Day Trip to Wadi Khusheibeh (what is a ‘wadi’ anyway?)

16 Sep

“What’s a wadi?”  Prior to today, I (Rachel) did not know the answer to this question, nor did I have any idea that a desert could hide such a natural jewel.

Phillip and I joined Fred (by boss) and his three oldest kids in a day trip about an hour southwest of Amman.  Being outdoors people, they have hiked Jordan’s riverbed canyons (‘wadis’) several times.  They told us we’d be walking through water and that we should wear old shoes.  Well, we hadn’t broght any old shoes to Jordan, so we went out and got some cheap ones (mine were imitation Tommy Hilfiger & Phillip’s were fake Pumas).  Both pairs were black and ugly, but they were great for our hike!

We drove westbound through desert hills, dwellings, banana tree farms, olive trees, nothingness, and then southbound when we came to the Dead Sea (also called the Salt Sea, Yam Hamelakh, by Israelis).  Jericho lay across the water.  (I’m going to keep count of how many times we drive around it…just for fun.)  The highway plumeted down, down, down as we descended to the lowest place on earth — 1388 feet below sea level.

The Dead Sea (swim across, and you’re in Israel!)

“Dead Sea” is a horrible name for this body of water.  I gather the name was chosen due to the fact that its 33.7% salinity (that’s 8.6 times saltier than the ocean!) cannot sustain anytype of acquatic life, save a few species of bacteria.  But, the fact that it is a huge LAKE in the middle of miles and miles of sandy, brown desert  and that it offers a deep turquoise color contrast against the aridness of the landscape convince me that it deserves a name with a more beautiful connotaion.

So, back to the wadi.  We hiked a lesser known one called ‘Wadi Khusheibeh.’  From what I understand, all the wadis start somewhere north of the Dead (beautiful) Sea and empty into it.  As we drove down the coast of the sea, there was a high wall of rock to our left.  Massive cracks (gorges or canyons) have been formed within the wall by water erosion.  Hikers simply choose an opening and start walking…IN the water.

Some places in the wadi are wider than others, thus providing occasional banks of dry ground.  Today, however,90% of our walking was done IN the running water. Remember that the mouth of the rivers open up to the lowest point on earth, so the farther you walk upstream, the farther up in elevation you go (I read that one of the wadis starts as high as 2,952 feet above sea level).  We were climbing up waterfalls and rocks like I never would have done if not for the pressure of everyone else doing it, too!

One of the most beautiful places along our hike was a cave-like opening covered in little green ferns and dripping water from its ceiling of stalagtites.  Birds and bats roost within it and fly from side to side above it.  Little white and gray feathers covered the ground there, and it was shaded and cool while the river water remained warm.

The air temperature throughout the duration of our walk was around 85°F in the shade and 95°-100° in the sun.  To throw in my southern expression, “we were tuckered out” by the time we got back to the car and our falafel sandwiches.

looking up from inside the wadi

(looking up from inside the wadi)

(a seed germinating in the river)


2 Responses to “Day Trip to Wadi Khusheibeh (what is a ‘wadi’ anyway?)”

  1. Kevin Wade September 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Wow. Very cool. Reminds me of Zion NP a little, perhaps even more beautiful! Love the videos of you life and workplace too. Really miss you guys!

  2. Rita A. Hadley April 12, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    Loved reading about wadis. I am glad you two are getting to experience all this. Reading this reminds me of the song “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked”.

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