Today was our last full day in Jordan. We took the opportunity to do a little bit of sight seeing. The first stop was the Mujib Reserve. This reserve covers a lot of land, but the main attraction is the deep gorge that flows from the Jordanian highlands down into the Dead Sea. The sandstone gorge is narrow, but tall. The walls are smooth from the thousands of years of water running through them, and the colors of the sandstone have been blended together by the water to form a swirling mosaic of reds and yellows. Hikers travel up the gorge by walking in the river bed, climbing over smaller rocky waterfalls and slides before reaching the larger 20 meter high waterfall at the end of the trail. This trail was gorgeous to hike and a MUST SEE for anyone visiting Jordan! The water temperature was perfect, which was helpful considering that you spend the vast majority of the hike in knee high to waist high water. The people were extremely friendly, with many of the more agile hikers helping the more accident prone along so that everyone could make it up to see the waterfall at the end. Unfortunately, we did not think to bring a waterproof bag, so we weren’t able to take any photos of this part of the trip. However, it is definitely part I will not forget!
After Mujib, we stopped at the Dead Sea to try floating in one of the saltiest bodies of water on earth! The Dead Sea marks the border between Jordan and Israel. It is also at 422 meters below sea level, making its shores the lowest dry surface on earth. The salinity of the Dead Sea, however, is what makes it a tourist attraction. The salinity reaches over 30% (as a comparison, typical salt water is approximately 3%) which allows for a significant increase in buoyancy of any body floating in the Dead Sea. In fact, as you float in the Dead Sea, it supports your body in such a way that you feel like you are reclining in a lounge chair by the pool. If you “stand” straight up in the deeper water where you can’t touch the bottom, you bob like a corkscrew without needing to tread water at all. The experience of floating in the water was definitely one of the more surreal experiences we had while in Jordan!
Tomorrow we leave to go back to the states. This trip has been a once in a life time opportunity that I think all three of us enjoyed immensely. The conservation programs in this region of the world are in significant need of support and the organizations that are currently working in Jordan are doing an incredible job with the resources that they’ve been given. Hopefully we will be able to continue with helping the conservation of Arabian Oryx, not only by captive breeding at the Phoenix Zoo, but also by consulting about the herds in Jordan and helping with their eventual release.