Biking in Jordan

21-27 May 2006





We biked five days for a total of 118 mi. The tracks are shown in yellow on the map. On 21 May, we started south of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) and east of Jerash and finished at the Jordan river. On 22 May, we started in Madaba, climbed up to Mt. Nebo and went all the way down to the Dead Sea (1200 ft below sea level). On 24 May we biked from Wadi Moussa to Little Petra and back. On 25 May, we started south of Petra and finished near the border with Israel. On 26 May, we biked into Wadi Rum from the highway. Temperatures were in the 90s,  sometimes even over 100 F.



The overall downhill appearance of this height profile for 21 May is a little deceptive: there are pretty good climbs embedded that make the downhill very, very pleasurable. Below, our lunch of typical middle-eastern food served on the back gate of the bike truck. On the right is a Bedouin with his typical tent and animals.







In Madaba, we visited a church which is famous for its 6th century CE mosaic map of Palestine (the oldest extant map of this region).  The central feature of the map is Jerusalem shown on the left (HAΓIA ΠOΛIC IЄPOYCA.. Holy City Jerusa..). On the left is the Damascus Gate and slightly right of center the church of Holy Sepulcher.




From Madaba, we biked up to Mt. Nebo and from there down to the Dead Sea. We started biking just below 3000’ and ended up at 1200’ below sea level.


It got hotter as we went down.





This is a view from Mt. Nebo toward the Dead Sea.


According to Deuteronomy 34:1-7, Moses went up to Mt. Nebo and God gave him the land below. Moses died on Mt. Nebo.







A church was built in the 4th century CE on Mt. Nebo to commemorate Moses’ death. A 6th century mosaic depicts pastoral and hunting scenes.







Racing down to the Dead Sea from some 2700’ above msl to 1200’ below msl was a lot of fun. Thankfully, all of the roads we biked were in good condition and had little traffic.











Yvonne is cooling off her brakes! Note the sign pointing to the Dead Sea in the background.










Buoyancy demo in the Dead Sea. The salt content of the Dead Sea is 33% (3-4% for the oceans).









The Dead Sea’s black mud is said to have remarkable rejuvenation properties making you look ten years younger. Yvonne, Jamie, and Rasha tried the mud along with the others; Juergen didn’t and looks as old as always.



We stayed in Wadi Moussa for three nights (‘Moussa’ is ‘Moses’ in Arabic, it’s the town by Petra). From there, we biked to Little Petra 6.4 mi away. The height profile going and returning is on the left. The ride had some pretty good climbs!






On the way to Little Petra we had a little rest after the goats in the picture cleared the road. Note the camels behind them. Yvonne has a conversation with our Lebanese bike guide. Juergen’s bike is in the foreground and can be identified by the yellow GPS mounted on the handle bar.








Little Petra also has the rock-carved buildings that Petra is so famous for.











The biking group visited Petra on foot. Here we take a rest and have a drink during our first visit just opposite the amphitheater.








When we visited Petra again on the following day, some of us climbed to the so-called High Place which was the venue for important Nabatean ceremonies.




Our fourth day of biking started south of Petra and ended in the Araba river valley south of the Dead Sea. The ride was mostly downhill but had some good climbs also.











That’s a downhill portion. Yvonne is on the right.









The support bus (air conditioned and very comfortable) follows the bikers.










It was hot (upper 90s) and shade was hard to come by. Here is our group having a lunch break.


This was the only tree for miles!











We had the tastiest watermelon in Jordan.








Sandstorms are quite common. Luckily, we had finished biking for the day and were in the bus.



The final biking was to Wadi Rum:  Lawrence of Arabia country.








It was quite hot (over 100 F) but the ride was mostly level.









Desert road sign. There are lots and lots of camels in Wadi Rum to Yvonne’s delight! Not just on signs.











Here’s an example.









Our camp site in Wadi Rum. We could have slept in the blue tent, but slept outside on thick mattresses like most of the others and enjoyed the stars.







We preferred to sleep outside on the sand the way we have for many years in the south-western US deserts. At night, we enjoyed a beautiful starry sky.











Our guide is heating the water for morning coffee.








These rock drawings are attributed to Thamudic tribes from the Arabian desert who moved into the region in the first centuries CE.










A natural bridge which many of us climbed. Yvonne did not!









It’s fun to race downhill in the beautiful sand dunes. Yvonne did do this. Juergen did not.