This past weekend was so wonderful. Truly one of the most amazing weekends of my life as I saw one of the most stunning places I have ever seen: Wadi Hasa.
Wadi Hasa is not in all the guidebooks and in fact, many Jordanians have never heard of it. It should be heard of though, for it is the longest canyon in Jordan and is unimaginably gorgeous.
It is, though, quite a difficult hike (8-9 hours walking/climbing for two days) and you need someone to guide you through it. Luckily, we have a guy on our program who lived in Jordan for two years and is quite familiar with Wadi Hasa, so he offered to lead us through the wadi. 21 of us from CLS went, and I’m so glad that he took us, because without his guidance, it would have been extremely difficult to make it through.
He is friends with a bus driver, so we were able to have a bus drive us the two hours to the wadi at a good price. On the way over, I was constantly reminded of Oman: little coffee shops lined the road and there were small square buildings interspersed in the dusty desert ground. We finally drove through a mountain to get to the start of the wadi and the view was breathtaking. It reminded me of Jebel Shams in Oman with its rocky landscape interspersed with small shrubs. We saw almost no one, though there were a few small houses, tents, and some indoor areas for farming. The landscape shifted to being interspersed with more greenery and then we finally got to a river, tumbled out of the bus, and began our amazing and crazy journey for the next 48 hours.
The way the hike works is that you follow the river that runs through the wadi. The river, however, is interspersed with small waterfalls and strong rapids, so though following the rapids, one has to frequently walk around the rapids by climbing over tall rocks to avoid an even-harder path.
I have to admit, the first time that we had to avoid the river, I was really anxious about the upcoming journey. I have never done anything like it before, so with zero experience, I was worried about how I would fare. We were climbing up rocks, sliding down the sides, crawling through small crevices, and trying to not slip and get our bags wet when crossing the river. Luckily, our group really came together and the more experiences members really made sure that everyone safely crossed each barrier. The journey became more and more beautiful (and more and more difficult), but once I started to get the hang of things, I was able to enjoy myself more.
By lunchtime, we were all extremely exhausted, but there was still a long way to go, so we ate quickly (with the food we packed—there is nothing in the wadi—no people, houses, anything). The landscape became less rocky (yay no more climbing over boulders!) to walking alongside the river. By about 5 pm, we made it to our goal for the day, which is the natural hot springs. The water there is red and is really really warm! We first cooled off by lying in the river and then sat in the hot springs for a bit. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing/swimming and then we slept on a flat ledge near the hot springs. We built a fire and then slept on sheets under the stars. It was warm when we went to sleep but quite cold when we woke up at 5:30!
The next day was more difficult because my whole body was so sore. Most of us were also short on water (luckily, we had a box of tablets to make water drinkable, but it is not advised to drink tons of that water, so there was a lot of water conservation going on).
The walk was even more beautiful on Saturday. It started off as almost tropical, with clear water and green plants lining the stone walks on either side of the river. It then suddenly became more desert-like, with rocky mountain walls on either side of the river. The rocks turned more and more red and suddenly there were smooth ledges for us to walk on and overlook the water. We took various breaks throughout the day to swim in water to cool off and 10 hours later, finally arrived at the end of the wadi, so dehydrated. Luckily, some people from the program went a bit ahead and had water waiting for everyone when we arrived.
I really can’t describe the beauty of Wadi Hessa nor can my photos do justice to show what I experienced. Though this was definitely the most physically challenging thing I have ever done, it was also so fun and invigorating. I know now what people are talking about when they speak of Jordan’s wonderful natural beauty!