Jordan Biking Holiday

JBH

A wonderful 8-day biking tour across Jordan, from the Dead Sea to Wadi Rum via Petra. This cycling holiday follows a beautifully planned route through the finest landscapes and historic sites in the country, cycling on good dirt tracks (60%) and quiet back roads (40%). Spend two days exploring Petra, swim in the Dead Sea, camp in Wadi Rum desert and have a home-cooked meal with a Jordanian family.

  • Spectacular desert tracks and scenic backroads
  • 5 days cycling with 100% vehicle support
  • 2-days to explore Petra
  • Camp out in Wadi Rum – fire, feast, desert sunset
  • Swim at the Dead Sea

Price per person: US$1540

Itinerary at a glance

DAY 1 – MADABA
Arrive to Madaba. Early arrivals can explore the lively town of Madaba and the ancient mosaic map of the Holy Land

DAY 2 – MOUNT NEBO – MUKAWIR – DEAD SEA – DANA
Cycle from Mount Nebo to the village of Mukawir, enjoy a home-cooked meal with a local family, descend and float in the warm, saline waters of the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth and stay in Dana village.

DAY 3 – DANA – SHOBAK – PETRA
Visit Shobak Castle, another great Crusader fort, and ride off-road through the Al Hisheh pine forest and on towards Wadi Musa.

DAY 4 – PETRA
A whole day to discover the tombs and temples of Petra, carved 2000 years ago from the red sandstone.

DAY 5 – PETRA – LITTLE PETRA
Another day to explore the huge site of Petra and an afternoon ride to visit Little Petra and ride on an interesting off road trail with views to the breathtaking Wadi Araba desert.

DAY 6 – PETRA – WADI RUM
Cycle south from Petra towards the desert of Wadi Rum. Camp in the heart of the protected area, enjoy a Bedouin feast dinner and a night under the stars.

DAY 7 – WADI RUM – MADABA
Explore the red sand and rock wilderness of Wadi Rum and cycle across the Disi mud flats. Overnight in Madaba.

DAY 8 – DEPARTURE
Transfer to AMM airport.

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1 – ARRIVAL
NO MEALS INCLUDED
Your driver will be waiting at Amman (AMM) airport to take you directly to your hotel in Madaba – a 40-minute drive. There are no activities planned for today. Please keep in mind that hotel check-in time is typically after 2.00pm. Early check in is not guaranteed, but if you do arrive early luggage storage is available at the hotel. There will be time to rest and settle in before you meet your tour guide for the trip. He’ll be happy to answer any questions about the journey, and to make sure you’re briefed on the program for tomorrow.

DAY 2: MOUNT NEBO, MUKAWIR & DEAD SEA
DISTANCE: 78KM (MOSTLY DOWNHILL)
TOTAL ASCENT 650M / TOTAL DESCENT 1700M
MEALS INCLUDED: BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER
After breakfast we set our bikes and head off on the first stage of our mountain biking adventure. Riding straight from the hotel, you’ll follow quiet back roads west towards Mount Nebo, a hilltop site with sweeping views down to the Dead Sea and west across the Jordan River towards Palestine. On a clear day you can see Jericho and even Jerusalem from here. For centuries Christians have believed this is the place where Moses died, within sight of the Promised Land, having led his people out of slavery in Egypt. In the early Christian period Mount Nebo became a place of pilgrimage, and it was at this time that craftsmen made the beautiful mosaics floors that have been excavated here over the last 80 years.

From Mount Nebo you’ll ride south on a minor road between isolated farms. At the village of Main you’ll join the Kings Highway – one of the most ancient trade routes in the world, now a little-used back road – before dropping off the asphalt and riding along a dirt road towards Libb. Here a narrow and hilly road takes us west towards King Herod’s palace, where John the Baptist was imprisoned and eventually beheaded. There’ll be time to take in the mosaics and the ruins before arriving at the village of Mukawir where you’ll be welcomed by a local family for lunch.

