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Here are 10 best hikes in the Middle East

Add these stunning spots to your travel bucket list this winter

[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Now is the ideal time for hiking. There’s nothing like exhilarating long-distance walks during winter from a sandstone labyrinth and wadis to hills and mountains. The first time I went hiking in 2017, I was reluctant and put off by the idea of waking up at 5 AM to walk uphill and downhill. However, as someone who wasn’t an avid hiker, I returned charged with adrenaline. 

Luckily, we are situated in a region where trails and wadis are plentiful, several long-distance trails have opened in the region in recent years, and the weather is ideal for embarking on an outdoor adventure.  

So here are ten hiking recommendations for all fitness levels. 

WADI RUM, JORDAN 

Located at Amman, Wadi Rum is popularly known as the Valley of the Moon and is often depicted as the surface of Mars in various Hollywood films. The old hiking trails are called “Bedouin Roads” and date back to when tribes would forage for medicinal herbs. The best way to get to the location is in a SUV to the base or trailhead of the mountain, wherein you can hike for over three hours, after which you can stop for lunch. 

Fitness level: Intermediate 

Equipment: A pair of good hiking shoes

Guided trek: Yes

SINAI TRAIL, EGYPT

 

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The Sinai Trail is one of Egypt’s most prominent long-distance hiking trails — covering over 200 kilometers. The hike can take about two weeks to complete if you walk a short distance daily, but it can be quicker or slower depending on how much distance you cover. The hike is guided by three Bedouin tribes and camels, which gives an insight into the cultural traditions of Egypt.  

Fitness level: General  

Equipment: If hiking overnight get tents, sleeping bags and hiking shoes. 

Guided trek: If you are hiking overnight (but recommended)

CHOWUEN, LEBANON

 

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Also called “Jannat Chowuen,” the valley and river are located in Ftouh Kesarwan. The trail is short and can be covered within three hours. The trail’s difficulty is moderate during downslopes, whereas upslopes can be advanced. Besides the hike, Chouwen has a waterfall about 600 m above sea level, allowing many photo opportunities.

Fitness level: Moderate

Equipment: No 

Guided trek: Yes

WADI LASAL, UAE

 

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A beginner or a seasoned hiker, Wadi Lasal trail caters to all. The nine-kilometer trails are meandering and offer the opportunity to take in the scenic landscape. The way the hike is structured also allows you to make a brief stop at the dam.

Fitness level: Beginner to advanced

Equipment: No 

Guided trek: No

RAS SHAITAN, EGYPT

Located six hours away from Cairo, Ras Shaitan is split up into two beaches due to the geography of its rock formation. The main attraction of the hike is the Red Sea and its turquoise waters. You can get a hut on the beach if you wish to stay the night at the location.

Fitness levels: Beginner to advanced 

Equipment: No 

Guided trek: Yes

WAHIBA SANDS, OMAN

Situated in Eastern Oman, Wahiba Sands is one of the top-hole hiking spots in the region. Without permanent roads, the dunes are converted into hiking trails by Bedouin tribes and fishermen. For the full experience, do stargazing and dune bashing. 

Fitness levels: Beginner to advanced 

Equipment: No 

Guided trek: Yes

AL ULA MOUNTAIN TREK, SAUDI ARABIA

 

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The Al Ula Mountain trail is located between two parallel canyons. The structure hike offers panoramic views of mountains, volcanic rocks, and petroglyphs. Within the Al Ula mountain trek is the Hidden Valley trek, which can be enjoyed at nighttime. The difficulty is moderate, both upslope and downslope. 

Fitness levels: Moderate

Equipment: Only change of clothes due to December-January rain

Guided trek: Yes

WADI TIWI, OMAN

 

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For the more seasoned hikers, Wadi Tiwi should be your go-to spot. The wadi entails a three-hour trek through old villages and the beautiful Mibam Village. On the other hand, the pools offer you and your crew the opportunity to simmer down after the hike. While walking through the Mibam Village, you will find the unique opportunity to witness the emerald pools and waterfalls. 

Fitness levels: Moderate to advanced

Equipment: Change of clothes and hiking shoes

Guided trek: Yes

MLEIHA DESERT, SHARJAH 

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mleiha is located in the central region of Sharjah and has grown to become one of the most culturally significant areas in the UAE. It is home to various artifacts. For beginners and professional hikers, fossil rock has a sizable track and a wall climb for you. 

Fitness level: Beginner to advanced

Equipment: No

Guided trek: No

UMM BAB, QATAR 

Umm Bab is located 80 kilometers from Doha and is a getaway from the hubbub of city life. You can club a trek, camping, and barbecue at the location. The location is also just minutes away from the Al Reem Biosphere Reserve, where you can see a variety of plants and animals. 

Fitness level: Moderate

Equipment: Tent and barbecue tools 

Guided trek: No

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Diya Motwani is a second-year journalism student currently interning at Fast Company Middle East. More

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