I just spent five days hiking one part of the Jordan Trail – from Dana to Petra – with no guide, no transportation jeeps, a very low budget, no bookings, and no tent. Along the way, I learned a thing or two – or 15 – that I wish I had known before. If you're about to hike that part of the trail, here are some (hopefully useful) tips:
Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Most of the articles I have read made me very unsure of my plan and my budget. People tend to go extra safe when writing about hiking trips so others are extra careful. So, numbers were mostly exaggerated in most of the articles I have read.
Always talk to the locals. Talk to the drivers, Bedouins, shop owners, guides, kids, and always save their numbers/contacts. You never know when this might be useful. People on the trail are mostly very friendly and helpful.
Make sure you have a couple of numbers (preferably of local Bedouins) in advance just in case you ran out of water, needed help on the trail.
Contact the Jordan Trail Association. Send them an email or message them on Facebook asking them to send you the GPS files and high-resolution pictures of the trail. There are plenty of iOS and Android offline GPS applications – save everything on your phone so you can hike offline.
The trail sometimes gets a bit irritating. It can sometimes be confusing, especially if you see signs and footsteps in different directions while the map is not showing much. If you pick the wrong way you will find it out on the map, but after you’ve hiked a bit. So, you’ll have to go back where you were and find another way, unless you pay for some really really good offline hiking GPS. I got lost twice for maybe half an hour. Worst case scenario you'll have to hike a circle.
Granola bars, granola bars, granola bars. Granola bars, protein bars, and energy bars were my daily breakfast and sometimes dinner. I took canned fish and ate one small fish per day when I really craved something salty.
Start looking for a place to sleep one hour before sunset. Otherwise, you end up night hiking, which we had to do on our first day and I didn't enjoy it very much.
If you find another group hiking with a guide, talk to the guide. Take their contact information. If you feel like you need company, ask the group and the guide if you could join them for a day. Most of the guides don't mind making some extra money on the trail. So, if the group is okay with it, the guides won't mind having you along. Don't pay the guide more than 15-20 JD in tips.
If you are planning to hike with your backpack, don't take unnecessary items with you. I had to give away my clothes, meds, and creams at some point to have a lighter bag. So, just leave your favourite pair of pants at home, you might end up giving them away.
The best time to hike is from 6 AM to 9 AM. I loved hiking in the early morning because it was so calm and fresh. It’s not too warm or sunny, and you have plenty of time to get lost and have long breaks in nature before the pre-sunset stress when you're just hurrying to reach your camp before the sun is gone.
Make sure you have the Petra pass before you start the trail. You'll need to enter Petra from the backdoor which is approx. 3 hours away from the visitor center (where you can buy the tickets) You can also organize someone to bring the pass for you and you pick it up when you reach Little Petra. Just make sure you do that at least 24 hours before arriving to little Petra.
The best time to visit Petra is either at 6 or7 AM or after 3 PM.
As an Egyptian, I paid: 7 JD from Amman to Dana; not more than 15-20 JD/night for every night I spent on the trail; 10 JD for a two-days pass to Petra; 25 JD for the ride from Petra to Aqaba (where I took the ferry from); and 70 USD for the ferry back to Egypt.
I took the ferry back from Aqaba to Nuweiba. Most of the ferry passengers were workers, which I didn't mind; it was still safe transportation back to Egypt. I looked up ferry times on the website and called the number at the bottom of the screen on the day I was traveling to confirm the times.
Enjoy the scenery.
Photos courtesy of multiple hikers on the trail.