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Towns and Tourist Sites in Jordan
Wadi Rum
Introduction -
Getting there and away again

ALL THE PHOTOS ON THIS PAGE CAN BE ENLARGED

Now we come to it!

I am certainly blasée about Petra, living near to it, and having visited it so many many times. But Wadi Rum is a region that I do not think I could ever become blasée about. It was something of a relief when I realised that nearly all of the Bedouin who live there appreciate it as much as I do! It is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!!

Having said that, let's try to be a bit factual. While a great deal has been written about Petra, far less has been written about Wadi Rum, and much of that is specialised information. Many tourists to Jordan know little about it, except that it is a place to visit and that it is supposed to be beautiful. So I am giving a lot of space to Wadi Rum on these pages.


The Resthouse in Wadi Rum

INTRODUCTION AND A FEW GENERAL INDICATIONS

There are a few small shops in Rum Village but which sell only food and drink and rudimentary household equipment. There is a post office, small but reliable, but I do warn you that the post arrives and leaves here only twice a week. There are NO other shops; no bank or ATMs, no pharmacy etc. For any of these you have to go either to Qweirah (about 35kms), or to Aqaba (about 60kms).

There is a small clinic for emergency treatment, where among other things you can find anti-toxin for snake or scorpion bite. (They can be nasty, but rarely more than that!) You might like to check the "hard facts" section under "Health treatment". You will also be interested to know that in Jordan, emergency treatment not needing hospitalization is free.

This note is really for the ladies, but if the men want to read and act on it, fine. It is a good idea to bring plenty of moisturizing cream with you if you are spending any time in Wadi Rum (say more than 24 hours). I use Nivea Soft here, and find I need to put more on every few hours. The air is very dry indeed. A headscarf or an Arab "kefiya" is useful against sun, wind and windblown sand, and I advise also bringing some lip salve and some moist cleaning tissues, the sand sticks to you very easily - even if you don't use any cream.

Getting there and away again

The buses coming from Aqaba are not very convenient for a tourist. There is no longer a reliable early bus at 6.30am WHATEVER THE GUIDE BOOKS SAY! There is sometimes a bus going to Wadi Rum at 11am. This depends on how many passengers there were in the other direction in the morning! If there were a number of people an extra bus was laid on for them, and this is the one that would come back at 11am. There is another one at 1pm (the most popular one) and the last one goes at 3pm.

The bus at 1pm is usually crowded out. It is a good idea to arrive soon after midday to get a seat, and if the bus is full at 12.30 it leaves! The 3pm bus is often half empty.

If there is nothing earlier than 11am or even 1pm you can always take another bus going north and ask to be put down at the village of Rashdiya - often called the "Rum Intersection" - about 30kms from Aqaba. If you have a reservation with a guide, he might come and pick you up there, otherwise there are plenty of cars heading for Rum in the morning, somebody will offer to take you. They will probably ask for payment: 6 or 7JD for the carload is the standard asking price.

Note that people are NOT allowed to "take you" from the Highway itself - I have no idea why not! Anybody waiting for you will wait 20 or 30 meters down the road leading to Rum, and if you should find somebody at the bus stop offering a lift, he will invariably ask you to cross the road and get into his car there! If you can, try to persuade him to take your bags at least!

The buses that actually go into Wadi Rum will take visitors as far as the Visitors' Centre, which is the official terminus for all except local traffic going to Rum Village. Beyond Rum, you would need a 4x4 to get very far.

Tourists wanting to visit Wadi Rum must descend from the buses at the new Visitors' Centre and pay their entrance fee. The buses don't usually wait for anybody doing this (understandable since it would take 10 minutes or more), so if you decide against taking one of the tours on offer you have to make your own way to Rum Village (see higher up under the discussion of the Visitors' Centre.) The Resthouse (tel. 03.201.4240) is open until 10pm.

