Like with any expedition, I returned home from Jordan to a shower of questions, the most common one being ‘how was it?’. It’s an impossible question to answer! Expeditions are always so full and so varied. There are good parts, bad parts. Things that go well and things that don’t. So rather than my usual standard reply, ‘it was great! Hot, but great’, let me try and summarise the highlights and lowlights….
It was a beautiful hike
The Jordan desert was SO beautiful! It was varied and grand. And surprisingly different. The first 4 days into Petra felt mountainous and huge before reaching meandering wadis and narrow canyons, finishing with flat endless sand. It was quite a hike!
One thing that really stood out was the colour and formation of the rocks. They were so colourful and at times quite impossible. I’d love to go back and hike it all again someday which is quite unusual for me.
And I can’t not mention Petra. Such a wonder!
If you want a sneak peek at what to expect on the Jordan Trail, check out this teaser from our expedition:
That was sometimes hard to navigate
The Jordan Trail is still fairly early on in its creation which made it tricky at times. Water needs to be dropped to you each day as there are no natural sources on some sections and this system hasn’t quite been smoothed out yet.
It was also hard to navigate. There are no maps for the area and you are reliant entirely on a GPS. Sometimes there is no trail and you need to trailblaze. It made for an interesting challenge although you certainly couldn’t let your guard down.
The locals were hospitable
Bedouins are world famous for their hospitality and we found out why. Every Bedouin you pass offers you tea and asks if you need help – directions, a lift, somewhere to stay. They were very kind!
And sometimes not
With some exceptions….mostly Mohamad our water support guide! He was whiny and patronising, stole our money and left us in the desert with no water. Every country has rats and we, unfortunately, landed in the lap of Jordans! Thankfully we were able to find a solution fairly easily but it became a frustrating burden having to deal with him and his problems each day.
I felt physically great
I always put so much emphasis on the physical challenge of adventures and was sure I wasn’t fit enough when starting. But I was! It was a tough hike but my body coped fine with the heavy pack and the strain of hiking long distances each day.
What surprised me most was how much I enjoyed the actual hiking. I looked forward to getting up and hiking each day and to work through the dips in energy – because I always knew I’d come out the other side feeling good.
I’ve never done an expedition where I felt so capable and comfortable with my environment. Feeling good about that!
But struggled mentally
I really wanted to be independent and to walk every step of the distance but everyone had different expectations – our guide, the Bedouins and our team. I found it tiring finding a balance between hiking the hike that I wanted while sticking to the ‘rules’ that I thought we should be following, while also finding a compromise so that everyone’s needs were met….all while politely swatting Bedouins away who were constantly trying to babysit us and carry our bags!
And then there was the run-in on the last day which was a mega anti-climax. which brings me on to….
It’s ironic that on an ‘all-female’ expedition, men caused me so much insult and hassle. Literally, every man that I came in contact with on this trip at some point belittled me, patronised me, questioned my abilities, made assumptions and/or interfered. And this usually came down to gender because they felt being women we needed to be protected, looked after and that we can’t have a voice for ourselves.
Far from being an empowering expedition for women, this left me feeling just quite sad. And as a Western woman, I felt probably just a fraction of the barriers that the women in Jordan face.
I’m trying to take the positives away from this. I hope that in my own way I managed to challenge stereotypes. And it’s massively given me a boost to keep working on Love Her Wild so women can have space where gender doesn’t need to be a thing.
Would I do it again?
Absolutely!! In a heartbeat….although there are a few other deserts I want to cross first before returning to Jordan 🙂