Monthly Archives: December 2006

The Dead Sea’s Revenge

How I fell in Love with Jordan… again and again…

By Zein Quandour

We were on our way to the Dana Biosphere reserve since 7:30 AM; the desert highway kept me thinking of how Jordan has few natural resources (except phosphate) and how tourism has become a main component to the kingdom’s economy. I thought of how vast the desert was, and how people love to spend a day by the sea, when I’d rather spend a day exploring the desert! It has always been a fascinating mystery to me and all through the way Zaid kept on telling me & Nabil “if you think you have loyalty to your job, wait until you experience Dana” Our plan was to visit Dana Reserve, hike to Rummana Campsite, spend the night at the Dana guest house, visit the Feynan eco-lodge the next day and on our way back to Amman stopover the Mujib reserve to do a short hike, and then home sweet home. I was extremely excited; it was my first time to visit any of RSCN’s reserves.

We were going down a road with amazing mountain views when Zaid stopped the car and told us to get out! We were laughing and wondering why Zaid’s being weird about everything, and then all of a sudden… Silence… literally silence… nothing… not a word. The most amazing view overlooking the old Dana village and the Dana Guest house surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery, I was speechless! Again, Zaid looked at me with a smirk and told me “if you liked this view, wait until we finish our hike” I couldn’t believe my eyes, the village looked so authentic and old, the houses were all built to the same height, the village colors were beautiful, the fresh air was refreshing, I didn’t want to move. Nabil had the exact same reaction for he had never visited the reserves either. Zaid laughed and told us to move on. We took amazing pictures and carried on till we reached the Dana guest house.

We started our hike after having the deliciously addictive Dana Tea, a mix of nine or so herbs with tea and sugar. We walked through the calm Dana village, walking by the houses and then went through some bushes, a along a fresh water stream, of-course I couldn’t resist having a sip of the fresh, clean and cold water. Our guide was this young funny man from Tafeileh; he was simply entertaining and knowledgeable. A very nature oriented family was hiking with us, father, mother, daughter and son; it was their second day at Dana.
We reached a point were it looked like we were walking on the edge of a cliff, it was extremely exciting, and at that point the mountain scenery around us was mind blowing, the colours, the altitudes, the most amazing landscape, I was astonished, Nabil kept on saying “I can’t believe my eyes” and Zaid was smiling and telling us about the times that he came here for hikes. It was incredible; at one point we all walked to a high flat rock and sat there for twenty minutes. It was so refreshing the wind could revive a soul. The air was so fresh; I just wanted to sleep there. The calmness and smell of nature… we were trucked by the beauty of Dana; nature seemed to be in perfect harmony with everything around it.

Reaching the Rummana Campsite after almost four hours, the views around the campsite were also breathtaking; a huge Bedouin tent was set in the middle of the camp. We met the chef and the staff; again they were extremely friendly & hospitable.
Lunch was delicious; a variety of mouthwatering traditional salads, and the main dish was vegetable rice with grilled chicken. We all ate and moved to the Bedouin tent were we again had the traditional Dana tea, it was by far the best cup of tea I had in my whole life. I enjoyed every sip!

We went back to the guest house by a shuttle bus (No cars are aloud at lower Dana) the three of us couldn’t stay in our rooms, we were waiting for the sunset and the three of us sat in our rooms’ private terraces and watched the amazing sun-set behind the humongous mountains.

Night at Dana is a different experience, the calm night could hypnotize any one, you don’t really have to be a nature lover to enjoy Dana, it’s even the perfect place to run away from the hectic city life, it’s just a relaxing retreat, a place to revive your soul.
And then at nine PM we had the tasty Dana tea again, I was ready to sleep at that point, my body was so relaxed, I felt like I’ve been away from Amman for days. The night breeze was soothing, and the tranquil silence was simply ideal!
Zaid suggested going to the Dana Hotel, a very nice locally managed hotel in the middle of the Dana village to have some argeeleh, we walked to the village it was so peaceful and the warmth of the Cafe’s owner was incredible, he offered us some tea, and we stayed there and talked to the locals for almost two hours. When we asked for our bill the owner told us that brothers don’t pay money to each other, totally disagreeing of us paying our bill made me think of how all the locals I met today were generous, warm and hospitable.
Off we went for a sweet good night sleep…

