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"This creed of the desert seemed inexpressible in words, and indeed in thought."


T. E. Lawrence


In the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia:
The Magic of Wadi Rum

Wadi is the Arabic word for valley, so it could then be translated as the valley of high places. The second theory is that it comes from the Arabic word for sand, 'ruml' رمل and means valley of sand. It's also sometimes called the 'Valley of the Moon' due to its otherworldly appearance.


In his world-famous diaries, Lawrence of Arabien das described Wadi Rum as "vast, lonely, and godlike." 
Meter-high, bizarrely shaped sandstone mountains, rust-red sand dunes, black granite rocks and jagged rocky gorges are reminiscent of a crater landscape. It is not for nothing that Wadi Rum is also called the Valley of the Moon.

Without the British soldier, who was also an archaeologist, secret agent and writer, Wadi Rum would never have become so famous. He was to incite the Arabs to revolt against the Turks, who were fighting alongside the German Empire, during the First World War. The British were particularly concerned about the German-Turkish Hejaz Railway, which was a continuation of the Baghdad Railway that ran from Damascus via Amman to Medina in Saudi Arabia across the Wadi Rum. Lawrence thus moved the Sheikh Hussein and his son Faisal to revolt against the Ottoman Empire in Wadi Rum. The British lieutenant, who spoke fluent Arabic dialects, even led the Bedouin revolt himself in the years 1917 to 1918. He put away his British uniform and, dressed in Arab robes and headscarves and armed with an Arab scimitar, personally led the raids on the Hedjaz Railway and Turkish troops in Wadi Rum.
Many stories and legends surround his adventurous life among the Bedouins today. His diaries, as the bestseller "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom", made not only him, but also Wadi Rum famous. He became famous when his experiences at the original locations in Wadi Rum were filmed: "Lawrence of Arabia" with Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn and Omar Sharif received seven Oscars in 1963.


We will start our full day tour at the Bedouin Village Rum.

Meeting Point

We meet our guests at the Restaurant at the Rest House in Rum Village. Here you find a safe parking and can first use the facilities and try a bedouin tea or get other refreshments, before we start with our tour.









Just above Rum village and an easy walk from the restaurant and the ruined Nabatean temple, is one of the most special locations in Wadi Rum. And one with a genuine link to Lawrence of Arabia. It's called Ash Shallala and is indeed Lawrence's spring.


On September 13th 1917, in the afternoon, Lawrence returned to Rum from Aqaba:

"so, to get rid of the dust and strain after my long rides, I went straight up the gully into the face of the hill, along the ruined wall of the conduit by which a spout of water had once run down the ledges to a Nabatean well-house on the valley floor. It was a climb of fifteen minutes to a tired person, and not difficult. At the top, the waterfall, Al Shallala as the Arabs named is, was only a few yards away".


This passage is from Lawrence's book 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom", Chapter 63.

"Its rushing noise came from my left, by a jutting bastion of cliff over whose crimson face trailed long falling runners of green leaves. The path skirted it in an undercut ledge. On the rock-bulge above were clear-cut Nabatean inscriptions, and a sunk panel incised with a monogram or symbol. Around and about were Arab scratches, including tribe marks, some of which were witnesses of forgotten migrations: but my attention was only for the splashing of water in a crevice under the shadow of the overhanging rock.


Nabatean Temple

In the last century BC, Wadi Rum became a Nabataean outpost on the trade route between Saudi Arabia and Petra. Remains of several Nabataean structures (including shrines, cisterns and dams) have been uncovered. At the foot of Jabal Rum, within walking distance of the modern village of Rum, are the ruins of a Nabataean temple with a palatial residence and luxurious bath complex nearby.

According to several rock inscriptions, the temple was dedicated to Allat, who was equated with the Greek goddess Athena and the Roman Minerva. She was considered a sister deity of aI-'Uzza, who was worshipped in Petra. The Nabataean inscription recorded by Savignac in 1932, in which Wadi Rum is linked to the ancient name Iram, mentions "Allat, the goddess of Iram, forever". But a Thamudic dedicatory inscription found on a reused block in the temple suggests that there was an earlier shrine to the same goddess here, built by other nomadic tribes.

The Nabataean building is dated to the period between the late 1st century BC to the early 1st century AD. It is similar to other Nabataean sanctuaries, such as the Temple of the Winged Lions in Petra. In the first construction phase, probably during the reign of Aretas IV, a rectangular podium with sixteen columns crowned with Nabataean capitals was built. They were originally free-standing and were later connected by partitions, which still exist on three sides of the monument today. Access to the podium was via a narrow staircase with seven steps. The central shrine 60 cm above the podium was open on its eastern side. In front of it, the floor of the podium was covered with hexagonal sandstone slabs.


Red Sanddune & Khazali Canyon

From there we proceed to the Red Sanddune Area and the Khazali Canyon. We will find inscriptions of the pre-arabic writing Kufic and inscriptions.

Wadi Rum was formed over millions of years of geological evolution - the massive rock mountains and mesas were thrown high above sea level by primordial tectonic plate movement and shaped by centuries of harsh winds and blowing sand. The wadis (valleys) were smoothed by floods, creating natural rock arches, towers, and oddly-shaped rocks. The most famous of which are given names, like 'the mushroom' or 'chicken rock'!

The earliest recording of human existence in Rum was some 12,000 years ago, but given it's proximity to Africa, it's probable that Rum lay on the migratory route the earliest humans took out of Africa some 1 and a half million years ago. 


