but as we didn’t know what was going on and weren’t well-prepared it was all a bit awkward.

Does anyone have a camp they recommend in Wadi Rum?

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About Tiffany

Tiffany Funk is a passionate traveler who splits her time between California and Italy (when she’s not traveling elsewhere!) Her posts offer a different perspective on earning miles, tricks for balancing multiple household accounts, and break down the basics of redeeming miles for aspirational travel -- whatever those aspirations may be!

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Comments

  1. @ Tiffany — We spent a week in Jordan about 6-7 years ago. It was possibly our best trip ever. What a great destination. Thank for sharing your experiences.

  2. Loving your report! How feasible do you think Jordan would be for solo travel (21, male)? I’m really interested in going there, but worried that getting anywhere outside of Amman would be difficult without paying boatloads. Keep up the reporting!

  3. @ Tommy L — Oh, super easy. If you didn’t want to rent a car there are lots of buses, and taxis are cheap. You can easily take a bus to Petra, or Aqaba, and could take a taxi from either to Wadi Rum, or have someone in Wadi Rum arrange transportation for you. The country seems pretty well set up for those who don’t want to drive.

  4. Beautiful. Wonderful. Such a great report!

    If you haven’t had a lifetime’s worth of rocks and sand, I strongly suggest visiting Sossusvlei in Namibia. The utter desolation is magnificent. And the stargazing is mesmerizing; I would spend hours each night on my back just staring into the night sky. Just be sure to go during the new moon phase. That damn moon is too bright.

    A quick question:

    “ZOMG GEOGOLOGY”

    Um…what?

  5. Hey Tiffany I’ve been loving your Jordan series so far! Great writing as usual, and the pictures are stunning. I just came back from a kinda somewhat similar trip to New Zealand, consisting of driving and camping and it’s really the only way to see what some of these wilderness/nature oriented countries have to offer. I feel bad for people who refuse to venture out of their luxury hotels and are hence stuck to cities, they’ll never get to experience that! Keep it coming, this is definitely putting Jordan on my bucket list :)!

  6. I’m a huge fan of Suleman and the guys at Fox Camp in Wadi Rum (https://www.facebook.com/BedouinsofWadiRum/). It’s definitely a bit more basic than where you stayed (tents, but just mattresses on the ground with heavy blankets instead of beds) but half the fun is that you can drag your mattress outside and sleep under the stars! I stayed at the camp six years ago and have been sending friends ever since – everyone has had a great time.

    Too bad it looks like your itinerary doesn’t include Jerash, Ajloun (another great crusader castle), or the desert “castles”.

  7. Tiffany, great write up and what an elegant way to split the difference with the geology porn!
    Have always wanted to do Petra but this is making me reconsider Jordan as a weeklong family vacation instead of a one day border hop. Thanks! Looking forward to the rest of the trip series.

  8. @ Tiffany — The FCQ stay somewhere with “amping” in the name? I would be in big trouble…

  9. Ha, I didn’t even notice your head wrap until you said it. We kept wrapped the whole time too and for the same reason – it was amazingly functional for the cold evening weather. The scarves were beautiful too, so it was hard to not want to always wear them.

    I had dinner at Discovery Bedu. 😉 It was very nice!

  10. I think I’ll stick with using word found in the Oxford English Dictionary. And not wearing sweatpants in premium cabins.

    Yeah, I’m just a crusty old fart.

  11. Wonderful. Your reports and photos are a joy to read and admire.
    We stayed at Bait Ali camp and they took good care of us. There was a film crew staying there also. They have tents similar to yours as well as cabins. The food was good.
    They took us on the Wadi tour and showed us where the Martian was filmed as well as Lawrence of Arabia cave. Also where the film crew was filming.
    For those who don’t want to drive like us we hired a car with driver/guide/guard for a week from Amira at Jordan direct tours at amira@jdtours.com for a very affordable $1000 that included the Wadi rum camp and 2 nights in Petra at the Movenpick at the entrance. The other hotels were on reward stay at the Marriott Dead Sea, intercontinental Aqaba and Sheraton Amman. Very affordable country.

  12. Fantastic! I’ll take geology porn, cultural travel location porn, or even foreign fruit/food porn anytime!! I get so sick of the boring airplane info and sterile hotel/lounge/expensive flight reviews! Show me places I can MS to get to and see something I’ve never dreamt of!

    Also, love the color of your scarf! It is very attractive with your coloring (Muslim country travel porn- ooh la la, haha)

  13. @ tripe ripe
    I suggest you stop reading the blog as I found it very interesting and anything other than “tripe”. No-one makes you read it.

  14. Very nice report Tiffany! Really enjoyed the pictures and the details. Planning to visit Jordan/Morocco/Egypt in 2018 Summer. Your reports will be very helpful.
    Keep ’em coming..

  15. Nice report, and it does look like a place worth visiting.

    I know this might sound like a nitpick, but why does ful medames get the italics treatment but hummus doesn’t?

  16. The Wadi Rum Luxury Nights camp is definitely nicer. At least in terms of the tents and the bathroom facilities. The tents have additional mesh flaps, which allow air to circulate but still keep bugs out. They also have real queen beds and nice linens and bean bag chairs out front of each tent. The food and service is about the same as you would get at any of the camps, though.

    When going more basic, I found that Wadi Rum Starlight Camp is my favorite. The service and camp location/views are the best in my opinion. http://www.wadirumstarlightcamp.com

  17. Living in Utah spoiled me for adventures like these…while it’s more developed and getting busier by the year we have loved trips to Arches National Park in Moab, the area looks very much like Jordan but just more vegetation. The high desert in wintertime is the place to be. And even somewhere as simple as parking at Balanced Rock the stars were amazing.

  18. @ Jacinda — Hah, I guess that is rather arbitrary! My thinking was more that people would be familiar with the latter, but not necessarily with the former.

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