Wadi Mujib, Jordan – the funniest scary trip ever

I did not know what to expect. All I knew in advance was that I want to do Wadi Mujib. A colleague of mine described it as a “must try “adventure. His short note pointed out that Wadi Mujib is a beautiful canyon, with a slow water stream through, a level that barely reaches the ankles. The same colleague briefed me long ago that it takes about an hour, depending on the pace and you know that the canyon is over at the moment you get to the waterfalls. 

To a person who loves walking it sounded pretty attractive and I got quite curious to give it a try immediately after Ramadan 2019, during the Eid holidays. I planned my trip to Madaba and Mount Nebo and was pretty sure that I’ll stop over and will complete Wadi Mujib in the meantime. Well… here comes Woody Alan’s saying: “If you want to make God laughing tell him about your plans”. I passed by the canyon entrance at the beginning of June but somehow skipped to make that trek. 

Then, my sons confirmed their trip to Jordan in July, and I promised myself to do it together. Note that I have never googled it and relied on the information received from my colleague months ago. The family program was finally scheduled. I advised my sons that we are going on a trek in a canyon on the way from the Dead Sea to Petra. The euphory of seeing each other after a long break was so overwhelming, that I managed to check all the details about Wadi Mujib just the night before leaving to the spot in the next morning.

OMG! “a slow stream”? “water barely reaching the ankles”?  “an hour trek”? After watching a video posted on YouTube by a Portuguese group that completed the trail, I was about to turn to a criminal, to be precise to a murderer. I wanted to kill Mohammad, my colleague, who was obviously joking about all described above. I realized, I promised my sons a canyon adventure and I am very well known for keeping my promises. My brain was working on high speed while trying to figure out how to avoid, ignore and detour Wadi Mujib. 

I watched on the video how the entrance of Wadi Mujib trek starts with a jump from a ladder into waist-high river water (not a stream). Long walking inside the water, then series of speedy whirlpools, waterfalls and dangerous slippery underwater rocks. Completely wet people, soaked into their neck, time to time heads underwater, swimming, climbing and crawling. Even being quite adventurous, I got horrified, mostly because the expectations did not match the reality at all. 

Then I found and watched in my hotel room more and more videos, portraying absolutely the same. The simple, short and logical action was to show all these insane activities to my sons, expecting that likely, they will feel the same way as me and will get rid of this journey immediately. 

The beginning – not wet yet

No way! They loved it. Both have been absolutely astonished and mesmerized, so it was clear that it can’t be skipped, and we were going to make it. And here we are, wearing life vests, determined to reach the final target – the legendary waterfalls. 

Wadi Mujib is about 30-minute drive away from the Dead Sea hotel area on the way to Aqaba. There is a spacious free of charge parking in front of the Visitor Center that is open from 8 am till 4 pm, which means that’s the time you could be inside the canyon, not earlier and not later. You pay in advance inside the Visitor Center, then pass through instructions about the trail, the equipment, and the safety requirements. There are changing rooms and toilets in the Visitor Center, also a place where to safely drop your car key. I would advise you – leave everything that you don’t need to be locked in the car. 

To challenge and face your fears you pay 21 JOD per person ticket fee. If you are from the Levant or a Jordanian residency holder (including expats), you are paying peanuts, but I found this after I paid the regular tourist fee. So do not expect someone to update you in advance. 

I would highly recommend hiring a guide. Believe me, you need him.  You pay 35 JOD extra for a guide (per group), but he is the one who will make your Wadi Mujib trek a real adventure, will make you forget your fears, enjoy it and crave for one more tour. If you are lucky you will get Nader, our guide. He is absolutely brilliant and a total asset. Nader works for 8 years now as a guide at Wadi Mujib, is aware of every step, stop and danger on the way. 

In general, the guide will lift you, push you, drag you, pull you and encourage you on the way. Will make you happily jumping into the whirlpools, sliding from the top of the rocks and diving into the foamy stormy waters. Will show you all the beauty of the canyon, will take the best possible pictures and videos of you and will keep your valuable belongings safe and secured in his waterproof backpack. At the end of the trek, Nader was no longer our guide, he became our rescuer, entertainer and best friend. Just don’t be cheap and pick a guide. Highly recommended!

After the first 200 meters, I got already completely excited, totally “infected” by my sons’ enthusiasm. My fears disappeared, I forgot about my previous plans to be tricky and to detour that trip. At one point, I already pictured myself confidently hiking ahead. Again OMG, it was so much fun! How could I even think of skipping this lifetime adventure?! 

In a while, three of us were jumping from stone to stone, were climbing over the rocks and …the river stream. I appreciated that we watched the videos in advance and were well equipped with comfortable hiking shoes, light T-shirts and shorts/leggings. I would recommend wearing kind of long, but thin pants. Just bear in mind that in the end, you will be completely wet. No, you will be soaked actually, so you need a fabric that lets the water go through. Nothing heavy, that could pull you down. 

Sometimes it’s extremely challenging, especially when you have to move by using ropes, pulling yourself out of the rocks. The canyon is wonderful, with its tall gorges, turns, ups, and downs. You compete only with yourself, to overcome the struggles on the way, but at the same time, you have plenty of time to enjoy the views and the surroundings. Meeting people who are already on the way back, makes you believe that if they can you can do it too. Most of those who have already completed the trail are smiling and excited, also more than happy to encourage you or advise you. 

And here we are, at the final point – the waterfalls. Amazed, a bit tired, but totally satisfied and with the clear statement that it was a great decision to face it. We took a short break, swam around and had no idea that the way back is going to be even funnier. Nader, our guide, told us where exactly to use the stream for floating (no more swimming). Where we climbed before, now we were sliding down. Where we crawled up earlier, now we were jumping into the whirlpools. It was absolutely stunning (I have no other word).

Recently, I had the chance to try rafting, zipline and off-road quad safari, also swimming under a high waterfall and real foam boat party, all of them boosting the adrenaline to the max and creating unforgettable memories. But Wadi Mujib was the one that challenged my abilities, pushed me to the limit and revealed the truth that it’s time to lose those extra kilos that prevent me to lift my body, leave me breathless and panting. 

Top 10 Alternatives To Be Prepared For

1.         To get scratched (I didn’t but we met people who did over the rocks)

2.         Your shoes to get full of little pebbles and to make your walk uncomfortable 

3.         To get wet from the toes to the top of your head (no make-up ladies!!!)

4.         To get water in your ears, mouth, and nose 

5.         To swim and float

6.         To chat with encounters on the way

7.         To help the others on the way

8.         To climb and hike by ropes

9.         To fall on your bottom 

10.       To be totally amazed and happy 

AND SOME EXTRA ADVICE:

+ Almost whole the trail is held under shade, so no need of sunscreen

+ If you wear dioptric or sunglasses, make sure they are secured safely over your nose or neck. Anyway, they will be wet. If you don’t need them, better leave them in the car at the parking. 

+ Mind your steps

+ Leave all your belongings, you need nothing with you, except the camera/mobile, anyway, it will be on hold with your guide 

+ Prepare extra clothes to change, once you complete the trail and get back to the Visitor Center.

+ Consider some tip for your guide, I won’t recommend giving less than 10 JOD, because he is doing a really great job, especially in a group. 

Now you know all you need. Just go ahead and have a lot of fun at Wadi Mujib, your absolutely outstanding to be lifetime adventure!

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