Jordan's Wadi Rum and its 'rose-red City' of Petra provide a magical setting for an adventure trekking holiday in Jordan. Rising abruptly from the desert plains, the red-ochre sandstone mesas of Wadi Rum provide one of the world's most dramatic landscapes. It was famously described by T.E.Lawrence as "Rum the magnificent... vast, echoing and God-like." In this traditional hunting ground of the Bedouin, our 5-day Wadi Rum to Petra trek will take you on ancient trails through hidden canyons and across open rocky slopes to the summits of several of the biggest formations in Jordan, including Jebel Um Adaami (1832m), Jordan's highest peak. Throughout the trekking in Jordan, some easy scrambling will be required to get to the best viewpoints and the guide will carry a rope to safeguard exposed sections, such as the final part of the approach to the dramatic Burdah Bridge. Four-wheel-drive vehicles will provide back-up and we will camp each night on the sands in the company of our hospitable Bedouin hosts. A final highlight of this outstanding Arabian adventure holiday is our 2-day visit to the awe-inspiring 2300 year old, rock-hewn city of Petra. Here, we will make our initial approach via the back trail from Little Petra and the fantastic rock-hewn `Monastery` as we spend the whole day exploring the site, following in the footsteps of the ancient and the intrepid. We will camp inside Petra archaeological site and hike up to Jebel Haroun next morning, Petra's highest summit.
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This is not a long or sustained trekking holiday. It is a series of day-hikes in an unusual mountain area. We will walk for around 4 to 5 hours on each of the 4 days that we spend at Wadi Rum. This will involve walking on desert trails and soft sand, as well as scrambling on the jebels themselves. When climbing on the jebels we will usually be following routes which have been used for generations by Bedouin hunters and shepherds. The Bedouin guide will carry a climbing rope, which may be used on exposed sections to reassure group members who are not confident scramblers. The altitudes attained during this holiday will not cause problems. At the time of year that we will be visiting Jordan (winter) it will not be extremely hot during the day. However, we will encounter day-time temperatures as high as 30 degrees centigrade and sun protection and adequate hydration are important considerations.
Meet at the group hotel in Madaba. A single group transfer from Amman Airport to the group hotel in Madaba or Amman is provided. This transfer is normally in the late evening and a representative of our local agent will accompany the group on the 30 minute journey to the hotel.
After breakfast, we set off by minibus for the morning's drive southwards to Wadi Rum. The Desert Highway runs alongside the railway line which was famously blown up by Lawrence of Arabia during the Great War. We will meet our Bedouin hosts at the new Visitor Centre in Wadi Rum and transfer our baggage from the bus to our 4-wheel-drive vehicles, before walking into the village to a house where our lunch has been prepared. This is a great place and has the only running water that you are likely to see during your time in Jordan, as well as fig trees, gardens and grinning Bedouin kids and their goats. This is the spring where Lawrence of Arabia bathed when in Wadi Rum.
Breakfast will usually be under way by 7 a.m. and this consists of bread, sometimes heated on the fire, a choice of jams, cheese and halva, as well as eggs, either served as an omlette or hard boiled. Anybody who wishes can pocket a snack for later. In this area, we are likely to see griffon vultures soaring from the high cliffs as the sun rises in the sky and the thermals created by the rock walls become active. After breakfast, we will board our vehicles for the short drive to Jebel Burdah, which leads through Khor Al Ajram, a wide valley with magnificent cliffs and high sand dunes. On the way to Jebel Burdah, we pass a particularly fine and very old rock inscription which shows a camel caravan. This morning's objective is the Burdah Bridge, a well-known landmark which is reached by way of relatively easy scrambling across open rock slabs. Our guide will show us the best route through a maze of blind alleys and dead ends. There are some steeper sections and you will need to use your hands at times. A jumble of rocks leads to a small plateau, through a valley and then over a steep slab. From here, we turn a corner into a hidden gulley that provides us with a wonderful view of the bridge above. Obligatory photo stop. We then climb a short, steeper wall and here the guide will use a climbing rope to safeguard our passage. Above, we will cross the dramatic Burdah Bridge - another fantastic photo opportunity. There are magnificent views from here, extending over the whole area of Wadi Rum.
Back on the desert floor after a 3-hour round-trip, we meet our vehicles and have lunch in the shade. Fruit juice and tea/coffee will be waiting for us. Lunch is usually a lighter meal than supper, very often heavier on vegetables than meat. After a siesta, we set out to walk for a couple of hours through desert canyons to our next overnight camp. This takes us past some impressively eroded cliffs and by way of a second rock arch that forms a part of Jebel Um Frith. At camp, jugs of water will be available for those who want to find a quiet corner and wash off the desert dust.
