AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Wadi Mujib Tour

The Gorge of Mujib

Anyone who knows me will voluntarily tell you that I am not much of a nature person. It’s just that I have an unreasonable “oh, that’s gross”-hate for insects, weird plants, bird poop, algae and all other kinds of copious additions that come with nature (which is why I love the Dead Sea, but that’s very much beside the point).

This abhorrence is very unfortunate, because beyond my city-girl squeamish demeanor, I actually do love nature. At least, I love the man-made adventurous attempts at playing along with the environment, whether it is parasailing with the clouds like an eagle, climbing down waterfalls with the water beating against your head, or pretending to be a bird committing suicide with skydiving. I have my mother to thank for this guts-iness, and well, “sense of adventure”.

That aside, the most developed muscles in the body of the person typing this sentence right now are those used for typing (well, not literally speaking, but whatever). I have tried joining a gym several times, but I just find it mindlessly boring to stare at the wall ahead while trying to pass the 30 compulsory minutes on the treadmill and no one around me is willing to take walking excursions around Amman. Point is that I really am not a fit person. I mean, I lose my breath after climbing a flight or two of stairs! The only sort of muscle-using activity that I actually enjoy doing is the one that comes automatically with Arab genes: dancing (and don’t trick yourself into thinking that I’m any good at it).

I’ve been wanting to visit Wadi Mujib for a while now, because the adventure-lover in me totally loves the thought of wading through water for hours and going down gushing waterfalls. Yesterday, I finally got a chance to visit the Wadi Mujib reserve with no other than Hala.

The reserve is gorgeous in every sense of the word, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere as beautiful. The colors and formations of the mountains are absolutely mindblowing, I could stare at the swirls and shapes for hours if there was no water to remind me that my feet can only survive being soaked for so long. The scenery is stunningly diverse and the various waterfalls in their different shapes and sizes are a joy to look at. The deeply cut sandstone mountains of the reserve span an elevation drop of over 1,200 meters: from 900m above sea level to 400m below – the lowest ground level on Earth, so it’s just the most amazing experience to be walking amidst white, dry, arid mountains so desert-like in their appearance to find yourself submerged in a lush, beautiful siq of running water. The walls of the siq are so close and so high that the sky is merely a blue satin ribbon between the rugged red rims of the gorge (a lot of pictures below, so hold your breath).

Beauty aside, it seriously is an exceedingly arduous journey that leaves you scratched up, bruised up, and cramped up. I’m still suffering. My elbows and knees are scraped like they’ve never been (I was a very careful kid), my sides are blue with bruises, my shoulders and arms are sore from the pain of muscles which I don’t think I’ve ever used before, and even my bottom hurts from falling SMACK after descending down a naturally-formed rock waterslide (which is probably a little waterfall, but what do I know). Ouch.

Sardine PIck up The reserve

We started the day sitting dangerously packed in the back of a rather small pick-up truck (picture above, left). The whole time I was thinking of my overprotective parents (hi, guys), who will probably freak out when they know that I had to ride in the back of a pick-up truck on a bumpy Jordanian highway. The ride is rough but short, and we soon found ourselves getting dropped off at the lower edge of a very steep mountain trail right across from the Dead Sea.

A little less than 10 minutes after the start of the trail, I start to realize that this was a terribly wrong idea and that I really am not fit enough to go on such an adventure. The mountains of Mujib are way too steep for someone like myself, and the climbs were interrupted by minutes were I would lay down on the hot sandy floor of the sandstone mountains or by unsuccesfully trying to maintain my balance in the vertical descents. For most of the 2 hours of the time spent hiking through the unbearable, I tried to not look up or down so as to not get overwhelmed by the expanse of emptiness ahead of me (pictures below).

Small people against the mountains
The arduous way up BBLEH!
And down we all go Tired and hot but still trying to get as much of a tan as possible

Finally, the guide told us to stop and listen. We stopped and held our breath. Running water!

