The Jordan Hiking Trail
By Martha Hales
A slow discovery is the truest way to get to know a place, and when you are travelling under your own steam your experience goes even deeper. Crossing landscapes on foot allows you to access the region at a local level, by interacting with your surroundings, the climate, people and traditions as you go. What better way to get to know the drama of Jordan’s scenery than by travelling it on foot, step by step across the green groves of the north, through desert canyons to Petra’s astounding rock hewn monuments, and beyond to the Red Sea coast.
The Jordan Trail is celebrating its first anniversary this March, and it’s becoming well known to travellers of the world over as one of the epic, bucket list treks, capturing the attention of adventurous travellers with Jordan in their sights. The whole 650 kilometre trail would need a 5-7 week window to complete, but it’s just as feasible to pick a section or two and devote a handful of days to the hike.
Jordan is perhaps one of the most overlooked destinations out there, especially as for Europeans it is short haul and compact, meaning you can see a lot in a short trip without having to spend too long on a plane or getting from A to B within Jordan. It’s also incredibly diverse, with fertile farmland in the north, the lowest point on earth at the Dead Sea in the centre and the rugged desert cliffs of Petra and Wadi Rum in the south. The Jordan trail links all these highlights and opens up this Middle Eastern gem as a serious trekking destination.
In spring and autumn the weather in much of Jordan is usually pleasant and warm, perfect for long days hiking. The climate can change quite dramatically according to altitude and latitude, so once you have pinned down which part of the trail to do, quiz our local Jordan experts on what time of year is best to tackle it. Likewise, if your dates are fixed, they can suggest which areas would have the best weather for trekking at that time. If you plan to cover the whole trail, which is generally undertaken from north to south, consider the autumn months of September to November, when you will be moving towards warmer weather in the south as the north is cooling down in the lead up to winter.
The warmth of the Jordanian sun mirrors the welcome you are likely to receive from everyone you meet, as the Jordanians are renowned for their matchless hospitality, and no doubt you will also encounter the wonderful, fragrant cuisine of rice, pulses, spice and herbs. As you journey from place to place there’s often lots to see and do along the route, from admiring natural features to visiting historic sites and ecotourism projects. There’s even a microbrewery on an early stage of the trail!
The extremely useful Jordan Trail website has comprehensive information detailing each stage of the trek, what you can see along the way and what the terrain is like. The 650 kilometres are broken down into eight stages of between 60 and 113 kilometres, each of these further subdivided into 4 - 6 day hikes.
Here are some brief introductions to each section and what you can see en route.
Section 1. Umm Qais to Ajloun
80 km / 4 days
Winding through the greenest landscapes in Jordan, this section takes you up hill and down dale among relics of past civilisations.
Roman Decapolis ruins at Um Qais and Pella
Wadi Ziglab Ecopark
Community tourism in the rustic al-Ayoun villages
Hilltop Ajloun Castle
Section 2. Ajloun to Fuheis
60 km / 4 days
Lovely views over the water near King Talal Dam, agricultural villages in fertile valleys, and Fuheis village itself.
Rural village life
King Talal Dam
Section 3. Fuheis to Wadi Zarqa Main
78 km / 4 days
Descend into the Jordan Valley, warmer and drier than the northern highlands, and explore deep wadis as you trek above the Dead Sea.
Iraq Al-Ameer Palace
Wadi Zarqa Main and Wadi Wala
Section 4. Three Wadis to Karak
75 km / 4 days
Lots of ascent and descent in this section which traverses Wadi Mujib, the Grand Canyon of Jordan, where the spectacular surroundings are well worth the effort.
Ruins of Magdelina
Karak Crusader Castle
Section 5. Karak to Dana
85 km / 4 days
Another dramatic section of peaks and canyons leading south through deep gorges and ruined villages to Jordan’s flagship nature reserve at Dana.
Tor al Taboun crags
Dana Village and Biosphere Reserve
Section 6. Dana to Petra
73 km / 4 days
If you do any four days on the trail, make it these four. This is the Jordan Trail’s headline act, and it does not disappoint. National Geographic has placed this trek among the top 15 on the planet, for the diversity of landscapes, the wonderful nature and the epic finish at Petra, which truly is a wonder of the world.
Arriving at Petra the ‘back way’
Dana Biosphere Reserve
Waterfall in Wadi Feid
Section 7. Petra to Wadi Rum
91 km / 5 days
The desert highlands between Petra and Wadi Rum are a true wilderness, great for stargazing and for getting it away from it all. The scenery and sense of isolation is awe-inspiring.
Humeima - ancient Umayyad ruins
Imposing Sandstone cliffs, mountains and other formations scattered throughout the Wadi Rum region.
Jebel Rum, and Jebel Um Ishrin
Section 8. Wadi Rum to the Red Sea
112 km / 6 days
More breathtaking desert scenery of striped russet mountains rising from the sand. The view from the final pass encompasses the gulf of Aqaba, a territory belonging to four nations: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel.
Striking desert scenery
Bedouin villages and desert camps
The view over the Red Sea
Jordan is a trekkers paradise since the inauguration of the Jordan Trail one year ago. Make the most of your time in this spellbinding country with a bespoke itinerary created just for you by our local experts. Pop a few details in our enquiry form to get started. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.