Wadi Rum Desert is a visually stunning valley desert lying in southern Jordan and made famous worldwide by the epic Hollywood movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ which was filmed here. Like many travellers to Jordan, we also visited Wadi Rum for the ‘authentic Bedouin camping’ safari for one night, which turned out to be mix of both good & unpleasant experiences. I am sharing here details of our overnight Bedouin Camp stay in Wadi Rum on our Jordan 8 day self – planned trip.
We reached Wadi Rum driving from Petra and it took us 3 hours from Petra to reach the Visitor Centre at Wadi Rum. The Wadi Rum is a protected area and only Bedouins are allowed to operate in any kind of work or businesses here; rest of the folks need a permit to visit here including tourists. We had the Jordan Pass which allowed us access into the Wadi Rum area. At the Visitor Centre, we had to shift into our Bedouin host vehicle, which would take us into the main Wadi Rum area and our host camp. We had booked our Bedouin camp through Airbnb and it cost us only INR 2000/- plus (for 3 people). However, our Bedouin guide quoted us a very high price for sunset jeep safari into Wadi Rum and we had opted out of it.
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Driving into Wadi Rum in our Bedouin host jeep, it felt as if we were driving into the middle of nowhere, albeit one which was a visual spectacle of burnt rust orange sand and rocks all around. Reaching our camp and after resting for a bit, we settled down to a quiet silence – Wadi Rum is very silent and the only sound is of the wind (and your own voice!). It makes for a calming experience and if one is looking to get off the map (and digital world), this is the place to be. We had endless cups of Bedouin tea and admired the golden hour views as well as sunset, along with chit chat with our fellow campers – a sweet British couple who had been self-driving through Jordan. We compared notes on our Wadi Rum experience and came up with similar instances of scamming by our host. Here are the common scams you need to know while planning for Wadi Rum travel.
Tourist Scams in Wadi Rum ~ Please beware of these scams when visiting Wadi Rum Desert
1) The Bedouins in general are a nice people but ofcourse there are always bad apples in the lot. There are some greedy Bedouin hosts (like ours) who quote an astronomical sum for jeep / camel safaris and pursue it up relentlessly. We got asked most probably 10 times over the course of the evening and next morning for a jeep safari by the host. Even other visitors at our camp told us there was a major push by the host to take jeep safari at their steep prices. What we summarised was that the camp stay had been priced so low to attract travellers and once they are inside Wadi Rum (where internet and phone services do not work at all) at their camp, they will have no choice but to take the overprices safaris as quoted by the host. Therefore, while booking stay for Wadi Rum, please beware of such unscrupulous hosts as well as book jeep safaris through trusted vendors.
2) Wadi Rum Wedding Reception scam – Our Bedouin host had invited us and other campers to an ‘authentic’ Bedouin reception post dinner, which was supposedly of one of their family members. While chatting with our British couple friends (who were quite well travelled), something seemed off to all of us. At the dinner, when the host again repeated the invitation, I asked if we had to pay something for it and it was then the host very diplomatically said ‘well, no but one always gets gifts to the wedding isn’t it?” Later, we found out via internet that this wedding reception invitation is a popular scam to extract money from tourists and such fake weddings are arranged a lot! So please beware of such wedding invites when in Wadi Rum!
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Wadi Rum can also get a bit overwhelming for those not used to roughing it out or camping experiences. For one, the sand is everywhere, and it will get everywhere – in your shoes, clothes, mouth and even stick onto your skin! There is shortage of water and though its available at the camp, it’s quite limited. There are no medical facilities nearby so please carry your own basic medicines. For anyone who has dust related allergies (like me), Wadi Rum can turn out to be a irritable to painful experience. My skin started developing rashes by night time and I had a bad burning sensation by dinner time. One of the lady guests who also had similar condition was coughing very badly by dinner time. My morning, the burning sensation (inspite of medication which I took promptly) had increased considerably and I was in real hurry to get out of Wadi Rum!
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In summary, I would say that Wadi Rum is definitely quite an experience, its just that one has to be aware of all the possibilities before you plan to visit this place.
If you like this, then you might find my other travels below interesting :