The afternoon’s ride will take you from Mukawir, which is about 800m above sea level, down to the shores of the Dead Sea, which at 400m below sea level is the lowest point on the surface of the earth. You’ll make this descent on a minor road with almost no traffic at all and almost no pedaling required. We’ll arrive at a beach facility to take a swim and enjoy the strange buoyancy of the waters. The Dead Sea contains mineral-rich muds that have been recognized since antiquity for their curative properties. This mud costs a fortune in Europe, but in Jordan you can scoop it from the seabed and cover yourself with it! The blue water, the white salt-encrusted shore, and the red desert mountains also make this an outstandingly beautiful place.

In the afternoon we transfer south, bypassing the town of Tafila to Dana village and to our simple and friendly hotel. Here you are on the edge of Jordan’s largest nature reserve, a spectacular wilderness of canyons and mountains that rise above the Great Rift Valley.

Do not be intimidated by the length of today’s ride – the last 15km are entirely downhill and almost effortless.

DAY 3: OFF-ROAD ON THE EASTERN PLATEAU SCENIC TRAIL TO PETRA
RIDING: 35KM / 4 HOURS / TOTAL ASCENT 650M / TOTAL DESCENT 790M
MEALS INCLUDED: BREAKFAST, LUNCH
A short transfer brings us to Shobak, another in the great chain of castles that guarded the eastern edge of the Crusader kingdoms and watched over the old trade routes that ran from the Red Sea coast up towards Damascus. It was built in 1115 by King Baldwin, one of the leaders of the First Crusade and the first to be crowned King of Jerusalem. Like Kerak, it was part of the principality governed by Raynald of Chatillon in the late 12th century, and it was here at Shobak that Reynald built the ships that he then transported to the coast at Aqaba and used to launch a raiding party towards Mecca. The castle was taken by the Arab Islamic armies of Salaheddin (Saladin) in 1189, and extensively restored in the 14th century by the Mamluk dynasty. There are two churches inside the castle, and if you ask your guides they will show you the steep underground tunnel that the Crusaders cut to get down to the water spring below the castle.

Leaving the castle, we ride along an excellent dirt track that contours around the edge of the Eastern Plateau and offers magnificent views down into the Wadi Araba. There are some short, steep climbs along the way, but this is a really enjoyable section of the ride, and the support vehicle is always at hand. Eventually we rejoin the King’s Highway and continue south towards Wadi Musa. This little town is right on the edge of Petra’s archaeological park, and will be our base for exploring the ruins. You’ll check into a comfortable hotel here for a three-night stay.

DAY 4: PETRA SIGHTSEEING
MEALS INCLUDED: BREAKFAST
You have a full day (off the bikes) to explore ancient Petra, accompanied for the morning (2-3 hours) by an expert English-speaking guide and then free to wander round the ruins on your own. An early start helps you to get ahead of the mass of tourists and walk through the quiet, atmospheric slot canyon or siq that leads down towards the city. After the long twilight of the siq the sunlit façade of the Treasury is a stunning sight, no matter how many times you’ve seen it reproduced on film. From the postcards, you’d think this was what you’d come to see. But it’s just the beginning. Petra is a vast archaeological site, most of it still unexcavated; you could spend days exploring the ruins and still not see it all. It was built by the Nabataeans, an Arab tribe who began as tent-dwelling Bedouin but soon came to dominate the most lucrative trade of the ancient world: incense. They used the money to create this city and to build an empire that extended from the Red Sea to Damascus. They also absorbed architectural ideas from Egypt, from the Babylonians, and from the Greek cities of the Mediterranean, using them to create the hybrid culture that you see in these ruins. The Temple of the Winged Lions, the High Place of Sacrifice, the Roman theatre, the Garden Tomb, the Byzantine church – any one of these monuments would be an archaeological treasure in its own right; in Petra, you can explore them one after another, and find them all set into one of the finest desert landscape in the Middle East.

DAY 5: PETRA SIGHTSEEING, VISIT LITTLE PETRA AND RIDE AN INTERESTING OFF ROAD TRAIL
RIDING: 31KM / 4 HOURS / TOTAL ASCENT 600M / TOTAL DESCENT 600M
MEALS INCLUDED: BREAKFAST
This morning is free-whether you’d like to pay Petra another visit or rest, the choice is yours. In the early afternoon, we shall ride on the tarmac road from our hotel to Beida (12 km north of Petra). We’ll stop to visit the site of Little Petra before we continue riding on an interesting off-road track that leads to the ledge behind the mountains of Petra at a secluded area which provides amazing panoramic views of the breathtaking Wadi Araba desert to the west. We will stop at a viewpoint for a while to enjoy the scenery before we retrails our tail back to Beida and transfer back to our hotel.

