Jordan - Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs and Canyons

By Tony Howard, Di Taylor

This guidebook to Jordan describes a variety of walks, treks, caves, climbs and canyons in this wonderful landscape, based around Pella, Ajloun, the Dead Sea Hills, Dana, Petra and Wadi Rum. Covers Jordan's newly created nature reserves.



Too hot June–August. Spring (late March to end May)/autumn (late September to mid-November) is good for walks. There can be flash floods in canyons winter/spring up to April, so summer to early autumn is best for canyoning. Northern hills have snow in winter.


Pella, Ajloun, Amman, Madaba, Karak, Dana, Wadi Musa, Wadi Rum village, Aqaba


Routes to suit all abilities. Any requiring special skills or equipment are identified as such. Some routes in remote areas. Route-finding ability often required... good maps are difficult to obtain.
Must See

Must See

Flower-carpeted 'alpine meadows' of the north; spectacular Dead Sea canyons; multi-day Dana–Petra treks; ancient city of Petra; caving and climbing in Jordan's exotic limestone regions; Wadi Rum's world famous Bedouin hunting routes and Jordan's highest mountain; a night in a real Bedouin camp.
17 Jul 2008
21.0 x 14.8 x 1.5cm
  • Overview

    Jordan is a land of unexpected beauty and great variety. From its flower-carpeted meadows in the north to spectacular canyons with fast-flowing rivers, and from ancient cities to towering mountains, caves and vast deserts, Jordan has something for everyone.

    This guide describes a variety of walks, treks, caves, climbs and canyons in this wonderful landscape, based around Pella, Ajloun, the Dead Sea Hills, Dana, Petra and Wadi Rum. Many of the routes were unknown prior to the first edition of the guide, and this second edition provides information on new climbing areas and other unexplored regions for those who wish to make their own discoveries.

    • 150 routes in Jordan described – half- to one-day walks and multi-day treks, including 30 canyon routes and 5 climbing areas
    • 24 desert and mountain walks and scrambles in Wadi Rum
    • Covers Jordan’s newly created nature reserves
    • Variety of graded routes to suit all abilities
    • Information on how to get to Jordan, when to go, what to take, and everything you need to know about the routes

    This guide offers you an opportunity to see and experience a country of great antiquity and remarkable beauty, yet the authors also make a plea for visitors to respect the land and its people, both still largely unspoilt by tourism.

  • Contents

    Foreword by HM Queen Noor al Hussein of Jordan   

    Preface to the second edition   

    Thanks to all concerned   


    The people and places that inspired the book   

    Environmental and Cultural Awareness   
    Culture clash    
    Who’s who?   
    Cultural tips for travellers   
    The environment – a plea from the authors   
    Environmental tips for the traveller      

    The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature   
    Visitor code   
    How to make a booking    

    Wildlife in Jordan   
    What sort of birds might you see?   
    What animals might you see?   

    The Lie of the Land   
    Geographic and historical boundaries    
        North Jordan   
        The Dead Sea Hills   
        The Dana Area   
        The Petra Area   
        Wadi Rum and the Aqaba Mountains   

    On the Move   
    Going to Jordan   
    Getting in   
    Where to go   
    When to go   
    On the road   

    Other Things Worth Knowing    
    Holidays and holy days    
    Language and communication   
    Money matters    
    Food and drink   
    Clothing and equipment    
    Mountain biking    
    Maps and topos in this guide   
    Be prepared!   
    In an emergency   

    Using this Guide   
    Route descriptions   
    Grading of walks and treks   
    Grading of canyons   
    Caving in Jordan   
    Grading of caves    
    Rock climbing in Jordan    
    Grading of scrambles and rock climbs   

    North Jordan   
    The Jordan Valley Hills    
        The Ajloun Area   
        The RSCN Ajloun Woodland Reserve   
        The Yabis and Pella Area   
        The Yarmuk Area   
    The North Eastern Desert    
        RSCN Nature Reserves in the Northeast   
        Around Azraq   
    The Capital Area    
        RSCN Dibeen Forest Reserve   
        The King Talal Dam Area   
        Around Amman   
        The Northern Dead Sea  

