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Jordan Trail solo hike – all you need to know

By October 27, 2018 January 28th, 2020 3 Comments

Hiking trails of the world

Jordan Trail

The Jordantrailiest thing ever? Perhaps being fed up with *again* politely refusing to sit down for tea with the amazingly hospitable local bedouin tribes because you have to get your miles in. Maybe it is camping in the remote desert, the only sign of life being some lights in the valley below you where other people must have their evening ritual. Maybe its cursing the GPS because you can not find the trail (tip: there is none). Whatever it is, it is a life changing experience, and certainly one of the most beautiful hikes I ever did (don’t take my word for it, but National Geographic’s).

An introduction to the Jordan Trail

Between November 6th and November 12/13th 2018, I did my first attempt to hike the Southern part of the Jordan Trail, close to 300 kilometers from Dana to Aqaba at the Dead Sea, passing the old city of Petra and crossing Wadi Rum. I failed, as illness, a navigation error and the flooding of Petra made it impossible to meet my already quite ambitious planning. So, I did a second attempt in April 2020, taking a bit more time, tweaking my packlist to perfection and learning from my earlier mistakes. 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.

Spending the night on the Jordan Trail
Jordan Trail - arrived in Petra
Jordan Trail - tea with Faris
Jordan Trail view
On the road
One of the wadi
Jordan Trail through Petra
Petra North entrance
Leaving Dana - view over the canyon as start of my Jordan Trail adventure
Petra Jordan Trail
Camel on the Jordan Trail
Desert at the Jordan Trail
Sunset from my tent

Why you'll love the Jordan Trail

It had to be the end of my Jordan Trail adventure. It was my third day into my Jordan Trail hike and already had experienced more adventures than I could have imagined. I had dinner with local bedouins, got ill, camped in the middle of nowhere, got lost, crawled on hands and feet on the flank of a steep cliff, climbed out of the canyon and now I had run out of water. The spring marked on the map had clearly long dried out and it was still at least 2 hours till Little Petra. That is, if I would not get lost *again*. The trail had proven to be way tougher than I had thought. The Jordan Trail wasn’t so much of a trail, it was more of a collection of GPS coordinates. I had learned the hard way the second day of my hike, when I somewhere apparently had taken a wrong turn and got stuck on the side of the cliff. It had taken me so long to realise that, that I had ran out of water. The dried out well was just another disappointment to add to the list.

I had not seen a living soul in the last 38 hours and started to get used to the silence and remoteness. I had made peace with the fact that I had lost so much time that I most probably would not be able to finish my hike all the way to Aqaba. I also had embraced the suck: I didn’t have any water now, Little Petra was at least another 2 hours – so I could either complain about that, or accept the current situation and make the most out of it.  

And then I started to hear voices. Normally, that would be something I would welcome, but in these circumstances – I didn’t drink any water all morning, it was getting hot, I had been ill the last day – I had to think of another hiker who had been evacuated because he had started to hallucinate because he had too little water and nutrients. If I was hallucinating now … it would be the moment to put either my Garmin Inreach or Personal Locator Beacon to use and tap out.

Ah Johan Cruyff! Van Basten! Gullit!

The Jordan Trail is the toughest hike I have done so far – and that probably makes it my favorite.  

The Jordan Trail?!

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).

 

For readability purposes, I chopped this post up in several parts:



The Jordan Trail?!


Tree with some shade at the Jordan Trail
Tree with some shade at the Jordan Trail

 

How I planned for my Jordan trail solo hike


Jordan Trail Planning and preparation
Jordan Trail Planning and preparation

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)


On my way on the Jordan Trail
On my way on the Jordan Trail




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:


And more general preparation for the trail …


 

All my posts on Jordan

Feel free to browse through all the posts or use the button to see the category view.

Jordan Trail - tea with Faris
HikingJordan
November 14, 2018

Learnings from my Jordan trail solo hike

I had prepared my Jordan trail hike as I had never prepared a hike: I…
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Jordan Trail by Gear Junkie
HikingJordan
November 12, 2018

The best Jordan Trail tips I got from other hikers

While preparing for my Jordan Trail solo hike, I found most blogs and videos lacking…
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Stone Hercules hand at the antique citadel in Amman Jordan by Dmitry Chulov
CitytripJordan
November 7, 2018

The best tips for Amman – according to me

As part of my November 2018 trip to Jordan (which was mainly about hiking part…
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Polle

Polle

Hi, my name is Polle de Maagt. Omakases is my regularly updated notebook about travel - from my weekly business travels to my hikes and runs and from travel annoyances to ways to hack them. Read more

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