DAY 6: PETRA TO WADI RUM ACROSS THE DESERT
RIDING: 43KM / 4 HOURS / TOTAL ASCENT 270M / TOTAL DESCENT 520M
MEALS INCLUDED: BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER
You begin with a short transfer by vehicle, getting on your bikes at the village of Delagha and heading south on an unsurfaced desert track. After a couple of hours you reach an old caravanserai at a place called Humaimah, where you stop for lunch. After a good rest you continue south until we reach Jordan’s main north-south road, the Desert Highway. Here we put the bikes on the van and drive south to Wadi Rum, where you meet our Bedouin hosts and transfer to their 4×4 jeeps to get to your camp in heart of the Wadi Rum’s protected area.

There’ll be time to relax and take in the sunset before enjoying a Bedouin feast of meat and vegetables cooked in the zerb, an oven of fire-heated sand and stone. If you’re still not tired out by the day’s adventures you can stay up round the fire, talking and laughing with your Bedouin hosts and watching the night sky.

Your accommodation is a simple but comfortable Bedouin campsite, with a traditional goat hair tent divided into twin ‘rooms’. There are proper toilets and showers on the site (go easy on the water), as well as shaded seating areas for relaxing and dining.

DAY 7: EXPERIENCE WADI RUM DESERT, RIDE ACROSS THE MUDFLATS OF DISI
RIDING: 40KM / 2.5 HOURS / FLAT
MEALS INCLUDED: BREAKFAST, LUNCH
Every guidebook to Wadi Rum repeats the description written by T.E. Lawrence of Arabia almost century ago, and with good reason. “The Arab armies would have been lost in the length and breadth of it,” he wrote, “and within the walls a squadron of aeroplanes could have wheeled in formation. Our little caravan grew self-conscious, and fell dead quiet, afraid and ashamed to flaunt its smallness in the presence of such stupendous hills. Landscapes, in childhood’s dream, were so vast and silent.”

After a breakfast in the peace and quiet of the camp you’ll join your Bedouin guides for an exploration of Wadi Rum by jeep and on foot, exploring the incredible eroded cliff faces, the ancient rock inscriptions, and the red sand dunes of the desert. At a shady spot you’ll enjoy lunch, tea made on the fire, and maybe a siesta, before heading off in the jeeps towards the Disi mudflats – a vast plain surrounded by spectacular sandstone formations. This is a great place to enjoy a bike ride on level ground and to take in the scenery of colored sandstone mountains.

At the end of our ride we will meet our bus and transfer back north to Madaba for the last night.

DAY 8: AQABA AND DEPART FROM AMM AIRPORT
MEALS INCLUDED: BREAKFAST
A transfer will be provided from your hotel to AMM Airport – a 3 hour drive.

If you wish to extend your trip (for example, enjoy an extra day or two in Aqaba) please let us know and we’ll be glad to assist.

We wish you a safe homeward journey and hope to see you again in Jordan soon.

Activities

Visit Mount Nebo
Bike from Nebo to Mukawir, visit Mukawir hill palace remains & lunch with local family
Bike from Mukawir to the Dead Sea
Swim at the Dead Sea
Stay at Dana village
Visit Shobak Crusader Castle
Bike from  Shobak to Wadi Musa (Petra)
Guided tour in Petra
Bike from Wadi Musa to Beida
Visit Little Petra
Bike from Petra to Wadi Rum (with transfers)
Camp at Bedouin campsite inside Wadi Rum Protected Area and jeep tour
Bike in the Disi Mudflats

What’s included

  • Bike hire
  • Water, juice and snacks throught the rides
  • All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners
  • All accommodation – Hotels (5nts), basic lodging (1nt), Bedouin campsite (1nt)
  • All transports and listed activities
  • Arrival and depature transfers including bikes
  • Professional local cycling guide and support guide
  • Petra-specialized tour guide and a Bedouin host in Wadi Rum
  • Entrance fees to all listed sites

What’s not included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request for a supplement of US$130)
  • Tips