Best hikes in the MIDDLE EAST
What are the most difficult hikes in the Middle East? The Middle East is not particularly known as a hiking destination. The region is mistakenly seen as an endless desert with a few cities here and there, and nothing much to see.
But it’s a misconception. The Middle East is very diverse and exciting. And you’ll be surprised at the number of hiking options the region has to offer.
Short and long-distance trails, pilgrimages, treks with mountain and canyon views, routes through desert regions, hikes through forested areas and beaches… See? A lot of different options out there!
But which one to choose for your next adventure? Read on to find out more about the best hikes in the Middle East.
6 best hikes in the Middle East
The Lycian Way, Turkey
The Lycian Way is a long-distance hiking trail in Turkey, and one of the best hikes in the Middle East.
It is approximately 540 km long and goes through many towns and villages. The trail is known for its dramatic Mediterranean views and ancient landmarks that date back to the ancient Lycia.
As the trail passes above valleys, you’ll see a lot of the beautiful Turkish coast.
Other notable sights can be seen when hiking the Lycian way: Lycian rock tombs, the ruins of Xanthos, the ruins of Patara, etc.
The Jordan Trail, Jordan
The Jordan Trail is a long-distance hiking trail in Jordan. It runs from Um Qais in the north to Aqaba in the south.
The trail is 675 km long and goes through more than 50 villages and towns. It is sometimes referred to as the “Inca Trail of the Middle East”.
The trail passes some of the most popular landmarks in Jordan (and the Middle East!), such as the Dead Sea, Dana Biosphere Reserve and Wadi Mujib, and the UNESCO-listed Petra Wadi Rum.
It takes 40 days to complete the whole route. But if you don’t have time for the whole trail, you can do one of its most popular sections, such as Dana — Petra, Petra — Wadi Rum or Wadi Rum — Red Sea.
The Sinai Trail, Egypt
Launched in 2015, the Sinai Trail is Egypt’s first long-distance hiking trail, and one of the best hikes in the Middle East.
The trail runs through some of the most scenic areas of the Sinai Peninsula, a sparsely populated desert region between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
It starts in the Gulf of Aqaba and ends at the top of Mount Catherine, Egypt’s highest mountain. The trail goes via Mount Sinai (traditionally known as Jabal Musa) and the Saint Catherine monastery, two of the best places to visit in Egypt.
Other Sinai Trail highlights include the Blue Desert, Ein Hudera, Jebel Sabbah and Ein Kid.
In 2015 the trail was 200 km long, and it took about two weeks to complete. Now the trail is extended to 550 km. Now the whole route takes 52 days to finish.
The Jesus Trail, Israel
The Jesus Trail is a hiking and pilgrimage route in the Galilee region of Israel.
This 65 km trail traces the route Jesus may have walked.
The main part of the trail begins in Nazareth and passes through some of the sites of Jesus’ life and ministries, such as Sepphoris, Cana (Kafr Kanna), the Horns of Hattin, Mount Arbel Cliffs, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Tabgha, and the Mount of Beatitudes.
The trail ends in Capernaum, an ancient village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Trails of Jebel Shams, Oman
Jebel Shams is the highest peak in Oman.
The Jebel Shams area is also known for Wadi Ghul, a spectacularly deep canyon that is often referred to as the “Omani Grand Canyon” or “The Grand Canyon of Arabia”. Beautiful views of the deep canyon can be enjoyed from Jebel Shams.
The area offers several short scenic hikes, with the Balcony route probably being the most popular one. Snaking along the canyon rim, the trail is 10 km long, and it takes about 4 hours to complete it.
If you are up to some more serious hiking, consider the W4 Jebel Shams summit route. It takes two days to complete, and you need to camp after you have hiked a portion of the route on the first day. Remember, the route has no water.
The Lebanon Mountain Trail, Lebanon
The Lebanon Mountain Trail is a long-distance hiking trail in Lebanon. It is the first long-distance hiking trail in the country.
The trail runs from Andaket in the north of Lebanon to Marjayoun in the south. It is 470 km long and goes through more than 75 towns and villages. The altitudes range from 600 to 2010 meters above sea level. It takes about a month to complete the route.
The Lebanon Mountain Trail crosses 5 protected areas and passes UNESCO World Heritage sites, beautiful mountains, landscapes of great natural beauty and sites of cultural significance.
The trail is divided into 27 sections. Each of these sections can be hiked in one day. So, if you are short on time, choose a section or two.
- Choose a trail according to your experience and fitness level. If you are not an experienced hiker, start small.
- Learn how to navigate using a paper map. Not everywhere you can use Google Maps, and not even offline maps, just because there may be no coverage and GPS signal. Going off-course can be dangerous, especially when you are hiking long-distance unsupported.
- Familiarise yourself with the trail. Take note of other intersecting trails, to prevent making a wrong turn.
- Are you planning to hike often? Invest in quality hiking gear, especially in good quality hiking shoes, a backpack and a rain jacket. These items are the most important on your packing list.
- No matter how long the hike is, you need to pack the essentials such as a paper map/smartphone offline map, water, sunglasses, sunscreen, headlamp, first-aid kit, snacks, extra pair of socks, hiking poles. The list of essentials depending on the length and difficulty of your hike. If you are going self-supported, you need to carry a tent, sleeping bag, food, plenty of water, matches, camping cooking gear and utensils and emergency shelter.
- Do not forget about blister dressings and sturdy band-aids. Compeed, Scholl, Band-Aid and Spenco 2nd Skin make great blister pads!
- Pack light. You don’t want to drag around all the unnecessary items you pack in your bag.
- Check the weather and pack accordingly. If there’s a chance of rain, pack a rain jacket and waterproof hiking shoes.
- Find out if you can get water on the trail. If not, it’s crucial to carry enough water.
- Let your family and friends know about your hiking trip. Tell them where you are heading to and how long it is going to last.