"THE NABATEAN TRAIL"
EXPEDITION ON TRAIL BIKES 10 days Europe-Europe
Which do you think will be better?
From the Nature Reserve of Dhana to the Red Sea, in the extravagant surrounding of pillars of pink sandstone, basaltic columns and of desert steppe, you will pedal through the impressive ravines and canyons of Wadi Araba to the gates of the desert of Wadi Rum. An exceptional route of a wide diversity following in the steps of the Crusaders, the Nabateans and Lawrence of Arabia!
The details of this program are given as an indication only. It can undergo modifications or additions, according to the technical criteria, requirements of safety or climatic current terms. In these cases, only the persons in charge of the expedition are entitled to make the necessary decisions.
J1 - Flight Paris/Aqaba. Reception at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Night at the hotel in Aqaba.
J2 - Transfer by bus or car to Dhana, starting point of our raid. Visit to this splendid but small and ancient village.
Meeting up with the team, distribution of the bikes and familiarisation with the material. Before embarking on our expedition, we try them out on a short kilometer of road which climbs sharply before meeting the path on the crest of the hill, with views over Israel and Wadi Araba. The going is apt to be stony, limestone at the beginning, then red earth, followed by volcanic rock.
The first stage lasts for 25 km with a bivouac close to the Crusader castle of Shaubak.
J3 - Departure down a considerable hill for 3 km, by a small and winding country road, overlooking the village and some caves which used to be inhabited . Visit to the castle of Shaubak.
At the edge of the plateau, some wide tracks lead us easily, between "Nubian" sandstone and limestone to the various springs which erupt from the edges of the Transjordanian plateau. We take the goat and camel tracks, so steep and narrow that the guide will sometimes advise to put a foot on the ground for a few meters - this is a new way which takes us across the forest of Hisha. This is followed by a steep descent on road and tracks. We pause for a visit to "Little Petra" and the Neolithic site of Beidha (dating from -7500 years ago!).
Night in a camp in the centre of the red sandstone mountains. 35-40 km.
J4 - early morning departure on the bikes (7 km. of roadway), to the entry to the site of Petra - here we proceed forcibly on foot. We spend the whole day "Rose City of the Nabateans", visiting the famous monuments - such as the Khazneh (Treasure of the Pharaoh) or the temple of the Ed Deir at the top of a mountain - don't miss the panorama.
The night can be spent either in a hotel or in a camp/bivouac in Wadi Mousa ("the valley of Moses"), modern city of Petra. If anybody feels like it after all their efforts, they can visit a Turkish Bath here and have a massage!!!
J5 - After a short stage in a vehicle to leave the town, we head due south, crossing the villages of Taybeh and Rajiv, along tracks high above the mountains of Petra and Wadi Araba, omnipresent. There we say goodbye to the last gardens and the last of the springs. A short uphill stretch is followed by a long descent...
After passing through broad and very dry mountains, we reach a pass - oh happiness! leading to the wide plain which stretches before us. Behind us, on the horizon, there is Mount Aaron (near to Petra). In front of us, far over there, the celebrated mountains of Wadi Rum. The doors of the steppe are open for us, and and we can make speed! 35-40 km. Here we make camp or bivouac according to how we feel.
J6 - "Abassi" is a site dating to abassid times, where water is brought in stone "falaj" (water channels) from kilometers away. The spring is far to the north on the edge of the plateau of Raas an Nakab.
In spring Bedouin tents are installed along the way, the Bedouins cultivating a little barley for their herds of goats and camels. Between the sandy desert which is beginning here, and the sandstone mountains which are growing larger, we can make good timel, while avoiding the first sandy pitfalls. We cross the typical Bedouin village of Humeima, peopled by the tribe of the Huweytat, once ruled by the famous and much respected Aouda Abou Tayi, at the time of Lawrence of Arabia. Bivouac in the desert. 40-45 km.
When there is no shade available, we improvise it! On the right, notice the driver is at his midday prayers
J7 - Here are wide spaces to take our breath away, mountains as far as the eye can see, the sand valley stretching out before us. We embark on the desert crossing ...
In the village of Rum we pause after 15 km of track and road: there is the fort of the Desert Patrol, Lawrence's Spring, a Nabatean temple - and the Bedouin village itself in the throes of changing its lifestyle.
