Although the Western world did not know of Wadi Rum until T.E Lawrence wrote The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, people have been living here since 4,000 BC. It has been traversed for centuries by traders, nomads and armies as it is where the Great Rift Valley, the Negev Desert, the Sinai Peninsula and Arabia’s Hejaz region converge. In Lawrence’s day Bedouin roamed a desert so isolated that Rum was virtually impossible for outsiders to access. Today travel to Rum is easy. It is a forty-minute bus ride from the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

Wadi Rum is acknowledged as one of the most striking desert landscapes in the world. Here, tucked away in valley and jebel, you can open a door in time and see traces of the world’s wars and empires from Alexander the Great to Lawrence of Arabia. A typical tourist excursion will usually include a trip to Lawrence’s Spring, Jebel Khazali, Small Bridge, Lawrence’s House and the sand dunes. Yet there is much, much more to be seen. If you are willing to linger for two days or more, there is time to visit the Nabatean temple, Thamudic Kufic, pre-Islamic tombs.

Nature offers many other wonders. Rum’s valleys of red and yellow sands and it fantastical sandstone mountains striped in a kaleidoscope of colours never cease to enchant the eye. Even though this is a desert, Rum has about 250 different animal and bird species. These include the Red fox, Nubian ibex, Arabian oryx and Verreaux’s eagle. Rum’s complex ecological system also hosts around 360 species of plants. The most common of these are Caryophyllaceae, Labiatae, Mimosaceae and Papilionaceae.

The combination of its breathtakingly beautiful terrain, its flora and fauna, its ancient sites and Bedouin culture conspires to make Wadi Rum a truly unique experience. However, its rewards are hidden and can only be savored in person and not by reading about them. Those who visit Wadi Rum never fail to be impressed and delighted.

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