Rock Climbing is one of the most unique extreme sports as it makes the combination of nature and sport really tangible. Rock climbers experiences the link with their surroundings down to the smallest crevice in the wall, chooses the climbing route and explore wonderful sites around the world. Many Middle Eastern countries are characterized by mild climate, warm and suitable for climbing rock outcrops such as limestone or sandstone. This article will review the Top 4 rock climbing destinations in the Middle East.
- Wadi Rum Jordan:
This is one of the most impressive sites in the world to climb Nubian Sandstone rocks. In the desert of southern Jordan – an hour’s drive north of Aqaba, enormous sandstone cliffs tinted red, yellow, brown and white tower above dried riverbeds. The center point is located in a village called “Ram” where Bedouin tribesmen “Hooiat” reside. Their simplistic life style and the tranquility of the desert provides an authentic and impressive experience for climbers, enabling a true connection to nature and the people living there. Many cliffs spread around the village, containing over 350 climbing routes of different levels. From Lead climbing one pitch (track of 30 meters) to a natural pitch (traditional climbing) that requires special equipment for anchoring the rope along the route, directly on bedrock hundreds of feet in length arrives. Climbers need to bring all the climbing equipment with them, other facilities are available in the village. There are detailed Guide books which explain the various treks and options in the wadi (Treks and Climbs in Wadi Rum, Jordan by Di Taylor, Tony Howard) to climbers, beginners as well as professionals. Wadi Rum is a unique and challenging site for climbing, the special Nubian rock and the unique Bedouin atmosphere providing a spectacular background for climbing. In order to fully enjoy the experience, it is essential to respect the place and the culture, learn and explore to challenge your personal limit.
- Wadi Kelt- Israel:
Jerusalem and its landscapes attracts pilgrims and tourists from all around the world. It is considered one of the most important cities in the entire world. From scenic outlooks like Minarets and monasteries you can see the slopes of the hills descending towards the Great Rift Valley that separates the Arabian Plate from the rest of the continent. This geological formation is known as one of Israel’s most beautiful rivers – Wadi Kelt. The Desert scenery is enriched with cold water springs which create an oasis of lush greenery. Above the flow of the stream you can find numerous beautiful cliffs. The site includes several dozens of climbing routes of one fitch sport climbing levels – mostly in the B6 + range. One of the things that distinguish this site is not only its proximity to Jerusalem, but also the integration of the desert landscape and the flow of water in the springs. Here you should bring personal climbing equipment. There is an entrance fee, and supervision by the reserve for exit and entry hours. From down the Wadi you can visit the city of Jericho, the Dead Sea and Judean desert wadis. All the information about specific climbing routes in the Wadi as well as other climbing routes in Israel can be found in a typical Israeli Climbing Guidebook by Nimrod Nachmias and Ran Shadmi.
Kalymnos is one of the hundreds of Greek islands located very close to the coast of Turkey. This location is considered the world’s largest site for all types of climbing. The entire island is surrounded by many limestone cliffs. Many of the sites are near the coast, so the scenery and experience of climbing are truly breath taking. There are over 2000 different climbing routes of different levels. One of the elements that characterize the stay on the island is the variety of climbers who flock to the island come from all over world, creating an atmosphere of a genuinely pleasant climbing community. The locals are hospitable, and it is very pleasant to finish the day dining in a tavern, enjoying good fish, drinking good Ouzo (anise-flavored aperitif) and listening to local music. The overall cost isn’t expensive. Kalymnos town is half an hour sailing from the island of Kos which can be reached by numerous charter flights from all over Europe, there is no need to do much research in advance or arrange rock climbing in Kalymnos Island, with a little spontaneity and the right equipment you’ll be good to go. It is even possible to rent the gear in one of the several rental agencies that offer climbing equipment. More details on climbing routes can be found in Kalymnos Rock Climbing Guidebook by Aris Theodoropoulos, recent edition 2016, and the site: http://climbkalymnos.com
- Antalya, Turkey:
Turkey is well known for its impressive mountain ranges, but only in recent decades more and more climbers have revealed its great potential for rock climbing sites. The impressive collection of climbing sites is located in convenient proximity to the resort town of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast. The largest site called “Geyikbayiri”, which contains over 400 sport climbing routes on limestone, is known for a very high standard at all levels of climbing. One of the things that distinguish the structure of the site is the diversity of the climbing cliffs. Route information for all sites around Antalya is available in a climbing guide book called “Antalya Kaya Tirmanis Rehberi/A Rock Climbing Guide to Antalya“, written by Ozturk Kayikci
- Tannorin, Lebanon
Close to a quiet and beautiful village called “Tannorin”, you can find towering high cliffs of limestone. The village is a three-hour drive from Beirut to the Lebanese mountains. The climbing site is situated in a beautiful nature reserve, which attracts visitors from all over the world, but this site has never been a pilgrimage site for climbers. In 2016 the RAD Rock Climbing Association for Development came to set up over 170 climbing routes for sportive one Fitch climb in order to improve the economic growth of the region by developing the field of sport tourism. Soon the site became the focal point for climbing in all of Lebanon. Today, in the spring and summer months, large groups of climbers from all over Europe and the Middle East climb on site, as do local climbers. The relative proximity to Beirut gives the site an additional advantage. There are no services yet to support the climbing sport in the village, but you can stay there and find good local restaurants.