Overview of the Jordan Bike Trail
The Jordan Bike Trail is a new, long-distance, mixed-track cycling trail crossing and connecting the length of Jordan from Um Qais in the north to Aqaba and the Red Sea in the south. The route can be completed in around 15 days and was designed as a north to south route. Care was taken on the uphills to route via more stable terrain, and the downhills include more off-road trails.
The Jordan Bike Trail travels though the main historical and natural wonders of Jordan. It starts at the rolling hills, olive groves, and farms of the north; across the dramatic canyons of the Dead Sea region; via the remarkable landscapes around Dana and Petra; past the majestic mountains and desert of Wadi Rum, and finishes with the relaxing warm waters and colourful corals of the Red Sea.
The aim of the trail is to connect the diverse geography of Jordan; and allow riders to see many hidden treasures of this wonderful Kingdom, meet local people, and experience the delights of local food and hospitality.
The trail is best ridden in groups with support, particularly in the south where the terrain is remote and accommodation is limited. In addition to making the cycling easier, overnight support from local Bedouin provides an amazing experience.
Route Choice – Creating an Epic Trail
The geography of Jordan is such that there were three main route options to cross the country: the flat along the Jordan Valley dropping to 400m below sea level; the flat on the high plateau to the East over 1,000m above sea level; or the much more interesting route zigzagging between the valley and the plateau, taking in the best of all the terrain and crossing the East-West canyons of the Dead Sea. This route enabled the trail to be truly stunning with a variety of landscapes and terrain. But, it also means that the trail is a very challenging cycling route with over 20,000m of ascent and descent along the full 700+ km trail. The route has some long climbs worthy of any mountain stage of a Grand Tour.
Jordan is a land of epic wonders, so only an epic trail would fully do justice to the wonderful landscapes. This is not a trail for beginner cyclists wanting to stay on flat roads – it is for riders who love adventure. The terrain is not very technical: the off-road sections are suitable for riders with little off-road experience. The elevation changes do make the trail a challenge though. While this trail includes a lot of ascent and descent, the route was chosen with more gradual ascents on firmer terrain. Occasionally, you will need to get off your bike to pass a stream or rocky section, or push up a particularly steep section. It is possible to do the trail self-supported with bike packing, but we recommend a supported trip for groups. A supported trip allows cyclist to ride without carrying luggage and experience the hospitality of the guides, and the variety of homestays, hotels, bedouin camps, and wilderness campsites.
This trail is not meant to be a collection of the best individual sections of riding in Jordan. Rather, it aims to be the most fun, interesting, exciting, and scenic route across the country, connecting the main historic and natural wonders along a variety of terrain.
How did the Jordan Bike Trail come into being?
The Jordan Bike Trail is built on a history of traveling across Jordan, with trade routes crossing the land for thousands of years. Most recently the Jordan Trail was created as a hiking trail across Jordan.
The bike trail development was lead by Matt Loveland, Co-Founder of Experience Jordan, one of Jordan’s leading adventure tour companies. Matt is keen hiker and cyclist and has spent many days exploring Jordan by bike. Experience Jordan was one of the lead companies who helped to pioneer the Jordan Trail, a 650Km hiking route across the country. The expertise and knowledge gained during the scouting of the hiking trail assisted with the development of the bike trail. The hiking trail was certainly a reference for developing the trail, and the same principles that were applied in developing the hiking trail were applied in the bike trail development. In some sections the bike trail follows the hiking trail. However, a hiking trail has different design constraints to a biking trail, so where there were better cycling routes, these were taken. The bike trail also offers some optional day trip detours to pick up some of the sites not directly on the trail, such as the Jerash, Amman and the Dead Sea.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
A little note from the founder of the trail, Matt Loveland. Cycling in Jordan is still a relatively young sport, but it is rapidly growing in popularity, both on and off-road over the last few years.
I moved to Jordan in 2008 and have fallen in love with the country and its people and landscapes. After managing Climbat Amman, I formed Experience Jordan with a friend Mark Khano, out of a desire to promote and develop the adventure tourism potential of Jordan. Establishing a tourism business in a peaceful country surrounded by noisy neighbours has had its challenges over the year, but the wonders of discovering treasures across the country and being able to then share those with others has made it all worthwhile.
This bike trail has been inspired by the hard work done to promote cycling and adventure in Jordan by so many people. Having lived in Jordan for several years, I have made many friends amongst the outdoor community, and this trail has been created standing on the shoulders of local pioneers who do so much to promote an outdoor life in Jordan.
I want to mention a few of those people who I respect for all the hard work they have put in:
- Nader Zakibeh of Nader Bikes who also now trains the National Cycling Federation team, and who consistently out-races riders half his age.
- Ammar Satari of Bedouin Bikes, Tareef Cycling Club and the Jordan Triathlon Federation, who has worked hard along with Dr Tareq Khayyat to promote cycling, duathlons and triathlons in Jordan.
- Sari Husseini of Cycling Jordan, founder of The 100 Race along the Dead Sea.
- Hussam Sweidan of Bike Rush, who has done so much to promote cycling in schools and supported triathlons in Jordan.
- Batoul Arnout founder of Boost, who has given so much time to promote sports amongst disadvantages communities.
- Samir Farhouh, Pascal and Marie Hoyez, and the rest of the fantastic team at the Amman Road Runners who founded the Dead2Red running and cycling races.
- Hakim Tamimi, founder of Tropical Desert, who first introduced me to adventure in Jordan in Wadi Hasa and has pioneered so much to promote adventure in Jordan.
- Rakan Mehyar and Anas from Terhaal, who founded the first true adventure tourism company in Jordan and have led many cycling tours across Jordan, and continue to challenge us to deliver high quality adventure trips.
- Tony Howard and Di Taylor, British climbers and hikers who have spent so much time in Jordan, helped to put Jordan on the outdoors adventure map, and inspired the Jordan Trail.
- The amazing Lina Annab, who in her time as Minister of Tourism and Antiquities has led by example in hiking the trials and promoting the adventure scene in Jordan.
- Muna Haddad, founder of Baraka Destinations, and currently President of the Jordan Trail Association, who’s given so much time to developing truly sustainable tourism in Jordan.
- My business partner Mark Khano, who keeps out of the limelight, but has put so many hours in to promote and develop adventure in Jordan, and his strategic thinking has shaped our company.
- Ayman Abd-AlKareem, the best adventure guide in Jordan, and a great friend, thank you for all the adventures.
- A special mention for Nasser Tabbaa who has ably captained the BAT riders on weekly adventures to scout new mountain bike trails, and has done so much to create a thriving group of riders.
- Andy Nurse for being up for an adventure and making this website a reality.
- Shadi Dabbour from Bluelink who’s the technical wizard behind this website.
- Jack Mandelkorn who took a risk and took time off school to travel to an unknown country to help develop the trail.
- Jawad Abu Rumman who has spent many hours driving around the country with me to scout this route.
- Jessica, my daughter, who helped scout the route with me and has a great spirit of adventure.
There are many others, and this list is growing every year as the outdoor scene grows.