A well-travelled globetrotter, hoping to come to Jordan, may already be aware of the country’s most notable hiking destinations, which spread from the verdurous North to the sandy dunes of the South, but he/she will not have come across the lesser known Wadi Hidan, a valley encompassing some of the most beautiful rocks, cliffs and rivers in Jordan. From the apex to the base lie the remnants of volcanic lava flows, which ultimately explained why our surroundings transmuted from shades of beige to maroon to jet-black. If you choose to visit any valley in Jordan, it should be Hidan for it incites serenity with its unprecedented beauty as well as adventure with its canyoning trails. Whether you’re looking for some peace and quiet or a daring escapade, Wadi Hidan has something to offer for everyone (unless of course you have a phobia of swimming in natural waters).
This breath-taking nature reserve is truly an unscathed gem in the vicinity of the historic city of Madaba, Jordan. Wadi Hidan has only recently been opened to the public. The entire area was previously a reserve that forbade access to visitors until 2 years ago, after which hikers were permitted access using tour guides from the Hidan Adventure Centre. If you want to go about your booking as we did, contact Adventure PROS to arrange a group hike which comes with a personal photographer, lunch and transport to and from their headquarters in Amman.
On your morning drive up to the Hidan Adventure Centre’s viewpoint, take a moment to appreciate the 180 degree view of the vast open space surrounding you and the magnificence of the entry of the valley – the starting point of your hike – enveloped by cliffs towering at great heights. Look into the depths of the valley so as not to miss the sight of an oasis amidst the burning desert terrains that lie at the base of the mountain’s crevasse, meandering in synchrony with the river’s bends. This winding oasis shall be the site of the your hiking trail.
Upon arrival to the Centre, strap on your life jackets, smear on the highest factor of sunscreen and, for those safety-conscious persons out there, fasten your helmets tight. Drop all belongings that chain you to the real world – yes we mean your phones and iPads – and get ready to immerse yourself fearlessly into the ultimate Wadi Hidan experience.
The Wadi Hidan adventure is appropriate for hikers of all levels (trust us, we would know), and will take you wading through rivers, swimming the water reserves, jumping from cliffs and sliding down waterfalls! If you hike with a group, you will have the pleasure of meeting new people from different backgrounds who will share in your excitement, fears and shrieks! Our one piece of advice: wear shoes with a grip, or be prepared to suffer the consequences of your injured body for the next few days!
Not only did the river’s allure come from its enchanting setting, a backdrop of grand imposing cliffs, but it also provided sanctuary from the scorching sun, making the distance bearable and the experience all the more refreshing in body and spirit. From our experience, we gathered that there were no other people in the valley. The only sound you will hear reverberating within the valley’s structures are the echoes of your own fun-filled screams, laughter, and possibly the singing of your guide entertaining you with some of the region’s classic Arabic tunes.
This setting is a hit for geologists, and if you’re not one, you’re likely to muster a new-found love for geology while journeying along this hike. Remnants of volcanic lava flows, dating back to thousands of years ago, have left strokes of graded patterns of basaltic rock formations by the riverside. These remnants showcase the utter timelessness of the natural rocks around you. In stark contrast to the black volcanic rock, the valley’s basin is lined with a profusion of bright pink flowers, found on a shrub know as ‘Nerium Oleander’, or ‘diflah’ in arabic – a riparian plant typically found in the Upper Jordan Valley. The volcanic rock and flowers represent long-term sustenance and constant regrowth – an indication of resilience after an eruption and the beauty that flourishes after the destruction; the lava assumes itself as part of the land and the rocks subsume its dark colours onto its surfaces, all the while the river breathes life into the surrounding greenery and the valley’s walls, giving it a majestic all-welcoming character with the peace and serenity that it exudes. All of this landscape makes for a unique and captivating setting for your hike.
After the exhaustion of a 5-hour hike, you will be driven back to the Hidan Adventure Centre to conclude your day with a good old Jordanian dish and a chai on the terrace, proudly overlooking the terrain you have just trekked. There was no better way to finish off our journey than with a spontaneous cultural exchange between the Jordanian and Chinese trekkers – a sing-off of Arabic and Chinese songs – along with an impromptu traditional dabke dance by the guide, photographer and the Jordanian trekkers. In Jordan, always expect a lot of singing and dancing wherever you go. It’s a signature of the people’s fun spirited nature and their definition of a good time. In sharing this journey through timeless nature with the other hikers and in partaking in the same adventures, we were able to overlook our cultural differences and to engage in the good time as defined by the locals. On that note, we dedicate this blog post to the people of Jordan and their love of music and dance.