When I was in Wadi Rum for the first time, I saw the Wadi Rum station and stopped here to have a look as well. There I also saw the train standing and took several pictures of it. At the time, I couldn’t imagine the train actually running. It looked like it had been standing there for years, though I did see that the carriages looked neat. The 1916 train journey in the Wadi Rum shows you how the Arabs rebelled against the Ottoman Empire. In 1916, this resulted in fighting from the ground and from the train.
I can give this away in advance. You really should do this trip during your visit to the Wadi Rum. An impressive show reenacting the Arab uprising for you when you book the free 1916 train ride in the Wadi Rum.
The 1916 train journey in the Wadi Rum, Jordan
Journey through 1916
Now when I returned to Wadi Rum, a fellow traveller received an email from the Jordan Pass application. It said you could apply to experience the journey through 1916. The train journey through 1916 in the Wadi Rum would take an hour and in the process you would get to see a show. We had no idea what to imagine but of course we were going to! The day we went into the wadi rum to spend the night in a tented camp, we booked the 1916 train journey.
Waiting for the old train – Train Journey through 1916
We were given a location and it turned out to be a few km away, in the middle of the desert at a railway crossing. Strange…but yes there were already more people waiting, seemingly in The Middle of Nowhere. I was waiting outside with travelling companion Pauline while the rest were in the air-conditioning of our bus. We saw the rails being cleared of the superfluous desert sand by a man with a shovel. Surely the track seemed to be really unused and totally covered in sand. We waited expectantly until suddenly a wind blew and we seemed to be caught in a sandstorm. Still, we got back in the car to wait.
The website also notes that the train may be cancelled due to a sandstorm, among other things.
Not much later, the sandstorm thankfully subsided and we heard the train honking in the distance. When we got out again, we actually saw the old train approaching. It stopped several more times but finally it drove onto the crossing and stopped in front of us. We quickly climbed aboard and sought a seat on 1 of the open carriages. Full of anticipation about the upcoming adventure, we looked around us, on this old train in the magical Wadi Rum desert.
The Story of the Arab Revolt
Arab Revolt – Train Journey through 1916 in the Wadi Rum
Slowly, the train started moving again, back towards the station. There were men in green army clothes with long guns walking on the train. They were only too happy to pose for our cameras to get a nice picture. There was also an automatic weapon on the open carriage with which several people took photos. On the other side than where we were sitting were sandbags…. I scanned the area to see if there was an opponent lurking somewhere.
Somewhere that fight had to happen, right?
It took quite a long time, I really felt we must be almost at the Wadi Rum station. The men in green army clothes kept walking back and forth and posing for the various cameras. Until suddenly, in the distance, I saw a few people sitting on the rocks. At first I thought they were tourists who had found a nice viewpoint. Until we got closer and suddenly there was a loud bang.
Ottoman Soldier on the lookout – Wadi Rum
While I was expecting it the whole time, it still shocked me. In no time there was shooting back and forth but soon we were past it and calm returned. Soon after, I saw a Jordanian flag flying on a mountain further on…. When I looked closer, I also saw a man behind sandbags underneath it. As we got closer there was fighting again, shots rang out on both sides.
And then it really started. As we passed that mountain, horses suddenly started running with armed men on them, and in the distance we even saw two dromedaries running along. I thought it was a very imposing sight so alongside the train. The dust billowing up under the hooves of the Arabs galloping along at full speed. There was shooting and shouting … and suddenly the train came to a halt.
I saw the men in army clothes, i.e. the men of the Ottoman Empire, surrender and get off the train. Meanwhile, at the automatic weapon which was on the open carriage, a tourist had come to stand and fought along nicely.
The Arabs came from the horse and quickly ran up the wagon to capture the fighting Ottoman men. The tough tourist was startled and still gestured, I’m not one of them…. but to no avail. He too was taken off the train as a prisoner of war and taken away in the jeep.
Train journey of 1916 in the Wadi Rum – Jordan
The story of the Arab Revolt
The big Jordanian flag could be seen all around you. The jeep the POWs were in also proudly flew the Jordanian flag. They drove off…. but before we too started driving, the startled POW (tourist) was still released and he came strolling back onto the train to loud cheers.
What a super fun show. And I really mean that, what an imposing sight it was!
All those beautiful horses with those men on them, some shooting and others with a flag, galloping along the train…. I can really recommend it. If you go into the desert, take some time for this too. Super touristy but you are right in the magical wadi rum spheres. And you get a good idea of what it was like in those days.
Background Hijaz Railway Wadi Rum
This stretch of railway is part of the long Hijaz Railway. This was built in the early 1900s to ease the pilgrimage from Damascus to Medina in Saudi Arabia. This railway was used by the Ottoman Empire to strengthen the fragmented ties between different Muslim countries. Read more about the Hijaz Railway which also has a protected status with UNESCO.
Also read more about the organisation implementing this performance, the JHRC
Visit the Trainstation in the Magical Wadi Rum Desert
Trainstation Wadi Rum
The Wadi Rum station where we ended stands a show with a collection of ancient relics/objects and train track background. Again, I unfortunately did not enter it. When we were there before the 1916 train journey through the Wadi Rum, it was closed and I suspect it was open when we returned there after the train journey. Then we boarded our bus right away because we were eager to get to our camp in the magical Wadi Rum desert.
Book your ticket for the Journey through 1916 – Wadi Rum
As I wrote earlier, a travelling companion of mine received the email about the 1916 train journey. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known. She got the mail because she had ordered the Jordan Pass for all of us. If you are going to visit Jordan without a Jordan Pass, which I cannot recommend, then you can book your train journey on this site.
Why do I do recommend taking the Jordan Pass? The price of the Jordan Pass includes many entrances to archaeological sites, excluding the churches in Madaba or Mt Nebo. However, you do get a discount on a ticket to the Baptism Site and you can buy your entrance ( 1, 2 or 3 days) to Petra in advance. Just for your visa combined with the entrance fee for Petra, you’ll get the cost out of it.
What amazing pictures you can shoot from that train say!
For that reason alone, you must take this 1916 train journey through the Wadi Rum.
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