This great trip doesn’t finish here… an outstanding experience, a trip I’ll never forget; I was greatly passionate towards the magnificent hidden treasures of Jordan.
I will update you with the rest of the trip… it was an experience to remember…

How I fell in Love with Jordan… again and again… Day Two

By Zein Quandour

Being my most important meal of the day breakfast was the first thing on my mind at 7:30 AM the next morning whilst sitting in my room’s outdoor terrace gazing at the bright and peaceful scenery in front of me. My mind was fixed on the traditional breakfast I was about to eat when I realized that Nabil and Zaid were up and talking in their room. After having the most delicious traditional breakfast along with some delicious Dana tea we drove the Belgian family to their next stop – Petra. Zaid made sure we found their preferred Hotel and we carried on to Wadi Araba’s Feynan Eco-lodge.

Instead of taking the King’s highway we took the tremendously exciting Wadi Namaleh Road. The sun was bright and not a single cloud in the sky. This uninhibited road was taking us from the tops of the Dana cliff to the steep canyons of the vast Wadi Araba. Zaid was driving a four wheeler which made us feel safe (thinking of it now, it really wasn’t!). But that was the exciting part; the unpaved roads, the high mountains, the superb colours of all the rock-strewn mountains around us. Nabil, Zaid and I were astounded with the beauty of it all. Two hours and a half later, a road sign appeared ‘The Feynan Eco-lodge’. Zaid explained to us that normally visitors parked their cars at the ‘Rashadyeh Village’ and are driven to the lodge by its employees. Having said that Zaid closed all our windows and told us to hold on tight, and we started our off-road drive to the Feynan eco-lodge. He switched the gear to the four wheel drive and off we went screaming with excitement and laughing out loud. I felt as if Zaid had no idea where we’re going and Nabil was excited about the off-road driving and I had this chilling adrenaline rush!! After an exhilarating 20 minute drive, a totally isolated lodge became visible before our eyes.

Slowing down Zaid pointed out Feynan’s socio-economic workshops. All I could think of was how this lodge was situated in the middle of nowhere, and how it blended perfectly with the colours of its surrounding arid mountains. We stepped out of the car and walked to the lodge; it was such a blistering sunny day that we couldn’t wait to sit down and, of-course, I was thinking of the tea! Being isolated from paved roads and electricity supplies, the lodge is supplied with solar power and completely candle-lit all through the calm nights of Wadi Araba. This absolutely environmentally friendly lodge was unbelievably unique and cozy, such a romantic place in the middle of the desert. Everything about this place was pleasant. We had a tour between the rooms and all around the lodge, had our tea and spent almost two hours walking around before Zaid decided to show us the old Copper Mines. We went for another off-road four-wheel Drive, which again was extremely exciting! Climbing a couple of sand hills and walking along the coloured stones of Wadi Araba, I was swept away with the desert; such an extraordinarily place full of hidden secrets. At a point we saw footprints of a hyena in one of the caves and decided to walk back to our car (I have to admit I was a bit anxious at that point). Another off-road drive led us back to the highway and on our way to the lowest spot on earth – the Dead Sea.

With food being the only thing on my mind (again!!), Zaid stopped at a small shop, bought some food supplies and then we drove for another twenty minutes before stopping the car in the middle of the desert with literally nothing around! We got out of the car, opened the trunk and started setting up a feast of tuna, sardines, mortadella, and potato chips. Eating was our next step! If you allow me to exaggerate, I would have to say that this was one of the best meals I had ever had in my life! Imagine yourself in the middle of the desert with nothing around, eating with two of your friends who also happen to work with you. Now that was something I will never forget!

We reached the Mujib reserve after almost three hours in the car; though it was my second visit to Mujib, this was going to be my first hike. We started walking through the Mujib ‘Seeq’ or gorge; Zaid guided our hike since he’d done it many times before. I never knew Jordan had so much hidden beauty; this river was Jordan’s last wild river! And what a beautiful curving river it is, a perfect blend of rocks, steep canyons, flowing waters with a remarkably rich biodiversity. We walked through the refreshing water, climbed and glided down some rocks; it was really exciting and at some points it got a bit tricky to climb. You just can’t stop your self from looking around to make sure you are capturing every single reflection. We reached a spectacular waterfall that seemed to emerge from amongst some huge rocks. We sat there fascinated with the serenity of this place on the lowest point on earth, before hiking back to the Seeq and having one last cup of the delicious traditional tea. Before you know it I was home!

