Exploring the Middle East the Old Fashioned Way, On Your Own Two Feet

"dana reserve jordan"Use the heel-toe express to wander through Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine.

The Middle East is a pretty amazing place (just ask any of the locals), and there is a lot to see.  A LOT to see.  So it would be a shame to miss anything by sticking to conventional modern (and polluting) forms of transportation, such as personal cars, buses, motorcycles, or even trains.  You could take a bike, but not all paths are well suited for wheels.  Which brings us back to the most ancient form of transportation that there is (an appropriate way to get around in a region with so much ancient heritage) – your own two feet.

Wanderlust recently rounded up their choice of the region’s most interesting hikes, and they sounded so great we thought we’d share them here.  From shortest to longest, here’s a list of interesting hikes to guide you through the Middle East:

Wadi Mukhtar (aka Oman’s Grand Canyon) Trail

The shortest of the hikes at 9 kilometers, this hike through Oman’s Western Hajar mountains and up the country’s highest peak (Jebel Shams) offers beautiful views of “Oman’s Grand Canyon” (check out the photo below).  The abandoned village of Sap Bani Khamis is also visible from the hike.

"oman grand canyon"The Jesus Trail

Though named after Jesus, this 65 kilometer trail from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee goes through historical sites that are important to Christians, Jews, Muslims and Druze.  Established by an Israeli entrepreneur in collaboration with local Arab guesthouse owners and Jewish kibbutzes, the trail is in and of itself a venture in mutual understanding.

Dana to Petra trek, Jordan

At 80 km long this is considered a six-day hike, and leads travelers through hillsides, desert, Wadi Musa and Little Petra.  Other highlights include the Dana Nature Reserve (pictured at the top of this post and where you might consider staying at the Feynan Eco-Lodge), Ras El Fied and Wadi Rum.

Lebanon Mountain Trail

This stretch of 440 kilometers will lead you from northern to southern Lebanon and could take you approximately a month to complete.  But it would be worth it.  You’d see Ottoman castles, Byzantine churches, mountains, and views of the Mediterranean.  Old monasteries and guesthouses along the way can make your nighttime accommodations a little more comfortable.

The Abraham Path

This whopping 1200 kilometer hike is by far the longest, and leads from Harran, Turkey to Hebron.  The trail attempts to trace the journey of the prophet, Abraham, from the town where he first heard the word of God to his tomb in Hebron.  The route encompasses Aleppo, Damascus, norther Jordan, and Jerusalem.

: Wanderlust

Images via: Philipp Dennert and Hulivili

Read more about eco-touring the Middle East::
A Quick Guide to Traveling by Bike in the Middle East
Jordan’s Feynan Eco Lodge Named One of the Top 50 Eco Lodges in the World
Top 7 Middle Eastern Trips for the Eco-Curious Traveler

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