I recently returned from hiking the Jordan Trail from Dana to Wadi Rum (the south section). This was the most complicated part of the section so I hope this Jordan Trail guide will help answer some of the questions that I had before the hike. I wrote a summary of my expedition and also a day-by-day journal (start with day 1 here) which may also be of interest.
If you want a sneak peek at what to expect on the Jordan Trail, check out this teaser from our expedition:
How do you know how far to walk each day?
The Jordan Trail website is your best friend! It has broken down information on all of the sections on the Jordan Trail. I printed off all this information to take with me so I had a rough plan of the route. In the desert where water is sparse and you are reliant on water drops, you will need to plan your route carefully. I am experienced with long-distance hiking so personally found some of the days too short so doubled up on days where distances are short (15km or less). Most days I stuck to the schedule recommended on the Jordan Trail website.
Is the trail easy to follow?
No! For a lot of the walk the trail isn’t easily defined and there are no signs or waymarks. There are no maps for the area so you will need to download the files (from the Jordan Trail website) onto a GPS unit.
It takes some practice getting used to following a GPS. On some sections, there is no path at all and you are simply trailblazing. We also had parts where we lost the signal. We used a Garmin GPS InReach Explorer which worked great and also doubled as a Sat Phone.
I wouldn’t recommend this trail unless you have some expedition and/or hiking experience. As well as confidence using a GPS (it’s very different from using a map and compass!)
If you are looking for an easier trail to follow I can recommend the Israel National Trail and focusing on the Negev Desert section as an alternative. If you need any more convincing have a read of 25 photos that will make you want to hike the Israel National Trail!
What is the terrain like?
It is very varied. There was a lot of rocky sections (make sure you have good soles on your shoes!). There were ups and downs but no real huge climbs. As well as sections of long flat meandering through Wadi’s and (the worst!) sand. The last day into Wadi Rum follows a large (but not very busy) road for quite a few kilometres.
North to south or south to north?
For the section, we did I would definitely say North to South. The trail from Dana to Petra is world famous and really quite spectacular! This way was more favourable in terms of inclines but also has the advantage that you finish in Aqaba by the sea.
What time of year should you hike the Jordan Trail?
We started hiking on the 23rd March. Most days were hot (into the 30’s) but manageable. We were also lucky to have a few cooler days. The best time to hike is in spring or autumn although being post-winter, spring has the advantage that the vegetation is at its most lush.
Where do you sleep each night on the Jordan Trail?
The daily guides on the Jordan Trail website suggest possible sleeping options. We took a tent and wild camped almost every night. You can wild camp almost anywhere except for in Dana reserve and Wadi Rum. Flash Flooding is a risk in some areas so it is good to use the suggested wild camp spots – they are usually flat and up high where flash flooding is less of a risk.
We stayed in Dana Tower Hotel at the start which was a good place to stop and very cheap. We then took a rest day in Petra…there are lots of hotels available here.
Near Humeima there is an option to stay with Abu and his family in a traditional Bedouin homestay. They are very welcoming and it’s a great experience that shouldn’t be missed. He didn’t set a price but said we could pay what we wanted or “nothing at all”, so you decide what it is worth.
Is the Jordan Trail busy?
We met only 2 other groups of hikers the entire time. One was a group hiking from Wadi Rum to Petra and another was a couple walking the whole Jordan Trail. There were a few guided day walkers near Petra otherwise the trail was very quiet. Most days we would meet just a couple of Bedouins out herding their goats or camels.
Where do you get water?
Water was very sparse in the desert and even guaranteed natural sources were not in a good way (stagnant). We used a guide called Mohamad Al-Ahwat to help us with water drops each day but he was AWFUL!! Very unreliable and rude! He basically left us in the desert without water (taking our money in the process).
These are he’s contact details….so you know to avoid him!
Everyone we have spoken to used Habu (who is recommended on the Jordan Trail website) and only has positive feedback so please use him instead!
What kit to take for the Jordan Trail?
Check out my full kit list here.
What if you get lost or get into trouble?
The desert section of the Jordan Trail is quite remote in parts and you can go almost a full days walk on some sections without phone signal. It’s important that you are a competent walker and having first aid skills is really sensible.
We had a Garmin GPS InReach Explorer with us. The Sat Phone capabilities on it meant we could send text and make calls if we got in trouble.
Is the Jordan Trail safe?
