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Natural Wonders of Jordan

Author: David Pettitt

Famed for the wealth of its historic sites, Jordan is also blessed with some of the region’s finest natural wonders. Many of these are well-known – Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea and the coral reefs of Aqaba are popular with both locals and visitors alike – however, travel a little off usual tourist routes and there are number of fabulous places waiting to be discovered. From marine reserves, forests, desert wetlands and rocky canyons, this blog highlights some of the best natural sites to visit in Jordan.

1 Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum, Jordan
Wadi Rum

Located in the south of Jordan, Wadi Rum is a vast desert landscape stretching east from the Rift Valley towards the Saudi Arabian border. Petroglyphs and inscriptions testify to 12,000 years of human habitation and boasts some of the most dramatic scenery in the country, from canyons and ravines to cliffs, caverns and gorges. This red-hued wilderness was the setting for films The Martian and Lawrence of Arabia, offers a whole host of outdoor adventures and is one of the best places in the northern hemisphere for stargazing.

2 Dead Sea

The Dead Sea, Jordan
Dead Sea

The lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea is nestled between the Judean Hills and the Transjordanian plateau and is one of the saltiest bodies of water on the planet. The salty waters of this unique ecosystem wash up on the shores of both Israel and Jordan, set in the heart of an arid and rocky desert region that experiences high temperatures and little annual rainfall. The waters of the Dead Sea are, famously, exceptionally buoyant but they, and the muddy shoreline, are also rich in healing minerals which has drawn visitors for thousands of years.

3 Aqaba Marine Park

Aqaba Marine Park
Aqaba Marine Park

The most northerly point of the Red Sea, the coastline around Aqaba, and the coral reef located to the south of the town, are protected by the only marine reserve in Jordan – the Aqaba Marine Park. Easily reached from Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dana Biosphere Reserve, this is one of the region’s premier snorkelling and diving locations with a number of pristine reefs, crystal-clear waters and warm sea temperatures the year-round that are home to over 100 species of coral, 150 fish species, octopus, sea horse, sea cucumbers and turtles.

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4 Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dana Biosphere Reserve
Dana Biosphere Reserve / © Jonathan Cook-Fisher

The largest protected area in Jordan, Dana Biosphere Reserve is characterised by its range of habitats and variety of animal and birdlife. The biodiversity of Dana is driven by the landscapes – deep wadis, high mountains, towering cliffs and arid desert which create an array of different microclimates and ecosystems that, in turn, encourage and support many rare plants and animals. Nearly all of Jordan’s mammals – including ibex, gazelle, endangered sand cat and rare Arabian wolf – live in Dana, as well as 700 plant species and close to 200 species of bird.

5 Ajloun Forest Reserve

Ajloun Forest Reserve
Ajloun Forest Reserve / © 3adwan

Little-known outside of Jordan, the Ajloun Forest Reserve covers a remote area to the north of the Jordanian capital Amman and close to historic Ajloun. Unlike many of the country’s other protected areas, the mild climate of the Ajloun Forest Reserve is densely wooded – predominately with Mediterranean species such as evergreen oak, pine, pistachio and Arbutus unedo, known locally as the wild strawberry tree. Fauna include wild boar, fox and badger, hyena, porcupine and jackal and the reserve is also known for its wild flowers.

6 Azraq Wetland Reserve

Azraq Wetland Reserve
Azraq Wetland Reserve / © Mu'ath Khawaj

An oasis set in the heart of the barren Eastern Desert, Azraq is an important wetland site characterised by marshland, water pools and streams. Of international significance, the Azraq Wetland Reserve is a key migratory stop for birds – over 350 different species have been recorded here from raptors and warblers to plovers and ducks – with the best time for bird watching between the months of December and March. This protected area also supports a wide range of plant, mammal and reptile species and is also close to the desert castles of Qasr Amra and Qasr Kharana.

Images of Jordan

Images of Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an ancient land steeped in history and culture home not only to some of the world’s most important ancient remains but also to striking landscapes.

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7 Mujib Biosphere Reserve

Mujib Biosphere Reserve
Mujib Biosphere Reserve / © Guillaume Baviere

Close to the Dead Sea and located in the south of Jordan, the spectacular landscapes of the Mujib Biosphere Reserve include the impressive Wadi Mujib. Often compared to America’s Grand Canyon, the views over Wadi Mujib are breathtaking and dissected by a warren of rivers and streams. An area of significant biodiversity, in part encouraged by a year-round supply water, has resulted in the Mujib Biosphere Reserve supporting over 300 plant species, a wide range of birdlife and a number of different mammals including, the rare Nubian ibex.

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