Jordan’s Wadi Mujib crossing offers gratifying experience for thrill-seekers

Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2011, the Mujib Nature Reserve hosts more than 300 species of plants.
Sunday 22/07/2018
A group of adventurers battle raging waters at Wadi Mujib. (Wild Jordan)
A group of adventurers battle raging waters at Wadi Mujib. (Wild Jordan)

WADI MUJIB, Jordan - Abseiling, canyoning, trekking and swimming are among the thrilling options available to the toughest adventure seekers at Jordan’s Wadi Mujib, the lowest — 420 metres below sea level — nature reserve in the world.

Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2011, the Mujib Nature Reserve hosts more than 300 species of plants, of which some are considered rare, ten species of carnivores such as the Syrian wolf, the caracal (also known as the mountain cat) and the very rare Arabian leopard in addition to the variety of birds.

Nadeen Salameh, marketing and sales coordinator at Wild Jordan Adventures, part of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), said the challenging trail and water crossing at Wadi Mujib cannot be compared to anywhere else.

Established in 1987, Mujib Biosphere Reserve covers 212 bordering the Dead Sea and surrounding Wadi Mujib, a deep and majestic canyon that cuts through the rugged highlands and drains into the Dead Sea.

The RSCN, an independent organisation devoted to the conservation of Jordan’s natural resources, manages the trail.

Wadi Mujib Siq trail starts at the visitor’s centre near the Mujib Bridge with a cantilevered walkway over the dam. The path follows the course of the river between towering sandstone cliffs to the base of a large waterfall. Depending on seasonal rain levels, the gorge may contain pools deep enough for swimming. This is an ideal walk to take slowly and enjoy the cool water and shade, especially in the heat of the summer.

A view of Wadi Mujib in Jordan.    		                  (Wild Jordan)
A view of Wadi Mujib in Jordan. (Wild Jordan)

“It is definitely unique,” Salameh said. “The steep mountain slopes support several highly adapted mammals, including the rock hyrax, the Eurasian badger and, most importantly, the Nubian ibex, a large mountain goat.”

“Today, only a small number of ibexes remain in the wild due to widespread illegal hunting. To save this animal from extinction, RSCN finished a 10-year reintroduction programme for the ibex in the reserve, where the captive-bred animals are kept,” she said.

Osama Aboud, a self-employed Jordanian with a passion for adventure described crossing Wadi Mujib “a true experience.”

“You cannot find an adventure as unique as walking the trail, crossing the water and climbing the rocks, then relaxing next to a 20-metre-high waterfall.

“It is not an easy thing to do at all. You need to prepare yourself to cross a river using a rope and how to handle yourself while the person in front of you or the one behind you slips taking you under the water with him. It is truly a course in surviving, especially when the river becomes your only path,” Aboud said.

“Most of the visitors enjoy the variety of activities they find in the same place like hiking, canyoning and climbing. Whether you select easy short walks or long more difficult guided tours the thrill is there. I love climbing using ropes, sliding over the slippery rocks, falling in the cold refreshing water and then just laying down on the edge and simply listening to the sounds of nature,” he added.

Despite the physical challenge it poses, the crossing of Wadi Mujib is one of the most popular adventures for thrill-seeking visitors. All hikers need to make it are good hiking shoes, sunblock, engagement with the local community, tasting local food and experiencing rock climbing and zip-lining at the Adventure Centre.

A visit to Mujib Adventure Centre any day from 8am-3pm can prepare visitors for an experience of a lifetime, Wild Jordan says. Weekends are very busy and it is advised to arrive before 9am. Those under 18 are not allowed on such an excursion.

Jordanian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Lina Annab said the country has had a surge in activities since the beginning of 2018.

“An unprecedented rise of 27% was registered in tourist expenditures for June 2018 compared to 2017. For January-June 2018, tourists’ spending reached $2.416 billion and the total number of visitors increased 8.1% reaching 2.3 million,” Annab wrote on her Twitter account.