A few weeks ago, I wrote about thru-hiking the Israel National Trail. As I am a sucker for trails that span entire countries, it now appears I have reason to head back to Jordan as soon as possible–to thru-hike the Jordan Trail. Starting in the north of the country at Um Qais, the trail ends 36 days and over 600 kilometers later at the Red Sea port of Aqaba, passing through some of the best landscapes and historical sites the country has to offer.
A newly established hiking trail, the Jordan Trail crosses the rolling wooded hills of the north, the rugged wadis and cliffs overlooking the Jordan Rift Valley, the salty waters of the Dead Sea, the pink sandstone rock of Petra, the dramatic sands and towering mountains in Wadi Rum, before finally spilling out at the colorful corals of the Red Sea. The trail offers a journey through the layers of history in this area of the world, as well as the opportunity to interact with the local people, their culture, traditions, and cuisine.
Recently, outdoor recreation and adventure travel have grown rapidly in the country, and many groups are now working to make Jordan’s natural beauty a major touristic draw. Adventure guidebook writers like Tony Howard and Di Taylor, local journalists, guides, Bedouin, tour companies, and government organizations worked hard to scout new trails and create one continuous trail that “can emerge as an integral part of Jordan’s identity.” Unlike the more established Israel National Trail or even the PCT and AT, the Jordan Trail project is still very much a work in progress–the Jordanians want to turn it into a local NGO in order to keep garnering momentum.
In Jordan, up-to-date topographical maps are hard to come by and as of yet, no detailed maps exists for the Jordan Trail as a whole. Some guidebooks exist for various regions, however, including the Abraham Path maps, which cover the Jordan Trail in the northern end of the country. Because of the lack of maps, it’s strongly recommended you use GPS if not traveling with a guide. GPS files for the Jordan Trail route can be downloaded for free here, and waypoints indicating towns, attractions, water points, and other services are added as the information becomes available.
For more info, check out The Jordan Trail website.