Over 40,000 inscriptions and petroglyphs have been found in Rum, showing the various civilisations and tribes that have inhabited the desert: Armaic, Thermudic and Hismaic speaking nomads who carved on the rocks prayers to their Gods and the location of water sources. 


As human civilisation and trade developed, Wadi Rum became a stop on an important route from the Red Sea into Arabia. One of the best-known early civilisations were the Nabateans, who reigned for about 500 years (400 BCE - 106 CE) in Arabia until they were annexed by the Romans in 106 CE. The Nabateans are best known for their city, Petra, and amassed their wealth trading from Yemen (then Qataban) to Palestine on the Mediterranean Sea. They're particularly famous for their skill in finding and preserving sources of water. You can see a Nabatean dam here in Wadi Rum as well as the ruins of a temple close to the village.


Following Petra's annexation, the Nabateans lost their influence in the region, and Palmyra (in Syria) became the centre of trade. For the next few hundred years, Jordan was part of the Byzantine Empire and ruled by a tribe called the Ghassanids.


Lawrence House


There is much debate about T E Lawrence's role in the Great Arab Revolt during the First World War. What is beyond dispute is the importance of his legend and his book 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom" in bringing global attention to Wadi Rum, as well as the 1962 Lawrence of Arabia film, much of it shot here. But be careful! Many features named after him have little to do with him.
The mountain at the entrance to Wadi Rum itself is called Seven Pillars of Wisdom (with imagination you can count all seven). It was named after the book, not the other way round!
There is no evidence that Lawrence ever slept at Lawrence's house, though
he may have done so and without doubt the view from there makes it an essential stopping point.





Burdah Bridge


The Burdah rock bridge,is one of the most popular rock bridges in Wadi Rum desert in Jabal Burdah . The Burdah rock bridge is on the north ridge with lenghth 35 meters. It is considered to be one of the highest rock bridges in the world. It is definitely one of the most spectacular places in our desert. If you have (a sense of) vertigo the best option is to marvel at this rock bridge from the valley floor. It is one of the most rewarding hikes in our desert. A spectacular Bedouin road takes you to the rock bridge in about 1,5 hours. On the way you pass by a couple of great viewpoint. Jabal Burdah is home to several species of plants that are used for medicinal purposes. From the rock bridge itself you can enjoy fabulous views on Wadi Rum desert.



Little Bridge

The name ‘Raqabat al Wadak’ means a pleasant overview, referring to its vantage over the vast open area of Khor al Ajram

It is easy to climb to the top of the Little Bridge. You can walk across the natural stone archway that connects two larger rocks. Perfect for the traveller who wants a taste of adventure without going too high!

The rock bridge is only a few meters high, 


UMM Fruth Bridge

The Um Fruth rock bridge is one of Wadi Rum's most famous spots: a rocky arch molded by wind and water over eons until it looks just like an elevated walkway, 15 meters high. Don't even think about missing this great photo op. 

Jordan is famous for amazing things ancient cultures created within nature, such as the Nabatean Lost City of Petra – a beautiful capital, all carved into red canyon walls. But the Um Fruth rock bridge is 100% natural: Water and wind grind the rock's basis, so it gradually dissolves.

Jebel Um Ishrin

Jebel Um Ishrin along with Jebel Rum flank Wadi Rum valley. The steep red sandstone cliffs of these two mountains are what make Wadi Rum Red Desert famous.  Jebel Rum is slightly higher and has a larger surface area which ensures it has significant water sources at its springs. Despite the appeals of Jebel Rum, Jebel Um Ishrin is equally impressive for its cliffs and is only a few metres short of the peak of Jebel Rum.

Among the impressive cliffs of Jebel Um Ishrin is Seven Pillars of wisdom . This  is one of Wadi Rum’s best recognised rock formations. As visitors approach Wadi Rum Valley, the large mountains of Jebel Rum and Jebel Um Ishrin appear. The Seven Pillars at the entrance to the valley provide a picturesque starting point.

It is possible to cross Jebel Um Ishrin on a Trekking Tour  through Rakhabat Canyon Rais is a technical route that reaches high above the valley and offers spectacular views over Wadi Rum.

South of  Jebel Um Ishrin offer great views of the valleys either side of the mountain.  The towering vertical stature of the mountain is apparent. To the south of the mountain, Khor al Airam forms the crossing point between the valleys and many of the tourist attractions.

Sanddunes, Mountains & Canyons

A wadi is a dried-up river course. It only carries water temporarily after particularly heavy rainfall. However, this rainfall does not necessarily have to occur directly on site - the rise in water can also happen completely unexpectedly and suddenly if there has been a thunderstorm many kilometers away. James Irwin, an astronaut on the Apollo 15 mission, compared Wadi Rum to the landscape of the moon, which is where the name "Valley of the Moon" comes from. And rightly so, because the view of Wadi Rum is spectacular: the desert valley resembles a crater landscape and is characterized by meter-high sandstone mountains, ancient ruins and rust-red sand dunes. The rock formations were created around 30 million years ago from deeper layers of the earth, in some cases literally thrown up. Some rock formations protrude from the earth like columns or pillars. The large temperature differences between day and night that prevail in Wadi Rum cause extreme erosion. It is thanks to this erosion that the red sandstone, which stands on a base of granite or grey basalt, becomes more and more fissured and polished, creating the fantastic rock formations and shapes that characterize Wadi Rum.

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