Seven magnificent hikes in the Middle East

Published August 28th, 2016 - 05:24 GMT

If you think the Middle East is all desert and conflict, think again. There are dozens of places for adventurers to go on beautiful treks in the region, from Turkey's Lycian Way to Iraq's Mount Halgurd. In certain places, sure, you'll need to beware of international borders and land mines from wars long past, but if you do your homework ahead of time, the Middle East is a rewarding place to conquer the outdoors. 

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lycian way turkey

The Lycian Way: This 500 km (300 mi) trail through southern Turkey is a combination of village paths, animal tracks & country roads. It was designed to give hikers a window into the 3,000-year-old kingdom of Lycia, and the trek passes by historical sites like ancient Byzantine monasteries, in addition to evergreen forests & desolate beaches.

abraham path

The Abraham Path: Conceived by a Harvard academic, this 1,200 km (745 mi) trek from Turkey to southern Israel aims to retrace the path of the Biblical patriarch Abraham, who is revered by Judaism, Christianity & Islam. There’s currently a walkable path in Israel, Palestine and Jordan; the Syria section will have to wait for a more peaceful day.

bkassine lebanon forest

Bkassine Pine Forest: This massive woodland covers 1 million square meters (3.2 m sq. ft.), making it the largest in Lebanon. The area was not safe to travel to for years due to the Israeli occupation, but as a result it’s been very well preserved. Winding paths take you past waterfalls, vineyards, orchards and mountain villages.

iraq kurdistan

Mount Halgurd: The second-highest mountain in Iraq, located in the relatively-safe Kurdistan region, towers above the clouds at 3,600 m (11,800 ft). Tour companies like Secret Compass will take you to the summit if you’ve got the cash, but the hike can also be done on your own. Just make sure to stay on the main path to avoid land mines!

carmel

Carmel Mountains: This 39 km-long (24 mi) mountain range in northern Israel is not that big compared to famous ranges in other countries, but it’s very unique. It’s UNESCO biosphere preserve, and its proximity to the ocean means it gets lots of rain: there are 700 species of plants here, including oak, pine, laurel and olive trees!

petra

The Petra Monastery: Most travelers in the Middle East come to Jordan’s UNESCO World Heritage site at one point or another, but most of them don’t make the trek to the “Monastery,” an ancient Nabatean temple located on top of a mountain about two-hours’ hiking from the main Petra attractions. It’s well worth the trip.

wadi rum

Wadi Rum: Located in the Jordanian desert, this 450 sq. km. (280 sq. mi.) protected area, often called ‘The Valley of the Moon,’ has red sands & bizarre rock formations that make it look like another planet. Stay at a Bedouin camp & explore the gorgeous topography that Lawrence of Arabia rode through. You won’t regret it!

lycian way turkey
abraham path
bkassine lebanon forest
iraq kurdistan
carmel
petra
wadi rum
lycian way turkey
The Lycian Way: This 500 km (300 mi) trail through southern Turkey is a combination of village paths, animal tracks & country roads. It was designed to give hikers a window into the 3,000-year-old kingdom of Lycia, and the trek passes by historical sites like ancient Byzantine monasteries, in addition to evergreen forests & desolate beaches.
abraham path
The Abraham Path: Conceived by a Harvard academic, this 1,200 km (745 mi) trek from Turkey to southern Israel aims to retrace the path of the Biblical patriarch Abraham, who is revered by Judaism, Christianity & Islam. There’s currently a walkable path in Israel, Palestine and Jordan; the Syria section will have to wait for a more peaceful day.
bkassine lebanon forest
Bkassine Pine Forest: This massive woodland covers 1 million square meters (3.2 m sq. ft.), making it the largest in Lebanon. The area was not safe to travel to for years due to the Israeli occupation, but as a result it’s been very well preserved. Winding paths take you past waterfalls, vineyards, orchards and mountain villages.
iraq kurdistan
Mount Halgurd: The second-highest mountain in Iraq, located in the relatively-safe Kurdistan region, towers above the clouds at 3,600 m (11,800 ft). Tour companies like Secret Compass will take you to the summit if you’ve got the cash, but the hike can also be done on your own. Just make sure to stay on the main path to avoid land mines!
carmel
Carmel Mountains: This 39 km-long (24 mi) mountain range in northern Israel is not that big compared to famous ranges in other countries, but it’s very unique. It’s UNESCO biosphere preserve, and its proximity to the ocean means it gets lots of rain: there are 700 species of plants here, including oak, pine, laurel and olive trees!
petra
The Petra Monastery: Most travelers in the Middle East come to Jordan’s UNESCO World Heritage site at one point or another, but most of them don’t make the trek to the “Monastery,” an ancient Nabatean temple located on top of a mountain about two-hours’ hiking from the main Petra attractions. It’s well worth the trip.
wadi rum
Wadi Rum: Located in the Jordanian desert, this 450 sq. km. (280 sq. mi.) protected area, often called ‘The Valley of the Moon,’ has red sands & bizarre rock formations that make it look like another planet. Stay at a Bedouin camp & explore the gorgeous topography that Lawrence of Arabia rode through. You won’t regret it!