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The guidebook

When to go

Trekking and canyoning in Jordan can be undertaken throughout the year although spring and fall are considered by many as the best periods. November to March is the rain season. It can get quite cold in the highlands, with temperatures occasionally dropping close to zero (32 F). However, along the Dead Sea and the 'Araba Valley day temperatures are usually comfortable (around 15 C, 60 F). Unless you are allergic to rain, this is a good period to explore the southern part of the Dead Sea Rift (from Wadi Musa to the Gulf of 'Aqaba) as well as to visit Jordan's better-known historical sites while they are free of crowds. The season is unsuitable for trekking in most of the northern canyons, whose waters are rather cold, and there is always a risk of flash floods. However, if the sky is clear and the forecast is unclouded, descending down canyons with thermal springs can be a rare treat.

Jabel Umm Asawir (Ittai Glaich)

Mid-March is usually the beginning of spring in the lower valleys, but there can still be some rainy days. It is usually only in April that flowers begins to spread over the higher places. Dana Nature Reserve is then in its best attire and all the routes in this guidebook can be followed. Canyon waters, however, may still be chilly. May is usually comfortable, allowing enjoyable hiking along most of the routes though you can expect some hot days.

June, July and August are the hottest months, with day temperatures occasionally around 30-40 C (85-105 F) - an ideal period to escape into the wet, tropical shelter of several canyons north of Wadi Musa. Most of the routes in the southern regions are not recommended. Visiting historical sites when it is hot, may be a tiring experience.

September and October have beautiful days, but there is always a slight risk of rain, which increases towards November. Because of flash flood hazard the Mujib Gorge is officially closed between November 1st and March 31st.

Abseiling the upper waterfall of
Wadi Karak (Noya Shiloni)

What to carry

Although daytime can be very hot, especially in the summer, the nights are usually chilly, and in the elevated places it can get very cold (in winter the temperature may drop below zero). Long cotton trousers, a cotton shirt and a sun hat are the best outfit for the day. Carry short trousers for walking in flowing canyons. A warm jacket and a warm hat are usually enough for the night. In the rainy season, take a rainproof jacket and an extra layer of thermal underwear for the night. Light walking boots are recommended footwear. When canyoning, sandals allow sand grains to injure your feet. Trainers are your best choice for walking in the water, but unless you don't mind carrying an arsenal of footwear with you, it is better to leave them behind. Sandals are always good to have, for instance when your boots are wet.

Bear in mind that the commercial water bottles are usually too small. If you plan to camp, you will need a stock of at least 4.5 liters. Plastic beverage containers are excellent. Water purification tablets are useful. Sunglasses, suntan lotion and a lip ointment are mandatory.

Sunset over the Dead Sea (Itai Haviv)

A sleeping bag and a mat are usually enough during the summer, when there is no real need for a tent. Spending the night under the star-spangled desert sky is highly recommended. During the rainy season you will need a tent and a sleeping bag which gives you a rating of at least minus
5 C.

A fuel stove or a gas cooker are both adequate, though gas cartridges are a bit hard to obtain (they are mostly available in Amman, Wadi Musa and 'Aqaba). Other necessary equipment includes a torch, a compass, a pocket-knife and a first-aid kit. A waterproof bag can be handy on a few routes and is a must on some others.

If you intend to follow routes which include abseiling consult the section about special equipment in the guidebook 'Trekking and Canyoning in the Jordanian Dead Sea Rift'.

Mazes of white sandstone domes viewed from
the Edomite stronghold Ba'ja, north of Petra (Itai Haviv)

Books

A large choice of books about Jordan is available in the bookshops of Amman and 'Aqaba. Natural history books can also be found at the souvenir shop in the Dana Nature Reserve. The first and only trekking guidebook about the Jordanian Dead Sea Rift is:

  • Trekking and Canyoning in the Jordanian Dead Sea Rift, Haviv I., Desert Breeze Press, 2000

For a full description of this guidebook see 'The Guidebook'             

 

Among the general travel guides are:

  • Jordan, Syria & Lebanon Handbook, Mannheim I., Winter D., Footprint Handbooks, 1998.
  • Jordan, P. Greenway, D. Finlay, Lonely Planet, 2000.
  • Jordan, Rough Guide, Teller M., Rough Guide, 1998.

