Bike Touring Jordan: Petra to Aquaba via Wadi Rum
166 Mi.(267 KM)
Pedaling in Place
Jordan—south of Syria, west of Iraq, north of Saudi Arabia, and east of Egypt—is at the confluence of astonishing history and contemporary politics. It is also a place of soaring geography, with rolling desert, rock ridgelines, and mind-twisting landscape formations. This route traces a relatively easy but varied and satisfying ride that includes a visit to Petra and into the famous sands of Wadi Rum. It is the imagery of Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but with the serious and important social dimensions of the modern Middle East.
- Desert sands, olive trees, white rock formations near Wadi Musa.
- Incredible Petra, a UNESCO site of rock cut architecture dating from the 3rd century B.C.E. Petra figures prominently in Egyptian and Roman writing of the era.
- Wadi Rum, an area of wild bulging rocks towering over orange desert sands. Simply an incredible landscape.
- The route begins in Wadi Feynan under the assumption that you have visited lovely Dana Canyon.
- Tourist access to Wadi Rum seems to be in a state of flux; ask before departing on whether this area is doable without a guide.
- The admission fee to Petra is very high, ~US$70 per person depending on the exchange rate. Skipping Petra would still make for a satisfying journey because Wadi Rum is so incredible, but if your budget allows, Petra is wonderful. Touring Petra will be on foot. Leave your bicycle at your lodging in Wadi Musa; if you are not staying overnight, pay a hotel owner a small amount to store your bicycle there for the day.
- Wadi Rum is crisscrossed with numerous jeep tracks and it would be easy to get turned around. It is essential that you are confident in your navigation, whether that is by GPS or map and compass, or both.
- A lively tourist economy sustains Wadi Rum Village. It is easy to get away from it, but while there you will be constantly pestered to hire a jeep or take a guided tour.
- A fat bike is the ideal touring bicycle for Wadi Rum section. Anything short of very big low pressure tires will have you pushing the bike (as I did) for significant stretches of soft sand.
- Once in Aquaba carry on to Egypt by ferry or take a bus back to Amman.
- Luxury and basic accommodation are available in Wadi Feynan.
- Accommodation in Wadi Musa is expensive and low quality for the cost.
- Wild camping in the desert is straightforward, especially in the hills and caves just northwest of Wadi Musa and, of course, in Wadi Rum.
- Wadi Rum has several tourist-oriented Bedouin tent camps that you could probably arrange to stay at on an impromptu basis. But you will be happier camping on the rocks.
- Supplies are readily available in Wadi Musa and Wadi Rum Village. Carry enough water from Wadi Rum Village (mile 107 on map) for at least two days in the desert. Bedouin locals are friendly and will share water if necessary.