Sand dunes, sun and calm: how to discover Wadi Araba in Jordan
14 December 2018
A vast plain wedged between the rocky foothills of Jordan and Israel, the Wadi Araba connects the Dead Sea to Aqaba. Sand, dunes, wind, lots of sunshine: it is one of those places that many people cross without stopping… But maybe they are wrong, and maybe you should spend some time in that valley ! 🙂 Discover with us Wadi Araba and the Beir Madhkour Touristic Village.
We only share our own experience … It’s not about advertising, but about publicizing nature activities or original places, which we hope you will enjoy as much as we do!
Wadi Araba? Where is that?
Located about 2 and a half hours south of Amman, the Wadi Araba is a vast sandy plain, rising to 250m above sea level. In the prolongation of Aqaba, it constitutes a lock which prevents the Red Sea from pouring into the Dead Sea (-430m of altitude). It is also near the border with Israel.
Often quickly crossed when one goes back from Aqaba, it is really worth spending overnight there. Indeed, it contains beautiful dunes and several tracks that go back to Petra and Shobak – which we haven’t tried yet 🙂 . You can also discover Wadi Ghuweir or the plain of Feynan and climb up to Dana.
Did you know? Wadi Araba is the place where the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan was signed in 1994, which was accompanied with a beautiful friendship built between King Hussein and Yitzhak Rabin.
Where to sleep?
Indeed, there are not many accomodation options in this area, other than the famous Feynan Ecolodge. But regardless the level of comfort provided, one cannot always afford the prices offered by Feynan Ecolodge… It was therefore a very nice surprise to discover the Beir Madhkour Touristic village.
This lodge is located about 10 km from the Deir Mathkour café / Jo Petrol station on route 65. Musa, the manager, will meet you there to guide you on the trail. Although it is quite rocky, the gravel road is suitable for any kind of car, and not only 4WD.
History of the village
Beir Madhkour is a very old village. Now in ruins, it used to be a halt on the incense route in the Nabataean period (1st century BC- 1st century AD). Excavations undertaken there proved that the village then became an administrative and commercial center under the Roman and Byzantine Empire.
Nowadays, only ruins of the old village and an old military fort (50s) remain. Below, stands the current village built in the 1970s.
The construction was decided by King Hussein, in order to house Bedouin nomads of Wadi Araba. The program didn’t work well, the bedouins would eventually move away, and they finally left the accommodation empty. These are the accommodations you will occupy during your stay.
Each unit (about fifteen in use) is composed of two rooms with fridge and fan (a double bed in one and two single beds in the other) and a block with bathroom / toilet and old room of cooked. The different elements are separated by small courtyards.
There is also a large covered terrace in summer where it is possible to make a fire. There is also a room with two gas burners and a small table, if you want to reheat or cook a dish yourself.
Moussa can handle dinners with Bedouin families if you come here as a group with other several families (around 10JD / dinner). If the group is small, he can also give you free access to the kitchen. He speaks perfect English and will be happy to chat with you and tell you the history of the vilage, drinking tea.
What to do around ?
It is necessary to have a 4WD to fully enjoy the tracks around. And by the way, make sure you are properly equipped and prepared for that (see our post dedicated to this subject – in french).
Discover the plain of Feynan and Wadi Ghuweir , walk in the sand dunes, drive 30 minutes south of the village to discover beautiful landscapes and awesome rock colors…More than enough to spend a good weekend with your family in a warm and sunny place, especially when the winted cold hits Amman.
During summer time, please be aware that the temparature can easily reach more than 45 °C in this plain.
The village manager holds a small facebook page : Beir Madhkour Touristic Village , and also a nice website, with some good information on history. …While browsing the pages, you’ll soon undestand that is not about business…but about slow travel alternative tourism. Moussa’s phone number is +962 7 7212 3520; it is preferable to call him before arriving in order to book and organize the meeting point on road 65.
Moussa is opening a booking.com account for the village. It will so be soon possible to book through this.
Do you have other good tips in the area? Please pass the information to them, we will test!