Wadi Rum: Walking in the Footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia

August 13, 2010
Shirley M. Mueller, M.D.

Anyone who has read "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph," the autobiographical account of the experiences of British soldier T. E. Lawrence -- or who saw the film "Lawrence of Arabia" and enjoyed his thrilling adventures -- will want to Wadi Rum in Jordan.

Anyone who has read "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph," the autobiographical account of the experiences of British soldier T. E. Lawrence -- or who saw the film "Lawrence of Arabia" -- and enjoyed his thrilling adventures will want to Wadi Rum in Jordan. (This is the region where the 1962 movie was filmed.) One of the large rock formations was even named after the Seven Pillars. Wadi Rum, also known as The Valley of the Moon," is said to be where Lawrence lived during the Desert Revolt against the Ottoman Turks between 1916 to 1918.

What are believed to be the remnants of Lawrence's house are in the front. A natural wall in back made construction easier as only three walls had to be built.Though Lawrence is the most famous inhabitant that we Westerners know, recorded Wadi Rum natives go way back to Nabatean times when Jordan's Petra was built. They constructed a temple in Wadi Rum about the time of Jesus Christ. Some of their pottery shards are still on site.

Figure 2: A pottery shard from the Nabatean temple site at Wadi Rum.For hard core Lawrence enthusiasts, there is a special T.E Lawrence trek, though on a general tour the visitor can still see most of the sights that Lawrence enjoyed. They include these rock bridges.

There are three rock bridges in Wadi Rum. This is the largest, Burdah Rock Bridge. And petroglyphs.

Rock inscriptions from ancient times are found throughout Wadi Rum.

Not mention, Bedouin tents.

The Bedouin tent where tourists to Wadi Rum typically have lunch.

It was in one such tent that we enjoyed lunch during our day at Wadi Rum. The food was served buffet style on the table in the lower left part of the photo above. The platters held an abundant amount of food, and we were welcome to eat as much as we liked. The scenery around the camp was spectacular.

There are at least two such official camps in the area: Sunset and Mohammed Mutlak Camp. In addition, some tour operators run their own camps.

The Bedouin camp not only served lunch, but also provided accommodations for tourists. The white tents in which the visitors stayed are to the right in the photos. The bathrooms and showers are in the forefront. The tent in which we ate lunch is back and to the left.

The visitor center at the entrance and exit to Wadi Rum. It contains snacks and modern facilities.

As we left Wadi Rum by way of the visitor center, it was hard not to think of the experience as one we would always remember. Though Wadi Rum is a bit like Zion National Park, it is sufficiently different and definitely worth a trip when in Jordan. If for no other reason, it is thrilling just to walk in the footsteps of Lawrence.