How is it to climb the highest mountain in Jordan? How to organize the unique Wadi Rum trekking trip that not many people heard about? Jabal Umm ad Dami is one of the best places for hiking in Wadi Rum. It offers striking views to Wadi Rum’s rugged landscape, the Red Sea and even Saudi Arabia’s vast desert. In fact, the mountain is located only a few hundred meters from the border with this country. Want to have an extraordinary experience during Wadi Rum hiking? Go on top of the Jabal Umm ad Dami. Find out exactly how to do it in the guide below.
WADI RUM DESERT
The red desert of Wadi Rum (part of the UNESCO Heritage List) is known from its rolling sand dunes, striking rock formations and hypnotizing landscape. Wadi Rum hiking and trekking opportunities are countless, but not all the hikes seem to be known and beat the popularity of other things to do in the desert. I was surprised when I found out that Wadi Rum is actually home of the highest mountain in Jordan, Jabal Umm ad Dami. Located on the edge of Wadi Rum, just by the border with Saudi Arabia, the peak offers the views stretching over two countries.
Before the trip, when I was preparing our Jordan itinerary, I couldn’t find a lot of information about Jabal Umm ad Dami. Right, it’s the highest mountain in Jordan and it’s probably possible to climb it. But what else? How to get there? Do you need a guide? How much is it? Is it worth it? Can I do it with my injured ankle?
Questions were popping up in my head. When we booked the trip to climb the summit, I still wasn’t sure what to expect.
Below, I am trying to answer all the questions that you might have about hiking Jabal Umm ad Dami. If you have any more, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments.
Table of content
- Hiking in Wadi Rum
- The highest mountain in Jordan
- Jabal Umm ad Dami hike
- Jordan off the beaten path
- How to get to Jabal Umm ad Dami?
- How to organize Jabal Umm ad Dami hike?
- What to take for the hike?
Read more: Full 10-days Jordan itinerary + travel guide
HIKING IN WADI RUM
Wadi Rum area has several hiking, trekking and climbing opportunities. Some of the most famous ones involve:
- climbing the Burdah Arch (or Burdah Rock Bridge), the largest rock arch in Wadi Rum, hanging around 80 meters above the rocks below. You can see the arch from the Wadi Rum jeep tour.
- a very short climb to the Um Frouth Arch
- hiking up the Jebel Rum (1754m), a mountain towering above the Rum village
- Jebel Umm Al Ishrin, a 20-domed mountain range
Apart from that, Wadi Rum is a great area for climbers, where with proper equipment you can work on very interesting rock climbing routes.
From all that I would recommend going a bit beyond of what is in the middle of the Wadi Rum protected area and venture further to the tallest mountain in Jordan.
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THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN JORDAN
When I first heard about it, the hike to the highest mountain in Jordan sounded very exciting. It didn’t seem to be very popular, located off the beaten path, far away from all the camps and tourist trips. The views were promised to be spectacular. The mountain wasn’t very tall (lower than the highest peak in my home country’s Tatra mountains), but the gentle hike and the landscape around was supposed to be worth it. To be honest with you – I wasn’t disappointed.
JABAL UMM AD DAMI HIKE
Jabal Umm ad Dami has a height of 1,854 meters (6,083 feet) and can be climbed in less than 2 hours. With a good level of fitness, you can easily do a round trip from the car to the top and back in 3 hours. However, I did see some information on the internet that the hike can take longer. Probably, in the summer months with the bad heat, it might be harder. Then, make sure to leave very early to avoid the peak of the hot temperatures. I can imagine it can get extremely hot in between the barren rock landscape. It’s still a desert, after all.
We spent a lot of time on the summit admiring the views and catching the warm sun rays. We did the hike in winter, at the beginning of January, so we really liked the gentle sun rays. It was a nice break from the snowy Oslo in Norway.
The hike is not technically complicated, however, the path leading to the top is very rocky and there are parts, that involve scrambling. There are no marks or signs, so you need to know where to go. There is a Jordanian flag on top of the mountain, but you can’t really see it from the bottom. You only notice it when you are a few hundred meters away from the summit.
You can do the hike if you have a moderate level of fitness. It’s mildly strenuous, but steep in places. I found it quite easy, so for an outdoors and hiking lover, it should be relatively simple. The trail offers great views to different parts of the Wadi Rum area, from the beginning of the hike and as you are getting higher, the views are getting better and better.
The mountain is mostly a desolated rock, however, we spotted some small lizards on the way.
