/ Jordan: scrambling, walking and diving

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James B - on 08 Oct 2012
I'm going to Jordan for the first time for a fortnight in November. My climbing partners have biffed on this occasion but it sounds well worth visiting anyway. I'm thinking of dividing my time between walking/scrambling and diving. I've got Tony Howard's "Walks, Treks, Caves.." but I'd really appreciate any first hand advice or recommendations.

I'd like to spend some time in the desert among the Jebels, and possibly to walk or scramble in the Petra area if it isn't too full of tourists. I'd also like to stay at Aqaba for some diving -I'm thinking of using Arab Divers.

Is it possible to bivvi in Wadi Rum, or would the presence of snakes/camel spiders/hyenas/scorpions or other unfriendly or over-friendly desert creatures make for an uncomfortable night? Do I really need to lug a tent around? I'd rather not if I don't have to.

Are there any places north of Amman that it would be criminal to miss?

If you had 2 weeks in Jordan what would you do with it?

Cheers

James
Solaris - on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to James B:

> I'd like to spend some time in the desert among the Jebels, and possibly to walk or scramble in the Petra area if it isn't too full of tourists. I'd also like to stay at Aqaba for some diving -I'm thinking of using Arab Divers.

All very doable. You will smile to yourself when you go to Petra and wonder if it's too full of tourists. The Taylor/Howard book is excellent and the out of the way places they mention are particular highlights for me.

I haven't been for a while, but the Royal Jordanian diving centre a 20 minute bus ride S of Aqaba used to be the place. PADI trips are run from there, too.

> Is it possible to bivvi in Wadi Rum, or would the presence of snakes/camel spiders/hyenas/scorpions or other unfriendly or over-friendly desert creatures make for an uncomfortable night? Do I really need to lug a tent around?

Bivying out in the desert is one of life's great experiences and there is no need for a tent. I have once encountered a scorpion and unlike Australia, have never seen a snake. You might value a tent as a base.

> Are there any places north of Amman that it would be criminal to miss?

Jerash is pretty amazing if you are into that sort of archaeological thing, but that's the only place N of Amman that I've visited. If you haven't got time to go to Jerash, there's some really interesting sites in Amman, eg the amphitheatre.

> If you had 2 weeks in Jordan what would you do with it?

3-4 days in Petra and 10 days in Wadi Rum.
James B - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to Solaris:

Many thanks. I'll certainly have a look at Jerash and the amphitheatre in Amman. Good to hear bivvying is fine. I may walk up Jebel Rum and take some of the Bedouin routes up other Jebels. Petra sounds fantastic, good to know it shouldn't be too full of people. I might spend a couple of nights out there if that's feasible, just to have the place to myself in the early mornings anyway. I'll check out the Royal Jordanian diving centre too.

Thanks again. The excitement level's building now
James B - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to Solaris:

I've just seen your gallery. There are some great shots there. This one makes me wish I could get out there now: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=195752
TonyM - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to James B:
Agtree with all Solaris' advice. I thought Jerash was brilliant - as good as Pompeii or Herculaneum. Also enjoyed the crusader castles. And of course a dip in/on the Dead Sea is obligatory in a 2-wk stay.

Personally, if I had 2 weeks in Jordan and no climbing partner, I'd spend 5-6 days in Wadi Rum, 3 days in Petra to hike and explore all the interesting places off the tourist track, 2 days diving and chilling in Aqaba and the rest day-tripping to the other main sites.

Jordan is a brilliant place, and the people are lovely. (Based on visits in '94 and '99)

Tony
James B - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TonyM:

Thanks Tony. I'd forgotten about the castles...
Solaris - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to James B:

Glad to be of help and thanks for the comments about the pics.

You talk about a "walk up Jebel Rum": I haven't done the easiest route but it's quite a long scramble, route finding can be tricky, and there's a few abs on the descent. The "traverse" of Jebel Um Ishrin via Rakabat Canyon and Zernouk el Dabar is a really good introduction to Rum: easy with interesting route finding that is a good introduction to the logic of Bedouin routes, and spectacular scenery, too. There's one ab.
James B - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to Solaris:

Point well made. I'll be sure to do a couple of easier scrambles to orientate myself, get used to the rock and to local route finding, and may well leave Jebel Rum for another time. Jebel um Ishrin sounds like a good introduction to the area.

