Wadi Rum Trail
The Wadi Rum Trail is a new 120km hiking circuit in the deep, southerly deserts of Jordan. It is the first project of its kind to centre squarely on the iconic deserts of Wadi Rum and the only one of the Middle East’s long-distance hiking trails to integrate rock climbing into its main route. It takes hikers on a journey through the magnificent sandstone heartlands of Wadi Rum along with lesser-known, little-trodden tracts of wilderness in its hinterlands, scaling five mountains on the way, including Jebel Um Adami; Jordan’s highest summit at 1854m. A sister project of the Sinai Trail and Red Sea Mountain Trail in Egypt, the Wadi Rum Trail was created over a period of three years, with a similar vision, way of working and set of goals guiding its development from the beginning. Bedouin tribesmen from Wadi Rum oversaw the scouting of the route and took a leading role in shaping the project into what it is today and it stands now a community tourism initiative, harnessed to the Bedouin community of the region. Five different Bedouin tribes live together in Wadi Rum including branches of the Tarabin, who live around the first parts of the Sinai Trail at Ras Shetan. Bedouin guides from any one of these five tribes in Wadi Rum have the same right to work on the trail as all the others. The Wadi Rum Trail seeks to show the best of its homeland’s landscapes, history and heritage to the world, raising the profile of slow, sustainable forms of travel in the area and encouraging them as a viable alternative to the 4×4 tours and often heavily stylised Bedouin cultural experiences that dominate its tourism today. It also seeks to raise a wider global awareness around the region’s unique heritage of climbing, underlining the extraordinary climbs made by peoples of the region whose names have been long forgotten.
The Bedouin of Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum stands in the northernmost fringes of the Hisma; a desert of towering sandstone massifs and sweeping red dunes, of which the greater part stands in modern-day Saudi Arabia. The Hisma is home to Bedouin of different tribes, including the Anaza, Howaytat and Bani Atiya, all of whom have been settled in or around the deserts of Wadi Rum for at least the last few centuries. Bedouin families from other tribes live in Wadi Rum too, including those of the Billi and Tarabin. Of the Bedouin tribes in Wadi Rum, the Billi also hold lands in northern Sinai. The Tarabin live in the northern and southern parts of the Sinai and are the first tribe hikers walk with on the Sinai Trail. The Howaytat have lands next to the Alegat. They also have a territory in Egypt’s Eastern Desert to the north of the Maaza, who live around the Red Sea Mountain Trail. The Maaza are actually the same tribe as the Bani Atiya, but known by a different name in mainland Egypt.
The Wadi Rum Trail today
Bedouin Trail: a family of three
Founded in early 2023, the Wadi Rum Trail opened eight years after the Sinai Trail and four years after the Red Sea Mountain Trail. It stands as the last of the three sister projects to be launch and is the newest long-distance hiking trail in the Middle East. The Wadi Rum Trail works in its own home context, with a different tourism model to the Sinai Trail and Red Sea Mountain Trail, but all remain closely connected and united by common values, working principles and the broad goal of showing the great depth, beauty and wisdom of their common Bedouin heritage to the wider world. Each of the three sister projects collaborates to support the development and growth of the others and it is hoped the Wadi Rum Trail will continue to grow in Jordan, following the Sinai Trail and Red Sea Mountain Trail in making the biggest, most positive and lasting impact in its region.
The Sinai Trail, Wadi Rum Trail and Red Sea Mountain Trail came together more formally in spring 2023 to form a new, intercontinental hiking passage known as the Bedouin Trail. A 1200km route that runs between the continents of Africa and Asia, connecting the ancient capitals of Petra and Luxor and traversing the territories of seven Bedouin tribes, the Bedouin Trail aligns with long sections of each one of the three trails whilst also extending them into neighoburing regions with new routes. The Wadi Rum Trail is the centrepiece of the Bedouin Trail on the Asian side of the route; hikers starting from Petra will traverse most of the Wadi Rum Trail’s circuit before moving onto the Gulf of Aqaba, which is crossed to the Sinai. The Sinai Trail forms the middle section of the Bedouin Trail, with the Red Sea Mountain Trail traversed at the end of the passage