The lowest Point on Earth:-
The first thing that should cross into mind when thinking about the Dead Sea is that its on the lowest point on earth. That means your going to experience some big downhill gradients with amazing views. The cycle might be slightly easier reaching there but it does not deny newtons laws of motion where the return journey will be twice or even three times as hard.
Things to consider when designing your route:-
1. Stray dogs
The main highway that takes you to the Dead Sea (The Dead Sea Highway) is a busy road that has quite a number of trailers passing by in both directions. It’s not particularly safe and enjoyable to use that route especially because there are so many other options that give you a safer way and also a more enjoyable peaceful ride. One thing to consider is that all of these routes have quite a few street dogs roaming around. So if you are not used to being followed by stray dogs, you might consider having someone with you. Being alert and to just be a comfortable experienced biker before you set foot might be a good idea. The dogs are usually not dangerous, they will just follow you until they see that you have passed. Always have a water bottle available in order to spray them if they get too close. There is a particular area close to Madaba called Eyon el deeb if you are to cross through it be sure to not cross alone. There are usually a number of dog packs in the area where you might end up freaking out if your on your own.
During the summer, the Dead Sea can be extremely warm and humid. Always be prepared when heading there as you will need to protect yourself from the sun. Properly hydrate and get some food with you on the way. Its always a good idea to check the weather conditions before you head out the day before. Consider the wind direction also as high winds can be very dangerous when going downhill towards the dead sea (especially via the panoramic route or the aarda route). Its quite common for people to practice their cycling in the midst of winter at the Dead Sea as its only a 45min drive from Amman and you will get a massive difference in temperature.
3. Single or Return Journey
This is always a fun ride. You really need to consider the start and end time especially your planning on doing a return journey as you don’t want to start cycling uphill in the midst of the heat. The single journey is always fun. Don’t be amazed by how tiring going downhill can be. Keep this in mind as your going to be steering the whole time. If the wind is strong (sidewinds are the most dangerous to consider) you really need to be careful as many bikes have cracked in the past.
What we usually end up doing if we decide on doing a single journey is to cycle down to Samarah Mall located in the middle of the hotels area on the road opposite the Dead Sea. What we do is the day before we call someone with a van to wait for us at the mall around the expected time of arrival and we pay him about 15JD to come back to Amman. If you plan on doing the return journey be ready to pedal hard uphills. There are also many ways to go back depending on your route of choice.
The Available Route Options:-
Please keep in mind that all the options can be used via the return journey. Another important note is that you should have your ID on you just in case as there are checkpoints at the entrance of the Dead Sea. The cops are very friendly and never check ID’s of cyclists but you never know. Better be safe than sorry.
Dead Sea Via Madaba (Panoramic Route):-
A very scenic option. This is absolutely stunning. Starts via Naur, the Dead Sea Road and then moving towards Madaba Al Gharbi. You will then head towards the Panoramic route via 3youn el deeb as soon as you reach Madaba. This is an area that can be quite dangerous as there are many dogs within the vicinity. I do not recommend doing this route completely on your own. I consider this to be a hard difficulty route because theres a lot of very steep downhills to deal with and also many dogs laying around. Cycling wise the route spans 75km with an elevation of about 540m (not hard at all).
Dead Sea Via Wadi Shueib (Salt):-
This route starts heading north towards Al Salt before heading downhill towards Wadi Shueib and into the Shouneh area (King Hussein Bridge). This area is absolutely wonderful. After passing Al Salt, going downhill via Wadi Shueib is a very nice route with a few streams of water that you will be cycling alongside. You will get to see quite a few families having bbq’s and sitting around with some tunes on the side. The single journey spans about 75km also with an elevation of 380m. An easy cycle but the downhills need you to be an experienced cyclist. Safe and wonderful roads via this option.
Dead Sea Via Salt (Al Arda):-
This is a longer route that is very interesting. There is a very long stretch of flat road that is very good for training purposes. After passing Al Salt you will be heading downhill through aarda. The downhill is very steep and most definitely the most dangerous. Just make sure you can control your bike well when going down as you can reach some crazy speeds. You will then go through Al Karameh. This is a very hot area so just make sure you are always well hydrated. Also note that going back via this route is super hard.
Dead Sea Via Bayader (UmUsud)
The shortest route yet to get you down there although you have to beware theres a lot of very steep downhill gradients. This is the most city based route with the least amount of chance of encountering stray dogs. I have to warn you to not design your route to go back in this direction as the uphills are absolutely bonkers. So you start off going via Al Bayader which is a very well known industrial area going through some very nice scenery on the hills into Mahes and eventually dipping into the Wadi Shueib route (half way from the route i drew out to go to the dead sea via Salt).
The Hidden Gems:-
I strongly recommend you to go out and explore. I cant even think about where to begin as there are just so many things that need to be mentioned. Im firstly going to say that there are quite a few hidden gems and im going to go through some of them:-
Lots of cool looking hidden caves alongside the Wadi Sheuib Area. Feel free to explore!
Lots & lots of fresh veggies all over the place. They are widely present around the DeadSea highway and in the Ghour/Shouneh areas where they are well known to be the prime locations for farming in Jordan. It would be a good idea to try to find the Banana farms that are spread out in these areas.
Lots of areas to explore around and bumping into a lot of animals and streams of water.
Lots of hidden talent out there. You can always bump into local kids with bicycles and other toys especially around the Wadi Mujib area / Ghor Fifa where there are quite a few local school that try to be active within the cycling community.
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