Have you seen those luxury tented campsites set against red rocks that looks like Mars?! Well, that’s exactly where Dan and I stayed for two days on our vacation to Jordan! And, yes, they are just as magical and Instagrammable as pictures make the out to be!
Dan and I spent 2 days and 1 night in Wadi Rum, the home of these Mars-like camps, during our Jordan vacation, glamping in a luxury tent in the desert at Aicha Memories Luxury Camp. We had an amazing time; it was Dan’s favorite stop on our entire trip and we wished we had stayed another night! This post explains our experience, including where we stayed, what we did, and what we ate and drank. In other words, an easy itinerary for you to copy!
WHERE WE STAYED: AICHA MEMORIES LUXURY CAMP, WADI RUM, JORDAN
While you can find these desert glamping camps all over the world, there are quite a few in and around Wadi Rum, Jordan. Wadi Rum, Jordan is a protected area in southern Jordan that is home to people of Bedouin origin, which people have been instrumental in developing Wadi Rum as a tourism destination. With loads of history, from Lawrence of Arabia to Nabatean tribes, Wadi Rum is a red-hued desert filled with larger-than-life ancient rock structures. Its other worldly and appropriately referred to as “Mars.”
We choose to stay at Aicha Memories Luxury Camp in Wadi Rum because it is in Wadi Rum proper and it rents those luxury bubble tents! It’s also one of the nicer properties in the area. There are several of these luxury camps in Wadi Rum and a few outside of Wadi Rum proper, which has its pros and cons.
If you aren’t into the glamping lifestyle, Wadi Rum is home to many less glamorous tent sites that are apparently very popular, particularly with the local crowd. These sites looked quite basic, but not awful.
HOW WE ARRIVED
Getting to Wadi Rum in general is not the easiest. Its located an hour drive north of Aqaba and about 2 hours south of Petra. To enter Wadi Rum, you pay a small fee to a group of locals hanging out at the entrance. I think it was 5 JOR/person when we visited. Bring cash. The cash collection looks shady, but its legit. Next, there is a 5 minute drive to Wadi Rum town, where there are a few stores and restaurants. There is also parking for cars.
Once in Wadi Rum town, most people leave Wadi Rum town for a camp in the desert, which requires off roading, meaning normal vehicles are NOT allowed. Our Jordan driver, Nasar, graciously called our camp and arranged for an old 4×4 to pick us up in Wadi Rum town. Had Nasar not organized same, I don’t know how we would have contacted the camp. In any case, we were picked up and driven about 5 minutes into the desert through the sand to our camp! It was pretty wild, seemed a bit sketchy, but worked out in the end!
Pro tip – organize with your driver when to pick you up on departure. Many camps have no internet or cell phone access, so it’s difficult to reach the outside world once at the camp.
OUR ROOM AT CAMP – A LUXURY BUBBLE TENT!
Our room was AWESOME! We stayed in a Panoramic Luxury Tent, which is an upgrade from the standard tent. But, it’s totally worth the upgrade. Our “tent” was a space bubble that was covered during the day but at night, was uncovered and half glass, just looking out into the dessert at and the starts (don’t worry – your neighbors cannot see you!).
In addition to being really cool structurally, the room was decorated in a luxurious Moroccan with theme really great air conditioning! The room had 1 large bed, a small table with chair, a coffee maker, a decent amount of space for a “tent,” and a regular, yet small bathroom, with a normal shower and Dead Sea bath products. All and all, the room was fantastic and great for pictures!
One (of many) pros of Aischa is that the food is (almost) all inclusive! That means your room rate includes breakfast and dinner for all guests, as well as complimentary bottled water. Seriously, everywhere we went staff offered us bottles of water. Definitely take them up on the water; its so hot in the desert!
Dinner every night is served buffet style in a large tent bubble in the back of the property. Our dinner was quite good and offered lots of different things, from a salad bar to falafel to a delicious chicken and lamb rice dish. It was all quite good. There were even a few things for picky eaters, like spaghetti on the menu. I took a few pictures, but the light was bad (sorry!). Water, coffee, tea, and soft drinks are served with dinner. Notably, there is no wine served at dinner (or even available at the property), but you can BYOB.
We also ate one lunch at the property, which was served to order in the Executive Lounge, which I will explain below. We ordered a cheese sandwich with fries. It was good and inexpensive. We also ordered a plate of hummus.
Like dinner, breakfast is similarly served buffet style and has a decent amount of options, including both local food and Western food. Again, I took some pictures for reference. You can go up as often as you like; the food was pretty good.
ACTIVITIES AT CAMP AND EXPLORING THE DESERT
Now that you have made it all the way to the Rum, the best thing to do is get out of the Camp and explore the crazy desert scenery! Most camps offer similar activities to be booked on arrival, and two of the most popular are exploring the highlights of Wadi Rum in the back of a jeep and a sunset camel ride!
We opted for a 3 hour jeep tour exploring Wadi Rum’s highlights, as we are not big camel fans… As advised by the Camp, we booked on arrival for a 3 hour tour starting at 4 PM and ended just after sunset. In short, the “tours” are run by local, English-speaking bedouins and guests are driven around to see the highlights in the driver’s own vehicle. Our tour cost $60 USD and we paid our driver directly. While many of the vehicles are a bit run down, you really don’t travel that far and you will run into other tour groups and camps, so no need to worry about breaking down LOL. Drivers also carry radios.
After picking up about 3 bottles of complimentary water, we were off on our jeep tour! There are a few famous “sites” in Wadi Rum that almost all of these jeep tours hit: Lawrence’s Spring (where Lawrence of Arabia allegedly washed during the Arab Revolt), a Nabatean Temple, multiple sand dunes, Khazali Canyon, and Little Bridge (a small rock bridge!). We stopped at each site and were given time to explore and buy any souvenirs from the stands surrounding the popular sites. Our tour ended up lasting about 4 hours and ended with our driver making us Bedouin tea while we watched the sunset. While I don’t think you need to take a tour longer than 3 hours, I would definitely recommend a 2 – 3 hour tour. This is the only way to see some of these Wadi Rum sites and they are really cool! Be sure to wear tennis shoes or climbing shoes!
THE EXECUTIVE LOUNGE
My review would not be complete without mention Dan’s very favorite place in the camp, the Executive Lounge! The Executive Lounge, open to all guests, is a shisha lounge built into the side of a huge red rock. Its decorated in an Indian theme and is really, really cool. Shisha is served at all hours, even at 8:00 AM with breakfast for Dan. Staff took great care in preparing the shisha and it was delicious.
The Executive Lounge also has an outdoor space with seating. I imagine it gets pretty rowdy here during normal times!
STEAL OUR TRIP
Memories Aicha Luxury Camp: Wadi Rum, Jordan. I booked our Panoramic Luxury Tent for $282 USD through booking.com. Visitors park in Wadi Rum “town” and take a local jeep to the Camp. No wifi or reliable cell phone access at the Camp. According to Google, the camp is 2.8 miles from Wadi Rum town. No alcohol available on premises, but you can BYOB (simply bring it in, they even offered to uncork our wine, note though, there are no alcohol stores anywhere near Wadi Rum (Aqaba and Amman are you real options). Our 3 hour Wadi Rum jeep tour was 60 JOR for up to 5 people. A 1 hour camel ride was quoted to cost 20 JOR. Cash only for tours.