Travelling to visit landmarks is great, but sometimes to be able to enjoy a destination better, you must do some hiking to immerse completely into the journey and of course to get to that landmark!
Jordan is made for hiking. I’ve never been somewhere and done so many different kinds of hikes. Jordan’s topography is such that even when we visited the capital city, we were essentially hiking from low to high points. Here are some of the most exciting places to hike in Jordan. Be sure to bring your sturdiest walking shoes!
Visiting Petra involves a lot of walking. While its hikes are not too challenging, I wouldn’t call them easy either. If you want to see the best of Petra and experience new perspectives, you’ll have to work for it. There are dozens of hikes on offer. Below are three that we tried and can highly recommend integrating into your off-the-path Petra experience.
If you want that epic vertigo-inducing shot for your Instagram, you’ll have to go vertical. There are two options for viewing the treasury from above – one requires a guide and one does not. We went with the latter option which in my opinion is a more fun hike and also feels a lot safer. The one that requires a guide does so for a reason – the lookout is atop a coffee table sized platform which does a sheer drop off down the side of a cliff. The unguided way ends at a nice cushioned tea spot where “The Caveman” and his cat Monica will offer you a cold drink and some charming conversation.
Better yet, the trail itself reveals some hidden treasures. The trail is called the Al Khubtha trail and can be accessed just beyond the Street of Facades. Once you find the trail, you’ll follow about 600 steps in great condition and a dirt path at the top with many friendly faces to guide you on your way.
Some locals will tell you that you need a guide for this trail – you don’t.
To see the monastery, which is arguably more fascinating than the treasury, you’ll have to hike over 800 steps past the street of facades and the city centre. I recommend heading straight there after an early morning visit to the Siq, so that you can hike in relative calm, uncrowded, and cool conditions. Rounding the corner to see the monastery up close makes it all worth it. Enjoy the view from the adjacent coffee shop and then hike back down to the city centre, encouraging your fellow travellers that they’re nearly there.
Note that you will be presented with the opportunity to ride a donkey or horse to the monastery – I recommend using your own two feet. It’s more rewarding, and we’ve heard that the donkey rides can feel treacherous as slipping can happen.
The High Place of Sacrifice
This route can be done two different ways – starting from the Street of Facades and up, or from behind starting at the City Centre. We did the latter hike after visiting the monastery as an alternate way to return to the Street of Facades. Starting near Qasr Al-Bint, you will divert off the main path and eventually come to the High Place – prepare yourself with a map to find the way. I liked hiking this way as after we came to the High Place, we got to traverse down some steep steps into the Street of Facades which gave us a unique perspective on that area. Along the way, we also got to see some lesser-known monuments and facades.
Dana Biosphere Reserve
A beautiful stopover between Wadi Rum and Madaba is Dana Wildlife Reserve. A recipient of a large amount of USAID, Dana boasts a beautifully quaint old village that is worth a lunch stop on its own. There are many different hikes to choose from. For a short day trip, you can stay on the main path and explore the area on foot. For more serious hikes, you can hire a guide and go deep into the reserve. There is even a chance to stay overnight in the protected area. Dana offers a landscape unlike the rest of Jordan, with extensive greenery covering a mountainous range. You’ll feel good knowing that Dana is indeed a highly protected zone supporting a biodiverse population of flora and fauna.
Wadi Rum Al Hash Mountain Scramble
Add some adventure into your Arabian Desert experience by scrambling over Al Hash Mountain. You’ll need to hire a guide to have this unique experience. This involves a Jeep ride to the mountain, as well as stopping at some special sites within Wadi Rum protected area. Your tour company will also take care of your accommodation in a desert camp for the night, an experience you will never forget.
Experience a greener side of Jordan by hiking an easy 2km trail through pines, evergreens, carob, pistachio, and strawberry trees. Similar to Dana, Ajloun is highly protected. This is why there is an 8 JOD fee to go hiking in the area. You can even stay overnight in semi-luxury forest cabins which looks to be a comfortable and peaceful experience. The main trail is self-guided, but guides are available if you prefer. There are more adventurous trails on offer that require a guide.
Walking Tour of Amman
The best way to see Amman is by walking up and down its steep, narrow streets. You can easily see all of the city’s highlights on foot. I recommend starting at a low point and working your way up to the Citadel, which can be seen on its hilltop location virtually anywhere around the city. Before we went out, we used Google Maps and our guidebook to plan out which sites we wanted to see and where we wanted to stop for lunch. We took our time, taking in the street art, perusing antique shops, and stopping for strong Arabic coffee. Walking in Amman may not be everyone’s idea of a hike as you won’t be seeing many trees or wildlife, but navigating the urban landscape isn’t as easy as one may think. Be careful when you’re crossing the street!