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Cycling in Jordan – Between steep climbs and history

My world trip by bike took me to Jordan in October 2022. In the current article you will learn more about steep ramps, my time on the Jordan Bike Trail and a country between tourism and hospitality

Arrival in Amman

When I open the box with my bike and my gear, I’m glad. Everything survived the two-hour flight well, so I can start my cycling adventure in Jordan. Through the heavy traffic I make my way through the capital, Amman. With its steep streets, I already get a foretaste of the coming days.

Strolling through the small streets and lively markets, I get a little culture shock. Having rarely been to tourist regions in the last few weeks and months, I have to realize how touristy Jordan is. Lots of souvenir stands, taxi drivers want to sell me trips to the attractions, guides offer their services and busloads of package tourists are spat out everywhere.

In Amman, Yusuf, who has already cycled around the country himself, gets me in the mood for the route. He promises me many steep ramps and partly impassable terrain. To what extent he will be right, remains to be seen. Together we also explore a bit of Amman. We enjoy the sunset in the citadel above the city after climbing the steep steps of the amphitheater. In addition, Amman has a lot of street art to offer and the city center on the hillside with its small streets offers some great views.

The other Jordan

After two days, however, I leave the hustle and bustle of the capital behind me and first drive a little bit north. In Jerash, I admire the remains of the Roman settlement. The site has remains of churches, amphitheatres, temples, hippodromes and, as a highlight, a large city gate. With Jerash, I quickly leave the big tourism behind me. Although, I look at the fortress in Ajloun the next day. But there is already much less going on here.

And this is where the real Jordan starts for me. When visiting a small monastery, I get tea and biscuits and in the evening Amir offers me a campsite in his garage with a great view.


Tea Break

 And the next day, Jordan shows its beautiful but also challenging side. If you drive through the country from north to south, you have to cross one river valley (wadi) after the other. It’s always steep uphill or downhill. I don’t do a lot of kilometers these days, but I do climb a lot. When I want to order something in a bakery using sign language, the clerk explains to me that I can also say it in English. I’m surprised after my time in Turkey. In Jordan, foreign language skills are definitely more pronounced. In the evening, I am invited to a café and we watch football together. Rakan also gets wind of my presence there. The young man, who studied in Germany for a year, invites me to his home.

Firebread in the Wadi

After a hearty breakfast on his terrace, I can set off to Salt well-rested. The city is a World Heritage Site and is an old trading town that was able to build up a strong position in the salt trade thanks to its central location. The nice thing is that the city is not overcrowded, the markets are still authentic and life in the narrow streets of the old town goes on as normal. On the other hand, the next day, I only stay in Madaba for a short time. The tourist place is not fascinating for me and I make my way to the next wadi. I would actually like to camp there, but this turns out to be difficult because the wadi itself is difficult to access. I can’t find a good place there, but I do find some locals having a barbecue. Of course, I’m invited to sit down and so I get another chance at a traditional Jordanian evening. We prepare arboud . Bread is baked directly in the fire and later softened in a kind of soup. Very tasty and truly a unique experience. In this video, you get an impression of it:

Since Amir takes me a bit further home with the pick-up, I at least save myself a steep ascent from the Wadi. But the next wadi will definitely come. After a short photo stop on a rocky edge, I can take on the descent and also the following ascent. I drive south past the fortress in Karak. In one of the other wadis, the locals explain to me that it is very dry here and that it rains very little. However, this information is not valid for very long. Driving out of the wadi, I am caught in a violent thunderstorm and seek shelter under the roof of a mosque. My presence there doesn’t go unnoticed for long, so I don’t have to spend the evening outside, but in Mohanet’s apartment. We let the evening end with nice conversations. After that, I’m quickly left alone and relaxed.


It continues to rain the next morning. Since I’m sitting in the dry, that’s not a problem for me. With fresh bread straight from the oven, I can start the day well strengthened and make my way towards Petra. The rain conjured up some beautiful clouds of fog in a valley. The view in the evening is definitely a great photo opportunity. Camping is officially forbidden around the town of Petra, so I’m looking for a suitable place just outside. But already here I am asked about my plans for the night and instead of a campsite I am offered taxi rides and a hotel room. Luckily, I found what I was looking for in a small shop where they offered me a place to sleep in the neighboring garage.

After my wonderful experiences of the last few days, I’m back in the tourist hotspot: Petra, one of the seven wonders of the modern world and probably the only reason for many to visit Jordan. I have never seen so many tourists in one place in my whole tour. The most famous photo motif is the treasure house. In addition to the 40-meter-high structure, the 2000-year-old capital of the Nabataeans has even more to offer. Large royal tombs were impressively carved into the cliffs of the valleys. And the lesser-known monastery is also well worth seeing. There are also remains of the Roman settlement with theaters, churches and temples. All in all, I hiked through the huge complex for 6 hours and by no means saw everything. In the evening, I’m glad to be able to leave the city behind me and set off again into solitude.

Wadi Rum on foot

South of Petra, I leave the deep valleys behind and the area becomes more desert-like. On the small side road, I regularly have to push my bike through sand that the wind has blown onto the road. Nevertheless, I reach Wadi Rum. Another world natural and cultural heritage. The desert is interrupted here by steep walls. At these there are small springs or sometimes petroglyphs . The wind has carved many rocks into interesting formations, and there are also some narrow gorges carved into the rocks. In addition, the solitude in many places offers a great night sky. The place is not only popular with tourists, filmmakers also come here to produce movies such as Star Wars, the Martian and much more. For three days, I explore the area from one of the many Bedouin camps. I enjoy roaming around the area on foot. In contrast to most tourists who travel here in jeeps. This allows me to see places that few others see.

You can often continue on foot by bike. I decided to cross Wadi Rum with this one. However, this turns out to be a bigger challenge. For long stretches, I have to push my bike through the partially deep sand. Then I finally have solid ground under my feet again and can roll down the descent to Aqaba on the Red Sea. Shortly before I reach the place, however, Ala loads me onto his pick-up and drives me directly to the beach of Aqaba. He sleeps there on the back of his car, I pitch my tent. The next day he takes me into town and we look around a bit. Aqaba is more of a place for beach vacations and diving tourists. I take a quick look at the fortress and the promenade and then make my way back towards the beach. There I spend my last evening in Jordan before I make my way to Saudi Arabia.

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