Between November 6th and November 12/13th, I attempted a hike of the Southern part of the Jordan Trail, one of the best trip destinations for 2018. Don’t take my word for it, but National Geographic’s. Plan was to hike close to 300 kilometers from Dana to Aqaba at the Dead Sea, passing the old city of Petra and crossing Wadi Rum. This is the full overview of my Jordan Trail solo hike. I have a full list of Jordan Trail related posts on the bottom of this post.
For readability purposes, I chopped this post up in several parts:
- What is the Jordan Trail
- How I planned for my Jordan trail solo hike
- What happened during my Jordan trail solo hike (spoiler: it turned into a Dana to Petra Hike)
- Learnings from my Jordan trail solo hike
- All relevant posts for my Jordan Trail solo thru-hike plans
The Jordan Trail?!
The Jordan Trail is a long distance hiking trail in Jordan from Um Qais in the north to Aqaba (Jordanian port city on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba) in the south. The trail covers more than 650 kilometers and travels through 52 villages and towns on its way. The trail traverses the diverse landscapes and vistas of the country – from the wooded hills of the north, the rugged wadis and cliffs overlooking the Jordan Rift Valley, the rose rock of Petra, the dramatic sands and towering mountains in Wadi Rum, to the Red Sea.
For thousands of years, ancient trade routes have cut across the same land that today constitutes the state of Jordan. Jordan was the center of the King’s Highway, a trade route stretching from Egypt to Aqaba, and then north to Damascus. That makes traveling Jordan by foot a practice that is as old as these ancient trails.
In recent years, the fields of outdoor recreation and adventure travel have grown rapidly in Jordan – and in the midst of this growth, a number of people and organizations started working together to scout new trails and to create one continuous Jordan Trail (which resulted in the Jordan Trail Organisation in 2015). What makes it even more awesome is that many Bedouin tribes are helping to develop the trail sections between Petra, Wadi Rum, and Aqaba.
This same organization Jordan Trail Organisation (JTA), organizes an annual thru-hike of the Jordan Trail in March-April (2019 will be the third edition).
How I planned for my Jordan trail solo hike
After having to cancel my GR20 hike, I quickly started planning for the Jordan Trail. I planned extensively, based on earlier experiences on trails like the Laugavegur trail, Kumano Kodo and the Nijmegen Four Days Marches. I checked and double checked my packing list. I made a list of Arabic words to use. I made a day planning and even a special water planning as the trail is remote and often without water. I know what to do in case of a snake bite and how to prevent it. I made a food plan. I collected tips from other hikers. Prepared for the weather. Have a backup for the backup for my GPS. I transferred the gear I did not need to my hotel in Aqaba. I even paid a last-minute visit to the Jordan Trail Association in Amman.
I finally decided on a rather ambitious day planning of 40-60 kilometer days, knowing there was a very slim margin of error – if it was even possible at all. If anything serious would go wrong, I would not be able to make it. I -however- did not worry too much – I had different printed and digital maps with the trail, water sources etc, so I would be flexible to change plans according to the local situation.
What happened during my Jordan trail solo hike (spoiler: it turned into a Dana to Petra Hike)
Well, that not one, but three serious things went wrong during my hike. The cliche is true – life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. Serious illness, making a grave navigation error on day 2 and the flooding of the city of Petra seriously jeopardized my hiking plans. Although I was not able to finish the Jordan Trail from Dana to the Red Sea, I had an amazing 3,5-4 days on the trail.
I enjoyed every single bit of it. All the amazing views. My encounters with sheep, camels, flies but above all the amazingly friendly and hospital Bedouin families. The versatile landscapes – from moon-like desert to sandy planes and from dense vegetation to barren wadis.
Learnings from my Jordan trail solo hike
Looking back, the Jordan Trail has been one of the toughest but most beautiful trails I have ever done. Some key learnings looking back:
- Prepare very well
- Be sure to have an emergency phone
- Make sure you have enough water
- Make sure to have a good GPS
- Preferably, travel with more than 1
All relevant posts for my Jordan Trail solo thru-hike plans
Find more detailed preparations for my Jordan Trail solo hike on:
- Planning and preparing my Jordan Trail solo hike
- The best Jordan Trail tips I got from other hikers
- Day planning Jordan trail, Amman and Aqaba
- Arabic words for hiking in Jordan
- Keeping track of the weather on the Jordan Trail
- My packing list for the Jordan Trail
- My food on the Jordan Trail
And more general preparation for the trail …