Although it is a well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Middle East, one of the lesser-known aspects of Wadi Rum is its extraordinary night sky. If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Jordan, checking out these celestial wonders should be high on your itinerary. Here’s everything you need to know about stargazing in Wadi Rum.
Wadi Rum – the perfect stargazing destination
A hike in Wadi Rum is included in most tours of Jordan, but most people don’t realise that there is more to this area than its unique geological formations. With a low population density to limit light pollution and an altitude of over 1000m, it is also an ideal location for stargazing.
Did you know that Wadi Rum has been designated an International Dark Sky Reserve? This means that the super dark skies make it possible to see stars that are over 100 times fainter than in your home town. In other words, Wadi Rum is the perfect place for travellers to gaze longingly at the patterns of the heavens above.
The Bedouin are a group of nomadic Arabs who have historically lived in this part of Jordan. For the Bedouin, stargazing has always been an important part of their culture and lifestyle.
Until the twentieth century, the stars were considered vital to a Bedouin trying to navigate the desert plains. Just as vital as sailors who cross the open sea with only the lights above to guide them. The Bedouin also traditionally used the stars to indicate the seasons of the year, and the Muslim lunar calendar, which is of course based on the stars, was used to regulate the annual activities of animal husbandry.
To try your hand at stargazing in this corner of the world is a great way to appreciate these local cultures and really immerse yourself in Bedouin traditions.
Practical tips for stargazing in Wadi Rum
If you’re interested in learning more about the fascinating Bedouin culture of stargazing, there are certain times of year to visit Wadi Rum to get the most out of the experience. Researching the different phases of the moon will ensure that you don’t have moonlight obscuring your vision.
It’s also important to take the recommended stargazing equipment with you; most good tour companies will provide this equipment free of charge, whether you sign up to spend a night living like a local Bedouin or even go trekking in Wadi Rum.
Finally, try to stay at least 5km from the village of Wadi Rum to ensure that your view isn’t blocked by one of the nearby mountains.
There are so many reasons to plan a visit to Jordan. But exploring the awe-inspiring Wadi Rum is certainly at the top of the list. If you are lucky enough to be heading this way, be sure not to miss out on this unforgettable stargazing experience.