Treks and Climbs in Wadi Rum, Jordan

By Tony Howard

A guide to treks and climbs in Wadi Rum, Jordan, one of the world's leading desert climbing and trekking areas. The book includes thorough visiting information and an extensive selection of explorations, treks and climbs both trad and sport, at all grades. Includes all massifs in Rum plus outlying areas.



Spring and autumn are the norm, with pleasant weather. Summer is for masochists who don’t need water; winter can be very cold and sometimes wet.


Aqaba is closest. Amman is far to the north. No hotels in Rum; these are outside in the Aqaba and Petra areas. Campsite, plus villages of Rum, Rashdiya and Quweirah.


Treks, camel and 4WD journeys, plus trad and sports climbs throughout the grade range.
Must See

Must See

Rum is stunning with its enormous red cliffs and canyons - 'vast, echoing and godlike' said TE Lawrence. Petra makes a rather brilliant rest day.
1 May 1997
16 Sep 2014
21.0 x 14.8 x 1.5cm
  • Overview

    Wadi Rum is tucked away in the south of Jordan, close to the Red Sea port of Aqaba, remote and splendid in both landscape and culture, yet only a five-hour flight and a short onward journey from Europe.

    The first edition of this guide, published in 1987, contained about 140 routes. Since then the number of climbs has doubled. Here are detailed descriptions and 'topos' of all the known routes to date, from short walks, camel treks and 4WD journeys through to sports climbs and major 'big walls' of the highest technical difficulty.

    Additionally the author gives information on sites of antiquity, flora and fauna, and life with the Bedouin. It is their roguish humour and warm hospitality as much as the magnificence of these deserts and mountains that make a visit to Rum a unique experience. This book tells you everything you need to know.

  • Contents

    Welcome to Jordan - By Nasri Atalla, Director of Tourism
    Introduction - By Tony Howard
    French Introduction - By Wilf Colonna

    Information and Advice
    Passports and Visas
    Customs Formalities
    Medical Regulations and Recommendations
    Tourist Information
    Travel to, and in Jordan
    Travel and Accommodation in Wadi Rum
    Transport in Wadi Rum
    Guided Holidays
    Swimming and Diving
    Para-gliding and Ballooning
    Wadi Rum Rest House
    Wadi Rum Village
    Shopping and Post
    The Bedouin
    Flora and Fauna
    Weather (Incl. Weather Chart for Rum)
    Dress (Clothing)
    Tourist Code
    Equipment for Climbing
    Abseil Rings
    To Bolt, or Not to Bolt
    Mountain Rescue Facilities
    Maps, Guides and Information
    Pre-historic Sites
    The Nabataeans - By M.C.A. McDonald
    The Rock
    Description and Grading of Routes
    Grading Comparison Table
    Time Allowed for Climbs
    Styles of Routes
    Climbing History
    Chronology of Mountain Exploration
    New Climbs

    Jebel Rum Massif
    Jebel Um Ishrin Massif
    Barrah Canyon Area
    Massif of Khush Khashah and Khazali
    Burdah & the Domes of Abu Khsheibah
    Outlying Areas, North of Rum
    Outlying Areas, South of Rum

    2005 Update
    Jordanian visas
    Medical Advice
    Travel to Jordan
    Accommodation in Wadi Rum
    Useful contacts
    Current information on Wadi Rum
    Transport to and in Rum
    Hire of vehicle & driver or camels
    Mountain Guides in Wadi Rum
    Mountain Guide Fees
    Climbing & environmental concerns
    The rock, route times and grades
    A Rum story
    The Earthquake!

    New Routes (1993 to 1995)
    Jebel Rum Massif
    Jebel Um Ishrin Massif
    Barrah Canyon area
    Khazali, Burdah and all Southern Areas

    Graded Route list, by areas
    Graded Short Climbs, by areas
    Index of Routes
    Index of Main Summits and Canyons

    Glossary of Climbing Terms

    Zoning, Safety and Environmental and Guidelines for Climbers and Trekkers in the Rum Protected Area

    Rum Protected Area zoning map

  • Updates
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    Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correction

    Update from Author, June 2011

    Jordan in general

    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.

    For update notes, please visit the author's website: or go directly to: and follow the links.

    June 2007

    The caption missing under the top photograph opposite page 145 reads:

    'Climbs on Jebel um Ishrin Massif
    Above: Jolly Joker, N. Nassrani.The big traverse, first ascent - photo Haupolter'

    January 2006

    A huge number of new climbs have been done. Details will be found in the New Routes Book at Wadi Rum rest House. These include the discovery of more classic Bedouin Climbs, many by our friends, Gilles Rappeneau and local Bedoiun Guide Talat Awad. Gilles has done a pocket guide to these routes, details on his website. Talal has a copy and knows the rotes if you need a guide. In Nov 2005, Gilles also found the long-forgotten Bedouin Route to the top of Rum's second highest summit, Jebel um Ishrin, giving it three stars.

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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.

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