From the first glimpse of Wadi Rum, it is easy to see why the desert has been used in numerous films to portray alien landscapes. Enormous asymmetric rock formations soar above swathes of sand, with colours ranging from blood-red, to salmon-pink and rich-gold depending on the light, and after glorious sunsets, the sky becomes thick with stars.
Wadi Rum is also known as the Valley of the Moon, although arguably the desert has more of a Martian feel with its red-toned rocks and sand. Unlike many deserts, which are usually endless miles of rolling sand dunes, Wadi Rum has a very distinctive topography. The desert is peppered with incredible rock formations jutting from the desert floor, some of which have created bridges and hidden canyons.
Wadi Rum is home to the Bedouin, a name taken from the Arabic Bedu, which means ‘desert dwellers’. Whilst in the past the Bedouin were a very transient people, nowadays most of Jordan’s tribes are only semi-nomadic. However, the traditional Bedouin culture is still very much alive today, and a trip into Wadi Rum with a local guide is a wonderful way to learn about day to day life in the desert and ancient beliefs and principles.
To the western world, Wadi Rum is best known for its role in the Arab Revolt in the early 20th century, acting as one of the bases for T.E. Lawrence, commonly referred to as Lawrence of Arabia, and his fellow rebels. Wadi Rum and Lawrence had lasting impacts on one another. Lawrence described Wadi Rum as “Vast, echoing and God-like”. In turn, nowadays many of the sites in the desert are named after Lawrence, for example Lawrence’s Spring and Lawrence’s House. Even the dramatic rock formation within site of the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre has been named after Lawrence’s book, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.