With the cliff-carved city of Petra, the ancient ruins of Amman and the mind-bending desertscapes of Wadi Rum, there are many reasons to put Jordan on your travel wish list. Its these intriguing and varied landscapes that make the country an ideal destination for adrenaline-seekers. From desert adventures to deep-sea diving, mountaineering and hot-air ballooning, there are plenty of activities on offer to get the pulse racing.
1. Try cycling and mountain biking outside Amman
About 43 miles north of the capital Amman, lies Ajloun — a verdant region of sprawling pine forests, where locals can take a break from the city and connect with nature. Hire a mountain bike to explore its variety of cycling trails, such as the scenic mile-long Ajloun Forest Reserve Soap Trail. Experienced cyclists, meanwhile, should consider the 453-mile Jordan Bike Trail. Beginning in the northern town of Umm Qais, riders can take in a variety of the country’s best sites, passing through rolling fields, olive groves, ancient Dead Sea canyons and the otherworldly landscapes at Dana, Petra and Wadi Rum.
2. Traverse the deserts of Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is a vivid maze of monolithic rockscapes, nicknamed Mars on Earth thanks to its blood-red, iron-oxide sand and granite mountains, and with less than three days of rain a year, its become the ultimate Middle Eastern destination for hikers, climbers, campers, and nature lovers. Hikers can explore the ancient canyons, some containing rock drawings over 12,000 years old, while more experienced mountaineers can scale the sandstone cliffs that reach up to 5,740ft. Other possible activities range from sandboarding to jeep drives, horse rides and camel safaris.
Prefer a bird’s-eye view? There’s also the option to glide above the desert in the passenger seat of a microlight (two-seater aeroplane) or take an exhilarating hot-air balloon excursion. Balloons Over Rum (part of the Royal Jordanian Gliding Club) has a base at the northeastern edge of the natural reserve, which takes in views of the colossal sand dunes, trains of camels and even the odd Bedouin campsite.
3. Snorkel and scuba-dive the coral reefs of the Red Sea
Just 47 miles west of Wadi Rum is the Gulf of Aqaba, a large inlet at the tip of the Red Sea. The world’s northernmost coral reef, Aqaba is home to over 1,000 species of tropical fish, as well as hawksbill turtles, shoals of barracuda and dolphins. The Japanese Garden, north of South Beach, is probably Aqaba’s most accessible snorkelling spot with sheltered, shallow waters. The Snorkelling for a Clean Sea Experience initiative encourages travellers to pick up any plastic or metal waste they find in the water and ends with a traditional meal cooked at the beach, served with Arabian herbal tea.
4. Rock climb and abseil the waterfalls in Wadi Al Kerak
In the wilderness of central Jordan, Kerak is an ancient Ottoman walled city best known for its 12th-century castle. A few miles outside the town, by the waterfalls of Wadi Al Kerak, there’s a variety of limestone cliffs, known as the Weida Slabs, which offer an ideal place for beginners to try rock climbing. The lower parts of the slabs are challenging but safe, and the Jordan Climbing Federation is on hand to book routes and give advice about equipment. If you make it to the top of the 656ft rock faces, there are exceptional views over the Dead Sea. There are also five waterfalls to abseil down as part of a hiking trail that takes in the mountains at the top of the valley.
5. Go zip-lining and wild swimming in Wadi Mujib
North of Kerak is the Mujib Biosphere Reserve, which, at 1,365ft below sea level, is the lowest nature reserve in the world. In summer, thrill-seekers can get an adrenaline hit by sailing over the valley on a new 328ft zip-line, taking off from the visitor centre. Elsewhere in Mujib, a day on the Malaqi Trail, led by local guides, includes a chance to swim in the wild Hidan River and climb down a 65ft waterfall. In winter, there’s also the option to hike the Ibex Trail to catch a glimpse of the Nubian Ibex, a rare, wild goat that is one of the symbols of Jordan.
Plan your trip
For more information and to book your trip, see visitjordan.com
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