ON TOP OF JABAL UMM AD DAMI
Once you get to the top of the mountain, you can clearly see Saudi Arabia. There is a road that marks the border between the countries and a military building in the distance. On a clear day, the view stretches as far as the Red Sea. Even the sweeping sights towards jagged red rocks and sands of Wadi Rum are enough to leave you in the awe.
The glowing Wadi Rum’s scenery on one side and the rough, dark rocks of Saudi Arabia’s desert on the other side, make it a scene that you would want to stare into for hours. Unfortunately, at some point, we needed to go back down. Happily, this also meant food, which was prepared by our guide in the shaded area of this part of the desert.
JORDAN OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Surprisingly, not many people decide to climb Jabal Umm ad Dami during their Wadi Rum tours. There is not that much information about it on the internet. It’s also not very often listed as one of the “things to do in Wadi Rum”.
From one side, it’s great, because during our hike we could admire the area without anyone else around. After a while, we were joined by one British couple with the guide. But then, we didn’t see anyone else until we left for the sunset and back to our Wadi Rum camp. On the other hand, I feel like many people are missing out on a very nice Wadi Rum trek experience.
That’s why I’m writing about it here, so you can also enjoy that unique hike when you are in Jordan.
HOW TO GET TO JABAL UMM AD DAMI?
The peak lies on the far corner of the Wadi Rum desert, several hundred meters from the border with Saudi Arabia. When we were on top, I got a message from my phone provider “Welcome to Saudi Arabia”, oops, no visa ;-).
To access the mountain you have to cross through the 35 kilometers of desert. You need a proper 4×4 car and very good navigation skills. It takes around 1,5 hours to get to the base of the hike from the Wadi Rum Visitor Center.
The road is not marked and getting to the location involves crossing the dry wadi (a small river canyon) and requires knowledge on how to do it. We drove across the dried stream beds for a while, after realizing that the previous crossing has been destroyed. Luckily, our guide knew the alternative way.
The journey to the base of the hike is fascinating. You drive through the great uncharted desert, crossing the towering canyons, admiring the mountains in the distance, sitting on the open back of the jeep.
HOW TO ORGANIZE JABAL UMM AD DAMI HIKE?
This part of the desert is not a popular area with not many jeeps driving around. It’s recommended to be well prepared if you decide to go for this hike.
When you organize the trip with the agency, they will take care of everything for you. That’s what I would suggest. However, if you want to use your own 4×4 car, at least take a guide with you, so you don’t get lost in the desert. It can get extremely hot during the day and very cold at night, there is no water, food, or living vegetation and no people living around.
You need to make sure you have enough supplies including water, food, petrol, and spare tyres. Always tell somebody where you plan to go. It’s an obligation to register your trip in the Wadi Rum Visitor Center (if you go without the tour company).
We went for the trip with Wadi Rum Green Desert, which I can highly recommend. In the price for the trip, you get the transport to the bottom of the hike and back to the camp (we also went to see the famous Wadi Rum sunrise and have some tea while watching the sun drop), the guide during the whole time and the lunch cooked for you in the picturesque settings. The price was 30 JD per person.
WHAT TO TAKE FOR THE HIKE?
As I mentioned above, the area where the tallest mountain in Jordan is located is quite remote, so you need to make sure you are prepared. However, the hike is relatively short, so you just need supplies for a day.
Items that are provided by the tour company:
Personal items worth taking for the hike:
- Suncream – I always take this suncream as it has great protection, good skin care and is perfect for kids and adults on face and body.
- Sunglasses – during both summer or winter, the sun is strong and you need to protect your eyes. Check UV sunglasses in good price here.
- Hat or a scarf for the sun protection – the Bedouins wear this type of scarfs to protect themselves from the sun, heat, and sand.
- Good hiking shoes – you can probably do the hike even in trainers (like most of the locals), but only if you are used to rough terrain and when you are careful. There are big rocks, where you can slip from, therefore proper hiking boots are recommended. Merrell has good hiking shoes. Check the price and models here.
- Reusable water bottle – save plastic and fill in the small reusable bottle from bigger water bottles. I often use insulated bottles like this one to keep the drink hot or cold for a long time.
- Small day backpack
- Energy bars or nuts if you get hungry quickly (I do!)
- Camera with landscape lens – I use Fuji X-E1 and Samyang 12mm, which I used to capture photos in this post.
- Light jacket/jumper in winter
Climbing Jabal Umm ad Dami in the Middle East, towering above two countries of Jordan and Saudi Arabia was a great experience. I can recommend that trip to anyone fascinated by the wilderness and rugged landscapes of the Wadi Rum desert.
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Would you like to hike the highest mountain in Jordan? Have you ever heard about Jabal Umm ad Dami? Let me know in the comments!
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