A fabulous 8-day hiking holiday through Jordan’s most beautiful landscapes, from the Mediterranean hills of the north to the red sand and rock desert of Wadi Rum. Along the way you’ll see explore Petra, hike down the spectacular Dana valley, see Roman Jerash, eat home-cooked food with friendly Jordanian families, and float in the Dead Sea.
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL
Welcome to Jordan, overnight in Amman.
DAY 2 – WALKING IN AJLOUN AND JERASH
Walk through a quiet Mediterranean landscape of olive groves and wildflowers in northern Jordan, enjoy a home-cooked lunch with a local family, and visit the great Roman city of Jerash.
DAY 3 – HIKE DANA NATURE RESERVE
Hike down the spectacular Dana gorge, from the highlands of the eastern plateau down into the Great Rift Valley.
DAY 4 – PETRA (MAIN MONUMENTS)
A full day to explore the tombs and temples of Petra.
DAY 5 – PETRA (OFF THE BEATEN TRACK)
Hike into Petra along a little-known Nabataean processional way, see the High Place of Sacrifice, and descend through the tomb-lined valley of the Wadi Farasa.
DAY 6 – EXPLORING WADI RUM
Go by jeep into the vast rock and red sand wilderness of Wadi Rum, hike across the sandstone mountains and dunes, camp out under the stars in the desert.
DAY 7 – RELAX AT THE DEAD SEA
Float in the warm water of the Dead Sea and relax at a comfortable spa / resort hotel.
DAY 8 – DEPARTURE
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL
NO MEALS INCLUDED TODAY
Your driver will be waiting at Amman (AMM) airport to take you directly to your hotel in Amman – a 40-minute drive. There are no activities planned for today. 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 cycling 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 the journey ahead.
If you arrive early we encourage you to explore Amman. Jordan’s capital is a real, living city, full of quirky neighborhoods, friendly people, and fabulous food. You can begin up at the citadel, where you can take in the views and explore the Roman and early Islamic ruins. Just downhill is the Roman theatre, built during the reign of Emperor Antonius but now embedded into modern Amman and still used for cultural and musical events. From here you can wander through the markets, maybe stopping in a local café to take in the street scenes, watch the old men playing backgammon, and try Arabic coffee and pastries. This is also a good chance to smoke the scented tobacco of the argeelah or hubbly bubbly.
DAY 2: WALKING IN AJLOUN, VISITING ROMAN JERASH
6KM / 2 HOURS
MEALS: BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER
Today you’ll walk through one of the quietest and most beautiful parts of the Jordanian highlands, Al Ayoun – a valley of olive groves, orchards, and limestone cliffs just north of Ajloun. After breakfast you’ll head north from Amman to meet your local guide. Beginning at the viewpoint above the village of Rasun, you’ll walk through the woods and explore the ruins of early Bronze Age dolmens and a Roman wine press. In Rasun you’ll have a chance to visit income-generating projects run by local women: the Calligraphy House, where you can learn to write your name in Arabic script, and the Soap House, where you can see (and buy) hand-made olive oil soap scented with flowers and herbs. A short walk brings you to the next village, Orjan, where you will enjoy lunch in the home of a local family, including taboun bread warm from the wood oven and rural Jordanian dishes rarely found in restaurants. From Orjan you’ll continue your walk on a farm track, following the stream down the valley to an abandoned water mill. After a rest and a cup of tea made on a fire, you’ll head back to Amman by bus.
After lunch, a short transfer takes you to the Roman City of Jerash. Founded at the time of Alexander the Great, Jerash flourished for around a thousand years as a trade center on the road between Damascus and Petra. The city’s colonnaded streets are basically intact, as is the beautiful oval forum and the gateway built to commemorate the visit of the Emperor Hadrian. The theatre, temples, baths, and hippodrome are all well preserved, and there are some wonderful Byzantine mosaic floors from the early Christian period. From Jerash you’ll be driven back to your hotel in Amman.
DAY 3: WADI DANA TRAIL
14KM / 5 – 7 HOURS / TOTAL DESCENT: 850M
MEALS: BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER
After an early breakfast you head south towards Dana on the Kings’ Highway, which can claim to be the oldest continuously used road in the world. For millennia it linked the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and remained an important trade route right down to Ottoman times. Since the construction of the new main road from Amman and Aqaba, the Kings Highway has become a scenic back route, twisting and turning through the hills between Petra, Kerak, and Madaba.
At Dana village you’ll begin one of the great walks in Jordan – a magnificent full-day walk right down the Wadi Dana, starting at the village some 1200m above sea level and finishing in the desert lowlands at Feynan. A broad dirt track leads west from the village, dropping steeply at first and then descending more gently through the valley. This is a wild landscape but not an uninhabited one: there are Bedouin shepherds out with their goats, and you may well be invited to rest and drink sweet tea with them. A variety of wildflowers grow in the valley, especially in the springtime, and you’re likely to see Griffin Vultures circling on the thermals overhead. If you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the Nubian Ibex that live in the reserve. Towards the end of the trail you pass the shafts of abandoned Roman copper mines, before arriving at the sanctuary of the Feynan eco-lodge.