Recommended companions for your explorations are:

  • The Birds of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Andrews I. J., 1995.
  • Wild Flowers of Jordan, Al-Eisawi D. M. H., 1998.

If you are planning to trek in Wadi Rum, get hold of:

  • Treks and Climbs in Wadi Rum, Howard T., Cicerone Press, 1987, new edition 1997.
  • Walks and Scrambles in Wadi Rum, Howard T. and Taylor D., Al Kutba, 1993.

Reading the descriptions of the early explorers is fascinating, both before and after your visit. Unfortunately some of the books are hard to obtain and are only found in the larger libraries.

  • Travels in Syria and the Holy Land, Burckhardt J. L., London, 1822, reprinted by Darf Publishers, 1992.
  • Travels in Egypt and Nubia, Syria and Asia Minor, Irby C. L. and Mangles J., London, 1823, reprinted by Darf Publishers, 1985.
  • Letters on Egypt, Edom and the Holy Land, Lord Lindsay, London 1838.
  • Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai and Arabia Petraea, Robinson E. and Smith E., London, 1838.
  • The United States' Expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea, Lynch W. F., London, 1849.
  • Narrative of a Journey Round the Dead Sea and in the Bible Lands, De Saulcy F., London, 1854.
  • The Desert of the Exodus, Palmer E. H., New York 1872, reprinted 1940.
  • Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence T. E., Penguin 1962.

(Itai Haviv)

Maps

Fine-scaled Maps of Jordan and the Dead Sea Rift are very hard to obtain. The maps in the guidebook 'Trekking and Canyoning in the Dead Sea Rift' suffice to get you through 68 routes from the northern tip of the Dead sea to the Gulf of 'Aqaba. Geological maps of the Rift area on a 1:50,000 scale (!), but with faint contours of 40 m intervals, can be purchased at the cost of 4 JD each at the:

National Resources Authority (NRA), 8th Circle P.O Box (7) or (2220). Code 1118. Amman. Jordan. Tel: 962-6-5857600.

 

The Royal Jordanian Geographic Center produces a fine 1:750,000 road map of Jordan which is distributed free of charge in the tourist information centers. Also available is an excellent 1:5,000 map of Petra.

Royal Jordanian Geographic Center, P.O. Box 20214, Al Jbeha, Amman, Tel 962-6-534188.

 

A good choice for a general view of the Rift is a 1:250,000 map that was published by:

The Survey of Israel, 1 Lincoln Street, Tel Aviv, 65220, Tel 972-3-6231911.

 

Spectacular satellite maps which include the Dead Sea Rift and its canyons can be purchased from ROHR Productions Ltd. (Info@rohrproductions.com).

Several other general maps of Jordan are available in bookstores throughout the world.

 

Treks

Long treks and routes which include abseiling are listed on the following tables. The routes were rated as easy, moderate and strenuous, by taking into consideration the length of the route, the character of the trail, the altitude difference and the number of daily walking hours. The rating does not take into account abseiling skills.

 

THE LONG TREKS

Route

Days

Rating

Season

Description

4. Across northern Moab from Wadi Mukheiris to Wadi Himara

3

strenuous

spring fall

Wide canyons, abundant waterfalls, superb views towards the Dead Sea, the highest waterfalls in Jordan, impressive stalactites.

21. Wadi Hasa, the full length

2

moderate

spring fall

Boulder-studded white canyon, warm springs, spectacular red sandstone canyon, fast-flowing river, thousands of wild palms, hanging gardens.

