• Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

When you think of Jordan, you wouldn’t be alone if you picture deserts first. Many people first think of the big empty deserts and the famous Indiana Jones site of Petra. While in Wadi Rum, which should definitely be on your itinerary,  you can camp at a traditional Bedouin site and relax or you can go looking for adventure. I choose adventure! Riding hot air balloons in Wadi Rum might be the most extravagant, and camel rides and jeep safaris are other great options for adventure in Jordan.

Wadi Rum: “the valley of the moon”

 left traces of their lives here as well as Petra and you can see it in rock carvings, temples, and graffiti. Guess what was just filmed here? The Martian!

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Touring around Jordan tends to be more of a “tour” than just wandering around like you would in Europe. From what I saw, most foreigners were on tour groups. These can be pretty exhausting so just remember when the group does something you’re not into you can skip it. Just make sure you save energy for these fun things!

Hot air balloons in Wadi Rum… the greatest adventure in Jordan!

I have always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon! It was ever since I saw photos of Cappadocia, Turkey which is one of the most famous places in the world for riding in a hot air balloon. What makes it so famous are the amazing sandstone structures down below. I did not expect Wadi Rum to have the exact same looking structures! I thought it would be barren and I wasn’t sure what would make the view so spectacular. I was in awe when I saw the area we were going to fly above, the only thing I wish was different is if it were a little less hazy.

I suggest bringing a book along with you. You have to wake up early and drive out to the site but it takes about 30 or 45 minutes to get the hot air balloon all set up. Then again, after you have to wait for them to take it apart and pack it up.

Tip: If you are on a budget keep in mind on the way out you can ride in the back of the truck which is the same type of experience as a pricey desert jeep ride (although you aren’t going to any tourist sites). You could kill two birds with one stone.

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Ta-da! It was ready and filling up with hot air. There’s a lot more to it than the Disney movie Up! makes it seem! I was riding next to the “driver” because I was a late booking. He warned me that his spot, and now mine, is the hottest in the balloon. The combo of that, no breakfast and not much to eat the day before, an early wake up, and a windy day made me feel a little light headed as we floated along higher and higher.

Here’s what my view looked like straight down:

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Pretty fantastic right? I don’t recall exactly how high up we went, but it was really freakin’ high lol. Another girl also felt sick and we both actually sat down for about 10 minutes. It was about an hour ride. I love heights and adventure like bungee jumping, cliff jumping & canyoning, and hang-gliding, so I’m not sure what got me this time. But man were the views worth it!

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

adventure in jordanBecause it was so hot, he gave me an extra hat to wear. I am kind of leaning into the passenger side in this pic while we were on land but in the air, I had to stand all the way to the left and got blasted by heat. I didn’t look at the hat until we landed. I saw it was MICHIGAN and about died laughing. Michigan was my rival in University.

I told the owner that but there was a misunderstanding and he thought I was saying I went to Michigan so he gave me the hat. I didn’t want to say no and be rude, so thanked him. I left it in the back of his truck though so he could keep it. I sent a photo to my family and was immediately labeled a traitor haha!

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

: website: rumballoon.com (this is via their business card, but the URL is down now) email: [email protected] You absolutely need to book at least two weeks ahead of time! 10 days was not enough and I had to cross my fingers for a cancellation. 

If you want to book a tour in Jordan, I suggest checking out this tour from G Adventures, an 8-Day Highlight of Jordan. . This tour covers all the big highlights and includes a hot air balloon ride and other fun activities. You go by private car and hotels are included. It’s actually a really good price. You can look at as they have one focused on adventure in the same price range.

Sunset camel ride in Wadi Rum

I am no stranger to a camel ride in the desert, but this time I didn’t drink a giant lassi filled with marijuana ahead of time. I’ve grown up, ya know?

We came to Wadi Rum directly from Petra and I was exhausted. The camel ride was only 1 hour which I was actually really appreciative of. I did a two-day one in Rajasthan in the past and it was rough. Camel rides actually hurt and it’s not uncommon to hear of tourists falling of their camels.

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi RumI couldn’t really believe Ben got on one. But then, I also never thought I’d see him on a donkey and that happened. One hour was the perfect amount of time but sadly there was no sunset. It was just really hazy while we were there. We climbed up some rocks half way through to take a few photos.

If you haven’t been on a camel, I don’t really have any tips… you kind of have to just get on one to see what it’s like. They sort of bow down and you get on and when they go up, they go up fast and awkward. They go back down awkward as well and this is when you need to not be too stiff and just go with it. Hold on tight!

If you want to laugh your ass off watch how camels run in . When I rode in India my camel helper boy kept making mine run while I was on it. It’s terrifying. 

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

safari wadi rum

wadi rum camel ride

wadi rum camel ride

Camel Rides & Hot Air Balloons in Wadi Rum

wadi rum camel rideI must give Ben credit for this photo.. because he said so.

