While I had known Jordan was full of religious and historical sites, before traveling to the country I never realized it was also home to myriad truly inspiring hiking trails. Throughout #MyJordanJourney, I was lucky enough to get to experience a few for myself. Here are my top picks for the best hikes in Jordan. Above: unexpexcted views when hiking to a Petra monastery viewpoint.
Note: If you’re looking for a local guide, Ibrahim El-Wahsh is knowledgeable, well-connected and had my friends and I laughing the entire time.
Aerial Monastery view in Petra
Up To The Monastery In Petra
While most people know Petra as the ancient civilization built by the Nabateans over 2,000 years ago, it’s actually a haven for anyone who likes challenging treks. You’ll have many route options, although I strongly recommend hiking to the iconic Monastery and continuing on to the “Best Viewpoint” (you’ll see signs telling you where to go). The ascent takes you up hundreds of sandstone steps, passing donkeys and Bedouins, until you reach the top for an aerial view of the Monastery. Not only that, but there is a cave at the top for great silhouette shots, as well as views of the surrounding canyons, valleys and mountains.
Wadi Mujib. Photo courtesy of Dan Lundberg.
Through The Wadi Mujib Gorge
Talk about an adventure. Wadi Mujib features both wet and dry hiking trails, although for the full adventure I recommend opting to go through the gorge. You’ll begin the hike by trekking up an extremely steep uphill climb that will give you aerial views of the valley and its many crags and rugged peaks. Once at the top, you’ll begin descending down into the gorge, where you’ll begin the real adventure. Traverse over slippery rocks with water reaching up to your thighs, belly your way over boulders, repel down gushing waterfalls, spider your way down aerial stone openings, zip down rock slides and body float down the rushing river until you get to daylight again. Within the gorge itself you’ll enjoy unworldly scenery as erosion and water have carved curves out of the cliff walls and sediments and minerals create colorful natural patterns.
Trekking through the colorful Dana Biosphere Reserve
From Dana To Feynan (Continuing On To Petra)
The Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest nature reserve at 308 square kilometres (119 square miles). After overnighting at Rumanna Camp in Dana, you can do a 14-kilometer (nine-mile) trek through the Biosphere Reserve to Feynan Ecolodge. There are two main factors that make this trek unique. One, you’ll see an array of ecosystems and landscapes within one trek: desert landscapes filled with camels and sheep, beach sand and tropical plants, rugged peaks and red monoliths and even some water. Additionally, you’ll walk through an area that is one of the few remaining authentic Bedouin communities left in Jordan. Bedouins are known for their gracious hospitality, so don’t be surprised if you get invited in for some fresh goat’s milk or home-brewed coffee.
If you’re a true thrill-seeker, you can continue on from Feynan to Petra, which is about 66.5 kilometers (41 miles) and takes about five days. You can do this unsupported or with a guide like Adventure Jordan who will carry your gear, set up camp and provide all meals. What’s really great about this trek is the serenity you’ll encounter, as well as the cultural immersion through Bedouin encounters. Once you reach the sacred site of Petra you’ll truly be experiencing it as the ancient Nabateans did.