Discover the Wild Side: Best Safari and Hiking Spots in MENA

The Middle East is home to some of the world’s most diverse and breathtaking landscapes. Mesmerizing sand dunes, untouched deserts, and lush mountain ranges are all waiting to be explored by the daring adventurers who are lucky enough to visit them. As the tourism industry flourishes, access to these sanctuaries of nature becomes ever easier and safer.

Here are some of the best safari and hiking destinations across the region:

Wadi Rum, Jordan

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Located in southern Jordan near the Saudi Arabian border, Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon, is a stunning desert landscape with towering sandstone mountains, narrow canyons, and ancient rock carvings.

This area, rich in history and culture, has been inhabited for millennia. Visitors can explore the desert on jeep safaris or camel treks, both offering unique ways to see the unique rock formations and expansive sand dunes.

Hiking and climbing, especially up the famous Seven Pillars of Wisdom, provide more physical challenges. At night, Wadi Rum is perfect for stargazing due to its clear, unpolluted skies.

Erg Chebbi, Morocco

Erg Chebbi, located in southeastern Morocco near the town of Merzouga, is famous for its towering sand dunes, some reaching heights of 150 meters. As part of the vast Sahara Desert, it offers an iconic desert experience.

Camel trekking is a popular activity, allowing visitors to explore the dunes much like the nomadic Berbers. Sandboarding down the dunes and quad biking offer more adrenaline-fueled adventures. Nights in Erg Chebbi can be spent in desert camps, enjoying traditional Berber music and dancing under the starry skies.

Mount Sinai, Egypt

The Sinai Peninsula, located in northeastern Egypt, is known for its rugged mountains and deep valleys. It is home to Mount Sinai, a site of significant historical and religious importance where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments.

Hiking to the summit of Mount Sinai is a must-do, especially for the breathtaking sunrise views. Nearby, St. Catherine’s Monastery, one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world, offers a fascinating historical experience.

Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan

Jordan’s largest nature reserve, the Dana Biosphere Reserve, is located in south-central Jordan near the town of Dana. It encompasses a variety of landscapes, from sandstone cliffs to verdant valleys, and is home to numerous species of plants and animals, some of which are endangered.

Hiking is the primary activity there, with trails ranging from easy walks to challenging treks. The Dana Village to Feynan Ecolodge trail is particularly popular for its scenic views and cultural experiences. Bird watching and stargazing are also favored due to the area’s rich biodiversity and clear skies.

The Empty Quarter (Rub’ al Khali), Saudi Arabia

The Rub’ al Khali, or the Empty Quarter, is the largest continuous sand desert in the world, spanning Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Known for its vast, untouched sand dunes and extreme isolation, it provides a true wilderness experience.

Desert safaris in 4×4 vehicles offer a thrilling way to navigate the endless dunes, while camel trekking allows for a more traditional and immersive experience.

Camping under the stars in this remote area offers a serene escape from modern life. Sandboarding and wildlife watching, including sightings of the Arabian oryx and desert foxes, add to the adventure.

The Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The Atlas Mountains stretch across Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, offering diverse landscapes from fertile valleys to rugged peaks. They are home to various wildlife and plant species, as well as traditional Berber communities.

Hiking and trekking are the primary activities, with numerous trails catering to different skill levels. Popular destinations include the Ourika Valley and Ait Bougmez Valley, which are known for their stunning scenery and cultural richness. In winter, the Oukaïmeden ski resort provides opportunities for skiing and snowboarding.

The Middle East offers an incredible array of safari and hiking destinations for adventurers who seek the adrenaline rush of a mountain climb or the wholesome feeling of gazing at the beauty of Mother Nature.

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