The Bedouin Trail is a new intercontinental travelling passage that runs more than 1200km between Africa and Asia, of which most can be hiked. Starting at the rock-hewn Nabataean capital of Petra in Jordan and ending at Egypt's legendary kingdoms of the Pharaohs on the banks of the River Nile at Luxor it connects two of the great captials of the ancient world, traverses some of the most spectacular wilderness of the Middle East and runs through the territories of seven Bedouin tribes. The Bedouin Trail is a trail project of unparalleled scope created over 10 years and the three sister trails of the Wadi Rum Trail, Sinai Trail and Red Sea Mountain Trail stand at its heart today. It brings these routes together into a connected passage, aligning with sections of each whilst also extending them into neighbouring regions. It is the longest hiking route in the Arab World and the first to run between Africa and Asia. The Wadi Rum Trail has an place in a transnational Bedouin collective that manages the development of the Bedouin Trail and oversees the Asian side of the passage, between Petra and the Gulf of Aqaba. Walking between two continents with different Bedouin tribes, hikers will come to understand more of the great depth, beauty and diversity of the region's nomadic heritage and something of the ever-changing identity of the Bedouin today. The trail will show how tribal culture changes but also retains commonalities, underlining how the Bedouin exist in a wide cultural block that transcends modern borders and remains a real, living part of the region. The Bedouin Trail opens a modern passage through the heart of an ancient nomadic nation and represents one of the most unique and extraordinary journeys that can be made both in the Middle East and the wider world.
The Bedouin Trail connects the ancient capitals of Petra and Luxor, running between Africa and Asia, Jordan and Egypt and the territories of seven tribes. It is a 1200km route that will take most hikers over two months to walk and whilst it can be traversed in either direction the best option is to start in Petra, ending at Luxor on the banks of Egypt's River Nile. Along with the Red Sea Mountain Trail and Sinai Trail, the Wadi Rum Trail is an integral part of the Bedouin Trail and its centrepiece on the Asian side. It starts with a 140km route between Petra and Wadi Rum that will take most hikers six days to walk. After this it follows the Wadi Rum Trail, before exiting to Aqaba. For more, see the website of the Bedouin Trail.
Bedouin Trail: classic thru hike
The Bedouin Trail runs south from Petra to Wadi Rum, connecting with the Wadi Rum Trail in Wadi Um Ashreen. It aligns with a 100km section of the Wadi Rum Trail that will take most hikers seven days to walk, following its circuit clockwise to Wadi Abu Baytherana, where an exit is made on a 50km route to Aqaba. Almost the entirety of the Wadi Rum Trail is integrated into the Bedouin Trail, except the crossing of Jebel Rum, which is usually done over the last two days. Hikers will traverse Wadi Rum's sandstone heartlands, its remote easterly tablelands and, in the south, Jebel Um Adami: Jordan's highest peak at 1854m. In the west, hikers will move from the deserts of the Hisma to the northern hills of the Hejaz, continuing over two days towards Aqaba.
Thru hike: need-to-know
The Bedouin Trail section of the Wadi Rum Trail should be organised through Bedouin operators in Wadi Rum Village. These operators are also the best option for organising support for the exit route to Aqaba, along with transport to Aqaba's centre at the end. Hikers starting the Bedouin Trail from Petra can fix support with Bedouin operators in Petra, although it is also possible to use operators in Wadi Rum, who will coordinate with the tribes further north to fix it. Anybody thru hiking the Bedouin Trail must think carefully about seasonal shifts that will happen over their passage along the route. Winter is a bitterly cold time in the highlands of the Sinai and hikers who want to avoid it are advised to finish the 20 day Sinai Trail section of the Bedouin Trail before the end of November or to start it in early March. The optimum time for completing the two week Jordanian parts of a Bedouin Trail thru hike will be any time in October upto the first 10 days of November or from mid February to mid March. This will avoid the Sinai winter and allow the intercontinental passage to be completed in a manageable weather window. Bedouin Trail hikers following the classic thru hike route traverse scrambling sections on the Wadi Rum Trail and should read all our guidance on these sections and recommended safety gear carefully. For more on the intercontinenal thru hike check the website of the Bedouin Trail.
A northerly alternative
Hikers do not have to go clockwise on the Wadi Rum Trail. On reaching Wadi Um Ashreen from Petra its circuit can be traversed anti-clockwise. This gives a shorter but more technically challenging route to the Gulf of Aqaba, if the Wadi Rum Trail's main circuit is followed. Going clockwise, the Wadi Rum Trail ends with a traverse of Jebel Rum, whose eastern crags are descended with multiple abseils. These crags must be ascended on challenging Bedouin climbing routes going anti-clockwise. Nevertheless, an anti-clockwise circuit is possible on walking routes too, with one traversing Jebel Rum's southern crags via the hamlet of Abu Eina. This gives a 20km passage from Wadi Um Ashreen to Jebel Barra el Samayeen, where hikers exit to Aqaba.
BEDOUIN TRAIL THRU HIKE
The Bedouin Trail's classic thru hike follows the Wadi Rum Trail clockwise. Hikers traversing it anti-clockwise from Wadi Um Ashreen begin with a scrambling traverse of Um Ejil, after which two options exist: climbing Jebel Rum's east face on a Bedouin climbing route or walking its southern crags via Abu Eina. Hikers approaching from Petra can take a more direct but less scenic route avoiding Wadi Um Ashreen & Um Ejil by continuing down the main course of Wadi Rum.
DAY 1 - Hikers following the Bedouin Trail south from Petra will connect with the Wadi Rum Trail in Wadi Um Ashreen, following it clockwise towards the east & camping below Jebel Birda.
DAY 2- The high, outlying peak of Jebel Birda is ascended, involving steep, exposed scrambling. Walking routes are also possible.
DAY 3 - Hikers will move out into a tract of remote tablelands to the east of Wadi Rum, known as the Juloof. Two high tablelands are crossed, with camp being made in Wadi el Lassam.
DAY 4 - The Wadi Rum Trail brings hikers to the head of Wadi Saabit, with the route continuing towards Jebel Um Adami. If time allows, hikers can continue to its summit, where views open up over the Red Sea to the faraway highlands of St Katherine in the Sinai; the next major section of the Bedouin Trail. Its west ridge is scrambled down with a bivvy made in a seclued basin.
DAY 5- Jebel Um Adami is descended with a short section of exposed scrambling, with hikers continuing over Wadi Saabit.
DAY 6 - Hikers leave Wadi Saabit, traversing the pretty passage of Raqaba el Qiddar to the caves of Haraab Anter.
DAY 7 - The route leads out of the Hisma Desert into the northerly foothills of the Hejaz in Wadi Abu Baytherana.
DAYS 8 & 9 - Bedouin Trail hikers leave the Wadi Rum Trail, taking a two day route through the Hejaz to the town of Aqaba.