28. Wadi ‘Aima to Wadi Khanzira

2

moderate incl. abseiling

spring summer fall

Sandstone gorges, hanging gardens, little pools, high-lying campsite with fine views.

37. Wadi Hamra to Wadi Ghuweir

2

moderate

spring summer fall

Spectacular views, subtropical oasis, narrow sandstone gorge, lush hanging gardens, cascades.

41. The Black Mountains

4

strenuous

spring fall winter

Awe-inspiring black summits, spectacular views, canyons in igneous rocks, potholes.

42. Canyons and ancient caravan routes

5

strenuous incl. abseiling

spring

Steep and demanding trek, black canyons carved in igneous rocks, potholes, dry falls and waterfalls, rewarding views, Nabataean ruins.

51. From Petra to Taybeh

2

moderate

all-year

Intriguing archeological sites, rewarding views, narrow siq, mazes of white sandstone domes.

52. The Rajef Inselbergs

3

moderate

all-year

Mazes of domes, rewarding views, narrow sandstone canyons, springs.

57. Across southern Edom from Dilagha to Humeima

4

strenuous

spring fall winter

Spectacular views, impressive dune field, narrow sandstone and igneous canyons.

61. From Petra to Humeima

6

strenuous

spring fall winter

Extremely rich variety of landscapes, summits, canyons, intriguing archeological sites, sand dunes.

64. Wadi Khubat to Wadi Rahma

3

strenuous incl. abseiling

spring

Rewarding views, dry falls, water-filled potholes.

 

ROUTES WITH ABSEILING

Route

Days

Rating

Season

Other information

6. Wadi Zarqa Ma‘in, upper canyon

1

moderate

spring summer fall

2 waterfalls, magnificent pools, limestone canyon. Carry two 35 m ropes.

10. Wadi Mujib’s lower gorge

1

strenuous

1st April to 31st October

Jordan’s Grand Canyon. Spectacular 15 m waterfall, 200 m deep sandstone gorge, gushing water. Carry two 20 m ropes.

12. Wadi el Hidan

1

strenuous

1st April to 31st October

Majestic 50 m waterfall, basalt canyon, spectacular sandstone gorge, rich variety of colors, warm and cold springs, pools. Carry two 50 m ropes.

14. Wadi Karak

1

moderate

spring summer fall

2 waterfalls, narrow sandstone gorge, hanging gardens, side streams, surprising dripping waterfall. Carry two 50 m ropes.

16. Wadi ‘Assal

1

moderate

spring summer fall

6 falls (2 with water), sandstone gorge, hanging gardens. Carry two 30 m ropes.

24. Wadi Feifa and Wadi ‘Aima

1

moderate

spring summer fall

4 falls (1 with water), sandstone gorge dripping springs, hanging gardens. Carry two 20 m ropes.

28. Wadi ‘Aima to Wadi Khanzira

2

moderate

spring summer fall

As for trek 24 plus elevated campsite, rewarding views, pools and sandstone gorge in Wadi Khanzira.

40. Wadi Feid

1

strenuous

spring summer fall

12 waterfalls! Awe-inspiring black canyon cutting through igneous rocks, pools, junipers. Carry two 70 m ropes.

42. Canyons and ancient caravan routes

5

strenuous

spring

Demanding trek,10 dry falls in Wadi Qunai, 13 dry falls in Wadi Umm Hashba, 5 waterfalls in Wadi Musa,, black rocks, potholes, pools, rewarding views, Nabataean ruins. Carry two 40 m ropes.

46. Wadi Musa

1

moderate

spring summer fall

5 waterfalls, pools, sheer black rock faces, junipers. Carry two 30 m ropes.

63. Wadi Rahma

1

moderate

spring

3 dry falls, huge water-filled potholes, dramatic breach through a rock barrier. Carry two 50 m ropes.

64. Wadi Khubat to Wadi Rahma

 

 

3

strenuous

spring

As for trek 63 plus a string of potholes, rewarding views. Carry two 50 m ropes.

 

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