Desert Trail Rides

DSC_0614Haven’t you dreamed of cantering across a desert on a spirited Arabian horse, fast and strong, yet sensitive to your aids?  What better way to enjoy Jordan’s extraordinary desert landscape than to ride across the wide sandy valleys of Wadi Rum, exploring canyons and dunes in the footsteps of the nomadic Bedouin and Lawrence of Arabia?  Experienced riders can enjoy incredible riding in the heart of the desert surrounded only by red-gold hills of granite and desert dunes, and camping in the wilderness under a blanket of stars. Your luggage is transported for you and all meals are provided.  Choose the 6 day desert trail ride, or take a 10 day option to experience more of Jordan’s culture and heritage, giving you time to explore the ancient rose-red city of Petra, and to snorkel in the Red Sea at the cosmopolitan resort of Aqaba (spring/autumn programme), or to float & relax at the Dead Sea (winter program). Non-riders are welcome and can take part in other expertly organised activities, including camel trekking, hiking and scrambling.

From the moment you land in Jordan right through to your farewell, Jordan Tracks make sure that you are quietly and comfortably taken care of.  No effort is spared to make your trip run smoothly, with carefully planned itineraries, quality hotels and efficient air-conditioned minibus transport.  The team has a wealth of experience in choosing hotels with high standards of accommodation and service, and drivers are personally selected for their safety and informative knowledge of their country.

Your hosts:
Bedouin brothers Saleem and Salem Alzalabieh are renowned for their exhilarating trail rides through Wadi Rum, a UNESCO world heritage site famous for its stunning sandstone and granite massifs, towering sand dunes, wide sandy valleys and narrow, shady canyons.  To enjoy the ride to its fullest you need to be an experienced rider capable of controlling a horse at all paces in an open area, and able to stay in balance at rising trot, canter and gallop.  Typical of the Arabian breed, the horses are small and there is a weight limit of 85 kg (190 lbs).  You are asked to assist with grooming, tacking up and unsaddling.

The team pay great attention to their horses’ welfare, generally using snaffle bits or bitless bridles and synthetic English Wintec saddles, especially designed for the comfort of both horse and rider.  Saddle blankets contain pockets for essential sun cream, water etc, and seat savers are provided for extra comfort.

Your professional, English-speaking guides are experienced, friendly and entertaining. Local Bedouins, they are accomplished horsemen, proud to share with you their desert and their heritage.  All the guides know perfectly the horses and the itineraries.  They know what to do in case of emergency, and a first aid kit is always available.

The horses:
Jordan Tracks’ fifteen Arabian horses live outside in the desert all year long.   This keeps them in peak condition for the long trail rides of 6 hours a day over 6 days.  The desert ground keeps their feet short and hard, so they are unshod and sound. 

Living as a settled social group headed by a lead mare, the herd enjoys a high standard of welfare which enables them to cope with the desert climate: they can interact freely at will, including playing and mutual grooming.  They also have free access to resources such as water and sand baths.  Their good physical and psychological condition makes these horses the crème de la crème of endurance horses, strong to travel long distances and sweet to ride on the lightest of aids.

By their Arabian breeding, all the horses are spirited, clever and sociable. They are sensible and easy to control, but like all horses with Arabian roots, they are fast and sensitive and require tactful riding.  Each horse is different, with their own character.  They are Bedouin Arabs, pure Arabs and Anglo Arabs, ideal for the climate and terrain.  Some have come from Petra, others were bought in Syria, and the lead mare is a Bedouin Arabian from the Royal Jordanian stud.  Saleem is now breeding the next generation of strong, intelligent, sociable young Arabians who learn the ways of being a horse in the herd before graduating to trail riding work.

10-day Itinerary:
Your Jordan adventure begins when you arrive at Amman airport.  From here you transfer for one night to a 3 star hotel in Madaba, then on to Petra for a guided tour and free time in the unmissable ancient Nabatean city.  (The winter program includes visits to the Dead Sea and the crusader castle at Kerak).  After a night in your 3 star hotel next to the Petra site you move on to Wadi Rum and the Jordan Tracks stables for your first Bedouin tea, to meet your guide and your carefully selected horse who will become your firm friends over the next 6 days.  (A 6-day riding-only option is also available, omitting Petra and Aqaba.)


From the stables, located at the entrance to the protected area of Wadi Rum, you ride out into a wilderness of unequalled scenery, crossing red sand dunes and expansive golden plains, traversing canyons and foothills underneath towering cliffs.  En route you will visit landmarks including Lawrence of Arabia’s house, the natural cave of Arab Antar famous for its legends, the hidden spring on Qatar mountain, a neolithic well still used by Bedouin families, Nabatean rock inscriptions recalling ancient trade routes, the famous natural rock bridge on the summit of Jebel Burdah, Sweibat valley close to the border with Saudi Arabia, and Barragh canyon, the longest in Wadi Rum with its monumental cliffs perfect for rock climbers.  You ride for 3 hours in the morning before the mid-day heat, stopping for a long lunch in the shade of a mountain before riding another 3 hours in the cooler afternoon.


Each evening your ride draws to a close accompanied by a beautiful desert sunset.  Your support team will set up camp in a different place each night, here you will bivouac in two-person tents, friends enjoying a freshly made dinner round the camp fire listening to ancient Bedouin legends and experiencing the silence and charm of the desert.  (Occasionally, winter nights are spent in traditional Bedouin tents in Jordan Tracks’ fixed camp deep in the heart of the desert.  The friends, camp fire and desert charm are just the same!).  Non-riding friends or partners who enjoyed other activities in the day will meet here too for the evening meal and overnight.  You will find your luggage waiting for you, and a shower tent for washing.  Tents and mattresses are provided, and if you wish you can sleep outside, counting shooting stars before the excitement of your day lulls you to sleep.  Vegetarians are catered for with ease.  Horses are fed morning, lunch time and evening, and watered several times during the day and night.

On your last day in Wadi Rum you will lunch at the stables before saying goodbye to the horses and the team. On the spring and autumn tours you will transfer after lunch to Aqaba (around 1 hour drive) for dinner in Ali Baba restaurant, famous for its Aqaba speciality, Sayadiyah, cooked with fish freshly caught in the Red Sea.  After a night in a select 3 star hotel you are free to explore or shop in the city of Aqaba, or visit the Royal Diving Centre for snorkelling or sunbathing.  In the afternoon you will transfer back to Madaba for a last night, then on to the airport and your homeward journey.  (Winter tours transfer direct from the stables to Madaba.)


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