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Jordan – The Rajef Inselbergs

This 3-days trek is one of the most inspiring treks, regarding the dramatic and colorful diverse landscapes in which we hike – not a dull moment!

The logistics also are relitively simple, for backpackers or those who want to hike with a day pack.

Keep in mind that the area has been declared a RSCN (Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature in Jordan) nature reserve, and in the future there might be some restrictions on hiking, and/or admission fees.

Another thing: The discription given is not detailed enough for navigation, just gives an idea of the trek! People who wish to do this hike on their own are welcome to be in touch for specific detailed information.

The trail was first described by Itay Haviv in his book “trekking and Canyoning in the Jordanian Dead Sea Rift”. With the book in our hand we first explored the trail. In the book the direction of the hike is the opposite, starting in Rajef and this is how we did it in the first guided trek, arriving in Rajef in the afternoon, descending to the Juleif saddle for camping. In the second trek, though, when we arrived at the saddle for camping, we received an order from the Jordanian secret service to leave the place, because its proximity to Prince Hasan’s palace south of Rajef. Since then, we hike the trail as described in this post starting at the Dark Gorge and ending in Rajef…

A short film in Hebrew can be watched at

Day 1: The Dark Gorge to Ein Meshet:

Arriving from the Arava Valley, we drive on the Ar-Risha – Dilagha road, and leave our transportation at the dry river bed just before the road steeply ascends to Jebel Mas’uda. If you are backpacking, the car can be a simple taxi taken from Aqaba. If you are hiking with a day pack, better get a high clearance pick-up, drop your gear at the orchard of Ein Meshet, and continue with the car to the starting point.

Walking east on the river bed, we progress between walls of chalk, limestone, flint, bulbus stones and other sea sediments. A small stream appears, creating tiny waterfalls… When the canyon curves to the south-east, we hike up north-east, crossing the major fault into colorful sand stone. Reaching a saddle with remains of an ancient leopards trap, we walk on rock ledges  leading us to the Dark Gorge. We enter walking on a ledge, some 20 meters above the river bed, crossing over it on a bridge consisted of giant boulders that collapsed over the narrow gorge. With a hikers’ rope we descend to the river bed, walking down under those boulders that block any light altogether, not even seeing where are we stepping! In winter or spring we might need to cross some pools filled with water from recent flashfloods! After the exciting experience, we backtrack a little, then cross the main river bed where a nice water spring provides water to a lush small forest of oleanders,we head north along the continuation of the major fault, walking above a white-sandstone gorge to the oasis of Ein Meshet.

Day 2: Wadi Tajra, Jebel Barza and Naqb Hurma:

A very early start will guarantee that we will be able to enjoy all the jewels of this day, so don’t be lazy!

We start by walking on the dirt road to Wadi Tajra, notice the short cut on the first junction after 5 minutes of walking. We walk upstream, bypassing a beautifully designed gorge carved in igneous rocks roofed by a pink conglomerate. Soon we will encounter remains of a beatiful arches-supported aqueduct from Nabbatean era. We reach a set of 3 waterfalls, with a small flow of water, climbing on them carefully. Not long after that, we reach an inviting waterfall flowing on travertine rock designed by nature as a drainage pipe, this is where we take some of our clothes off and enjoy a nice shower! Backtracking to the head of the previous waterfall, we ascend south, on the scree to reach an ancient camel trail bypassing the falls, We descend to return to the bed beyond and above the pipe waterfall.

Up the Tajra Wadi, we reach the foot of Naqb el- Maiet and ascend south,on that beautiful trail, passing another leopards’ trap to reach the saddle of Wadi Juleif.

We will leave the visit to that beautiful mountain for the third day, while walking east to cross the deep Wadi Abu-‘l Uruk, peeping into its canyon but ascending directly south towards Jebel Barza. The third leopards’ trap will indicate that we are close to the saddle,and we will proceed towards Jebel Barza.

This mountain is a maze of hundreds of white sandstone domes, and a secret hidden route that leads to the rewarding summit.

backtracking to the entrance to the mountain, we descend through sand dunes to the head of Naqb Hurma, that descends the cliff in a very creative way, occasionally through the cliff itself! About two hours walk from its foot to reach our camping site at Ein Meshet.

Day 3: Wadi Abu’l Uruk and Jebel Juleif:

If you are day-packing, you need to ask the pick-up truck to be at the campsite in the morning to fetch your luggage, and meet you in the afternoon at the Juleif saddle.

Walking towards Wadi Tajra, like we did the day before, we will hit the confluence with Wadi Abu’l Uruk just before reaching the colorful conglomerate gorge. Here we face two dry falls on igneous rocks: The first one can be negotiated by climbing it carefully using the relatively loose edges. The second one is bypassed on the the scree at its left, east. Returning to the bed we reach a nice spot for breakfast in a narrow sand-stone gorge with a comfortable shaded ledge to rest upon.

Walking up the wadi consists with negotiating many rock obstacles with an orgy of countless shades and colors, like an art gallery of a madman… After three more hours we are at the exit of the gorge, where we peeped into yesterday, to ascend north to the saddle of the Juleif. A short climb will bring us to its mesa, aiming south-west we head to the top of the cliffs of Abu’l Uruk, where we stand above a vertical 200 metrs drop over a super narrow gorge. Walking on top of the mesa as your time permits, return to the saddle, from which there is a dirt road ascending the 300 meters elevation difference on a 3-km distance. Your pick-up truck can reach the saddle and take you up. Walking or driving, you reach the village of rajef, to take some transportation to your next destination…

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