From Feynan you’ll travel by road to Wadi Musa, a lively little town that has become the base for visiting ancient Petra. You will check into your comfortable hotel for two nights. Most people just shuttle between their hotel and the archaeological site, but it’s worth having a walk around Wadi Musa – it’s a friendly place, and there are plenty of cafes and shops.
DAY 4: TOUR PETRA
HIKING IN PETRA – BETWEEN 5 AND 10KM, DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU GO!
MEALS: BREAKFAST, DINNER
No matter how many times you’ve seen it reproduced on film, nothing can really prepare you for the first glimpse of Petra. The classic entry to the city takes you through the long twilight of the siq, a narrow canyon that twists for more than a mile through the red sandstone, and then stuns you into silence with the sunlit façade of the Treasury, a monument cut into the rock some 2000 years ago with a refinement that is scarcely believable.
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 MADRAS TRAIL AND WADI RUM BEDOUIN CAMP
HIKING: 8KM / 4-5 HOURS
MEALS: BREAKFAST, DINNER
You’ll begin today’s walk following the crowds through the main gates, but almost immediately you’ll leave them all behind and strike out on your own into a silent, unspoilt desert landscape. Your trail follows an old Nabataean processional route towards what was once the city’s sacred center, the High Place of Sacrifice. Along the way there are traces of ancient stone steps, and eroded relief carvings of deities or ‘god blocks’ cut into the rock walls. The route brings you out above the High Place of Sacrifice, from where you can see down across the whole of Petra and west towards Jebel Harun, Petra’s highest peak. From here you descend through the Wadi Farasa, which has some of best temples in the city (including the Garden Tomb and the Roman Soldier’s Tomb), emerging right in the heart of Petra. This is a wonderful walk, well away from the crowds, and leaves you plenty of time to explore the tombs and temples of Petra before leaving the site through the main siq.
In the later afternoon you’ll head out towards Wadi Rum, meet your Bedouin guides, and go into the desert by 4×4 jeep. You’ll arrive at your camp in the heart of the protected area, where 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 6: CLIMB JEBEL BURDA AND TREK TO UM FRUTH
HIKING: 11KM / 5-6 HOURS
TOTAL ASCENT: 280M / TOTAL DESCENT: 300M
MEALS: BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER
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.”
By the time you wake up to the desert silence your guides will already have the kettle on the fire. We’ll share an early breakfast (tea or coffee with bread, fruit, cheese, eggs, halva, cucumber, and tomato) and head off in the jeeps for a short drive to Burda rock bridge, one of Rum’s most impressive geological formations. You’ll follow your guide up across the warm sandstone, using your hands but never having to really climb. From a small plateau we drop into a hidden gulley and get a wonderful first view of the bridge above us. The next section is a short rock wall where your guide will use a rope to make sure you get up safely. From here you’ll walk out onto the bridge (1360m) and take in views across the whole of Wadi Rum. You’ll descend via a different route, crossing open slabs of sandstone and scrambling down a steep groove back to the desert floor. After the three-hour round trip we’ll find a shady spot to rest and eat together.
After lunch, followed by a cup of tea and a siesta, you’ll head off again for a wonderful hike through more desert canyons, passing beautifully eroded cliffs and finally reaching a smaller rock bridge at Jebel Um Fruth. You’ll then transfer by jeep back to your campsite for another relaxing evening.
DAY 7: DEAD SEA
After breakfast your Bedouin hosts will drive you out to Rum village, from where you’ll head north by road to the Dead Sea and check into a comfortable resort / spa hotel. Floating in the warm, intensely saline water of the Dead Sea is an unforgettable experience! This is the lowest point on the surface of the earth (some 400m below sea level) and 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.
DAY 8: DEPARTURE
MEALS INCLUDED: BREAKFAST
A single group transfer will be provided from your hotel to AMM Airport – a 40-minute drive. We wish you a safe homeward journey and hope to see you again in Jordan soon.
Transportation throughout the trip using a deluxe air-conditioned private charter with driver (sedan or van or small bus depending on your group size).
3 star hotels (4nts), 4 star hotels / Resort (1nt), Desert camp (2nt)
Our trips are designed with shared accommodation in mind whereby travelers are paired with individuals of the same sex in twin share accommodation.
7 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 3 Dinners according to the itinerary above.
Local Hiking Guide in Ajloun.
Local Hiking Guide in Dana.
Local Bedouin guide in Petra
Local Bedouin guide in Wadi Rum
English Speaking Licensed Guide (Applicable for 7 + group size)
Visa to Jordan