The relief! We quickly climbed down whatever was left of the mountain path (and a lot of us tumbled from the excitement, including myself) and “walked” into the rather warm water of the Mujib stream (walked is an understatement, because I didn’t expect the rocks to be so slippery and sled into the water, getting soaked from head to toe, picture somewhere below, where I’m holding the waterbottle and you can still see the arid land behind). Around an hour or so after the beginning of the gorge, we arrived at the most exciting part of the entire trip, and the probably the very reason I was so excited about Mujib- the 20 meter high waterfall.

The first site of the water

The Gorge of Mujib Sitting in the water after hiking in the heat for several hours

Inside the Gorge

From atop of the waterfall

Cliche Group Shot in front of the Waterfall

The descent of the entire group took over an hour as each person goes down alone and since a lot of the girls were totally freaked out (haha). Although I definitely didn’t go down as gracefully as I hoped (it was more of a “drop” than a climb, so you can imagine me flailing my arms and legs trying to get a grip completely unsuccessfully), I thought it was absolutely awesome and I’d definitely do it again and again. I actually got banged up to death and descending down a gushing waterfall isn’t as easy as I thought it would be (I even have scratches on what were the covered up parts of my body). The worst part though and what made the rest of the hike rather miserable was the fact that I lost my contact lenses because of the gushing water.

With eyesight of over negative three apiece, I’m basically blind without the contacts and really couldn’t see where I was going anytime after the waterfall, so I fell a lot. To make matters worse, the big waterfall is actually only the first of many much smaller ones, including the little waterslide thing of which I’m sure I would have drowned if one of the guys didn’t fish me out of the water after the piercing shock of falling smack on a rock (my lower back is still sore).

It was then that I became really anxious to get out of the water, take my soaking-wet trainers off, and drink a can of icy Diet Pepsi. So Roba, the last person during most of the hike, zoomed to the very front until she finally overtook almost everyone.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, we swam through the bird-poop covered pool of river water and climbed up the metal ladder that leads right up to the reserve facility, took my trainers off, and scampered to get my dry clothes from the car. The last bit of humor in the trip was that the women’s toilets were overcrowded with hoards of girls, so a few of us females decided to take over the much bigger men’s toilet to change.

On the Way back to Amman
On the way back to Amman On the way back to Amman
(compulsory arsty-fartsy shots from the way back to Amman)

An hour or so later, I was in the shower at home scrubbing my body violently to wash whatever invisible traces were left by the seaweed and bird poop. Hello, Amman, how I love you! I love your dry streams of asphalt and your blocks of stone buildings! I love the dry bird poop on my car windows and the fact that the only seaweed around is that on my sushi platter!

And so, my very first excursion in this beautiful country’s diverse land came to an end. Today, I am still sore and exhausted, but incredibly enthusiastic about the brilliant nature that Jordan has to offer. After three years of living in Jordan, I can pat myself on the back and say, welcome to Jordan, Roba! Yesterday during the hike, I was thinking NEVER AGAIN. In Amman, I was thinking perhaps in a few years. Today, I’m thinking yay, maybe in a few weeks. Might as well get some exercise that’s a heck more interesting than staring at a wall in a gym.

The Mujib Stream just before it goes into the gorge

For more details on the pictures, click on each to be taken to their Flickr page which has more details.
For more on the trip, check out what Grace has to say.

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20 Comments

  1. I’ll visit the Grand Canyon next week, I’ll call it “The Wadi Mujeb of the United States”

  2. WOW Roba .. great adventure and great post

    I loved the pics … you made me want to go there again and see them first hand …

    I hope that your sore body is getting better after this killer trip :)

  3. Hope you’re okay Roba ;) I haven’t been there yet, I’ve been pushing my friends to go with me, since like forever, but they say the road’s dangerous (bahh).