There is an early bus to Aqaba except on Fridays, leaving at 7am, but I rather advise you not to count on this bus. It is a small one, holding about a dozen passengers, and is usually crowded out with local people having business in Aqaba. Contrariwise I have known it booked up by a group so locals could not use it at all, which seems a bit unfair to me. Groups can always request a special service a bit later on. THIS IS THE ONLY REGULAR SERVICE TO AQABA, but if there were a lot of potential passengers, a second bus will run at 8.30am. Ask your guide to find out about this, but he can only do it on the morning itself..

There is now a once a week service by JETT which leaves Amman at 3pm (15h00) every Thursday and returns from there every Friday at 7pm (19h00). This is their luxury service and the return fare is 40JD. See the JETT website at www.jett.jo 

There is a daily bus from Petra and the same bus returns to Petra afterwards at about 8.30am, usually arriving in Petra around 10.30 or 11.00.  This is a special tourist bus and the usual customs for buses do not apply to it. The procedure is that you ask your hotel to reserve your place on this bus which will then come to pick you up. Unfortunately there is no way to check ahead of time that the Petra bus to Rum will run on any particular day. This depends, not only on the number of passengers going from Petra, but on the number of people in Wadi Rum waiting to take the bus on its return trip. Often the driver only decides in the morning when he sees how many passengers he has in total. He will go for a minimum of three passengers. If there is any problem with the bus (or if it is full) you should take the early bus to Aqaba, get down at the Rum Intersection at Rashdiya (tell the driver what you want) and hitch to Rum. If you have reserved with a guide don't forget to let him know what is happening - he might be willing to come and pick you up at the Highway.

The driver's phone number is 0795411546   or   0795235257.

There have been several complaints about the fares charged on the bus from Petra, so perhaps it would be a good idea for me to clear things up. This information is correct in November 2013

The normal fare is 7JD in either direction. Occasionally you might be asked for more money if 1) there are fewer than 4 people on the bus or 2) there are a number of people there but you have a large backpack. 1) It is not economical for the driver to go if there are not at least 5 people. This bus is exceptional, and he is not allowed to pick up paying passengers on the way. He does frequently take the Bedouin children who might otherwise have to walk several kilometers to school, but obviously they do not pay. Paying an extra 2 or 3JD comes out cheaper for you than taking a taxi which is your only alternative if the bus does not run.  If 2) you have a quantity of luggage occupying the seats, you might (rarely) be asked for a dinar extra.

To leave Wadi Rum, for any destinations other than Aqaba or Petra, or at any other times of day than early in the morning, you should make your way to the Rashidiya Junction, and look for a bus going north or south as the case may be. A number of buses go from Aqaba to different destinations to the north, you should have no great difficulty getting to Rashdiya. There is no regular service taxi run to or from Wadi Rum. If you are sufficient in number to fill one up (or if collectively you pay for any empty place) you can get a taxi to bring you from Aqaba or from Amman, but you absolutely cannot count on any service taxi departure from Rum.

Rashidiya on the Desert Highway is 30kms from Rum; if you are asked to pay to get there, then about 5JD is a reasonably fair price, a taxi would charge 5JD for that distance. A number of minibuses regularly go past in both directions. Going south is easy, all the buses go to Aqaba. For other destinations, if the first bus you stop isn't the one you want, then ask if there is a bus to wherever soon. Almost always the drivers know this sort of thing and will tell you at once. It is usually possible to hitch here as well - again you might well be asked to pay something, you should offer anyway. It is very easy to get around like this, except at the end of the afternoon when buses are rarer, but if you are a bit mistrustful of yourself you can always ask the Wadi Rum Resthouse to call you a taxi, which will probably come from Aqaba, so you would have to wait for a while. It is, of course, possible to order a taxi in advance. You can also usually bargain with one of the Wadi Rum drivers who would take you at least to Aqaba if required. The usual price of a taxi from Rum to Aqaba (or vice versa) is 25JD.

Your guide is usually quite happy to arrange a taxi for you, or even take you to the Highway. He  might or might not charge you for this latter service, but he would probably refuse it during the high season. A charge of 8JD for this distance is fair.

Remember, however, that in general far fewer buses run everywhere in the afternoon, and none at all in the evening.

 

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