Hiking the Jordan Trail (part 2)

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“It feels good to carry my world on my back. I smile in the sunlight. I could travel and live this lightly forever, I remember as I get into my stride.”

From There are Other Rivers, by Alastair Humphreys

Here is part 2 of the dispatches we shared along the route, including new photos (Here you’ll find part 1).

Day 26, 323 kms, Ais

The alarm clock wakes us at 5.30. It is pitch dark and cold. The gale wind and streaming rain kept me awake all night and I felt grateful for our shelter at Kayed’s farmhouse.

We get dressed, step outside to start the new year about halfway on the Jordan Trail. We lock the door and face the world. One sliver of sky with the sun rising, the rest ebony and gray with a new sprinkling of rain.

Do we want to do this? Not at all!

A storm is brewing as we walk to Karaka

We go back inside, unpack and I take a nap on the sofa. We text Kayed and ask if we can stay another day. No problem. A day of reading and eating lots of halva.

Kayed shows up around noon to feed his dog, chickens and pigeons. We prepare lentils and he a tomato onion dish which we share with bread. All afternoon the rain is streaming against the windows and stops around midnight.

The next morning the ritual repeats itself. Partly. Alarm clock, dark and cold, a sliver of sky with the sun rising and a sky ebony and grey, presaging more rain. This time we brave ourselves and hit the road. A world silent except for the ticking of our walking poles and the howling of wind that blows us to the side. Three kms down the road the first drop falls.

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Happy New Year!
Back to bed.

The first village has a shop, and a restaurant with a heater, coffee, and falafel.

I am so glad to have planned ample time for this trail so we can take time off such as in this weather. Sure we can manage it, but hiking in this weather just isn’t a lot of fun.

On that note, we will order another coffee and falafel.

Day 27, 332 kms, Dana

The trail to Dana was already fascinating

But once we got to the entrance of the Dana Reserve and ate lunch we were blown away by the view.
And even more so as we set on the balcony of Dana Guesthouse and had this sunset.

The spectacular sunset view from the Dana Guesthouse (book here). Thank you, Raed!

Day 30, 346 kms, Wadi Malaga

Warned by various people and the online weather forecast, we decided to stay put for 2 days in the middle of nowhere. The rains and storms are predicted exactly for where we are going – high up in the mountains. We should be fine here, low in a desert valley.

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Fortifying our tent
No mountain in sight anymore

The surroundings have changed completely. Dark grey clouds in the mountains and yellow dust storms blow over the plains. Sometimes we can’t see anything anymore and we hide in our little tent which we heavily fortified with big rocks, waiting for the storm to abide, after which we are covered in a layer of dust.

We have 9 liters of water on us that should last us a day or 2, or can get some from Bedouins nearby, to sit out this storm. I climb a hill to send out this update and to check the weather forecast for tomorrow.

Company of goats and sheep
As well as my Kindle

Day 32, 375 kms, Petra

Yes, we survived the desert storms and are now in the fabled city of Petra – one of the modern seven wonders of the world. We will stay a few days and explore the ancient trade route settlement and need to prepare for the “real” desert stage of our hike as we will need to organize a few water caches.

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You are walking through the wilderness, through canyons, enjoying views and then…. you see THIS.
Visiting Petra is more than admiring rock-cut temples and tombs

Enjoying the sunset at Petra Fig Villa guesthouse in Wadi Musa.

We are happily based at the Petra Fig Tree Villa (book here). Thank you, Jolanda!

Day 39, 451 kms, Wadi Gseib

Jordan Trail fire-making skills….

I decided to practice the art of tiny wood fires. In the dry wadis and deserts of Jordan I wanted to use the limited resources with care. It was fun and harder than I thought.

During our many invitations for cha I watched how shepherds prepared their tea. Making big campfires is one thing but keeping a fire for cooking while using a minimum of wood is quite another.

A beautiful, small and controlled fire in a Bedouin tent where we are served tea.

