Canyons Expedition – Abseiling Wadi Himara

Photos by Biadsi & Rakan

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By Rakan Mehyar

The exact itinerary was not too clear to us, the only thing we knew is they were coming for a three or four day expedition to a couple of Jordan’s wadies (canyons) that they’ve never been to before. We met on just around lunch time in a local restaurant at the Rama village crossing next to the Dead Sea northern tip. The new faces got introduced… we chatted a bit then went into planning our trip.

The sky was clear and the breeze was chilli. We got into the van and drove south west passing Ma’in village. We were dropped off by the trailhead and commenced our adventure under the bridge. Wadi Himara (Valley of the Donkey) is around a 13 km trail going from 400m above see level to 240m below that. A water spring supplies the valley with a little water stream. It contains two 80m waterfalls passing by palm trees and hanging gardens through out the valley. We started the route with a bit of hiking and bouldering… passing a little 15 meter waterfall we walked for 30 minutes to reach the first 80m cliff. The last time I was here we had no abseiling expert so we had to go find a shepherd trail around this huge horse-shoe shape cliff. The experts started to work… they secured themselves by the edge of the waterfall to assess the situation… they prepared an abseiling station of one main rope tied to a close by rock and another safety rope tied to a palm tri (‘they’ refers to Mohammed Baystsi and Elan – two of the region’s best experts in the field of canyoning and abseiling). So the first instructor would go down first to test the way and communicate the route’s description to the other instructor who controls things by the edge… Bayatsi goes down, and surprise! The info we had was not precisely correct, the cliff was more than a hundred meters high!! The longest rope we had was 80 meters! It seems that last winter’s flood had track… Bayatsi ends up getting stuck above the cave 25 meters from the ground, he swung to the right and got himself away from the cold waterfall… through radio he communicates the situation to Elan and decided that it would be dangerous for us to do it as we don’t have enough expertise yet to be able to connect an extra rope and complete the way down… so we were instructed to prepare to go around the water fall trekking through the side of the gorge a long way to bypass the cliff… but now Elan and Bayatsi needs to manage their abseiling mission… Elan took another rope, went down to bayatsi, and helped him to get down from over the slippery stalactite cave… Somehow, they managed!

To cut a long story short, we went around and met the experts back in the middle of the valley by the second 80 meter waterfall… all tired we sat down for a down to earth lunch of bread, olives, sardine, hummus, along with a glass of tea with a squeeze of lemon… then the experts started their job again… they set up another abseiling station… same procedure, one of them went down to assess the way and communicate a 30 meter positive drop followed by another 50 meter slightly negative drop. Malek (the tourist policeman) went down next, one by one we all made it… Elan came last, pulled down the ropes, and rushed us up to pack and continue before it gets dark… we passed through another small waterfall and walked for another 30 minutes racing the sunset to the trail end. We sat down by the Dead Sea for a little while to catch our breaths before we met our driver who took us back to our hotel in Madaba… after a nice hot shower and a half hour rest, we all went out for a nice dinner. Over dinner we discussed next days plan, agreed to meet in the lobby ready for another adventure at 6AM next morning…

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