Seeing Wadi Rum From Above

Posted on June 10, 2011 by

As my pilot starts the engine, I put on his Vin Diesel jacket and batman shades and buckle up. Within seconds, we are airborne, flying just inches away from the jebels or rock towers of Wadi Rum in Southern Jordan. I don’t care if the morning wind is whipping across my face – the view before me is too distracting. I see a blanket of gold studded with grey landforms: the desert sprawls beneath my feet, with the occasional rock formations poking into the skies.

Flying on a Microlight

I’ve flown on a floatplane in Alaska, floated on a hot air balloon in Cappadocia and skydived in Spain, but nothing quite prepared me for this flight on a microlight. A microlight is basically a 1 or 2-person aircraft, similar in design to a hang-glider but equipped with an engine and landing gear. So as you can imagine, a microlight allows you to glide close enough to mountain peaks and yet high enough to get a bird’s eye view.

“Wohoooo!” Once we’re mid-air, I hear a loud cheer through my headphones and see Zsolt, my pilot, grinning like a child. He’s flown the microlight for 16 years but he’s never lost one bit of passion. As we whizz between two giant rock towers, we cheer and laugh like we’re on a rollercoaster ride.  I stare in awe as the desert runs for miles beyond the horizon – and I see him equally distracted by the stunning views of Wadi Rum.

“It’s beautiful here isn’t it? I’ve flown in Jordan for close to a decade and I can never get bored of its beauty.” Zsolt Petrovszki is a native Hungarian, who’s flown all sorts of aircraft around the world, but has now chosen to call Jordan home.

A Love Affair with Jordan and the Microlight

He’s flown commerical and private aircrafts, done paragliding for years and now has fallen head over heels for the microlight. I can easily see why: it’s a perfect combination of flying with an engine (which means speed) and feeling the wind in your face (a thrill that airplane-flying does not provide). The microlight can fly up to a maximum of 4,000 feet and can fly for over 2.5hours without refueling.

Why Jordan? I ask. He says simply, “Look around you. There’s nowhere else like this in the world.” Indeed, Wadi Rum is something special – the colors of the desert change like a chameleon upon the reflection of the sun’s rays, while its topography transform unpredictably as we swoosh from one point to another.

Floating on a Hot Air Balloon

As soon as I descend from the microlight, I’m up in the skies again – this time, on a hot air balloon. The occasional bellow of the hot air pierces through the tranquility as the glaring sun showers the desert with its light. In the wispy morning air, I can see grey jagged peaks beneath me and the dreamy Red Sea in the distance.

Wadi Rum is a perfect place for hot air ballooning: there’s so much to see from above and plenty of surprises at each corner. At an altitude of 7,000 feet,  I get a refreshing perspective of the vast desert and its peculiar rock formations, sand dunes and the occasional natural springs. It’s easy to see why Wadi Rum is also known as the Valley of the Moon.

We find ourselves floating solo in Wadi Rum, there are no other hot-air balloons in sight. A stark difference to my previous hot air ballooning experience in Turkey (literally thousands of us). Despite being in a group of 15, we are struck speechless by the beauty surrounding us – so much so, there’s a soothing, comfortable silence as we let the wind take us.

Khalid, my balloon pilot tells me why hot air ballooning is a good way to see Jordan, “Every visitor flocks to Petra, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum. But we break convention and go up to the skies and get away from the crowd. Get away from everyone.”


 Royal Aero Sports Club of Jordan is the only aviation company that offers hot-air balloon tours and microlight flights. To make your reservation, go to their website or call +962 79 8706 622.

Disclaimer: This experience was made possible by Jordan Tourism Board, but all opinions are my own. Read more about my travels in Jordan here.

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

23 Responses to “Seeing Wadi Rum From Above”

  1. Aqaba Dive Village June 10, 2011 5:12 pm #

    "Joan is a native Hungarian…" ???
    His name is Zsolt (see: http://www.your-guide-to-aqaba-jordan.com/microli
    but otherwise the post is excellent!
    Wishing you Happy Travels.

  2. Great Travels June 10, 2011 5:48 pm #

    What inspiring pictures, beautiful from a bird's eye view.
    The microlight must get the testosterone flowing, better than flying in a hot air balloon which is more leisurely I would guess…
    Wouldn't flying in a mountainous region with lush valleys provide even more scenery to enjoy?

    • Nellie June 14, 2011 4:53 pm #

      Yes the microlight is more thrilling than the hot-air balloon but the balloon is also great for a pleasant, leisure ride. I've flown above the mountains of Alaska before and that was outrageously amazing! I would love to try flying in a lush green mountainous region – imagine hovering over the waterfalls and rainforests of Costa Rica or Hawaii!

  3. loca 4 motion June 10, 2011 9:57 pm #

    Wow! Looks and sounds an incredible experience Nell. A great post – I was there flying with you!

  4. Cole @ fourjandals November 2, 2011 7:39 pm #

    What an awesome experience! That would be amazing, and great photos too.

  5. Laura Rihani January 3, 2012 11:48 pm #

    Thanks Natalie, great pictures of Jordan very inspiring! Keep up the good work!

  6. Laura Rihani January 3, 2012 11:50 pm #

    Nellie- sorry to get your name wrong! Well done articles on Jordan keep'em coming! The pictures are amazing!

    • Nellie Huang January 7, 2012 5:56 pm #

      Thanks Laura! Funny enough, Natalie is my sister’s name. :) Jordan is so naturally stunning that it really didnt take much to capture its beauty.

  7. Ra'ed February 23, 2013 4:48 pm #

    nice words to say about gliding over Wadi Rum
    http://www.HistoriaME.com

  8. UK Pensions April 18, 2013 6:05 pm #

    I know this is off topic but I’m looking at starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get set up? I’m
    assuming having a weblog like yours would be expensive?
    I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% certain. Any recommendations or advice would be tremendously appreciated. Appreciate it

  9. Cheylene June 8, 2013 3:55 pm #

    Gorgeous pictures! This is definitely going on my travel bucket list. :)

  10. games unblocked July 15, 2013 1:21 am #

    Hum muslim beshak hain lekin hum terrorist nahi jo bhi log Pakistan mein suicide bomb blasting kar k aur muslim ko shaheed kar k ye samajte hain k wo jehad kar rahe hain to un ko samaj lena chahie k wo apni dunia aur aakrat dono barbad kar rahe hain agar jehad hi karna hai to Afghanistan,Iraq,Kashmir,Palastine jese country me jaen jahan jehad farz ho chuka hai.

  11. Nellie June 14, 2011 4:42 pm #

    hey Rease, I'd never heard of a microlight before visiting Jordan either! It was truly amazing, quite similar to hang gliding I assume. Love it!

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