Rained Out in the Desert – My Chilly Visit to Wadi Rum

After a brilliant but completely overwhelming trip to Petra, I couldn’t wait to get to the desert.

Wadi Rum in Jordan, to be exact.

I come from the humid, rain-soaked tropics more or less, so deserts and their endless sands, mysterious rocks, hardy creatures and arid, wide open spaces have always intrigued me.

And Wadi Rum, or the Valley of the Moon, seemed like just the right intro to desert life.

A rainy, hazy, cold day in Wadi Rum

Too bad it rained my entire visit to Wadi Rum.

I know, I know. Rain in the desert. That’s some luck, right? Actually, December through February are known to be the wetter months, so perhaps it wasn’t my best decision to visit just then. Certainly, sleeping at a camp in the chilly winter temperatures was a less than stellar decision.

Petroglyphs in the rock & a carving of Lawrence of Arabia

Due to the inclement weather, all my extracurricular activities for the day were canceled – the jeep tour, hiking, camel riding at sunset, star-gazing. I was super disappointed – it’s not every day I get the chance to explore such a storied landscape.

Like Petra, Wadi Rum’s inscriptions and carvings date to the time of the Nabataeans who controlled trade routes in the region thousands of years ago. In the Bible, it’s believed that Wadi Rum might be Aram or Irem, and it may also be the Land of Uz from the book of Job. And, in more modern times, Wadi Rum was the site of the real life Lawrence of Arabia saga and of course, served as a filming location for one of the Transformers flicks.

My sweet teenage guide in Wadi Rum

Luckily my guide Ibrahim and driver Rami introduced me to some fun & friendly Bedouin locals and we made our own desert adventures — that is, when we weren’t tucked in next to a fire with tiny cups of tea at one of the dozens of tents dotting the valley.

Frolicking in the sand with my guide

In between rain drops on the way to Captain’s Desert Camp where we were staying that night, we made a few quick stops to photograph ancient petroglyphs of camels and a carving of Lawrence of Arabia in a sandstone boulder.

And before the rain really came down, we managed to fit in a bit of sand dune frolicking.

Adventurers atop the dunes

Wadi Rum encompasses 300-square-miles of dunes and mountains and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within this vast area are several camps where you can bunk up in traditional Bedouin accommodations. While not exactly luxurious, the camp where I stayed was certainly comfortable – with electricity, flushing toilets and spacious tents.

And of course, like everywhere else in Jordan, the food was awesome.

Captain’s Desert Camp on a cloudy day

At Captain’s Desert Camp, there were only about five other guests staying the night, and we all huddled for dinner together out of sheer boredom, I think. In the rain, activities are pretty much limited to sitting in a tent, chatting, eating and smoking shisha – so that’s what everyone did.

Inside Captain’s Desert Camp

Smoking shisha is part of the social fabric in Jordan

As I mentioned in my Capture the Color post from Friday, there wasn’t much else to do that night but choose a cushion on the floor of the tent and listen as the men told stories and laughed around the red fire.

So while the rain prevented the desert adventure I’d had in mind, Wadi Rum still retained a particular warmth and charm – as does everything in Jordan, somehow.

A tent fit for a Bedouin queen

That warmth did not transfer to my body, however, and I spent the night shivering under three heavy blankets in my massive tent that easily could’ve fit a party of 10. I didn’t know it until it happened, but the electricity is shut off at about 9 p.m., so once I went to bed I curled up shivering in the blackness listening to the rain and wind howl through the sandstone canyons somewhere nearby.

It wasn’t all that pleasant at the time, but I wouldn’t trade my freezing cold night in Wadi Rum for anything… except maybe a warm night in Wadi Rum.

Up close & personal with some of the residents

One of the most amusing parts of the whole Wadi Rum experience was interacting with the guy who was meant to take me either sunset or sunrise camel trekking (neither happened due to the weather.) Still, he was there for dinner and shisha and a hilarious moment with a baby camel the next morning. It’s really cute & funny & worth a watch – really, really. If you don’t giggle, I’ll be surprised!

In hindsight, I know I would’ve enjoyed the whole desert experience so much more had I spent a few days in March or April instead of chilly wet February, so I’m actively adding it to the list of destinations that need a second chance.

Pushy!

But next time, I’ll probably avoid the camels…

***

Thanks to VisitJordan for setting up my visit to Wadi Rum. All opinions, shivering & disappointment in the rain are my own views.

