Wadi Shqeifat

That was a great surprise!

After my water modus was switched on I was super happy to be asked if I wanted to join a canyoning tour. The video of the Wadi seemed amazing and so I was eager to join right away. In Jordan many companies offering adventure sport have developed. So you’ll find an offer for almost everything. Starting with running groups, biking groups also offering biking trips, so hiking agencies (uncountable) and also Canyoning. Our friend Khaled somehow knew them and organised our tour with them.

We started in the morning at 8:00 half an hour delayed (Jordanian style). And then we got another 30 minutes delayed because our breakfast package was not ready, when we wanted to pick it up. So we arrived at a very beautiful look out at 10:00 to have breakfast. We tried to be quick knowing that it was getting hotter and hotter and that we had to hike to reach the Wadi.

So when we finally arrived, the ones who wanted to life-jackets and all got helmets and harness. And off we went. Through a beautiful farm growing eggplant and melons, up a mountain without shade in the heat. Luckily when we reached the top there was a pool and all of us happily jumped into it to cool down. (It was pretty cold!) And then we moved on. We had to scramble a little bit and then the first part to repell was reached. We got a quick introduction on how to do it and off we went down 30 meters. Down were two guides securing us – blocking the rope if needed or to take funny pictures – and up was another one. Fixing the gear before we started. It took quite a while until all of us were down. And when our guide reached he was shocked that all the water had gone. It had been a lot higher the week before. Well it’s no surprise with 42C that it’s evaporating.

The second route was even longer, about 43 meters they said. Ending with a jump into cool water. What a relief! The surrounding was beautiful, with a lot of birds and flowers and the Canyon covering us from the heat. So it was a good spot to sit and watch the whole crew coming down one by one. And suddenly it was over again. There was a spot where we were supposed to swim but apparently it was too dry already so we scrambled back to our bus.

Arriving there we all drank enormous amounts of water, and off we went to stop somewhere on the road to get Beduine food. Which we were supposed to eat at a “very beautiful spot” but since we were late to return to Amman, we had it served in the bus. I was super lucky because the bus almost passed my place and so I got home quickly. Happy to relax and take an evening off.

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Wadi Mujib – Gallery

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Wadi Mujib

Since we went to Wadi Mujib two weeks ago I’m back in my element: water. It was the best feeling to swim and enjoy in Wadi Mujib. Combined with a little bit on climbing it was a perfect mix for a hot day. Wadi Mujib is a Canyon or Siq filled with water which you can hike/ swim up until a water fall. There is no guide needed for the main path. But you can also go with a guide to enjoy more advanced routes.

Getting there was a bit of a challenge: We wanted to go with the public bus from the south station which is going to a city at the southern end of the Dead Sea, so it’s passing by Wadi Mujib. But because it was a Friday in Ramadan, they didn’t have enough passengers for the bus so they cancelled it. So we spent almost 1 1/2 hours at the south bus station trying to find a possibility which was not 10 times more expensive than the bus would have been. It was one of those annoying moments when the taxi drivers know that you want to go somewhere and you don’t have another option so they wanted 120 JODs for two cars coming and going. Then we found another one who told us 20 / car coming and going. When confirming before getting into the car suddenly it was only one way. Luckily a Jordanian friend was with us who started to scan the whole bus station for better options. Finally after I think even more than one and a half hours we had two cars for 12 JOD in one direction. But it was a price we payed: He drove like crazy. So we were really happy to arrive safely to Wadi Mujib and turned down his offer to wait and take us back.

Then Wadi Mujib was so exiting that we go our thoughts quickly off the crazy drive. Most of the time the canyon is really narrow creating something like a roof above your head. This makes it perfect for hot days, especially since the water is always cool – I think. There are some tricky parts and we met people on the way who had stopped and decided not to continue because they thought it was too risky. And for Austrian standards it definitely is. The most dangerous parts are secured with ropes so the water won’t flush you down a cliff, but there are some currents you have to pass just holding onto a rope. Which would be fine if people kept a safety distance, but they don’t or they underestimate the current because they go too far, loose grip and suddenly hit the person ahead of them in the back.

