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3/19/2007 Madaba - Al Karak 95 km 1700 m t.a.g.

We start early after a healthy breakfast to Al Karak in bright sunshine. The King’s Highway is well paved and there is little traffic in our direction. We have a light tailwind, so the 30 km to Dhiban pass quickly. From here it’s 10 km to the bottom of Wadi Mujib the deepest canyon on this trip. The road is steep with many curves and hairpins and I´m having a great time looking for the best line. I realize quite late that I have to climb back to the plateau on the other side.

Wadi Mujib

One and a half hours later we are back at the top. And I´m still amazed how green Jordan really is. Before I came here Jordan was for me a dry country with deserts and steppe, but not with green fields and meadows. In the village on the other side of Wadi Mujib the first stone is thrown by young boys behind our back. That wouldn´t be the last, but we turned around, followed these kids and told them how much we liked it.

From here it’s another two strenous hours to Al Karak. We get there in the last light of the day. We find a nice Egyptian run hotel next to the Crusaders’ castle. And go to bed early and very tired.

3/20/2007 Al Karak

It’s 12°C and a cold wind is blowing. So we have an easy start and enjoy a good breakfast with Samir the friendly owner of the hotel. With many glasses of Helbe tea for Debbies sore throat. Her voice is totally gone, she can only communicate wispering or with signs. We spend the day walking around the massive Crusaders’ castle from the 12th century with its dark halls and a good museum. The afternoon shower lasts for four hours – we are glad to be in Al Karak instead of on the road.

3/21/2007 Al Karak - Dana 99 km 2200 m t.a.g.

The first day of spring starts with blue skies and perfect weather. We have an early start and pedal along the King´s Highway south. We will have a long and hilly day to Dana. And the road out of Al Karak starts with a nice long hill. The traffic until Mazar is fairly heavy but after that we have the road mostly to ourselves. Only a few cars pass us honking. With Wadi Hassa we cross another 800 m deep canyon, but the climb on the other side is not as steep as Wadi Mujib. But here it is much warmer than further north. We reach the plateau at 1 p.m. In the first village school is out, which makes cycling a bit more strenous.

For a tasty lunch of falafel, chips and black tea with mint we stop at a modern restaurant across the University of Tafila. The break comes right in time because Tafila is in a valley and the King´s Highway climbs from here to 1600 m in one long climb. On top of the pass we see snow on the side of the road from the heavy snowfalls last week. We reach the turn off to Dana at dusk and drive down to the village as fast as possible. The village was founded during Ottoman times in the 15th century. It is nicely settled on the slopes below the plateau and lives from the booming ecotourism in an arid area with many hikes similar to Zion National Park in Utah.

We stay at Dana Tower Hotel where a few independent travellers are staying. We meet the first cyclist travellers here. It´s a French couple on a tandem with a 2 year old girl in a comfy trailer. They make quite a sight in Jordan.


3/22/2007 Dana - Wadi Musa 6 km 300 m t.a.g.

After the long day yesterday we have an easy start with a long breakfast on the sun roof of the hotel. We enjoy the tranquility and the fantastic view to the Dead Sea fault. Dana is the first village without its own muezzin, so we had a quiet and undisturbed night.

The wind is picking up this morning and around noon a storm is coming from the southwest. The start right from the village is very steep with 30% uphill, so the first 3 kms to the main road take 45 minutes. Even downhill into the next village we have to pedal hard to make progress. We stop at small shop and discuss our options. Within 5 minutes we find a minivan that takes us and the bikes to Wadi Musa.

Wadi Musa is across the valley from the one major tourist attraction in Jordan – Petra the sandstone city of the Nabataens. Until the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel in 1994 Elji was a small village in the mountains. Within a decade the village multiplied in size and where there were only 4 hotels before, there are 70 today.

We treat ourselves to a three star hotel with a bath tub and warm water that actually works.

Wadi Musa

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