We shall visit Wadi Rum itself in 4x4, the sandy tracks are too hard-going for bicycles. The sights are marvellous, and your leg muscles can take a holiday! Bivouac in the deep desert.
J8 In the middle of these natural fortresses of coloured sandstone, we leave for the south - soon we shall be going downhill. Watch out for the odd treacherous sand bank, the trail can sometimes be tricky, but is perfectly negotiable.
Descent towards Wadi Yeten (on the Saudi border), still in the middle of arid cliffs of basalt and granite Wadi Yeten is a wide valley floored with gravel, in the granite behind the coastal mountains of Aqaba. 30-35 km. Bivouac in the desert.
J9 - A few kilometers more on the bikes, before we find the vehicles waiting to take us on the short ride to the center of Aqaba. The rest of the day will be free, for shopping, swimming or exploring the coral reefs of the Red Sea. The night is spent in a hotel .
J10 - Departure for the Aqaba airport in the morning. Flight Aqaba/Paris.
In a hotel in Aqaba and in bivouac and camps during the expedition, either in tents or out of doors, according to the season.
A English or English-speaking guide, specialising in trail biking, will be in charge for the group, and will be backed up by the logistical team
On the site of Petra (1 day), only the duly certified
Jordanian guides are entitled to accompany by the groups. These
guides all speak good English.
PREPARING FOR THE TRIP
BIKING ABILITY AND THE TERRAIN
This expedition is not reserved for specialists, but some knowledge and experience of trail bikes is nevertheless essential.
Your knowledge of the use of gears and of negotiating hills and descents, will help you to find a maximum of enjoyment from your trip.
The Jordanian mountains have in store for you some 220 km of tracks, which are on the whole perfectly negotiable; they are sometimes steep and rocky but there are no really technical passages. There are a few short legs on small roads. In the desert of Wadi Rum, some rides in jeeps will be organized to avoid the very sandy parts. The stages are between 25 and 40 km per day. The altitude varyies from sea level to 1600 m. All the collective and individual material is transported by the accompanying vehicle which we shall meet up with each evening when we bivouac. You will need to carry only one small bag with what you need for the day (your midday meal, any small oddments, your camera, that is to say no more than 2 or 3 kg).
PHYSICAL PREPARATION :
To benefit fully from your excursion, you should really be in good physical form. Jogging, bicycle, gymnastics, all are good to avoid the disadvantages of a difficult " re-starting", after a few months of sedentary life. Obviously, cycling would be the best of all if climatic conditions allow it.
Normally, you will see to any servicing needed by your bicycle during the excursion, although technical advice is available from your guides.
Passport: valid for 6 months after the date of your return.
Jordanian Visa : It is possible to obtain your entry visa on arrival at the Aqaba airport at the immigration counter (at your charge and to be paid on the spot - 110 FRF or 17 euros approximately)
An exit tax is payable on departure, to be paid in Jordanian dinars at the airport. In 2001, this tax was 5 JD for the citizens of the European union.
INDIVIDUAL EQUIPMENT :
You should bring 2 bags with you :
PERSONAL EQUIPMENT ADVISED
1 warm sleeping bag, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of light trousers, 3 or 4 tee-shirts, 1 sweater, warm sweat shirt or (better) polar wool, 1 shirt with long sleeves, 1 wind-cheater, 1 swimsuit, 1 pair of tennis shoes or sandals to change into, socks, toilet necessaries, small personal medical kit, 1 flashlight (a headlamp is useful), 2 water bottles(1 liter minimum), sunglasses, hat or cap, 1 pocket knife, toilet paper and a lighter to burn it.
Cycling shorts, 1 pair of cycling gloves, 1 pair of cycling shoes or (better) strong tennis shoes, 1 helmet, 1 pair jogging trousers or long tights. saddle cover, optional but very advised.
Equipment provided by the company: 1 mountain bicycle (choice of sizes), bivouac material. Warning: the sleeping bag and bicycle helmet are not provided.
ADDRESS AND CONTACT DETAILS
& The Desert Guides Society
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax : + 33 4 50 90 19 29
Les Hottes Ouest, Verchaix,
74 440 FRANCE
TRANS DESERT &
SEA FOR TOURISM CO.
Jordanian Ministry of Tourism agreement (Lic. 871/1).
PO Box 392, Aqaba 77110 - JORDAN.