Epic Hikes in the Arab World
By: Dani Meyer/Arab America Contributing Writer
With stunning beaches and beautiful cities, the Arab world has many must-visit travel destinations. What you might not know is that it is also full of beautiful and epic hikes, with long hiking trails and mountains with incredible views. If you’re looking for a more outdoorsy adventure in the Arab world, look no further than these epic hikes.
1. Mount Toubkal, Morocco
Mount Toubkal is located in the heart of the Atlas Mountains, and is the tallest mountain in North Africa. Hiking Mount Toubkal does not require any technical equipment, but it still is a challenging hike. It usually takes hikers about 2-3 days to complete, and the views of Marrakesh at the end are absolutely worth it. You can stop at neighboring villages along the way if you want to make the journey a little easier (and longer).
2. Djebel Zaghouan, Tunisia
Djebel Zaghouan is located just south of Tunis, and is great for both low-key and more experienced hikers. It offers many different trails for all different experience levels. There are two main sets of trails – one starts at Temple des Eaux (an ancient Roman water temple) and one that starts at the nearby village of Sidi Medien. Locals recommend the latter hike, which is more challenging but offers a look into local wildlife. The peak, called Ras El Gaasa, offers spectacular views.
3. The Jordan Trail, Jordan
The Jordan Trail is a long-distance trail stretching from Um Qais in the North to Aqaba in the South. There are more than 650 kilometers of trails, and hiking the whole thing can take more than 40 days! It is one of the longest hikes in the region. Travelers can also just complete sections of the trail. The Jordan Trail Association website lays out many different possible routes, including day hikes for those who want a shorter trip.
4. Jebel Shams, Oman
Located in the Hajar Mountains in northeastern Oman, Jebel Shams is a beautiful hike that offers stunning views. It is not particularly known for its peak, but rather for the incredible views of Wadi Ghul, known as the Grand Canyon of the Middle East. There are several well-established hikes on Jebel Shams, which are not technically difficult.
5. Ameln Valley, Morocco
The Ameln Valley is a stunning region located just north of Tafraoute. There are 26 villages in the valley to walk between: Oumesnat to Anemeur, for example, is around 12km. More serious hikers can climb Jebel el Kest or Adrar Mkorn. Ameln Valley also has spectacular rock climbing.
6. Dana to Petra Hike, Jordan
Even though this is part of the Jordan Trail, we had to feature it as a separate hike. Recently named by National Geographic as one of the fifteen best hikes on the world, the Dana to Petra trek is a must-hike. It takes 4 days to complete, and is 84.5 kilometers long. The trek starts in the Dana Biosphere Reserve and cuts through beautiful mountains and spectacular countryside, before ending in Petra.
7. Lebanon Mountain Trail, Lebanon
The Lebanon Mountain Trail has 470 kilometers of trail, divided into 27 sections. Each section can be completed in one day. The trail goes through 76 villages and towns and is a great way to experience Lebanon. It runs from the village of Andqet in the north to Marjaayoun in the south. It traverses incredible areas, such as Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve and the Qashida Valley.
8. Shawka Dam Loop, UAE
The Wadi Shawka trail in Ras al Khaimah is gaining popularity as a great hike in the UAE. There are 10 kilometers of trail, which are great for hiking, mountain biking, or even off-roading! Wadi Shawka also has great camping sites, which boast beautiful views of the wadi and the sunrises.
9. Sinai Trail, Egypt
The Sinai Trail was Egypt’s first long-distance hiking trail. It is around 230 kilometers, and takes around 14 days to hike fully. It starts in the Red Sea community of Beer Sweir, and ends at St. Katherine, the highest mountain in Egypt. It crosses the territories of three Bedouin tribes, and has beautiful scenery. Though the scenery is stunning, the best part of the Sinai trail is that it was conceptualized and built by Bedouin leaders of 8 different tribes to boost the local communities and provide employment opportunities.
10. The Abraham Path
The Abraham Path is a cultural route that follows the journeys of Abraham. It starts in the Turkish town of Harran, and goes through Aleppo, Damascus, northern Jordan and Jerusalem, before stopping at Abraham’s tomb in Hebron, Palestine. The Jordanian section is currently the best developed, and you can hike 12 kilometers of beautiful wildflowers and villages. Palestine offers a 55km trail from Nablus to Taybeh, winding through Canaanite, Roman and Byzantine ruins; culminating in the country’s only brewery.
11. Bkassine Pine Forest, Lebanon
The Bkassine Pine Forest is a beautiful forest located in southern Lebanon. The Bkassine Side Trail has two parts: the first ends in Bkassine Square and is about 8 kilometers. The second part starts in Bkassine Square and ends by joining the Lebanon Mountain Trail. Both parts offer spectacular views of the surrounding forests, majestic cliffs, and old Ottoman ruins.
If you’re looking for a selection of great hikes in the Arab world definitely start with these 11. But don’t forget the Arab world has so many more hikes to offer. Is there a hike you loved? Let us know in the comments!
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