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Jordan - Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs and Canyons - a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of Jordan - Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs and Canyons
17 Jul 2008
21.0 x 14.8 x 1.5cm
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Jordan - Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs and Canyons

by Tony Howard, Di Taylor
Book published by Cicerone Press

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.

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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.

  • Seasons
    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.
  • Centres
    Pella, Ajloun, Amman, Madaba, Karak, Dana, Wadi Musa, Wadi Rum village, Aqaba
  • Difficulty
    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
    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.

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.)

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.


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   

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