    The Dead Sea Hills    
    The Madaba Area   
    The RSCN Mujib Nature Reserve   
    The Karak Area   

    The Dana Area   
    The Northern Dana Area    
    The RSCN Dana Nature Reserve    
    Shaubak Area   

    The Petra Area   
        The Northern Approaches to Petra   
        The Western Approaches to Petra   
        Jebel Harun and the Southern Petra Area   

    Wadi Rum and the Aqaba Mountains   
    Wadi Rum   
        The People of Rum    
        The Rum Protected Area   
        The Rest House Area   
        Jebel Rum, 1754m   
        Jebel um Ishrin, 1753m   
        Eastern Rum   
        Burdah, Khazali and the South   
        North of Rum   
    The Aqaba Mountains   

    Caving in Jordan   

    Climbing in Jordan   
    The Saqeb Area   
    The Ajloun Area   
    The Karak and Shaubak Areas   
    The Petra Area   
    The Wadi Rum Area   
    The Aqaba Mountains   

    1 Guides and Adventure Tourism Operators in Jordan   
    2 Relevant Reading   
    3 Some Useful Arabic/English Words   
    4 Climber’s Glossary   
    5 Index of Routes   
    6 Place-name Index   
    7 Index of Maps in the Guide   
    8 Animals and flowers of Jordan   

  • Maps

    There is an English 1:50,000 map series to Jordan (code K737) dating from the 1960s and 1970s, and a new series in Arabic to the same scale. Both are almost impossible to obtain, but you can try contacting: The Royal Geographical Centre, PO Box 20214, 11118 Amman, Jordan tel: 009626 5345188, fax 009626 5347694, e-mail:, website: The relevant K737 series map numbers are given at the beginning of each section.

    Geological maps at the same scale can be bought for 4JD from: The Natural Resources Authority, 8th Circle, PO Box 7, 11118 Amman, Jordan tel: 009626 5857612, fax: 009626 5811866, e-mail:, website:

  • Updates
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    Updates or go directly to: and follow the links.

    The 2nd edition of our Jordan book was published in July 2008. Info on a number of new climbs and treks was received just after the publisher's deadline, plus we added more on our spring 2008 visit, and some GPS points. We include them here, and in the following pages, working through Jordan, from north to south (trekking info is minimal, due to space limitations). Any info received in the future that is relevant to this book will be posted on these 'Jordan-update' pages for the benefit of our readers.

    PELLA AREA Wadi Taibah to the Jordan Valley
    Long and varied, descending 600m through different eco-systems and geological layers and past olive groves, orchards, an abandoned fish farm and a ruined water-powered flour mill to almost 200m below sea level.
    Easy walk Long, though with reasonably straightforward route finding. Though sometimes small, there are paths the whole way down the valley, following the wadi for 20km from the upper plateau at 400m to the Jordan valley road in the village of Waqqas at 170m below sea level; allow 6-7 hours. There may be murky pools just after half way, past the old flourmill, but best to carry sufficient water.
    Approach About 1/2hr by taxi (10JD) from Pella Rest House. Take the road up to Kufr Rakib, then left (N) to Da’yr abu Sa’id (shops and café) then right towards Irbid, to the point where the road descends a long hairpin approx 1km after Sammu and rises up again. The wadi below the bend is Wadi Taiyiba, winding W, initially through a twisting limestone gorge with old quarry workings.
    Start From GPS 390m 32° 31.236´ 35° 44.875´
    Finish the Jordan Valley road is reached in Waqqas (bread shop and groceries), GPS -190m 32° 32.219´ 35° 36.103´.
    Return It’s about 10km S to Tabaqat Fahl and the Pella Rest House by frequent but and/or local taxi (5JD for taxi). We left a car at Pella at the start of the trek and arranged transport to the start and finish of the trek, and accommodation at the Countryside Hotel, with the Rest House Manager.
    For those who are unable to walk the full wadi, it’s possible to walk or drive up from Waqqas for 2km and take a short walk up the valley past the hot spring.

