by Azza Munir,
Wadi Mujib nature reserve in Jordan with its wild nature, plant, bird and animal species is becoming a leading eco-tourism destination.
Down into the valley of Mujib or ‘Wadi Mujib’ lies the magic of a rare exquisite diversity of nature where the wild scenery combines with a splendid variety of plant and bird species. The ‘Wadi’ is a deep gorge in the world’s lowest point. It enters the Dead Sea at 410 meters below sea level. A year-round flow of water and permanent streams in the area that stretches nearly 90 Km south of Amman, the capital city of Jordan, supports its mix of plants and rare animal species. Wadi Mujib has become internationally important due to its spectacular biodiversity.
Mujib Nature Reserve
A 220-square- kilometer reserve was created in 1987 by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) to protect the wild nature and bird and other species of Wadi Mujib. The reserve runs across the canyon from a point below sea level and stretches across highlands rising in some places nearly 900 meters above sea level extending to the Kerak and Madaba mountains to the north and south. The variation in elevation and a constant flow of water from seven tributaries sustained the area’s biodiversity. The reserve is home to over 300 species of plants, 10 species of carnivores and numerous species of permanent and migratory birds, recorded so far. Aquatic plants watered by the constant flow of a river and streams add spectacular beauty to nature.
Rich Vegetation, Animal and Bird Species
Wadi Mujib vegetation includes palm and wild fig trees, tamarix trees and beautiful oleander shrubs, in addition to the reed bed along the river. Mountain slopes offer homes to mammals including the rock hyrax, the Eurasian badger and, most importantly, the Nubian ibex, a large mountain goat. RSCN managed in recent years to save the ibex species, which had dwindled due to illegal hunting, from extinction through a special re-introduction program. The powerful and agile caracal, known for its great jumping ability, at times catching birds in its paws, makes its home in the area along with many other carnivores. Some of the highlands have not yet been explored being hard to reach, thus offering sanctuary to some other rare species.
Mujib is known world wide as an important passage for migratory birds with huge numbers of storks flying through the valley every year. Around nine species of birds of prey including eagles and falcons breed in the reserve.
Where to Stay
The trip from Amman to the Mujib usually takes one and a half hours to drive. A ‘chalet village’ was constructed in 2008 to accommodate adventure seekers as well as visitors to the reserve. Established at a short distance from the reserve’s visitor centre and the entrance to the canyon, the village is composed of 15 double rooms, each with a terrace overlooking the Dead Sea. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the area or enjoy the medicinal benefits of the Sea. Visitors can also stay at a campsite set up for this purpose with an accommodation capacity of 25 persons per day.
To enjoy the spectacular landscape and experience the rare beauty of the area and its rugged nature visitors can join one of two hiking trails organized by the reserve’s administration and include: (a) a circular trail allowing four groups a week and offering 5-6 hours of hiking and swimming through the valley’s system and (b) the lower trail offering 1-2 hour hike up the Mujib river and includes swimming through natural water pools.