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 Red Sea Mountain Trail and Sinai 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 its region. Five different Bedouin tribes live together in Wadi Rum including branches of the Maaza or Bani Atiya, as they are known outside the Red Sea Mountains of Egypt. 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 4x4 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.
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 around the deserts of Wadi Rum for 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 Bani Atiya are the same tribe as the Maaza of Egypt's Red Sea Mountains, known by a different name. The Howaytat hold territory to the north of the Maaza in Egypt. The Billi passed through the Red Sea Mountains long ago and their presence is still recorded in place names on the Red Sea Mountain Trail, such as Wadi Billi. The Tarabin live across the deserts of the Sinai.
The Wadi Rum Trail today
Founded in early 2023, the Wadi Rum Trail opened four years after the Red Sea Mountain Trail and eight years after the Sinai Trail. It stands as the last of the three sister projects to 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 Red Sea Mountain Trail and Sinai 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 - whether in mainland Egypt, the Sinai or Jordan - to the wider world. Each of the three sister projects collaborates to support the development and growth of the others and it is hoped that the Wadi Rum Trail will continue to grow like its sister projects, making the most positive impact in its region.
Bedouin Trail: a family of three
The Red Sea Mountain Trail, Wadi Rum Trail and Sinai Trail came together 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 neighbouring 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.