This area has been traversed by Bedouin tribes for millennia; the Thamudic tribes of Arabia and the Nabataeans both lived here and have left their mark on the desert with rock inscriptions and ruins. The Anfashieh rock inscription is a wonderful example, exceptionally detailed and huge in scale. It’s thought to depict a camel caravan passing through the area. Khazali canyon is a picturesque siq of multi-hued sand, washed down from pink cliffs shaped like melting candle wax. Inside the canyon you can walk along the rock to reach several good inscriptions; the baby feet inscription is particularly clear.
Today the local Zelabieh tribe are the custodians of the Wadi Rum protected reserve, many making a living as guides and drivers. Although you could, if pressed for time, see a selection of the main sights in the reserve on an afternoon four-wheel drive excursion, this is a landscape that is worth savouring. To really appreciate it you need to spend at least one night here. Then you can sleep outside in the desert sands at a Bedouin camp, under a blanket sky strewn with a million stars and wake up to witness the fantastic spectacle of sunrise, as the changing light paints the rock and sand in luminous colours.