I couldn’t stop talking about this trip. It’s one of those events in life that make you look at things differently. If I used to love the desert, it is one of my favorite passions now. If nature was important to me, I now have a mission to help in saving it. And if I loved my country, let me tell you that I fell in love with Jordan, again and again.

Water Adventures in Wadi Mujib

Photos by Roni & RSCN

Click here to view all photos

By Ahmad Hallak

It was almost 5 years ago when I first heard of and visited Wadi Mujib. Having heard that exploring the Wadi is quite an adventure but never having visited it myself, I convinced a friend of mine to join me on an expedition to discover Wadi Mujib for ourselves. However I had no idea that at the end of the winter season’s rains the waters in Wadi Mujib would be quite high so I never expected to have to swim! So when I went to go and pick up my friend to go to Wadi Mujib I wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion. Sure, I wore Bermuda shorts and a t-shirt but I also wore heavy hiking boots that wouldn’t help in keeping me afloat!


Anyway, I passed by my friend’s house at around 7am and didn’t wait very long before my yawning tousle-haired friend climbed into the seat next to me. About an hour later and we had arrived at the edge of the Wadi Mujib Nature Reserve which is on the shore of the Dead Sea. We paid a small fee to a reserve attendant and walked down to the entrance of the gorge we would be exploring. The entrance to the gorge had a shallow stream flowing towards us and we had to scramble over rocks and climb around the bigger outcrops, but all was well. As we moved on the stream became deeper and deeper until it reached a point were we had to swim against the current. My friend being the very fit person she is and despite wearing hiking boots as well, swam ahead easily whilst having a running commentary with me at the same time. On the other hand I was sinking slowly as the weight of my water-filled boots pulled me down; there were safety ropes attached to the side of the gorge to help weak swimmers but my masculine pride would not allow me to avail of them! Thankfully though, I managed to reach shallow waters safely although I was panting like a mad man by then; oblivious to my distress my friend was walking ahead, looking around herself in wonder and still telling me how glad she was that I had brought her there.


I don’t want to go into any details about Wadi Mujib because I don’t want to diminish any of the enchantment for any first-time visitors. Suffice to say that we spent the rest of the day clambering over little waterfalls, walking along paths through narrow walkways and surrounded on either side by high rocky walls open at the top to the sun and climbing up steep but short rock faces. The trek requires only moderate physical exertion but depending on the time of year and seasonal rainfalls it can get quite difficult. You can also approach the pass we explored from another route, entailing a less tiring but equally exciting experience. The Wadi Mujib Nature Reserve also has many attractions, hiking trails and wildlife which are worth visiting.


Water Youth Camp – FOEME

Photos by Bayatsi

Upon the request of Friends of the Earth Middle East- FOEME Good Water Neighbors project, we have the pleasure to post the whole photo set of their last Water Youth Camp which took place in Jordan…


We were very impressed by the great efforts put to bring together school kids from different communities at both sides of the Jordan and take them on an educational field trip exploring some examples of the water resources in Jordan. Thank you for allowing us to participate!

Also special thanks go to Mohammed Bayatsi for providing these nice photos.

Green regards,

Terhaal Team


Environmental Education: How important is it to our kids?



Click here to view the photo set of our last adventure to Wadi Al Waleh four days ago.

Special thanks to Mohammed Bayatsi and his great team! The kids were amazingly well-trained… well done!!

We believe that such activities are essential to our kids in Jordan. It is what makes them love their environment, know how to enjoy it, respect it and protect it.



Eco regards,

Terhaal Team




All the way from Nablus – The Art of Making Knafeh

By Rakan Mehyar


A Tour Leader By Nature

By Tala Bassam Momani

This story occurred 5 years ago when I used to attend university in Irbid, Jordan. I remember it was Ramadan when I took the public bus going back from Irbid to Amman where I live. It was just half an hour before the Athaan time (the calling for the sunset prayer when Muslims are allowed to break their fast) when the bus broke down in the middle of the highway; it was quite empty as most people were gathered in their homes to have Iftar [the meal that breaks the fast] with their families, so we had no chance to catch a ride back – although we were close to the exit that leads to Jerash. The only thing to do was to wait until later in the evening when traffic would return to normal on the highway.