COME AWAY WITH ME!
Get exclusive updates with all the latest news and posts delivered directly to your inbox
  • August 20, 2012

    The camel loves you ! LOL.
    It looks so fun, it makes me want to revisit Jordan NOW :p
    DebbZ recently posted..Beijing: Favorite Shots of the Forbidden CityMy Profile

    • August 21, 2012

      That camel was a big fan of my hair… but I am just not that into camels =)

  • August 20, 2012

    That close up shot of the camel is a real winner! That has to also be the most decorated I’ve ever seen a tent haha… looks like you had a good time.
    Escaping Abroad recently posted..Canoeing through Barton Creek Cave, BelizeMy Profile

    • August 21, 2012

      Despite the cold, it really was an interesting experience. I’d definitely consider giving it another try!

  • August 21, 2012

    “Storied landscape”.

    Oh, how you tease me with your words, woman.

    But I’m not buying this “rain” nonsense. Come on. In JORDAN? Gimme a break. And if you’re pointing to the photo, hey, we’ve all got Photoshop. Nya NYA.

    • August 21, 2012

      Hehehe. You’ll just have to go in February to find out for yourself 😉

  • August 21, 2012

    Bummer that it rained on your whole visit! Honestly, for the evening activities I don’t think you missed much. When we camped with Bedouins, we dug up dinner and then spent hours around the fire eating, drinking tea, and listening to them tell us about Bedouin life. You couldn’t wander too far from camp because of desert critters.
    Jennifer recently posted..Our Favorite Accommodations Around the World Part 1My Profile

  • August 23, 2012
    Daniel

    Yeah bummer it rained, it and yes, it can get pretty cold sleeping in a tent in Jordan in Febuary, I’ve done it.

    But, great job still telling your story and experience. The adventure will always be unique to you; that’s fun.
    Daniel recently posted..Al Ayoun, JordanMy Profile

  • August 28, 2012

    Hi Angie, just stumbled into your charming blog. Too bad you got rained out in Wadi Rum, but seems like you made the most out of it. My husband were there in June and , fortunately, the weather was just gorgeous. We loved it there. Looking to exploring more of your blog.
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted..Barcelona Part 2: Understanding GaudiMy Profile

    • August 29, 2012

      Thanks for stopping by! It certainly does seem like I missed out on the best of Wadi Rum, but I hope I’ll make it back soon!

  • September 08, 2012

    Such a funny post! I’m spending a night in Wadi Rum next week and this post has got me very excited! If rain didn’t ‘dampen’ the mood, then I’m sure little will! Looking forward to the unique rock formations and camels… I still haven’t booked any accommodation – would you recommend the Captain’s Desert Camp?
    Shing @ The Culture Map recently posted..ALESUND: BORN FROM DESTRUCTIONMy Profile

    • September 10, 2012

      Yes! Captain’s Desert Camp was lovely. Great people, yummy Jordanian food, good location. I hope you have fun!

  • November 25, 2014
    Marion

    What a great experience! My mom and I are also travelling to Jordan this Christmas. We were hesitant at first since her friend said it’s really cold but still we wanna go since our reservations will be a waste. What advices can you give?

  • March 27, 2016
    Shridhar

    Hi Angie,
    My wife, daughter and I stayed in Hasan Camp last night, Mar 26, 2016. We had heavy rain from 7 pm right until 3.30 am. We enjoyed the chill, watching the rain, and the immense hospitality and warmth of Ali, Mahmoud and others at the camp. I showed him your blog, and he was very happy to see his brother Hasan and yourself. I may want to visit again to enjoy the desert sun, and the camp activities possible when there is no rain. Cheers, Shridhar from Dubai.

    • March 31, 2016

      How wonderful that you stayed there! Happy to see everyone is still there. Safe travels!

  • May 29, 2017
    Chris

    Hello! I’m tardy to the party, but I just booked a short, 4-day trip to Jordan for early January, immediately after the new year, and I’m TERRIFIED about the weather. In fact, I’m only going because it’s part of my roundtrip ticket from L.A. to Dubai. Adding the detour to Jordan made it A LOT cheaper, so, it’s a bit of a surprise addition to my original plans, but I digress. I’m flying in and out of Amman, which apparently snows in the winter (to my surprise), so I don’t foresee myself spending too much time there. But, there’s no way I’m missing Petra and Wadi Rum. So, I’d like to ask: how cold was it, exactly, when you traveled through Petra and Wadi Rum? What clothes should I be ABSOLUTELY SURE to bring with me? Traveling from the Dubai heat to the Jordanian cold will not make for easy packing, that’s for sure. And who knows? It might be rather pleasant in Jordan by the time January comes around (wishful thinking), but I figure it’s never too early to plan. I’m so thankful that I found your blog, by the way. It’s been the most helpful resource that I’ve found during my “Jordan in Winter” research thus far!

    • June 29, 2017

      Congrats on booking a trip! It wasn’t THAT cold. I did fine in jeans and a peacoat, and I’m Floridian, so that’s saying something. It was maybe high 40s most nights and low 60s during the day in many of the places I visited. That said, I swam in the Dead Sea in a bikini that same week and was fine. Layers are key!

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge