If you are in for a challenge then this is a loop that you might want to consider. Im going to warn you not to think about this if you are not a very experienced cyclist as this is probably one of the hardest routes that you can possibly attempt. It is also an exceptionally beautiful ride having a mix of all technical terrains & challenges. You need to also be an experienced cyclist in Jordan as you’r going to encounter every possible form of Jordanian annoyance & dealing with the typical bullshit. Give me a shout if you need any tips and tricks when designing your adventure as this is quite a complicated one that needs preparation.
Loop Considerations & Options
Early Start is A Must
Since most of us live far away from the Shobak area it would be quite a wise decision to drive down to one of those campsites near little Petra the night before your ride in order to be able to have an early rise & start kicking on those pedals as soon as possible. Ideally a 6am start but definitely no later than 7am as you have to be back before sunset or you will be in quite a tough position especially if you start wondering around the last bits at night (the choice is always yours to have support or not).
contact me for the gpx files (180km’s/over 3000m elevation)
There are quite a few campsites and it was to my surprise that you can also find some seriously fancy ones if you’d like to go all out. By that I mean you can throw your money on some crazy mars dome with your private Jacuzzi. All none sense aside, pick something at the bottom of that hill (checkout the map) as there are many around the area with reasonable prices. You can meet loads of random tourists (a few of our friendly neighbours too… honestly I don’t know how they gather the courage) and then something thats a little lower than the mars camp in order to get some climbing out of the way when your still fresh as the ride just keeps getting tougher and tougher.
Camp Location (Part 1)
If you look at the start (green on map) you start climbing up towards the Petra area police checkpoint (first labeled point on the gpx). This climb is usually a big challenge as you never know where the wind will hit you from especially in the early am. On an unlucky day, bad headwind will force you to zig zag left and rite along the lane in order to climb up in better form. You can really start experiencing bad moments at the start of your day but it would be a great idea to get some elevation out of the way at the beginning because little do you know how bad it will get towards the end. Any camp around the Uum Sayhoun area would be great (I recommend the little Petra Bedouin Camp).
General Experience (Part 2)
After waving to the cops goodbye towards the kings highway you will experience some wonderful views of the Vestas wind farms cycling alongside the Dana biosphere (fairly flat section) from the top and start heading towards the Tafielah descent. There are a few military checkpoints here that you just cycle through (nothing to worry about) but you can also have hunters & people with weapons either “guarding these wind farms” or just showing off their muscle. Just smile and wave and they will leave you be.
Experience with stray dogs is a must (Part 3)
DANGEROUS PART PLEASE BE CAREFUL
The Tafileh descent is a huge descent with some crazy beautiful panoramic views. Always keep in mind whatever your descending you will climb back up! Don’t fly through as the descents are big ones and you never know when you need to stop safely (also keep in mind types of wheel you have and wind etc…).
In the midst of this descent you will go through a massive pack of dogs. Make sure this is clearly marked on your GPS so you can prepare yourself mentally for what’s about to come up:-
Well I hope you enjoyed the San Francisco orchestra. Rule number one is don’t panic as these boys will get way more confident if they see you intimidated. Walk through them and use your filthy expensive carbon frame as a shield. Have a firm voice, make fists incase you get bitten and walk through them. The other alternative is to sprint through them but this is probably way more dangerous even though thats what I usually end up doing (the joy of the thrill).
Theres a little shack just after the dog party where you can actually have a mental break and maybe a coffee by the view.
Supplies, hydration & your will to endure (Part 4)
So the ride starts going up from the litte Petra area going through the police checkpoint (first mark on the map). Then you cycle towards Al Tafileh via the shobak town and the beautiful area along the windfarms which are located by the kings highway. Once at Tafileh you will start rolling down towards the dead sea and eventually connect to the main Dead Sea highway that leads you to Aqaba (halfway point) and start cycling alongside that. Up until the first half of the ride supermarkets and supplies are widely available and there is nothing to worry about. But as soon as you connect on the main Dead Sea highway you will find two small markets where you have to stock up to the max (believe me when I tell you). Not only that this area is really hot but you will be cycling around 70kms without a single form of hydration or nutrition. You start off at the Dead Sea highway you push here to gain some speed and time (remember you need to get back before the sun goes down) and eventually turn left towards the Feynan Ecolodge area. This is where you start heading towards the dangerous climbs and you will literally be all alone for a long while until you reach your only resurrection point (the why not supermarket!!) halfway through the climb (last mark on the map at km 166). Make sure you stock and stock and stock on the Dead Sea highway as you will be left to suffer if you don’t have any form of support.
The main climb (Part 5)
After the why not supermarket you are left with the main event. The climb. Make sure that you are completely stocked up here again as you will have no more stops till you are back at the camp site. This is where the ride becomes tricky. Big climbs and very narrow roads. You’r going to have to be careful as you never know when cars will be coming down from the blind summits. So if you are zig zagging up be careful and always keep in mind that you need to unclip from your pedals. This part sucks so bad but trust me you will be satisfied when your done with this massive challenge.