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Trekking and hiking in Wadi Rum : Jordan in general is a wonderful place for hiking and trekking, and Wadi Rum in particular is renowned for this. In principle, tourists are not encouraged to venture alone into the "wild places" in Jordan, you should take a guide with you for your own safety. Wadi Rum is indeed, the only exception to this rule, which the tourist police will enforce strictly if they find you "wandering" where you are not supposed to be. Note that there are NO large scale maps readily available of Jordan (absolutely NONE!), one rock looks very much like another one, paths are seldom if ever signposted and it is very easy indeed to lose oneself. All too often helicopters have had to be called out to look for lost hikers, and if nobody knows where you are likely to be you would be very fortunate to be found.
"Scrambling" takes you up into the mountains to sites such as the Burdah Arch or through the Rakebat Canyon. These are much more interesting excursions than hiking on the sand, but the guides are more expensive, since the responsibility is much greater. There are various degrees of difficulty - please note that Jebel Rum is NOT a hike!
A guide for hiking or climbing : the official price for the guide is 80JD per day for hiking or 120-200JD for climbing according to the route. This does not include any food or the overnight accommodation. The price is split between the hikers/climbers, so the larger the group the better from your point of view. The guide will usually accept up to about ten or fifteen people for hiking; for climbing it depends on the difficulty of the climb and on your ability.
Wadi Rum Mountain Guides and Bedouin Roads offer some guided treks to the better known destinations, that nevertheless take you well away from the general tourist routes. See the page on Tours of Wadi Rum.
It is NOT recommended for people to take themselves out into the desert in their own 4x4 without a guide. Any breakdown or accident can leave you in deep trouble, especially if you are away from the usual areas visited, and you have even more scope for getting lost. However, you can't get into very much trouble on foot in Wadi Rum if you stick reasonably close to the tracks, and nobody will stop you trekking out. You can safely leave your belongings in storage at the Resthouse if you wish. If you are planning to camp out for a day or two or more, it is best to arrange for somebody to supply you with water and of course you will need your own sleeping bag and so forth. There are a couple of semi permanent camp sites (see photo of the Abu Aina camp at the head of the page). There are also a number of "tourist camps" run by the individual guides, it is always possible to sleep here. The usual price is around 25JD for the night, including supper and breakfast. Most guides would give you a lift back to the Resthouse if you ask them - always supposing they are going there, which is a pretty safe bet.
Some very good books on trekking in Jordan are written by the team of Tony Howard and Di Taylor, who have been active in the climbing, trekking and scrambling sectors for a number of years. They are "Treks and climbs in Wadi Rum" by Tony Howard published by the Cicerone Press (available from Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk and "Walks and scrambles in Wadi Rum" this last being a smaller pamphlet type book, consisting mainly of extracts of the first book and describing the "simpler" ie the non-climbing routes. This one is only available in Jordan, in fact it is usually to be found in souvenir shops selling guidebooks, (in Petra for instance, but I have never seen a copy on sale in Wadi Rum!), and it would be a good idea to look out for it if you are planning to do any independent walking around. These books are highly detailed with sketchmaps and are invaluable for anybody wishing to visit Wadi Rum in any detail. Another superb book for the hiker is "Jordan: Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs, Canyons" by Di Taylor and Tony Howard (Cicerone Press 2000), also available from Amazon UK. This last book covers most of Jordan, including the Northern Highlands, Dana, Wadi Araba and Wadi Mujib, and the Petra area, as well as Wadi Rum. You will notice that most of the treks described add the note "It is recommended (or "essential") to take a guide with you". Tony Howard's website is http://nomadstravel.co.uk.
Climbing in Wadi Rum
If you are interested in Canyoning, please see the page on Canyons
Climbing in Wadi Rum : from the first visits of Tony Howard and his successors in 1984, Wilfried Colonna being among the most active, Wadi Rum has become a world renowned climbing centre and there is some talk of a climbing school being started there. Most of the climbers are here in the spring and the autumn, but you might find some people all the year round.
I repeat the information given higher up about the prices of guides : the official price for the guide is 60D per day for hiking or around 100JD for climbing according to the route. The price is split between the hikers/climbers, so the larger the group the better from your point of view. The guide will usually accept up to about ten or fifteen people for hiking; for climbing it depends on the difficulty of the climb and on your ability. A number of the recognised climbing routes have set prices for the climb. Again, you can perfectly well try to negotiate this price, except in the high season.
The climbing falls into two categories. The classic Bedouin routes are an enjoyable mixture of scrambling and climbing, and within the grasp of anyone with some mountain experience. Some are circular expeditions that involve trekking. The rock routes which have been put up since the mid 1980s are mostly in the higher grades. Minimal use of bolts has been the policy in Rum - partly on ethical grounds and also due to the nature of the sandstone - they fall out after a few years. That said, many routes are hard to protect and bolts are used for abseils and belays. Beware of loose ones. The desecration of natural beauty versus the obvious need for belay points debate is fully explored in the Wadi Rum guest house new routes book. Most of the best known climbing routes are in the general vicinity of the village of Rum, in Wadi Um Ishrin and in the Barragh Canyon.
Most people interested in mountaineering want to climb Jebel Rum (1754m) at least once! The official price for climbing it with a guide is usually around 150JD to 200JD, according to the route chosen. Try to make up a small group to share the expense, check with the guide first to see how many people he will accept. His answer will logically depend largely on your expertise and on your choice of route.
A very few local guides would guide this mountain - see www.rumguides.com
Equipment : For most of the free routes in Wadi Rum you will need two 50m+ (or more) double ropes, a full set of nuts, full set of cams and a pile of tape and cord for threads. This is apart from the usual 14 or so quickdraws, harness, daisy chain, shoes etc. Climbing in Rum can be very hard on your ropes, and you would be better off having a spare set, in case you destroy, damage or wear out a rope or two. Aid Climbing : In addition to the above rack you will need a full set of varying types of pitons, hammer, hooks, daisies, etriers and perhaps a single rope or two for leading, fixing and jumaring etc. Except for perhaps one or two routes, or maybe new routes, you should not need hammocks or portaledges. There are large enough ledges for bivouacs on most of the long routes, take a haul bag and a hauling pulley for these routes, unless you move fast enough to complete them in a day. [This list has been supplied by Walter Neser from his website at http://www.wadirum.net and I thank him for allowing me to use it. This site has been recently updated incidentally and contains much useful route information]
In fact, if you are climbing with one of the guides mentioned above, he will usually provide the necessary equipment. If you are planning to climb on your own, even part-time, then yes, you should bring what you will need. It is fairly easy to arrange for somebody to drive you out to a climbing site and meet you again at whatever time you fix (even though this isn't free!)
Although it isn't a serious page about climbing in Wadi Rum, you might like to look at the page in the "Jordan out of doors" section called "Climbing el Habla". You will find some photos and comments on climbing and on the Bedouin climbers which might interest you.
One of the problems in Wadi Rum is the chronic shortage of qualified local guides. There is no experienced guide for the many "big walls", and only a handful who would guide the easier technical climbs. Even for the "Bedouin Roads" it is difficult to find a guide. Your best chances are www.rumguides.com, www.bedouinroads.com and www.jordantracks.com.