    PELLA AREA Kufr Rakib to Pella via Wadi abu Salih
    Not as pretty as the walk down neighbouring Wadi Salih, but equally varied and more challenging.
    Moderate trek
    12km, with walking and scrambling on steep terrain and sometimes tricky route finding. The route descends from 500m to 60m below sea level at the natural arch and hot springs, then ascends the road to Pella Rest House at sea level. 4hrs to the hot spring and another 1/2 hr to the Rest House.
    Approach From Pella Rest House, go down to the road and turn right then right again in less than 1km and follow the road for about 9km, up past a check point to Kufr Rakib. (Baker of excellent taboun bread just before the crossroads.) Turn left at the crossroads, quickly reaching the point where the road crosses Wadi abu Salih (usually dry). GPS 500m 32° 27.434´ 35° 41.679´
    The route Follow the wadi down to the second of two small roads enters the valley about 5km from the start.Follow this down a short way, descending right into the wadi when the road starts to rise away from it. Continue down the small canyon and wadi to the rock arch and hot spring (busy on Friday). GPS –60m 32° 27.915´ 35° 37.209. Either descend to the spring or cross the natural arch before walking 2km generally S on the road (avoid the big hairpin bend by going up the hillside); continue S to reach the turn up left to the Rest House.
    (Nice accommodation at the nearby Countryside Hotel – ask Dib Hussein, the Rest House Manager.)

    CLIMBING, North Jordan - SAQEB AREA
    Saqeb Cliff: Shivering Crack (guidebook page 305) is Grade 5. Apolgies for the ommission.

    CAVING, Zubia Cave - Prof Stephan Kempe, a member of a survey of Zubia (also known as Al Daher) in Dec 2006, has asked us to point out that “The problem with giving locations of caves (none are known in Jordan of the extent of Al Daher by the way) is rather grave since people are digging everywhere and destroying very valuable scientific resources. The same is happening in Al-Daher, flowstone is being removed by professionals and there is no way to stop them. Please put a note in your website as to the absolute need for conservative visitation only; may I also recommend that anybody who is defacing this or other caves in Jordan, damaging their interior or even stealing objects, should be reported to the authorities.”
    For a full professional report and topo of Zubia (El Daher) Cave, see Journal of Cave & Karst Studies, Dec 06, v.68, no. 3, p.107-114.

    June 2011

    Jordan was relatively quiet this year, but problem free despite Mid East and North African turmoil. There were a few marches in downtown Amman for increased democracy (the King selects the government) and some in the wealthier uptown in support of King Abdullah. And that was about it. Jordan was, as always, a good place to be in the spring even if the weather was a little cooler than usual.

    The Northern Hills

    This area is still very much untouched by trekkers though it is becoming to be visited by Jordanian walking groups and climbers who have now discovered what a marvellous country they live in, full of adventure opportunities.


    The capital now has its own climbing wall, see

    Dead Sea Canyons

    As elsewhere in Jordan, these superb canyons are becoming increasingly popular with Jordanians. They usually visit the canyons with Jordanian adventure travel specialists such as Sarha Terhaal and Tropical Desert who take regular canyoning and trekking trips. All canyons are equipped with fixed abseil points, though the canyons themselves sometimes change due to flash floods. Wadi ibn Hammad (R53) now has a 3m drop in it’s upper section where none existed before.
    In Jan 2011, Petra fees rose considerably. A day pass is now 50JD (about £45). There have beena number of complaints in the Jordan Times newspaper about this (including one from us), but it seems unlikely things will change. In fact they may even be increased again later this year.
    See for more information. There is also talk of requiring all trekkers passing through Petra to hire a local guide, but we have no firm news on this.
    Jebel Mas'uda
    South of Petra, following years of discussions with the local Saidiyin Bedouin, RSCN proposals to create the Jebel Mas’uda Reserve (see map on page 215) have been dropped. This is good news for trekkers and climbers as the area will remain open, but maybe not so good for the area as collecting wood for fires and hunting for ibex and other game will continue. It’s a great area well worth a visit.

