Wadi Rum

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Wadi Rum (وادي رم)
Valley of the Moon
Protected Area
View from creek bed, Wadi Rum.jpg
Typical Wadi Rum vista
Name origin: Possibly from Aramaic for "high valley"
Country Jordan
Governorate Aqaba
Elevation 1,750 m (5,741 ft)
Coordinates 29°35′35″N 35°25′12″E / 29.59306°N 35.42000°E / 29.59306; 35.42000Coordinates: 29°35′35″N 35°25′12″E / 29.59306°N 35.42000°E / 29.59306; 35.42000
Area 720 km2 (278 sq mi)
Biome Desert
For public Yes
Easiest access From north
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Name Wadi Rum Protected Area
Year 2011 (#35)
Number 1377
Region Arab States
Criteria i, iii, iv
IUCN category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Location in Jordan
Website: Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum (Arabic: وادي رم‎) also known as The Valley of the Moon (Arabic: وادي القمر‎) is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan 60 km (37 mi) to the east of Aqaba; it is the largest wadi in Jordan.[1] The name Rum most likely comes from an Aramaic root meaning 'high' or 'elevated'.[2] To reflect its proper Arabic pronunciation, archaeologists transcribe it as Wadi Ramm.[citation needed]


Petroglyphs at Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, with many cultures–including the Nabateans–leaving their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples.

In the West, Wadi Rum may be best known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence, who passed through several times during the Arab Revolt of 1917–18.[3] In the 1980s one of the rock formations in Wadi Rum was named "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" after Lawrence's book penned in the aftermath of the war, though the 'Seven Pillars' referred to in the book have no connection with Rum.


The area is centered on the main valley of Wadi Rum. The highest elevation in Jordan is Jabal Umm ad Dami at 1,840 m (6,040 ft) high, located 30 kilometres south of Wadi Rum village. It was first located by Difallah Ateeg, a Zalabia Bedouin from Rum. On a clear day, it is possible to see the Red Sea and the Saudi border from the top.

Jabal Ram or Jebel Rum (1,734 metres (5,689 ft) above sea level) is the second highest peak in Jordan and the highest peak in the central Rum,[4] rising directly above Rum valley, opposite Jebel um Ishrin, which is possibly one metre lower.

Khaz'ali Canyon in Wadi Rum is the site of petroglyphs etched into the cave walls depicting humans and antelopes dating back to the Thamudic times. The village of Wadi Rum itself consists of several hundred Bedouin inhabitants with their goat-hair tents and concrete houses and also their four-wheel vehicles, one school for boys and one for girls, a few shops, and the headquarters of the Desert Patrol.[5]

Recently, Geoff Lawton has achieved success in establishing a permaculture ecosystem in Wadi Rum.[6]


Wadi Rum is home to the Zalabia Bedouin who, working with climbers and trekkers, have made a success of developing eco-adventure tourism, now their main source of income. The area is now one of Jordan's important tourist destinations, and attracts an increasing number of foreign tourists, particularly trekkers and climbers, but also for camel and horse safari or simply day-trippers from Aqaba or Petra. Popular activities in the desert environment include camping under the stars, riding Arab horses, hiking and rock-climbing among the massive rock formations. ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) and Jeeps are also available and new camps have opened that offer adequate accommodation for tourists.

Dima and Lama Hattab coordinate an annual marathon in the region called Jabal Ishrin.

Rock climbing[edit]

Climber on Jabal Ram

The Bedouin have climbed in the Sandstone mountains of Wadi Rum for many generations. Many of their 'Bedouin Roads' have been rediscovered and documented by modern climbers. Several are included in the climbing guidebook by Tony Howard, and online by Liên and Gilles Rappeneau.[7]

In 1949 Sheikh Hamdan took surveyors to the summit of Jabal Ram. The first recorded European ascent of Jabal Ram took place in November 1952, by Charmian Longstaff and Sylvia Branford, guided by Sheik Hamdan. The first recorded rock climbs started in 1984, with the first of many visits by English climbers Howard, Baker, Taylor and Shaw. Many new routes were climbed in the 1980s, by this team, French guide Wilfried Colonna, by the Swiss Remy brothers, and by Haupolter and Precht.[8] The first dedicated climbing guide book, Treks and Climb in Wadi Rum, by Tony Howard, was first published in 1987. A new routes book for climbers is held at the Wadi Rum Guest House.

The route Guerre Sainte was climbed in 2000 by Batoux, Petit and friends. This was the first route in Wadi Rum to be entirely equipped using bolt protection. The route, on the East Face of Jebel Nassarani North, is 450 m (1,480 ft) long, and graded F7b or F7aA0.[9]

Filming location[edit]

The area has been used as a background setting in a number of films. Filmmakers are particularly drawn to it for science fiction films set on Mars.[10]

Matt Damon on Wadi Rum:[16]
  • Theeb – It was filmed entirely in Wadi Rum.[17]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mannheim, Ivan (1 December 2000). Jordan Handbook. Footprint Travel Guides. p. 293. ISBN 978-1-900949-69-9. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  2. ^ tours in Wadi Rum
  3. ^ Ham, Anthony; Greenway, Paul (2003). Jordan. Lonely Planet. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-74059-165-2. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Scheck, Frank Rainer (1997). Jordanien: Völker und Kulturen zwischen Jordan und Rotem Meer (in German). DuMont Reiseverlag. p. 12. ISBN 978-3-7701-3979-8. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Howard, Tony; Taylor, Di (May 1997). Treks and Climbs in Wadi Rum, Jordan. Cicerone Press Limited. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-85284-254-3. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  6. ^ http://permaculturenews.org/2014/02/01/desert-oasis-4-years-jordan/
  7. ^ Gilles, Rappeneau. "Les Voies Bedoiun du Wadi Ramm". website. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Howard, Tony (1987). Treks and Climbs in Wadi Rum. Milnthorpe, England: Cicerone Press. p. 192. ISBN 1 852841354. 
  9. ^ "The Guerre Sainte". http://www.camptocamp.org/routes/53974/fr/djebel-nassrani-sommet-n-la-guerre-sainte. CamptoCamp.  External link in |website= (help);
  10. ^ Stevens, Dana (October 1, 2015). "Saving Astronaut Watney". Slate. Retrieved October 2, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Touristic Sites – South of Amman". Kinghussein.gov.jo. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  12. ^ Galloway, Stephen (May 16, 2012). "Return of the 'Alien' Mind". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  13. ^ Forde, Leon (2013-05-28). "Ruairi Robinson, The Last Days On Mars". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2015-02-09. 
  14. ^ Cooper, Sarah (2012-07-19). "Last Days On Mars". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2015-02-09. 
  15. ^ "Ridley Scott’s The Martian moves to Jordan". kftv.com. January 27, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Ridley Scott and Matt Damon on Going to Jordan to Recreate Mars". Yahoo!. Yahoo!. 2015-09-30. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  17. ^ http://www.thenational.ae/arts-lifestyle/film/naji-abu-nowar-talks-about-exploring-the-bedouin-way-of-life-in-his-first-feature-theeb

External links[edit]