Jeep ride to Lawrence of Arabia site

If you aren’t up for camel rides or just want another option, then take a jeep safari. We went after breakfast and did it kind of quickly because we had a car ride ahead of us. You should have about 2 hours for this. There are some attractions that all the Jeep safaris go to which I’ll share below.

safari wadi rum

safari wadi rum

safari wadi rumHere you can see some of the carvings (just barely over the rock in the middle). I can’t seem to find my picture that I took once I climbed up. I am also looking very camouflaged in this picture! It’s hot and sandy on these rides so definitely bring sunglasses.

safari wadi rum safari wadi rumThis was next to the ancient carvings and no one actually said if this legitimately was a table or if it’s just a coincidence. I think it’s just a coincidence? But we did the tourist shot because, why not?

safari wadi rum

safari wadi rumYou can see some Bedouin people in this picture. They are considered nomads and used to ride only by Arabian horse, but these days have 4×4 trucks and more permanent homes. They earn through mostly tourism. They still have that nomad spirit though and know the desert better than anyone!

safari wadi rumThis was one last stop we made. Look at that view! Just incredible. So, the jeep ride was short and sweet but totally worth it. We also saw the site where Lawrence of Arabia was filmed. I haven’t seen the movie, so it wasn’t that special of a moment for me. I definitely want to see it. Sometimes movies help you get a look at a culture so it’d be cool to see a story about Wadi Rum back in the day. Below are the carvings from the Lawrence of Arabia site, of him.

wadi rum camel ride

Where to stay in Wadi Rum…

This is a tricky one. I’m not going to mention my place because I don’t highly recommend it. In fact, from what I’ve heard more people say the group camping sites are mostly the same. I would say either look into a private camping site or stay outside Wadi Rum at a hotel instead of camping.

It’s not that I don’t like camping, but there were 200 people there. They were college-aged kids, drinking, and partying. You can imagine in a Muslim country there isn’t a lot of that allowed in the city, so they really let loose in the desert with no authorities around. There were a few “tourists” and we all kind of went to bed early. They set up a proper DJ with disco lights and everything…

We didn’t see a single star.

I was pretty bummed by this and so was Ben. Also, imagine 200 people in line for a buffet at dinner time. The cottages were okay but you need to bring your own towels and I recommend bringing a sheet too. I guess I just had different expectations. When we arrived there were only 10 people sitting around and we thought we might even sleep in sleeping bags out by the campfire but that was impossible we realized once we came back from our camel ride in the evening and saw all the other people arriving. I think the music went off around midnight. I had to be up for sunset for the hot air balloon ride, so it wasn’t ideal.

safari wadi rum

Overall, Wadi Rum is an amazing place in the world and I think you’d be crazy to go to Jordan and not check out the desert. If you go through a tour company just mention that you do not want a group campsite and would to be somewhere peaceful and small. So there we go, some adventurous things to do in Jordan! I think hot air balloons in Wadi Rum is a great option if you can choose only one adventure thing to splurge out on.

Read more: 10 day itinerary for Jordan & how to dress in Jordan

Pin Wadi Rum Hot Air Balloon Ride, Camel Riding, and tips for later:

 Wadi Rum Hot Air Balloon Ride

2018-01-05T18:53:24+00:00

About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.

9 Comments

  1. Kate June 7, 2016 at 1:14 am - Reply

    Amazing photos! What a fantastic adventure you had!

    Kate |

  2. lisa January 4, 2017 at 7:02 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel,
    I am starting to work on my itinerary for Israel/Jordan for next fall.
    I have heard amazing things about Wadi Rum and love your pictures.
    Would you say that the experience in Wadi Rum is similar to the one in Jaisalmer, India? I will be going there next month on my India trip and don’t know if they are similar enough not to duplicate.
    Thank you!!
    Lisa

    • Rachel Jones January 4, 2017 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      Wadi Rum is similar in the accommodation, cooking in the desert, etc but the difference is that the desert itself is so different. It’s RED and it’s just got these boulders dotted all over that look like drippy sand castles (if you ever made those at the beach). I found it much more beautiful than the Thar desert in India. It’s more like a REAL desert if that makes sense so I definitely recommend it

  3. Lisa January 5, 2017 at 12:23 am - Reply

    Thank you Rachel…I will include both on my itinerary then!

  4. Lisa January 5, 2017 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Thank you Rachel!
    I will include both on my itinerary then!

  5. Chloe September 18, 2017 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for the amazing introduction. I wonder where I can book the camel ride? I am also going straight from Petra area to Wadi Rum, but we don’t have a car. Did you drive there?

    • Rachel Jones September 19, 2017 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      Most camps offer camel rides there, you just pay extra! We hired a driver – there will be lots of taxis you can ask

  6. […] a lot to do here but many people choose to stay just for the day. Please read up on my article on Wadi Rum for full advice on […]

  7. Dan January 30, 2018 at 8:03 am - Reply

    I swear that table cant be a coincidence. Espec not when its so close to a highly frequented area. And why would the sand carve it in that way haha. I dont know if i could stand the heat out there but I suppose dry heat isnt as bad as 100% humidity like we have here in Hong Kong. Lovely indepth article thanks Rachel!

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