The day starts with a half-hour transfer southwards to Jebel Khasch. Here, we start out hiking through an interesting rocky valley with some sparse vegetation, before negotiating easy rocky slabs as our route twists and turns to the plateau area beneath the highest rocky piles of this massif. We will choose a prominent summit as our high point (1700m / 5575ft) and enjoy views which extend on all sides across the desert landscape. Descending towards the west through another rocky valley, we will effectively made a traverse of Jebel Khasch which takes around 4 hours. There are some great rock colours, blues and purples, as we finally reach a sandy wadi and meet up with our vehicles for lunch. After lunch, we descend an impressive wadi, where we may see Sinai or roseate finches (the national bird of Jordan). This walk also takes us through an ancient Bedouin cemetery and into an area of red rocks and red sand. There is a choice of camping places in this area which each afford good sunset views.
There are even better views today, as we set off to tackle Jebel Um Adaami, the highest mountain in Jordan, which lies on the border with Saudi Arabia. This is quite a difficult drive for our 4-wheel-drive transport, but an enjoyable one for the passengers. Arriving at the start of the day's walk, we can see a Nabatean dam on the left as we head up into a sandy valley. Still in use by the Bedouin, a long line of stones (now set in cement) directs as much water as possible into the shaded reservoir under the cliff. At the end of the valley we climb up a gulley onto the mountain and this is the only difficulty in the ascent. Here, we are right on the border and can see far into the Saudi mountains. Make sure you have plenty of film with you! The Bedouin guide might even brew a cup of herb tea on the summit, using materials gathered on the ascent. After this 3-hour round-trip, we will drive back to our camping place of the previous evening for lunch. The afternoon's programme is a 2-hour walk across the desert, through an area where we are likely to see Bedouin camps and grazing goats and camels.
On this evening, we may choose to spend the night in a Bedouin tent, close to Um Sabata. Anybody who wishes can sleep outside on the soft sand, otherwise we spread our mattresses inside the tent which is twenty or thirty metres long. One option tonight is to have a traditional Bedouin dish of chicken or lamb, cooked in an underground oven. These ovens are often improvised in the desert, dug out and lined with a metal drum, before a fire is lit inside and the oven heated for a couple of hours. The meat and vegetables are placed on the embers and sand heaped high over the oven. A couple more hours and the dish is ready. The cooks will start this dish before we arrive, but you can see the finished product being brought out.
After breakfast this morning we leave Wadi Rum and head to Beidha. The walk from here to Petra will take between 2 and 3 hours, with the initial walk across open farmland. The route then follows a well-defined mountain track with fantastic views across to the Araba Desert, some 100 km / 60 miles away. The views are impressive and with the exception of one short (2 metre) section a head for heights is not necessary. The walk into Petra is magnificent and the initial glimpse of the top of the Monastery, as it comes into view through the mountains, has a similar effect of the first glimpse of the Treasury from the Siq. We will then trek down from the monastery and exit Petra by the secondary Siq before re-entering the site through the main Siq so you get to see the most famous view of Petra as though you are entering for the first time. After exploring several of the main sites of this huge city we follow a track past the Roman Theatre area and Pharaoh's Column, then descend into Wadi Ras Suleiman and on towards the Snake Monument, before curving back above it to a plateau near the Djinn Block where we'll find our camp already set up for us. It's a truly unique experience to spend a night camping within Petra.
This morning we start our trek to the top of Jebel Haroun (1270m), also known as Mount Aaron. Our route takes us on zig-zagging paths and between rugged cliffs to reach the small, white-painted mosque and shrine at the summit. It's a hike of approximately 7 kms, with 370m of ascent and will take us close to 3 hours to reach the top. The views here are legendary and we spend some time, admiring the shrine, reputedly, the burial site of Moses's brother, Aaron - with its Hebraic inscriptions. We retrace our step down Petra and have another chance to do some exploration, before we walk out through the Siq and check into our hotel in Wadi Musa.
After an early breakfast we transfer by private vehicle (3hrs) to Amman International Airport. UFO Land Only package services end on arrival at the airport. However if you would like to extend your visit in Jordan to visit the Red Sea, the Dead Sea or Jerash, please contact our team of adventure travel consultants.
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