So now this might sound worse than it is, but I think people should be prepared if they are going to visit Mujib. So my recommendation is to go really early when there are not so many people yet. And also nothing happened! While we really had a lot of fun climbing, playing with the currents, jumping down the small water falls and in the end floating back towards the exit. But have a look at the pictures, I think they can tell more then me writing.

Going back was way more comfortable because Mohammed somehow found a guys who was working for one of the Dead Sea Hotels who drove us back to Amman in a Van. Back in Amman we went to Shams el Balad for a late lunch together.

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Shaumari & Azraq – Gallery

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Shaumari & Azraq

Last Friday we turned towards the east of Jordan, driving on route 40 into the desert towards Saudi Arabia and Iraq: We wanted to discover the Nature Reserves of Shaumari and Azraq.

Our first stop was one of the desert castles: Qasr al-Kharaneh. One of the oldest castles in the desert. Not very appealing from the outside, just a block in the middle of nowhere it offers an interesting maze when entering: rooms following rooms, followed by another room. After exploring the castle we hit the road once more.

We stopped at the Quseir Amra, an old bathhouse, but we didn’t enter. Continuing towards Shaumari Wildlife Reserve. It was completely empty, I think because of Ramadan. We only saw one tourist, but not even a guard at the cashier or anything. They welcomed us when we reached the visitor center. We were offered hikes, bikerides or a jeep tour. We finally went for the Jeep tour for one hour, which was 10,4JOD for us as students (normally 13JOD). As soon as we left the entrance area we already saw two Oryx. We were super excited and watched them for a while. But then our guide spotted a bigger herd so we moved on. We passed by a station for falcons, caught from illegal hunters which were in a programme to be reintroduced to the wild. As well as some cages for predators which also were to be freed after healing some injuries. Then we reached to a vulture for some birds, which names I forgot! They were breading them also to be saved from extinction. Moving on to the big herd, where we spotted three brown baby Oryx, apparently something which happens not too often because the parents are very protective and keep them away from the humans. While moving on we got to taste something like a “Sauerrampfer” and smelled a plant whose tea apparently makes you sleep really well… I wonder what kind of plant that is! 😉 And then we spotted two Onagers, the Arabian Zebra more or less, with only a few left in the world. They look like Donkeys, but with brown and white colors. Super shy so we only saw them from a distance, but they where watching us carefully. On the way back we saw quite a few Oryx again. And we arrived really happy to have been able to see all the animals. Maybe they will start a night tour, so you can get a chance to see the predators (wolf, hyaena and caracal. But since they are so shy, they are not sure yet, also they want to guarantee that they don’t get too familiar with the humans and stay wild.

So we moved on towards Azraq. Where we had the same when we reached, no one there, but at least someone at the Reception, to explain to us our options: Either do the small hike on our own or get a longer, guided hike. We chose the guided hike, which was supposed to be 3,7km (it was not, it was about 2km). But it was really interesting since some of the migratory birds where still there and we got to see quite a lot of different kinds. Unfortunately we didn’t see the buffaloes, but it was amazing to sit in the hide-outs and just watch what’s going on in and around the water. I caught a bird catching a snake out of the water with my camera (see the pictures).

After finishing our hike, we drove back from the other northern highway number 35, passing by the castle of Qasr Al-Hallabat, which was a lot to explore and offered several stone arches, carvings and mosaics. We stayed there until sunset, which was mind-blowing, the sky seemed to be set on fire.

All in all a long day: starting at 8am, returning at 8:30pm to Amman, driving and walking around in the desert, while you are not allowed to drink and eat in the streets and public places. And I was fasting (well I was drinking). So Henna and me were really looking forward to dinner and Kepi Cafe, who only after checking their menu and having hungrily decided on food telling us, that they didn’t serve food anymore, because they were serving all day long (in Ramadan?!). Anyways so we moved on to Oliva, for my exception of the week: Pizza Vegetariana, with a Rocca Salad as a starter shared with Henna. Then we went to Lisa’s place for a short visit and good bye to Michael, who was about to return to Germany. A friend of her came, bringing Donuts for desert. And we sat together for some time chatting and drinking tea. Then they two dropped me home: A very adventurous ride, with the driver on her phone, smoking cigarettes and taking the wrong turn several times, but I was just focussing on the city at night, enjoying passing by some places I had never seen before because of our detours.

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climbing at Sami’s cliff

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Dana Biosphere Reserve – Gallery

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