Jordan Trail – Following Ancient Footsteps (22.05.17)
The Jordan Trail, covering 650kms, 52 Holy Land villages and thousands of years of history, has recently re-opened to visitors.
One of the most exciting aspects of this new Jordan Trail Association backed project is the completion of a concept allowing people to ‘thru-hike’ such a wide range of under-visited rural locations. Tracing the ancient footsteps of the Moabites, Edomites, Ammonites, Nabateans, Romans and centuries of Middle Eastern trading caravans, the newly opened trail allows visitors the opportunity to explore some of the most exciting wilderness trekking routes in the world.
Whether embarking on a biblical 40 days and nights on foot, from Um Qais in the north, to Aqaba and the Red Sea in the south – or a quick couple of hours over the mountains to Petra’s legendary 50 metres high Monastery (Ad-Dayr) – the true drama of Jordan’s grandstanding landscape, rich culture and Arabian heritage is laid bare before you.
Whether looking to join a group or trek alone, expect a dramatic profusion of classic desert scenery as you navigate the high mountains, sweeping desert views and panoramic rift valley vistas. As these photos show (mainly taken in the Dana, Petra and Wadi Rum sections) the sense of isolation and insignificance is overwhelming. Over the years, I have only scratched the surface.
You need to be prepared. When you start walking out along the ancient paths and historical trading routes you instantly feel at the mercy of the formidable weather. Sturdy walking boots (ideally a size bigger than normal) are essential, as are skin protection and clothing which can cope with sun and wind. Although you can obtain sustenance en route, the first factor to flag up is that you need to carry enough food and water for double the time you are planning to hike – at the same time as making sure you do not have too much weight in your pack.
It is important to choose the timing of your visit with care. Roasting daytime desert temperatures in the summer are in stark contrast to the freezing winter nights. Four-season clothing, tents and head protection are crucial and should be purchased in advance. Additionally, in respect of local custom you should plan to wear loose clothing modestly covering shoulders to knees.
Visitors can either trek the various routes under their own steam, or enlist the help of a local back-up team. For example we at Nomadic Thoughts are able to arrange hiking tours with porters and guides. It is also advisable to pre-book accommodation along the way.
Finally, as ever, while you revel in all things Jordanian, Leave No Trace.