It helped when I was taught which bush is good for firewood and which ones to avoid. Most trees and bushes have enormous thorns so my hands suffered. It didn’t matter. I gathered what I could in almost empty landscapes and set to work.

At least the firewood was so dry that lighting the fire was easy. But to get it properly going I found it hard to keep it small and soon the flames roared and sparks made holes in my down jacket.

Each time I managed to do it better, using fewer twigs and branches and found ways to prevent the fire from dying out.

Under pitch black skies full of twinkling stars we watched the orange flames; small ones are just as captivating as big ones.

I will need to undertake many more awesome Jordan Trail hikes before I will get anywhere near the perfection of the shepherds.

Day 43, 580 kms, Wadi Rum

The sky is clearing after a very stormy but wonderful night at Wadi Rum Nomad camp (book here). Thank you, Bianca!

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Day 46, 650 kms, Aqaba / the Finish

Oh yes, this is really the end of the trail!
The last 3 days we hiked in the fun and lighthearted company of Sari and Reto, from New Zealand.
We did it!

Information on Hiking the Jordan Trail

  • The Jordan Trail has an informative website, including maps and GPS tracks, as well as a Facebook Page.
  • Contacting the Jordan Trail beforehand, or visiting their office in Amman is a good idea. They can assist you in several ways, such as providing you with a letter in Arabic explaining your hiking adventure, which you can show to authorities if the need arises (or other local people).

Do you like our dispatches from the road? Follow them on our Landcruising Facebook page.

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Thank you for your support — Karin-Marijke & Coen

6 thoughts on “Hiking the Jordan Trail (part 2)”

  1. Beste Coen & Marijke, leuk om jullie verhaal weer eens te lezen. Ik heb zelf ook interesse in de Jordan trail, mijn vraag is konden jullie om de 2 dagen eten kopen op een marktje zoals (groenten, blikje sardienes, tonijn water enz.) of moesten jullie proviand voor meerdere dagen meenemen.

    Groet,
    Vegter

    • Hoi Vegter,
      We zijn nu op een thru-hike in Turkije dus ik heb m’n notities niet bij de hand. Maar wat ik me herinner heb je in elk geval elke 4 dagen of zo wel een dorp of stad waar je boodschappen kunt doen. Soms vaker dan dat. Dat gebaseerd op de dagafstanden zoals de Jordan Trail ze benoemd op hun website. Die info, plus zelf inschattende hoeveel kilometer per dag je wilt/kunt lopen, is genoeg om te bepalen voor hoeveel dagen je moet inslaan.
      Kun je hier wat mee? Mocht je meer vragen hebben, mail dan even via de contact page – het is voor op de trail makkelijker email te checken dan de comment section. Dank.
      Ga ervoor – het is een schitterende wandeling!

  2. Hi Coen & Karin-Mareijke,
    While it is nice to read about somebody doing the Jordan Trail seemingly without guides some questions do remain.
    I’ve read that on the main website that you’re supposed to pass some kind of water source on each day, except for the Wadi Rum area. How did you organize the water caches for this area? In your post it sounded like you just went all the way to Petra and organized it then? Was water a problem on any other parts of the trail?
    Another question I have is when passing through different reserves did you have to organize permits in advance? Petra is obvious, that you’ll have to get the permits in before hand, but I’ve heard vague remarks about needing to get permits for other areas as well?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Erik,

      You don’t need to organize water caches except for the Petra-Wadi Rum section. I believe we had 4 caches. In Petra we found somebody who did this with us, for which we paid a lot of money I have to say. Don’t remember details and being on another thru-hike, I can’t check my notes. If you want more details, please send an email, I’ll respond in May.
      As to permits, there is some unclear stuff there. We learned that you need a permit for Dana, which we got in the village at the entrance of the Dana Reserve. Whether it’s a permit or just entrance fee I’m not sure.
      For Petra you don’t need a permit but do pay entrance fee. Check out the Jordan Pass (google on it) – if you need to buy a visa for Jordan, buying this pass instead may save you some money.
      Hope that helps. Best.

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