The Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

Over the years I’ve become an increasingly adventurous traveler. I’ve gone canyoning in Vietnam, hiked the most active volcano in Bali, dived with sharks in Indonesia, paraglided in the Swiss Alps and endured a ten-day trek in the Himalayas. Not bad for a girl who used to be terrified of swimming pools.

So I was pleased to find that there are tons of world-class adventure activities in Jordan, from diving in the Red Sea to riding camels in the Wadi Rum desert. And although I was terrified for several of the activities (cough, camel-riding), I somehow managed to push through.

Here’s a summary of the adventure activities I’d recommending doing while in Jordan– even if you’re a scaredy-cat.

Diving in the Red Sea

While our initial itinerary didn’t include diving, when we headed Red Sea I requested we add in scuba. When in… the Red Sea, right?

Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

The Red Sea has some of the best diving in the world, so I was extremely excited to strap on my fins again. And thankfully I’m already a certified diver- I did both my open-water and advanced in Thailand.

As soon as I leapt off the dive platform I was freezing- the Red Sea is certainly chillier than the bath-water seas of Thailand.

As I descended I started to see familiar marine life: clownfish, angelfish, pufferfish and lionfish. At one point I even saw an enormous sea slug- I’d estimate about 18 inches.

During the dive two big schools of fish passed by, and I couldn’t help but think of the Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish Bible story.

But it wasn’t the sea life that appealed to me most in the Red Sea- it was the coral. Looking down I saw colors of coral I’d never seen before: from lavender to saffron to periwinkle.

Dive boat meal - Red Sea

Bonus- after diving we had an incredible Jordanian lunch of grilled swordfish, grilled chicken, hummus, baba ganoush, fattoush and of course, pita. Dive-boat meal = nailed.

[learn_more caption=”Where to dive in Jordan on your trip:”] While I didn’t have time to dive them myself, the best dive sites in Jordan are King Abdullah and Cedar Pride, which you can access from the souther city of Aqaba. Tip- if you’re already in Jordan I’d consider also diving in Egypt, which has some of the best dive sites in the world. [/learn_more]

Riding a Jeep in the Wadi Rum Desert

Wadi Rum, or in Arabic, The Valley of the Moon, is a desert that is straight out of Indiana Jones, or perhaps Wilfred Thesiger’s travel journal.

Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

After a glass of mint tea, we boarded the Jeep and turned on our cameras.

I loved the photos I captured in Wadi Rum. The desert looked similar to the American Southwest with dramatic red rocks and undulating sand dunes.

Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

But of course, historically it was a bit different than the American Southwest. Our guides even dropped us off to see ancient Nabatean petroglyphs- see the etchings of camels, ostriches and men hunting below.

Adventure Activities in Jordan

Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

Overall I’d highly recommend riding in the back of a Jeep in Wadi Rum, especially if you’re a shutterbug. Pro tip- photos will be much more atmospheric if you wear traditional red-and-white Bedouin headscarves. (And they’re super comfy too!)

 

Riding Camels in Wadi Rum

I won’t lie- after reading Liz’ post on falling off a camel in Jordan, I wasn’t sure if I was up for camel-riding. But as I’m so often afflicted with PTRD, or post-trip regret disorder, I knew I had to give camel-riding a go.

Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

When we first approached the camels my initial thought was, wow, that baby camel is adorable and dear god they are SO TALL.

Things were not looking good when Amanda mounted her camel and was promptly thrown off. I turned to Jessica and said, “We don’t have to do this! Should we do this?”

Jessica murmured and few words of encouragement (I was so freaked out that I don’t remember) and before I knew it we were moving.

Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

The sensation of riding a camel is quite different from riding a horse. You’re so far off the ground and camels rock you back and forth like a ship. Truthfully I never got used to the feeling and was a bit wary for both my body and my DSLR.

Dismounting was also frightening. To dismount the camel sits down in a fashion not unlike bowing.

But soon enough I was back on the ground where I belong.

Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

Overall I think this one camel-riding experience was enough for me- I think I’ll stick to horses.

 

Hiking in the Dana Biosphere Reserve

The Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest nature reserve, located in south-Central Jordan. After we dropped off our bags at Feynan Ecolodge, our accomodation for the night, we headed out for a hike in the reserve.

Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

 The reserve is beautiful, a rocky, moonlike landscape dotted with sandstone cliffs, acacia trees and Phoenician Juniper shrubs. It looked like a cross between the Serengeti and the moon.

Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

But as much I love the outdoors, I love ancient history even more. Which is why I was so stoked to find out about all the Palaeolithic, Egyptian, Nabataean, and Roman settlements in Dana.

“When the Romans ruled, they sent criminals to work in the copper mines here,” said our travel guide. “The conditions were so bad you wouldn’t wish it upon your worst enemy.”

Best Adventure Activities in Jordan

During the Roman era criminals were sent to Feynan to mine copper in tiny tunnels, some dying after only a few days. Skeletons have been discovered with their Achilles heels cut, ensuring the prisoners wouldn’t be able to run away.

By the end of the hike I was asking my travel buddies, “Do you think I have enough service to download The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on my phone?” Julika, who is a medieval art historian, was even calling me out nerdiness. #NerdAlert

And even if you aren’t into Roman ruins, Dana has wonderful hiking. We finished off our hike by sitting down to watch the sunset as we sipped tea. All in all a magical experience.

Tips- when hiking in Dana make sure to wear good shoes and if you visit a Bedouin family, be respectful and don’t take a picture of the women’s faces.

Are you interested in adventure activities when you travel? Would any of these scare you?

I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board, but as always, all opinions are my own.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

32 thoughts on “The Best Adventure Activities in Jordan”

  1. Dear Ashley,

    You are some brave gal! But a curious interested one!

    Would I be afraid—yes, of all of it, but I admire your adventuresome
    Spirit and participation in finding out and experiencing so much that
    Many of us will only know about through you and others.

    I love you,

    Gamma

  2. Looks like a lot of fun! This reminds me of my trip to Israel. I rode a camel there, but it was a pretty quick thing. Less than a half mile probably. Still fun though, and I got some goofy camel pics!

  3. Hi Ashley,

    It looks like you had a lot of fun with these adventure activities.

    You’ve brought back so many memories of when I lived in the Middle East. I loved our trip to Jordan to see Petra and drive through parts of Wadi Rum. You are correct in that the scenery is truly amazing.

    I wish I’d ridden a camel here rather than where I did at Giza. We rode camels from some of the most dodgy and corrupt camel owners going who constantly tried to trick us out of money and broke their promises.

  4. I love adventure activities on trips. They make for the best memories and the best stories imo. Your trip must have been positively thrilling from day one! I can’t even imagine! Such a different culture and climate… how exciting!

  5. I loved the Dana Biosphere Reserve! It was absolutely the highlight of my trip to Jordan four years ago. Would love to go back there!

    • Hi Sam, how cool you went there! It seemed very off the beaten path. I want to go back and check out more of the historical sites- I was so intrigued by all of the Roman history, if you couldn’t tell :)

  6. All of these activities look like so much fun! I’m sure I’d be petrified of riding a camel, but I would have to give it a try. I’m sure I would topple over the camel’s head upon dismount though…

  7. That photo of your post-scuba meal looks to DIE for!! When I have access to a food processor someday I am going to make all the hummus. Everything looks so healthy and fresh!

  8. The diving sounds lovely. I’m not sure how I’d feel about the camel riding… I’m not to keen on horses as it is. I’m very fond of using my feet to get places. I can’t get over how awesome Jordan seems :)

  9. Am I interested in adventure activities when I travel? Totally! In fact, it was because of one of your posts that I ended up climbing a live volcano in Bali. It was awfully scary but worth the pain. Yes, pain. While my then 12 year old spent most of the adventure skipping in the dark, I ended up in tears wondering what the hell I was doing there LOL!

    Having said that I like hiking and climbing so I’ll try those. I don’t like open water so diving is off the table but snorkelling can stay. I have been to the Red Sea in Egypt and got my feet chewed up by baby fish. Very tickly LOL! I’ve also ridden camels in India, Egypt & Tunisia. It is scary but after a while you do get the rhythmn for it, as well as a very sore buttom. Or is that just me?!
    Lovely post as usual Ashley. :)

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