I was fasting at the time and starving… couldn’t think clearly… couldn’t wait around any longer! I decided to walk towards Jerash, 15 km south-west from the highway. I’m not sure what I was thinking, I just started walking. After about 2km I heard footsteps behind me, only to look back and find another seven of my fellow bus passengers right behind me. I realized then that they were following me; they thought that I knew the way when I actually had no clue. I was just following a water stream through the fields so I kept following the stream and they kept on following me. It was a pleasant enough walk; it was winter time but not so cold although the soil was a bit muddy.

After one and a half hours we finally arrived at a village setting (it was actually a nursery or farm) hungry, thirsty and muddy. Another guy and I dared to knock on a door which was answered by a gentleman at which point I said “ehna dakhleen ala Allah ow aleik” – meaning “in God’s name we are asking for your help” or “please offer us Iftaar!” The man was still welcoming after realizing that there were six more people with us and invited us all into his home.

Tens of people were in that house; women, children and men and they all joined us for a second Iftar. They were very hospitable and even offered us Qatayef – a regional Ramadan dessert – after which our host drove us to Amman in his pick-up truck. Being the only girl in the gang I had the pleasure of a seat inside the vehicle while the rest had to sit in the back of the truck, while we were driven to the bus station in downtown Amman.

That day I arrived at my house at around nine at night – the longest drive ever from Irbid to Amman.

I suppose you could say that those people were the first group I ever lead – a tour leader by nature. Ha

Little Petra…

By Rakan Mehyar

That day we decided we’d like to enter Little Petra from the other side, so we went off-road to reach a place called Al-Farsh overlooking Wadi Araba. We sat on a cliff for an hour enjoying the view before continuing our short trek towards the Dark Siq (or gorge) of Little Petra.

Little Petra is located 10 km from the main site of Petra. You cannot really compare both sites; some say that the Nabateans started to carve their tombs there, but stopped because they didn’t like the sandstone. Others say the Nabateans designed Little Petra as a decoy in order to confuse the Romans when they tried to invade! Who know’s?!





The Magnificence of Wadi Rum

Photos by Tala & Rakan

Click here to view all photos

By Ahmad Hallak


Believe it or not, this will have been my first trip to Wadi Rum ever! Quite honestly, as much as I’ve heard people enthuse about it and extol its wondrous proportions, I can’t say that I’ve ever been tempted to visit it. What an awesome mistake!

Day 1
Having spent the better part of three hours traveling along the winding up-and-down road that leads to Wadi Rum from Amman (the capital), my friend and I finally reached the tiny village of preceding the vast expanse of Wadi Rum. It was pitch-black dark except for the lights of the local tourist rest house and we met up with the rest of the group (Rakan, Tala and another friend) in an empty parking lot. We then transferred into Rakan’s pick-up truck for the rest of the journey to our desert camp. The drive through the tiny village took less than a minute and suddenly the paved road ended and the limitless expanse of desert began.

Driving in total darkness but with the jagged silhouettes of the surrounding mountains rising up ominously around us, thus began the bumpiest ride of my entire life. It seemed that we twisted left and right relentlessly whilst frequently dipping down sand dunes and rising up small hills on a trajectory that would seemingly lead us straight for the stars. I marveled at how Rakan could navigate through a landscape that seemed to repeat itself endlessly and I must confess that I doubted if it was even humanly possible for us to find our way in the dark. After 40 minutes of this unpredictable roller coaster of a ride we seemed to enter a narrow gorge which was highlighted by the lights of our pick-up. The gorge twisted to the right then to the left before abruptly rising into a flat pain and depositing us miraculously at the doorstep of our campsite!

Opening my door I climbed down weakly and sank my feet into soft desert sand. As the blood began to circulate into sore and stiff muscles, a man stood up from the fireplace next to the huge Bedouin tent before us and strode over. After exchanging “As-Salamu Alaikum’s” [which means Peace Be Upon You and is a formal greeting in Arabic] we walked over to the fireplace where a number of European tourists had been lounging and who now had sat up politely. The small fire that was being tended by our Bedouin hosts was enclosed by several rocks and had two candles either side. On one side of the fire was a huge teapot which