After a couple of wonderful days Hiking in Petra, I made my way to another highlight on my days backpacking in Jordan, the Wadi Rum Desert!
This area has been used for lots of movies in the past due to its incredible beauty and alien-like landscapes. The Wadi Rum Desert has been a set for The Rise of Skywalker, The Martian, Rogue One and Lawrence of Arabia among many other films.
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Considering that Jordan is not the cheapest destination for a backpacker on a budget, the little trick to enjoy this stunning part of the world is to do some easy volunteering job! keep reading for more on that below!
How to get to Wadi Rum Desert
The desert is 1-1.5 hours away from both Wadi Musa (Petra) and Aqaba.
You can take a local bus from both cities for about 7-9 JOD, check at your hostel the departure times as they’re normally around 6-7 AM.
My hostel in Petra booked the bus for me and they even picked me up straight from the hostel for just 1 JOD, meaning that my seat was booked and didn’t have to wake up at silly o’clock to get a seat at the bus stop.
The same as from Amman, there’s also a JETT bus from Aqaba and Petra towards Wadi Rum which is around 15 JOD.
You can also share a taxi with other travellers, but make sure to set the price before getting on the taxi and most important(!!) check if you have to go to Wadi Rum Village or to Wadi Rum Visitor Centre (check with your accommodation at Wadi Rum for this)
Where to stay in Wadi Rum Desert
There are lots and lots of Bedouin Camps all over the desert, some more authentic than others in terms of the family running them as they pretty much all look alike.
Beware of the super cheap places you can find on booking.com as they may be either at the village (not the desert itself) or at a complete different place altogether, so check on the maps and other traveller’s reviews.
I stayed at Magic Bedouin Star and had an incredible time there. The staff and other guests were incredibly nice and the Bedouin Tent I had for a room was unexpectedly comfy.
As I said, the camps spread all over the desert look very similar, except for the luxury ones, so when you look into where to stay make sure to check what they offer in terms of food and tour prices.
If you want to go wild camping you can definitely do it, just walk out of the village when the bus drops you and walk towards the desert, no one will tell you anything. Just beware of animals as apparently there are snakes (cobras!) and scorpions!
How to travel to Wadi Rum Desert on a budget
As you will see on booking.com, the accommodation at the desert is not so expensive and some places include really good dinner and breakfast (at least on my case with Magic Bedouin Star).
What you really need to take into account on your numbers for the Wadi Rum Desert is the tours as they are on the steep side of the bill.
The best option is you want not only to save a lot of money but also experience life in the desert is to do some volunteering job at a Bedouin camp!
Most of these camps are listed on the Workaway website. If you don’t have an account, try sending them an email directly to the camp’s website as most of them may be interested in your skills!
What sort of job will you do? easy stuff! my working week in the Wadi Rum Desert consisted of replying a couple of enquiries per day and take some photos for their website. Easy!
In exchange for that I got free accommodation, three authentic Bedouin meals per day and also joined a couple of the Jeep tours! not to mention that I was treated like a member of the family! (I was even given a Bedouin name!)
If you want to stay longer than a week you could also help them with other stuff related to their websites and taking care of other tourists. You don’t need to be particularly skilled as they need help with things that normally are easy to do if you’re a little bit familiar with a camera and emailing.
Another benefit of this work-exchange is that you will experience the desert at different times of the day. Most tourists I met were only there for one night, I can tell you that the longer you stay the less you want to leave!
If you’re looking to go to the Wadi Rum Desert on a budget just follow the tips above and you will have many great adventures!
Things to do in Wadi Rum Desert
Whether you decide to volunteer at the desert or go as tourist, there’s plenty to do in Wadi Rum!
The Bedouin Camps will surely show you all their jeep, camel, hot air balloon and hiking tours. But on top of that, I highly recommend you to just start hiking all over the place!
The camp where I was staying was next to some incredibly beautiful rocky mountains and I went there hiking and scrambling a few times, expect no trails or signs! this is pure improvisation finding a way up!
On one of those hikes I got this fellow nomad joining me 🙂
Take plenty of water with you and cross the desert as well! the terrain is mostly flat and in no time you can make it to some of the landmarks that are visited on the jeep tours. On maps.me you can find these places so you know where to walk.
If you have clear skies, do not miss the chance of staying outside at night stargazing! this is a truly amazing place to admire the stars! as I went in January it was pretty cold at night, but it was totally worth it!!
You can also camp outside if you have a tent! if it’s warm you could do with just a good sleeping bag but always remember that nights at the desert can be very cold!
Moving on from Wadi Rum
The same as for coming to Wadi Rum, it’s likely you will follow your journey to either Petra or Aqaba. If you’re deciding into putting more time in Aqaba or Wadi Rum, don’t think twice! stay in Wadi Rum!
There is one bus at 6 AM from the village towards Aqaba, and the one to Petra is at 6:30 AM, BUT! make sure to ask around as those times may change on a daily basis.
Ready to go to Wadi Rum Desert!?
Go!! this was my favourite place in Jordan, not comparable with Petra in terms of the ruins but I loved the natural beauty of the place.
Going in low season also helped as there were no crowds, but for sure it wouldn’t have been the same without the kind hospitality I received on my week in the desert.
Feel free to drop a comment below if you have any questions on how to go backpacking in Wadi Rum desert on a budget or if you have been already, share your experience!
Check out the rest of my backpacking adventures in Jordan for more inspiration on your next trip.
Happy adventures! 🙂