Wadi Dahek, a.k.a the”white desert”: a sanctuary for marine fossils!
5 April 2018
(also available in french)
SHARKS IN THE JORDAN EAST DESERT? REALLY?
Jordan holds numerous treasuries, hidden off the beaten tracks. One of them is located near the Saudi borderline, around al-Omari checkpoint ( al Hadithah in the Saudi side). This jewel is called the wadi dahek, and it is surprisingly mostly unknown, even for the Jordans themselves. Please check it out :
Where does this name come from? Huh, we don’t really know, but let’s just tell you a short story to give you a poetic – if not true – explanation. I found it on a very nice blog held by Salma Sahar under the name of “adventures 1st“:
This wadi totally constrats with its surroudings. The wadi itself is white with limestone and chalk, where as the desert around is pitch black, with numerous basaltic dark stones spreaded all over. And in arabic, “dahek” has to do with the idea of smiling…Legend says that when the discovered the wadi dahek after seeing so much dark colors around, the bedouins couldn’t help but grin broadly, revealing their immaculates teeth…in the middle of a desert equally immaculate :-), surrounded with a black east desert.
And one has to admit that the color of the wadi is startling, even from space:
Guess what? Wadi dahek is the white arrow upright. The big brown stain doesn’t actually look this way when wou’re in it, except after massive rainfalls. It more has to do with a mixture of sandy areas, clay and bushes, as shown on the front picture of this post.
It is actually quite hard to collect informations on the origins of the wadi. Most of the “mainstream” guides on Jordan hardly mention the existence of this white desert. At most, you’ll find a dozen of lines of explanation in the excellent ““field guide to Jordan” (15ish US$) , which I strongly recommend to buy for those who enjoy knowing more on the fauna and flaura they observe during their hikes.
On a geologic prospectives, wadi dahek is a valley, cut by 2 faults, widened afterwards with hydraulic erosion. This geologicalparticularity enables the visitors to observe the substrate of the Jordan eastern desert, which was created in a maritime environnment some time between 65 and 25 million years ago. This is why you can spend hours there by discovering dozens of weird and cool things: marine fossils (sponges, shark teeth, shells…), concretions, gypsum, hoodoos, flint…And as far as the fauna is concerned, you’ll see many types of birds, some (sweet and kind) snakes, and insects also.
The sum all of that doesn’t make you feel like living there, but certainly to visit it for 1 or 2 days, no prob. Please check out the photos below, you’ll get an idea of the place.
And…of course…The highlights of the place are…its FOSSILIZED SHARK TEETH ! 🙂
SO? WHAT ABOUT THOSE SHARK TEETH? IS IT A MYTH, OR…?
Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s what you can get after one hour of research , once you got the tip to do it right.
Have you ever searched for mushrooms in the forest? Yes? Well, it is the same: you have to be patient,observant, and you have to “feel” the nature around. However, here’s some tips to make you find the shark teeth, so that you can get a winner status to the eyes of your mother-in-law,
Here’s the advice of Jedi master Yoda:
- with a solid knife (and possibily a hammer and a screw), you’ll get equipped;
- wise and logical you have to be: the teeth are 65 millions years old;
- a marine specie were the sharks…with other marine species mays have been fossilized at the same time
- no high climbing you would perfom: keep you energy to extract the teeth;
- patient, philosophical and hedonist you shall be, because the hike is magnificient even without an trophy in one’s pocket.
- scrutinize the video link below you will, as it gives clues…
You just didn’t get a single word of my advice? No wonder. Now we also accept cash, bank transfer or checks for further info.
- Lenght: 2h15 of driving fromAmman , then another 15 minutes (10kms) offroad from al-omari check point to enter the wadi. Then you can just drive within the wadi wherever you want to go. You can also choose another option by walking. Then it is a 30kms hike, including a bivouac. Please tell me if you plan to do so, I’d probably be interested in helping;
- Duration: from a couple of hours (if you only want to dig for shark teeth), to 2 days with a bivouac, as the atmosphere there is really nice to find sleep. However, please disregard the orange luminous halos on the saudi side of the border, coming from the near city of al-hadithah;
- Itinerary wikiloc: https://www.wikiloc.com/car-trails/access-to-wadi-dahek-from-al-umari-23707964
- map of the wadi: incoming…. wadi is located at position N31.5717°, E37.1217°, south-est from Azraq;
- Difficulty : easy, no foreseeable hassle with navigation or silting. However, make sure to have enough autonomy, it is likely that you’ll be only with you and yourself during the hike. But keep in mind that there is a mine exploitation at 10 kilometer at most.
- Access: by simply following the brown sign “wadi dahek” on road 35, 400 meters before the bordercross check point (there is a U-turn just ahead, so that you can reach the other way of the motorway, and then head east. After 8 kilometers of a large dustroad (you’ll probably pass or cross trucks from the mine nearby), leave all the mine installations on your right. You should then egress to the wadi by descending a smooth slope. More pictures available on request, please contact us if you need more info;
What we (really) liked:
- a white desert, limestone, chalk, sediments, fossils…original and kind of unique in Jordan;
- It is not that often that you can begin a collection of 65 millions years old shark teeth:-) ;
- Do you enjoy quietness? good news! It is likely that you’ll meet no one during your stay here…;
- …and still, less than 2h30 away from Amman!
What we (slightly) disliked:
- We hadn’t have any tip to find the shark teeth before being in the place. However, one just has to reflect on it (a little) ad to open its eyes (a lot);
- To play around with it…This desert is more dusty than the wadi rum: chalk and limestone powder blown with the wind…might have to clean the car when you got back home :-).
THE HIKE IN PICTURES
Rocks and sand
Random shapes of rocks, dust, sand, white atmosphere….Does the moon surface look like this? 🙂
A magical atmosphere
…Mother Nature definitely has a broad imagination : whoud could guess that one can see the great sphinx in the middle of nowhere? and an elf? and weird mushrooms? Welcome to Alice and the wonderland !
lizards, birds, eagles, snakes…( a cool Forsskal garter snake, NOT a viper, don’t get away from your screen! )! )
The shark teeth (at least, one of them)
Here, one has to admit that the beauty of the world lies in the beholder.:-)
THE HIKE IN 3 MINUTES AND A HALF.
If you have other infos on wadi dahek, please feel free to share them here as a comment!
If you have any question, we’d be glad to answer !
Enjoy, and share with your friends!