PLANNING YOUR TRIP
As with any hiking trail, careful planning and preparation can help to minimize the risk of a mishap on the Jordan Trail. Contrary to many images and perceptions of the Middle East, though, Jordan is a remarkably quiet and safe destination for visitors; there is no need for excessive worry when planning to hike the Jordan Trail.
When Should I Go?
The ideal time to hike in Jordan varies by region. In the north, March and April are best; in the south, February and March are the most pleasant months. During these months, temperatures are comfortable, the forests and meadows of the North are green, the orchards are in bloom, the streams are flowing, and flowers are abundant in both the mountains and deserts. Walking between September and mid-November offers similarly pleasant weather, but the flowers and greenery are entirely gone after the hot summer months. The winter months are the coolest, but it may occasionally rain and even snow during that cool season. Pay attention to weather forecasts if planning a winter hike; aside from infrequent cases of extreme weather, though, winter hiking in Jordan can be quite pleasant. The truly hot months are late May to mid-September; during this time, most consider the weather too hot for trekking – especially in the South and at low elevations. Also, check the Muslim calendar to see if Ramadan falls over the dates you are considering walking. While hiking the trail is possible during the Muslim holy month, some services – including public transportation and many shops – may be limited in their availability.
Especially during the hotter months, one of the greatest safety concerns on the Jordan Trail is the heat. Protect against sunburn with sunscreen and the correct clothing, and be diligent about carrying sufficient water to eliminate the risk of dehydration. Carefully plan the amount of water you will carry for each stage of your journey, identify the places you will be able to refill your water, and be conscientious about drinking throughout the walk and replacing electrolytes continuously as you go. Drinking before you get thirsty is recommended to stay hydrated. Learn to recognize the signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Occasionally, hikers will encounter steep or rough terrain when trekking; in these areas, hiking poles can be useful in maintaining secure footing. A few sections of the trail also involve crossing canyons; when planning to make these crossings, always consider the possibility of flash floods, particularly during the rainy winter months.
Other potential hazards include various types of wildlife native to the Jordanian countryside. Shepherds’ dogs may be intimidating, but they rarely cause problems for hikers. When camping, be sure to check the ground for snakes and scorpions; and be especially wary of scorpions in dead wood. Jordan is also home to a few wolves and hyenas; these species are endangered, though, and you are unlikely to see them. Mosquitos and sandflies are prevalent in moist, green areas in the springtime; because of the insects, these areas are not ideal for camping. Sandflies never rise more than a meter from the ground, but their bite can cause a skin infection called cutaneous leishmaniasis. In all seasons, be sure to use and carry insect repellent.
Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive. Though you may not have cell service at every location along the trail, carry a mobile phone with you in case of emergencies.
One of the best ways to reduce the risks involved in hiking the Jordan Trail is to do so with a local guide. Local guides provide a wealth of knowledge and information about the potential dangers that lie along the route, and their familiarity with the land and its people are irreplaceable.
Consider consulting these resources for more information as you plan your trip:
Hiking in Jordan, by
The Rough Guide to Jordan, by Matthew Teller (2012)
Lonely Planet Jordan, by Jenny Walker (2012)
Walks, Treks, Climbs and Caves in Al Ayoun Jordan, by Tony Howard and Di Taylor (2011)
Treks and Climbs in Wadi Rum, Jordan, by Tony Howard and Di Taylor (2009)
Jordan: Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs and Canyons, by Tony Howard and Di Taylor (2008)
Field Guide to Jordan, by Jarir Maani (2008)
Trekking and Canyoning in the Jordanian Dead Sea Rift, by Itai Haviv (2000)