If you’ve seen Lawrence of Arabia, you’ll know why I thought taking a mountain bike through Jordan would be completely bonkers. The country is famed for its Hollywood film locations, where, generally speaking, sand takes centre stage.
A lesser known quirky factoid about the filming of Lawrence of Arabia, is that director David Lean actually worried the rocky scrub of the Jordanian desert wasn’t sandy enough for Hollywood audiences, so he shot scenes repeatedly in Wadi Rum. But that rocky scrub reality, which delves into lesser-known Jordan, is just the ticket bike adventurers and why the Jordan Bike Trail was born.
About The Jordan Bike Trail
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan sits at the crossroads of ancient trade routes between Asia, Africa and Europe. Some of the oldest civilisations have left their mark on this diverse landscape. The bike trail runs from the rolling hills of Um Qais in the north to the coral seas of Aqaba in the south. It also skirts the iconic spots, so you don’t have to miss out on the ancient world wonder of Petra or that iconic float with a newspaper in The Dead Sea.
Award-winning Experience Jordan Adventures worked with communities along the 725-kilometre trail, helping families set up homestays and rest stops to support those who want to take on the physically challenging (but not technical) route, which is roughly 60% off-road double track and 40% tarmac. You can join a small group adventure or organise any level of support you need. For those who want to go independently, info at: jordanbiketrail.com maps all the sections.
Yes there’s a good day’s sandy slog when you get to Wadi Rum towards the end. But before that, look forward to soaring mountains, epic vistas, great rifts with rocky ridge lines, water-filled canyons, endless valleys, unfathomable rock formations, precious biospheres, crusader castles, biblical locations, untold archaeological sites and countless good-humoured encounters laced with copious amounts of cardamon coffee.
A joyous spirit stokes the entire journey: In towns, cool trendy girls in colourful hijabs and aviator sunglasses shout “welcome”. You can’t pass a farmer without an offer of coffee or tea. You’ll be invited into Bedouin tents to feast on Mansaf (a traditional dish of lamb and rice). Villagers offer homestays on another level (some ensuite) and tribe elders host wild star-gazing camps in magical Wadis. Locals will go to great lengths to make you feel at home. As anyone who has travelled to the region will tell you; that’s a part of everyday Arabic hospitality. However, here too, statistics show Jordan stands out.
Jordan has a very long history of helping its neighbours. Roughly a third of Jordan’s population (at the time of writing) is made up of refugees from surrounding countries. In fact, half of the world’s refugees are hosted by only ten countries and Jordan tops that list. Despite challenging events in the region, this small Arab kingdom, which protects the freedom of all religions, has remained peaceful and stable. Crime is low compared with many cities in Europe and the United States.
Could it be that Jordan’s special brand of joy comes from its rich mix of history, culture and embracing all those who need a home? The thought took my mind off the slog through the sandy bits for sure.
For more Jordan vibes check out this short 3 minute film “The Joy of The Jordan Bike Trail”