    Hmm.. the gyms aren’t that bad, you should consider taking more interactive activities if you must you know: modern dancing, aerboics, etc :D

    Loved your account of the trip!

  4. Hi Roba! Fabulous post :)

    We had a good time, didn’t we? I think you and I are the rare ones out of the girls who would want to do it all again (well, perhaps not the mountain hike part).

    Next adventure – horseback riding in Wadi Rum!

  5. Zaid

    I am mesmerized by the first pic posted and would love to set it up as my wallpaper, would you mind blowing it up to 1024×768.

    Actually I just want people that pass by my desk to ask “oooh that’s pretty where was that taken” and I’d say “Jordan”, since they think that I use to live in a tent on a dessert with a pet camel called Humphrey.

  6. Out of all the jordanian treks i utterly miss, wadi el moujeb is the one that tops them all!
    Last time i went (late 2004 i think), Rain levels were just off the chains! n we had to literally swim down that gorge.. i’d do it again in a heartbeat :)

  7. great post, lovely pictures… it brought back some really nice memories!~

  8. VERRRYYY Nice!
    I like muchly! hehehe

    El 7amdellah 3ala El Salameh,
    looks like a dangerous trip! I wonder how you managed to keep the camera dry.

    I like the shots,
    but which one’s Hal?

    omar

  9. It’s an amazing adventure, I went to many places in Jordan but this is best experience I’ve ever had.

  10. wallahi ino hada ishi jameel jiddan o inshalla lazem ana aroo7 hai il ri7leh qareeban ay na3am lazem daroori fi3lan.

  11. Alright, don’t worry, next time I’m in Amman, I’ll take you on one of my famous walks.
    Very nice adventure you got there, and pretty pictures

  12. lol roba very nice adventure :) sorry for all the sores you got, hope u’ll get better soon…
    and now you made me really want to go there,
    i love adventures and the nature

    nice pix

  13. “…no one around me is willing to take walking excursions around Amman.”
    Call me next time you’re in the mood for a walking excursion. I’m always looking for people to go exploring with.

    Which reminds me, why do we always have JP Meet-ups in a Cafe? Why not a Wadi Mujib JP trip?

  14. Congratulations for the baptism of fire, or water shall I say! You have decided to start with the most difficult and challenging part of Jordan’s ecotourosm package. Now I advise you to go to Dana, Wadi Rum, Azraq, Ajloun and all the other nature reserves for a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience, though Mujib is the most breathtaking. I have worked previously with RSCN and went through this route three times but I doubt I can make it now without some fitness programme!

  15. seems like lots of fun(without the bruises of course)
    i wish i was there with you :)

  16. What amazing pictures/scenery.

    Do you have indoor rock climbing gyms over there? They seem to be the latest fad in Australia. It’s fun and definitely a workout. Perhaps that type of thing would be more interesting than a treadmill.

  17. rana

    im still talking and thinking about mujib till today!! i had such a fantastic time!! i want to go again!! do u know of any places where we can practice rock climbing in amman? cos im obsessed with that part of the trip in particular (ok, it was repelling that we did , but whatever!)

  18. Green with envy, sure part of me is happy for you but I am not able to access that at this very moment! Simply awesome.

  19. Hal

    You people are all crazy, that trip was torture and I wanted to kill myself in the first ten minutes, the water fall is like seeing the end of your life right there in front of you, and I would rather eat a dog than do that again.

    Roobee, your pics are HOT tho! Makes it all look so lovely and exotic.

    DON’T BE FOOLED PEOPLE. Mujib = death wish. Take it from someone limping with a swollen ankle. I know.

  20. Dear Roba
    It’s for sure a very amazing place, been there for 12 times now, but as I was looking through the pictures you have posted I realized that I was there at the same time you took them! Do you remember a group of six, 4 guys and 2 lovely ladies; we came after you but proceeded to the water fall before you? Anyways thank you for publishing such an article so people everywhere, especially in Jordan, can know more about our lovely sites…

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