I spent much of the spring and summer of 2017 working on the new edition of Lonely Planet’s guidebook to Jordan. Research was broken into two month-long sections, falling either side of Ramadan (the fasting month is never the ideal time to write restaurant and cafe reviews for a guidebook). The first time I worked on the guide was at the tail-end of spending nearly a year living in Amman, and it was great to head back to see friends, revisit old haunts and find new places to write about.
Jordanian tourism has been in a tough place since the Arab Spring, but it was good to still be able to find green shoots. The community tourism scene is thriving, not least thanks to the efforts of people like Muna Haddad, the powerhouse behind Baraka Destinations, and its many projects in Umm Qais and Pella. Haddad is also one of the leading lights behind the Jordan Trail, an epic 650km hiking trail that runs the entire length of the country, from the northern hills to the Red Sea. If you were to hike the whole route it would take about six weeks, but the organisers have broken it down into eight bite-seized chunks, the most splendid of which is the four day trek from the Dana nature reserve along the back-routes to Petra. It’s been dubbed the ‘Inca Trail’ of the Middle East, and a few years ago National Geographic named it one of the world’s best 15 hikes.
The new edition of the Lonely Planet Jordan guide is out next year, and will contain detailed information about each stage of the Jordan Trail. As a small taster, they asked me to write an article about the route. No matter how short a section you might hike, the trail is a revelation about the diversity of Jordan’s landscapes – brilliant as they are, there’s a lot more to the country than just Petra and the craggy deserts of Wadi Rum.
You can read full article on the Lonely Planet website here.