    Nothing to report here, except to say that more Bedouin are offering homestays in the village, and there are more Bedouin-style and upmarket tourist camps in the desert. The best place to ask is around the Rest House.
  • Reviews

    Jordan offers many spectacular and contrasting landscapes, from its flower-carpeted meadows to dramatic canyons, caves and deserts. This second edition includes new climbing areas, Jordan's newly created nature reserves, and graded routes for a range of activities.

    Lakeland Walker Aug/Sept 2008

    'With 331 pages and full colour throughout the softback book, this new guide is substantially bigger and a great deal more attractive, than its predecessor. Still here are the detailed and updated maps and route descriptions for many walks, accompanied by apposite quotations taken from books written by explorers such as Golden and Lawrence. With notes on sights and the different wadis and regions, to say nothing of the useful data in eight appendices and the inclusion of GPS coordinates, Jordan becomes a pleasure to flick through and dream of visiting far away places.

    Jordan's known caves are not numerous and, generally, very easy to visit; do not expect to find world-class systems with raging streamways here in the desert lands. Sadly even one known at the time of the first edition has become easier still, as locals have 'modified' the entrance to Zubia Cave to remove the descent and squeeze into the main chamber - all in the name of encouraging visits. There is a separate section on caves, making it easy to see what you can find, with many notes on rumours and the realistic potential for discoveries as there are caves themselves. Nice one! Jordan costs £17, which represents good value for a book of this high standard.'

    Descent, Oct/Nov 2008

    'Most people think of Jordan as a bleak desert; it is actually a land of unexpected beauty and great variety. This is the 2nd edition, but a vastly enlarged edition, or a book which was published in 1999. There is a short, but very comprehensive introduction. It has the usual section on getting there, the best time to go, food, clothing, etc.

    Their writing shows that the authors love the country and hope that visitors also “be as good to this land and its people as they will be to you.” Finally, this is the first guidebook I’ve seen with the foreword by a queen – HM Queen Noor of Jordan.’

    Irish Mountain Log, Winter 2008

    ‘The biblical land of Jordan is a place of unexpected beauty, and until recently it was untouched by mass tourism. Its landscape ranges from flower-carpeted meadows in the north to spectacular canyons with fast-flowing rivers, and from ancient cities to towering mountains, caves and vast deserts.

    This book describes an astonishing range of walks, climbs or simply outings. A total of 150 routes are described, varying from half-day to one-day to multi-day treks, in 5 different areas.

    Led by the royal family, Jordan has in recent years created a series of nature reserves and it is likely that their unique landscape will not suffer the ravages of uncontrolled tourism, a fate that has befallen some countries nearby.’

    Walking World Ireland, December 2008

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Howard Tony

Tony Howard

​Tony Howard started climbing in 1953 and was on the first ascent (simultaneous to a Norwegian team) of Europe's tallest and steepest north face, the Troll Wall, in 1965. He became a British Mountaineering Council guide that year and founded Troll Climbing Equip, soon to be one of the world's leading brands of climbing equipment. He designed the world's first rock climber’s sit harness – the template for most of today's designs.

View Articles and Books by Tony Howard
Di Taylor

Di Taylor

Di Taylor has 60 years’ experience of rock climbing, mountaineering, caving and exploratory jungle
and desert travel, including first ascents in England, North Africa and the Middle East and new treks in
North East India. Along with Tony Howard, she discovered and developed Wadi Rum, the story of which was featured
in the BBC Two series The Face.

View Articles and Books by Di Taylor