Wadi Rum & the Gulf of Aqaba
Wadi Rum's highland deserts and the deep blue waters of the Gulf of Aqaba are separated the mountains of the Hejaz. A chain of high, jagged peaks, in whose heartlands Islam was born nearly 1500 years ago, the Hejaz represent one of the great, fabled ranges of the Arabian Peninsula and form part of a broader upland known as the Sarawat, which runs the length of its Red Sea coast to Yemen. Wadi Rum is found on the eastern side of the Hejaz mountains and counts as one, small part of the Hisma; a grand desert of towering sandstone massifs and sweeping red dunes that extends deep into the Arabian Peninsula. Each with their own, highly-distinctive kind of landscape, the Hejaz and Hisma represent two of the great geographical regions of Arabia and walking from Wadi Rum to the Gulf of Aqaba involves journeying through both. The hiking route between them is part of the broader network of routes around the Wadi Rum Trail and it connects the westernmost section of its main circuit with the northernmost suburbs of Aqaba. Traversing sweeping plains, deep, shadowy gorges and rugged mountains lined with black and maroon dykes this route is nearly 50km in length and will take most hikers two days to walk. Walking it downhill towards the sea is considerably easier and it can be completed as an alternative ending to a hike on the Wadi Rum Trail, in place of the climbing traverse of Jebel Rum. Hikers walking it uphill have two major options on connecting with the Wadi Rum Trail: the first is to follow it north, completing it as a sea-to-summit walk involving a traverse of Jebel Rum to finish in Wadi Rum Village. The other is go south, following the Wadi Rum Trail anti-clockwise on an eight day hike to Wadi Rum Village via Jordan's highest peak; the 1854m summit of Jebel Um Adami.
The route: a quick overview
The Wadi Rum Trail is marked red on the map, with the route connecting it with Aqaba yellow. It links the westernmost section of the Wadi Rum Trail near Jebel Abu Baytherana with Wadi el Howayta, outside Aqaba's northernmost suburb, known as Shamaya. Whilst most of the route counts as a walk Wadi el Howayta involves scrambling steps most of the way, some of which are tricky if tackled directly, but most of which can be avoided on easier routes to the sides. Whilst the Wadi Rum Trail is a remote, wilderness route, highways, villages, pylons and other signs of the modern world are seen in the middle section of this route around Wadi Yitim; all unavoidable marks of a landscape that becomes ever more urban and industralised towards the coasts.
Organisation & practicalities
Hikers should take Bedouin guides for this section, walking it in the same way they do the Wadi Rum Trail. Whilst all hikes on the Wadi Rum Trail must be fixed through operators in Wadi Rum Village, support for this one can be organised with Bedouin from outside. Nevertheless, be aware few operators are found along this route meaning those in Wadi Rum Village may still represent the easiest option. Wadi el Howayta is 20km north of downtown Aqaba, which most will choose to cover in a taxi. Wadi el Howayta is known to few of Aqaba's urban taxi drivers so transport to or from its mouth in Shamaya should be organised with the journey's Bedouin support team More information can be found in the Wadi Rum Trail Route Overview.
The Jordan Trail
Other walking routes exist between Wadi Rum and the Gulf of Aqaba, including the Jordan Trail. Initiated nearly 30 years ago by Tony Howard and scouted over decades by Jordanians all over the country the Jordan Trail is a 675km walking trail from the north to the south of Jordan. It traverses Wadi Rum directly, going south towards the Bedouin hamlet of Titin before winding down to the sea south of Aqaba. It intersects with the Wadi Rum Trail near Wadi Um Ghatha but it can also be joined by leaving the Wadi Rum Trail after Jebel Um Adami, following Wadi Saabit west to Titin. Taking the Jordan Trail to Aqaba also involves walking around 40km over two days, whether from Um Ghutha or Wadi Saabit.