When people ask this they are usually referring to locals or terrorist activities! We had no safety issues at all on the trail. We were 3 women hiking alone. The locals were for the most part very friendly and helpful…we certainly never felt in danger.
The real dangers I think are in the remoteness of the hike. Some risks include..
Snakes and scorpions – we saw 1 snake and 1 scorpion on this trip. You just need to be careful to check your boots putting them on and putting down your tent.
Dogs – the Bedouins like to have guard dogs and they can be quite aggressive. They usually stayed away although their barks were a bit intimidating. Picking up a rock (as if to throw it at the dog) usually caused it to cower away
Dehydration/Heatstroke – you need to be very aware of your water supply and your body. Experience, taking it slow in the beginning and on hot days and being organised with your water drops and rescue plan is important.
Flash flooding – You’ll want to be checking the weather forecast regularly for warnings of flash flooding. It happens fast so if you do get caught somewhere with water coming in, drop everything and get to a high place fast!
Was it tough hiking in the heat?
If you aren’t used to hiking in hot temperatures then you might find this quite a tough hike. You should account for this by having an easier start and slower days in the beginning so you can acclimatise.
I’ve written my top tips for hiking in the desert which you might want to check out.
How did I use a phone in Jordan?
On arrival, I got a local SIM card to use in my phone. £15 covered a fair bit of texting, calls and also internet. We had coverage for about half the time we were on the trail although the last 5 days into Wadi Rum were noticeably scarce for signal
How do you charge your phone and electronics?
I took an Anker Power Bank which was enough to keep my GPS and phone charged between the longest stretch without electricity (Petra to Wadi Rum). We also took a solar charger. I’m not a big fan of these as they really don’t work well when you are hiking (ie with them attached to your back) but it’s good to have as a backup.
How do you get to the start and finish of the Jordan Trail?
We started in Dana and ended in Wadi Rum. Then flew into Amman where we got a taxi to take us to Dana (roughly costing 70JOD). We then picked up a taxi in Wadi Rum to take us to Aqaba (costing 20JOD). Our flight home was from Aqaba.
If you are using Habu for water support or booking to stay in a hotel, you can ask them to help you arrange taxis on arrival.
What preparations do you need to do before the trip?
You will want to be familiar with the kit you are intending to take and with the sections of the Trail (particularly for the desert section) so you can make a plan for water drops. Having a good base level of fitness is important and the fitter you are the more enjoyable you will find the hike. Getting used to carrying a heavy pack is probably the most useful training you can do.
Other than that it was simply a case of booking our flights, making reservations at our hotels and getting comprehensive insurance.
Where do you buy food?
We took food with us (from the UK) for almost the entire hike and I’m very glad we did! The supermarket food options weren’t great and stock up options sparse. We had trail mix, peanut butter, crackers and expedition (add water) ration packs. We got our guide to take half our supplies to bring us at the halfway mark so we didn’t have to carry it the whole way.
You can get food in Dana, Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba. There are lots of supermarkets in Petra to stock up.
How much does it cost to hike the Jordan Trail?
Excluding food that we brought with us and kit, here’s a breakdown of what I roughly spent…
Flights return from UK: £400
Taxi’s (from Amman airport to Dana, Wadi Rum to Aqaba and from our Hotel to the airport): £100
Dana reserve fees: £7
Petra entrance fees: £60 (for 3 day entry)
Water drops support: £200 (this was total for 3 people. We spoke to a couple though who said they were only paying £90 so I think we were being ripped off!)
Food in restaurants: £90 (I didn’t eat out that much but found the food really expensive in the tourist areas)
Hotels: £110 (for 1 night in Dana and 2 nights in Petra…our 2 nights at the end in Aqaba were giving to us complimentary)
Jeep tour of Wadi Rum: £25
This was for a 16 day trip in Jordan. We did 11 days of hiking. Took a day in Dana, Petra and 2 days in Aqaba. Adding on more hiking days wouldn’t make it much more expensive as the bulk of our costs were the flights, water drops and Petra which was of course unmissable!
You can check out my top tips for thru-hiking blog for more general advice on heading into an expedition like this.
I’ve been getting a lot of people emailing asking questions about the Jordan Trail. If there is something you are wondering please ask in the comments box below so I don’t have to repeat myself (and please read through the previous questions first to check it hasn’t already been answered).
Enjoy the hike….it’s a good one 🙂