Jordan - Petra & Wadi Rum

Jordan's Heritage

There's a sprawling plethora of historical sites to explore in Jordan. Since the dawn of society, it has acted as a link between continents - any movement of people between Africa, Asia, Arabia and Europe would be likely to pass through Jordan.

Its role as a pathway, trade route and conduit for commerce and communication means that it bears the imprint of many important civilisations including the Pharonic Egyptians, Nabateans, Byzantines and Crusaders. They left behind many archaeological sites, historical towns and monuments that are scattered throughout the country and make Jordan a fascinating destination. Visitors cannot fail to be impressed by some of the most remarkable architecture in the world.

For more information on the historical towns and monuments of Jordan, please see our Insiders Guide to Jordan

Petra & Wadi Rum

Jordan is such a magical place it is difficult to pick just one highlight but travellers to Petra and Wadi Rum will agree that these sites hold a special place in their memories.
The rose-red city of Petra is famed for its beguiling beauty and is now one of the new seventh wonders of the world; named in 2007. Known as 'the lost city', and hidden behind a narrow canyon called the Siq, it was not known to the West until 1812, when the Swiss explorer and Islam convert, Burckhardt, stumbled across it.

Visitors can revel in the Siq's silence and beauty as they walk along the kilometre - long path at the bottom of the canyon. The first glimpse of the majestic Treasury that greets you at the end will simply take your breath away.

This perfectly proportioned tomb was carved from the towering multi-coloured sandstone rock thousands of years ago. Seeing the Treasury at night is an even more sublime experience - when it is lit by the flickering flames of more than 2000 candles the warm light seems to make the rock glow from within.

Beyond the Treasury are more splendid monuments that adorn this remote valley including houses, temples, tombs, a theatre and the vast, impressive Monastery, the largest façade in Petra. You can also climb to one of the mountain-top alters where ritual sacrifices were made, offering spectacular view of the mountains, valleys and canyons below.

For many generations the Bedouin community lived in the caves of Petra before being moved by the government to houses in Umm Sayhoon – you can explore this village and meet with the Bedouin people as they sell crafts and provide horse-rides and refreshments.

See this Pyramids & Petra holiday for an adventurous journey exploring the highlights of Egypt and Jordan. Discovering the legendary rock-cut city of Petra is a definite highlight of the trip, and the journey culminates with an enchanting stay in the remote nature reserve at Dana and a visit to the Dead Sea.
Wadi Rum
The spectacular landscape at Wadi Rum is awe-inspiring and has a haunting mystical atmosphere. Spend at least one night there to see it gently illuminated by the changing light.

Wadi Rum lies in Southern Jordan. It is a valley cut into sandstone and granite rock and is the largest Wadi in Jordan. A 'Wadi' is the Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley. And 'Rum' most likely comes from Aramic and means ‘elevated’. Wadi Rum is 720 untamed square kilometres of protected park in the desert. The Bedouin call Wadi Rum 'the valley of the moon' because of its otherworldly landscape of wind-sculpted rocks, vast soft dunes and towering serrated mountains which have risen out of the sands after millions of years of erosion.

Wadi Rum is still home to a lot of Bedouin people and, although tourism is an essential part of their local economy and the children school in the village, in many ways their lifestyle hasn't changed. They still pitch their goat tents far out in the desert for their herds of sheep, goats and camel to forage for food.

Tourist camps outside the boundaries of the park offer more modern facilities but for a more authentic experience, camp within the reserve, alongside Bedouin guides – sample traditional Bedouin fare and enjoy the local music. Living in such a hostile environment has taught the Bedouin the importance of a friendly welcome and their established code of hospitality to travellers still survives.

Check out this Petra and Wadi Rum trekking holiday where you will be accommpanied by local Bedouin and camp as they do, under the stars. Or find out why Dana Nature Reserve is one of Jordan's best natural treasures on this Petra & Wadi Rum holiday.

Activities available in Wadi Rum

There is a surprising amount to do in Wadi Rum and it is a perfect place to visit with a family and the standard of accommodation will exceed your expectations. Wadi Rum never fails to enchant adults and children alike. You can choose how you want to explore this fascinating desert landscape but however you do it, do it slowly – you will regret it if you don’t take the time to marvel at your surroundings.

Horse Riding
If you are fairly competent riders you can choose to take a horse riding tour which lasts several days and is a great way to soak up the scenery. Several companies in Wadi Rum offer guided itineraries, with up to six hours in the saddle each day. The horses are usually pure Arabian, Bedouin Arabian or part Arabian, well trained and used to desert conditions.

Camel Trekking
For a gentler journey, ride a camel through the desert – it's an experience not to be missed. The basic technique of camel riding is easily and quickly mastered and within a few hours most people will be guiding their own camel and will feel much more independent. There are short circular routes from Wadi Rum village but also longer treks taking up to several days.

Wadi Rum is a place of dramatic beauty which provides an ideal environment for trekking. There are treks that cater for all abilities – from full-day routes high into the mountains to more gentle hikes exploring some of the mysterious valleys or the intricately wind-carved rocks of the foothills.

4x4 Tours
You can hire a Bedouin driver and a 4x4 from the Visitors Centre in Wadi Rum. They will take you on a tour that will last around three to four hours. There are also Bedouin operators who offer longer vehicle trips, for a full day or more.

Star Gazing
Star gazing is an activity in itself here, as is watching the sun set – which casts the sandstone in an incredible red and golden hue which passes into purple as the shadows lengthen and the stars come out. The skies are so clear you will have the opportunity to see the Milky Way, satellites and shooting stars – the very stuff that dreams are made of.
No visit to Jordan would be complete without exploring the stunning sights that Petra and Wadi Rum have to offer. Book your holiday there now for a truly unforgettable experience!

See our Jordan holidays

For more information, please see our Insiders Guide to Jordan
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