The principal route from Ma’an to Petra (33km) runs from the centre of town across the Desert Highway and through Udhruh. Continuing south from Ma’an on the Desert Highway itself you’ll pass another couple of exits marked for Petra (both of which meet the road from Udhruh just above Ain Musa), and then the Al-Anbat Tourist Complex, another rest stop. Just past here is the final turn-off for Petra, some 33km southwest of Ma’an; this is the start of the so-called “Scenic Road” which runs into Wadi Musa through Rajif and Taybeh.

A few hundred metres further, the Desert Highway reaches the edge of the highland plateau at RAS AN-NAQAB, from where the most stupendous panoramic views over the sandy deserts of the Hisma region suddenly open up in front of you. Pull off, if you can, to savour them.

The highway comes down off Ras an-Naqab before scooting away across the sandy floor of the desert, with the sheer mountains of Rum clearly visible off to the left of the road for much of the way. To the right lie the ruins of Humayma, a Nabatean village that was fortified by the Romans and later used by the Abbasid family to launch their overthrow of the Umayyads; it’s a significant historical site but the ruins are scanty and hard to interpret.

Some 41km from Ras an-Naqab and a little beyond the village of QUWEIRA, a marked left turn at Rashdiyyeh points the way to Wadi Rum.

From here it’s a clear run onwards as the highway threads a twisting path between the mountains, following the Wadi Yitm down towards Aqaba.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Jordan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Discovering Amman: why you should stay a while

Discovering Amman: why you should stay a while

One of the world’s top adventure spots, tourists to Jordan tend to zip right through Amman and head straight to the mountains, Petra, or the fabulous burnt-or…

16 Apr 2018 • Eleanor Ross insert_drive_file Article
Video: 5 reasons to hike the Jordan Trail

Video: 5 reasons to hike the Jordan Trail

Despite being a safe country with no shortage of breathtaking historical sites, friendly people and some of the world's most stunning wilderness, Jordan is ofte…

23 Jan 2018 • Colt St. George videocam Video
Rediscovering Jordan: why the time to go is now

Rediscovering Jordan: why the time to go is now

It’s one of the world’s top adventure destinations – and one of our top 18 places to visit in 2018 – and yet, in recent years, tourists have been es…

22 Jan 2018 • Sarah Reid insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right