Tony Howard and Di Taylor have always loved Jordan and have pioneered the walking and trekking movement there. Here they introduce the Jordan Trail - Jordan's first long distance path.
The birth of the Jordan Trail
Twenty years ago Di Taylor and I had a dream. A dream that the treks we were discovering whilst we were writing our Cicerone Guide to Jordan’s Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs & Canyons might one day be linked together to form a country length trail. Ten years ago, a few Jordanians also began to wonder if it would be possible. Then, over the past five years together with them we not only filled in the gaps but improved on some of our earlier walks. In 2016 the 650 kilometre Jordan Trail was born and the Jordan Trail Association was formed.
Hotels, homestays or Bedouin campsites
Local guides are being identified and some are already taking groups on sections of the route which is beginning to be waymarked. GPS info is also now available. The few hotels and lodges along the way are already benefiting as are Bedouin campsites in and around Petra and Wadi Rum. Elsewhere, homestays are opening and more identified whilst Jordanian trekking companies are offering their services, arranging treks from one day to full through trips. And for those wanting a break from walking, the Bedouin of Rum have horses and camels and even 4WD to ride across their desert.
The route passes through incredible scenery
The Trail starts at the Greco-Roman village of Um Qais on Jordan’s northern border, crossing rolling and even forested hills alongside the eastern rim of Jordan’s Rift Valley past Greek Pella to reach the Islamic Castle of Ajloun in around seven days. These northern walks are mostly based on treks in both Cicerone’s Jordan Guidebook and our smaller guide to Al Ayoun (available from Cordee).
Continuing south, the Trail passes the temple of Iraq el Amir before reaching the Dead Sea hills. It then makes it’s dramatic way across the three great canyons of Zerqa Main, Hidan and Mujib. The routes which follow the rivers down these spectacular gorges are described in our Cicerone guidebook, as is the next canyon of Wadi ibn Hammad, though the Jordan Trail neatly circumvents its headwaters before reaching the Crusader Castle of Karak.
From there, having passed the rim of Wadi Numeira’s canyon (the descent of which is also in our Jordan guide) the route then crosses the 1000 metre deep Hasa Canyon to reach ancient Ma’tan on the craggy lip of Wadi Buseirah. From there the routes in our Jordan guide form the basis for the next week’s trekking, first to ancient Dana village, then down to the Award winning Eco Lodge at Feynan in the Rift Valley before rising up past plunging waterfalls in wild mountains to reach Beidah and ‘Little Petra’. Our Jordan Treks guidebook then offers a choice of routes through Petra to Wadi Musa but the preferred way of the Jordan Trail enters via what we called ‘Petra’s Back Door’ to reach its mountain top Monastery before passing through the ancient city and exiting via the famous canyon of The Siq.
Rock arches and petroglyphs
Kharazeh rock bridge, the trail’s gateway to Wadi Rum
Still following routes in our Jordan guidebook the Trail returns to Petra and continues via the High Place to the remote Wadi Sabra. It then descends into the remote valleys of the Masuda mountains, emerging through the magnificent Aheimar Canyon after four days to enter Jordan’s southern desert near Roman Humeimah. Across the desert the giant rock arch of Kharaz is the next objective followed by the strange petrogyphs of Abu el Hawil, both first reported in our Jordan guide, before reaching the spectacular mountains of Rum.
The numerous ways through Rum’s desert valleys are described in our Jordan Treks book and in our book to Treks & Climbs in Wadi Rum which also describes over three hundred climbs from the now world famous Bedouin hunting routes through to modern Extreme big walls. Still in Rum, the Trail continues through a maze of rock domes amongst beautiful desert scenery before descending a long valley to the remote Bedouin village of Titin. Beyond, the last pass in the Aqaba Mountains is reached just north of the border with Saudi Arabia where the Red Sea comes into view tempting you down for that welcoming plunge into its warm blue waters.
Flowers in the northern dales
Further information on the Jordan Trail
Full information on the Jordan Trail is available on http://jordantrail.org/
Jordan Trail Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheJordanTrail/
The author’s website: http://www.nomadstravel.co.uk/
© Tony Howard, 26 Jan 2017
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