Thanks again
handjammer - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to James B: You are joining a long list of people who have been into Jordan!
ebdon - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to James B: In reply to James B: Slightly off topic but I'm off to Jordan in a few weeks and was thinking of heading to the dead see as it looks quite fun. the lonely planet however makes it sound like you have to stay in very expensive spa resorts to get down to the waterfront - does anyone know is there a budget option? Or should I just spend more time in the Wadi Rum? Also does anyone know what is the length of the Ab on Jebel Um Ishrin is? I donít want to end up lugging lots of unneeded rope around
James B - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to ebdon:
Re: abseil, the guide says 40m (mainly free hanging) so 2x 50m if you want to return via Zernouk el Daber
Ross McGibbon - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to ebdon:
was thinking of heading to the dead see as it looks quite fun. the lonely planet however makes it sound like you have to stay in very expensive spa resorts to get down to the waterfront

The Dead Sea is pretty big and hotels are only a tiny tiny fraction of the waterfront.
I came down some canyon from near Kerak, wandered over to the Dead Sea, had a dip and got the bus back the same day.
It's not a big country.
Solaris - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to James B:

I have a faint recollection that it is possible to split the ab. Can anyone confirm this?
bullybones - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to James B:
I went for 3 weeks a few yrs ago - 1 week Wadi, did my PADI open water in Aqaba (adequate budget/mid range options to stay), couple of days at Petra. Great trip.

That was my first diving experience - great place to learn, quiet, 1:1 training, etc. Cheap too - mostly shore dives. But be warned, it's probs very boring if you're an experienced diver (small reefs, no big fish, though there is a decent wreck) - not a patch on Sharm, for instance. I probably wouldn't bother again, now I've been spoiled.
Ken Applegate - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to James B:

I was out there in December last year, mainly trekking, and found this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trekking-Canyoning-Jordanian-Dead-Rift/dp/9659031505 very useful. Some of the treks were pretty challenging, particularly as water proved tricky to find (many of the springs marked on the maps had dried up last year), but if you're after adventure, then the Dana Nature Reserve and a trek out of Petra into Wadi Tibin would tick the boxes!
hetaher - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to James B:

NEVER trust Tony Howard
James B - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to Solaris:
The guide says 40m ab, mainly free hanging, then either grade 3 bridging down a chimney ("awkward") or a second ab
James B - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to hetaher:
That's a big thing to say. Why should I trust you?
James B - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to Ken Applegate:
Thanks Ken, I'll look that out.
Solaris - on 10 Oct 2012
In reply to hetaher:

Why do you say this, and are you saying it about TH as a person, about his routes, or about his guidebooks?
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Solaris - on 11 Oct 2012
In reply to Solaris:
> (In reply to hetaher)

It's nearly 24 hours since I posted my reply to hetaher, but s/he hasn't replied to my questions, so I will answer my questions myself. This is a public forum and so, though I don't know Tony Howard well, I wouldn't want any misunderstandings to arise.

In my experience Tony is a reliable, fair minded and generous spirited person. I have never known any reason not to trust him and have found his personal advice to me about visiting Jordan to be reliable.

I'll take my two questions about his routes and his guidebooks (to Jordan and to Rum) together. As anyone who has tried to describe a new route in Wadi Rum or Petra will know, it ain't easy - either in words or in a diagram. Route descriptions have to be treated like those in Alpine guidebooks and by comparison with some of the latter, Tony's are in their way models of clarity and concision. I cannot remember any serious mistakes in his, though there are in others'. As in any area, it is usually not possible for a guidebook editor to check every route.

People do sometimes say that his times are optimistic, and this is part of the lore of Rum. But Howard warns about this in his guidebook, and in fact, when you get used to route-finding and the way the route descriptions work, his times are far more realistic than a brief, early acquaintance might suggest. Again, a comparison with the Alps helps: if you pitch everything and/or don't have good route finding nouse, you are sure to be way outside guidebook time.
James B - on 11 Oct 2012
In reply to Solaris:

Thanks for that. I'd read hetaher's comment in the same way, and hoped he'd explain what he meant. But then someone pointed out that maybe it was a light-hearted post aimed at me, not TH, for asking for info on here where I had a perfectly good guidebook already.

If so I was a bit sharp up-thread...
andyathome - on 11 Oct 2012
In reply to James B:
Obviously a thread about the country rather than the woman.

So I've nothing to contribute I'm afraid.
Solaris - on 11 Oct 2012
In reply to James B:
> (In reply to Solaris)
>
> maybe it was a light-hearted post aimed at me, not TH, for asking for info on here where I had a perfectly good guidebook already.

I think that's a pretty generous reading of hetaher, myself...

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