Jordan by bike. It might not be the first experience that comes to mind when you think of the Middle East. But trust us when we say that it’s one of the most magical…
If you like adventure, culture and a generous dose of uniqueness then we don’t even need to convince you that our new 9-day Cycle Jordan tour is a must-do.
But, in case you need a bit of a nudge, we have no less than six reasons why it is.
Because there’s so much more to the country (and trip) than the deserts of Wadi Rum and the wonders of Petra – though they’re not a bad place to start. Add in a few more surreal landscapes, a bunch of ruins, a night in a desert camp, and the amazingly freeing feeling of discovering it all by bike, and you’ve got A LOT to get excited about.
The diverse terrain
In all honesty, what type of landscape doesn’t this Middle Eastern gem boast? There’s deserts and mountains, awe-inspiring and vast. There’s cities resplendent in modernity that contrast with iconic ancient monuments. And, really, there’s everything in between: nature reserves, seaside resorts and so much more.
One of our favourite spots for cycling has to be the Jordan Valley. Forming the border between Jordan to the east and Israel to the west, it’s also the deepest valley in the world. And it’s equal parts scenic and lush. Intrepid’s new trip features a gorgeous 47 kilometre (29 mile) cycle that goes all the way through it, starting in Rajif. Top tip: from there you can take a short(ish) detour towards Aqaba, the country’s only coastal city.
Other landscape highlights? Well, there’s a ton, but it’s also worth giving the the little-known salt flats a shout out. Far away from the fertile greenery described above and far from the East Bank plateau (where most of the main towns are), these surreal flats are a sight to behold. There might be little vegetation here, but the views are more than picture-worthy and the cycling is spectacular.
The awe-inspiring views
It goes without saying that deserts and mountains make for some pretty sweet views. And that biking them – though tough at times – makes both journey and destination even sweeter. We’ve already mentioned the Jordan Valley, but the cycle ride from there to Amman Beach is not one you can forget.
Equally special – if not more – is Cycle Jordan‘s day 3. Here, you transfer to a 15th-century stone town called Dana, which sits close to the gorge of Wadi Dana and offers sweeping views of the valley below. This valley is not just a dream for hikers, it also makes up the country’s largest nature reserve and has been occupied since about 4,000 BC. Historic AND scenic – what a combination.
We don’t want you to be under the impression that every single bike ride here is one full of breathtaking vistas. But the country does boast more than its fair share.
To whet your appetite, a final favourite spot is Mount Nebo. This iconic site marks the location where Moses looked across to the Promised Land. It’d later serve as the location of his death and burial, but is now not only holy, but an elevated ridge with epic views that stretch for miles and miles.
Two words: Desert. Camps.
What’s the only thing better than cycling through the desert wilderness of Wadi Rum? Sleeping in it. It might be (mostly) isolated and inhospitable, but it’s also utterly beautiful. And there’s no more magical way of experiencing it than at dawn or dusk, from a basic-but-highly-memorable desert camp.
There’s an overnight stay at one of these desert camps in Intrepid’s new Cycle Jordan trip. And let us tell you that the entire experience is a highly cool one. Upon arrival at Wadi Rum, the group takes part is a three-hour safari through canyons and mountains. And as the afternoon draws to a close, there’s an amazing sunset stop-off before a camp dinner. By the fire. With locally-brewed tea. And then it’s just you, the starry night sky and very little else… Bliss.
Top tip: Though the desert is likely to be very hot during the day, it’s cool at night! If not travelling during the summer months, bring warm clothes and a sleeping bag!
The Berber hospitality
Remember that dreamy desert camp scenario that’s described above? Well, what makes it especially special is the Bedouin hosts. The Jordanian Bedouin have called Wadi Rum home for centuries. Shepherds by trade and nomadic by nature, they’re known for their hospitality, often inviting visitors to their tent homes to share food and drink.
The camp dinner that you partake in on Intrepid’s Jordan tour is prepared by Bedouin hosts and is one you certainly won’t forget. After a tough(ish) day of cycling, the warmth of the people and the uniqueness of the experience is simply wonderful.
Frank Cheshire, Intrepid’s Cycling Brand Manager explains exactly why he’s so excited about the new Cycle Jordan trip:
Jordan is the perfect place to follow in the nomadic traditions of the Bedouin, and the freedom of the bicycle is the ideal way to do just that. From the diverse landscape, stunning history and architecture, and the welcoming hospitality of the Bedouin themselves, cycling lets you discover the true essence of Jordan – without any barriers between you and the experience.
The actual sights
It’s a testament to Jordan’s myriad attractions that we’ve got this far without mentioning Petra. But we couldn’t neglect this famous archaeological site altogether. (And yes, we’re aware that cycling is not part of the UNESCO site experience, but please indulge us on this one. Petra is that wondrous.)
The Cycle Jordan trip lets you spend an entire day discovering Petra’s rock-cut tombs, Roman-style theatres, colonnaded streets, temples, amphitheatre and more. Getting bored here is an impossibility. Exploring in wonder for hours is a must.
Not only this – but many other musts are somehow fitted in to the 9-day adventure, too. We’re talking Jerash (formerly one of the grandest Roman cities in the world; now an amazing ancient walled town), Madaba (brimming with wonderful churches and Byzantine-era mosaics), and, even the Dead Sea. Read the last and final point for more on this…
The otherworldly opportunities to relax
It’d be a shame to visit Jordan and not see the lowest point on earth. And it’d be a shame not to exert yourself cycling and then take a break at such a surreal spot. This is why our new trip ensures you enjoy a good old soak in the Dead Sea. Amman Beach, specifically. A spot where you can well and truly enjoy the healing properties of the salt lake. Lie back (in the water…you’ll float!), relax, and watch any aches or pains disappear far, far away…
Ready to embark on the trip of a lifetime? Try this 9-day Cycle Jordan adventure.
(Image credits from top to bottom: iStock/Saro17, Intrepid Travel, Intrepid Travel, Gabor Spistyak, Intrepid Travel x4.)