Jordan Trail: 675 km through the splendors of Jordan

A hike that crosses Jordan from Umm-Qays in the north to Aqaba in the south, the Jordan Trail is an itinerary that takes the visitor to the country's most beautiful sites, between history and sublime natural spots.

Officially, the Jordan Trail is not even 10 years old. Created in 2017, this route follows the Jordan River and the Israeli border for nearly 675 km. It takes about 40 days to complete in its entirety by hiking. An epic adventure that takes you through 52 villages across the different landscapes of Jordan always accompanied by the kindness of the locals. Trips of six or seven days are more commonly done by visitors (like those proposed by the website The Jordan Trail) and allow to enjoy various treks through the desert, the canyons and the mountains of the country. On our side, we were able to visit some emblematic places of the Jordan Trail and of Jordan in general. Fabulous points of passage along the famous Kings' Route on the western side of Jordan.

Umm Qais and its panorama on three countries

When the visitor stands on the large colonnaded terrace of Umm Qays (ancient Greek city of Gadara), the landscape invites contemplation. In the distance, one can see the Sea of Galilee (also known as Lake Tiberias), where several episodes in the life of Jesus are recounted in the Gospels, including the walking on the waters and the miraculous fishing. Upstream, the Golan Heights, former Syrian territory now occupied by the Israelis, tells a story of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Below, the Jordan River provides a natural border between Jordan and Israel. From here, the Jordan Trail heads to the south of the country.

Until Ajloun, it is also the greenest part of Jordan. As you leave the road, a large sign reads in English and Arabic "The Beginning of the Jordan Trail". The trail starts on a 4×4 road before rolling along the fields of olive trees on rocky singles, quickly leaving the last villages around. We cross herds of goats and their shepherds and we watch over the water that we brought with us. Jordan is one of the poorest countries in terms of water, with a rainfall of 110 mm per year, while the arid climate and the absence of lakes force the State to regularly buy its water from Israel.

Dead Sea : Between salt blocks and ochre cliffs

Going further south, the Dead Sea appears along the Jordan Trail. The landscape is beautiful and the blue of the sea contrasts with the white of its shores. On closer inspection, huge blocks of salt appear and accumulate on the coast. This salt lake surrounded by red ochre cliffs is not only the lowest point on the planet (- 430 meters above sea level) but also one of the saltiest lakes in the world to the point of preventing any macroscopic life and incidentally allowing swimmers to float without the slightest effort on the surface.

Unmissable Petra

In 2007, Petra became one of the seven new Wonders of the World designated by the "New Seven Wonders Foundation", independently of UNESCO. And it is an understatement to say that this title is deserved as the site fascinates by its splendor, its extent and the beauty of its countless tombs. This city of Petra was carved in stone by the Nabateans more than 2,000 years ago. A strategic crossroads at the junction of the silk routes, it was abandoned in the 15th century and rediscovered in 1812 by a Swiss traveler. Now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the site welcomes many tourists, but remains so large that everyone wanders quietly between the famous tomb of Khazneh (pictured below), the temples, caves and other tunnels.

Wadi Rum: hypnotic desert and breathtaking mountains

If you are in Petra and continue your journey on the Jordan Trail, avoid heading south and take the time to discover the desert of Wadi Rum. Two hours from Petra, this desert valley offers one of the most fabulous settings in Jordan, where many movies ("Dune", "Star Wars" or "Transformers 2") have been shot. The sunrises and sunsets are of great beauty, as are the sandstone formations that emerge from the sand and through which one can walk to reach the 200 Bedouin camps in the desert that welcome visitors for a night or more.

To hike, there is nothing better than to be taken there by a local guide and to venture on the high slopes that the impressive mountains in the middle of the desert can offer. One can imagine Lawrence of Arabia, who came to the place at the beginning of the last century to settle in the village of Ram and discover these grandiose landscapes to tell them to the rest of the world. The British liaison officer won his battle against the Ottoman enemy here.

If the Jordan Trail is a must for outdoor activities in Jordan, other activities are possible elsewhere in the country:

An alternative in gravel or mountain bike

The Jordan Trail is primarily known for its hiking trail but cyclists are not forgotten with the Jordan Bike Trail. The two routes intersect regularly but do not always take the same route. Some have tried it in gravel (like the French Axel Carion and the German Jonas Deichmann in the movie below). But for more comfort, we advise you to use a semi-rigid mountain bike. Elsewhere in the country, local service providers offer other bike trips like these desert rides near the city of Azraq in the east of the country. An area where tourists are scarce and where it is possible to observe the local fauna in the Shaumari reserve such as Arabian oryx, ostriches, gazelles and numerous birds.

Scuba diving in the Aqaba Marine Park

In the south of the country, Aqaba is the only port city in Jordan. The country has only 25 km of coastline between Israel and Saudi Arabia. However, this is enough to find beautiful diving spots in the Aqaba Marine Park (which is 7 km long) at the northern end of the Red Sea. The country takes particular care to protect its coral reef. The fauna and flora are very present there and can be seen while snorkeling or diving.

Hike with your feet in the water in the canyon of Wadi Al Hasa

Less famous than Wadi Mujid (another canyon on which it is possible to hike), Wadi Al Hasa is nevertheless well worth a visit. It runs from east to west to reach the Dead Sea near Al-Safi. Two days hikes are possible with a night in a bivouac for a total distance of about 20 kilometers. This aquatic hike does not require any technical passage (abseiling, jumping or swimming), as long as the flow is limited.

To be sure to do it in the best conditions, take a guide with you. For the more athletic, it is probably possible to do about twenty kilometers of the canyon in one go, starting lighter without the equipment related to the bivouac. Except for a few shepherds and their goats, you will not see anyone and the place seems to be frozen in time. The cliffs surrounding the canyon play with the ochre, red and white colors, the water flows gently and hot springs coming from the mountain (nearly 40°C) can sometimes join the river bed. An umpteenth surprise that this surprising country that is Jordan offers. Find the places mentioned above, the hiking trails and the activities on the website of Jordan's tourist office.

Vincent Girard 01/12/22