Ajloun Nature Reserve is located in the Ajloun Highlands in the north of Jordan. The reserve consists of 13 square kilometres of rolling hill country, dominated by open woodlands of oak and pistachio. The reserve is lush with vegetation and animal life, and offers a serene setting in which to relax and enjoy nature. The area also has a rich history, which has left behind fascinating relics of times past, such as one of Jordan’s oldest churches, Roman watchtowers and an old wine press. There is an RSCN campsite located on the edge of the Ajloun reserve for those who wish to spend the night and take advantage of the numerous trails on offer to explore the area. The campsite, which includes ten forest lodges with small terraces, is set in a large grassy clearing that is surrounded by oak, pistachio and strawberry trees. The hikes available from a 2-kilometre stroll around part of the reserve to a 12 kilometre hike through it and the surrounding area. Hikers can enjoy the stunning landscape, visit ancient shrines and stop by local villages to enjoy traditional meals.
Azraq and Shaumari
Azraq takes its name from the blue of the oasis that was once a rich source of water, which provided those travelling across the desert with a lush break from the arid, dusty expanse they were crossing. It lies in Jordan’s eastern desert and the RSCN has two reserves established there; the Shaumari reserve is the first nature reserve to be established in Jordan, and aims to protect the unique nature of the area by reintroducing indigenous animals. It is a breeding centre for some of the most endangered local species such as the beautiful Arabian oryx. There are also ostriches, onager and desert gazelles at the reserve. The Azraq Wetland Reserve is attempting to revive the Azraq marshlands, which is an important stopover for migrating birds. Facilities there include a visitor centre, a bird watching hide and a lodge. These reserves offer many activities including safari and camping trips, cultural exploration tours and walks. The latest of the RSCN’s activities in this area is the opening of the Azraq Eco Lodge, which offers visitors to the area a cosy place to bed down for the night. The lodge was created by renovating a former 1940’s military British field hospital utilizing eco-friendly designs and environmental friendly facilities. The main objective of the lodge is to support the local communities living in and around the Azraq Nature Reserve, and therefore all staff is recruited from the area’s Bedouin, Chechen, and Druze tribes. The kitchen and restaurant are managed by a local Chechen family, who serve up delicious traditional Chechen delights.
Dana is Jordan’s largest nature reserve, covering some 320 square kilometres of spectacular mountains and wadis that cut across the Great Rift Valley. Areas within the reserve range from heights of over 1000 kilometres above sea level to areas that drop below sea level within a space of just 12 km. The reserve comprises a series of interlocking mountains and valleys, which create a magnificent landscape and host a melting pot of flora and fauna. Due to Jordan’s location at the edge of three continents, representatives of plants and animals from Asia, Africa and Europe can be found in Dana. The area is home to some of the world’s most threatened species, providing a habitat for about 25 endangered species. Visitors to the reserve can take advantage of a number of great facilities to explore, relax and enjoy nature. A visitor centre and guesthouse lie near the ancient Dana village; the centre offers visitors a range of fascinating information about the reserve and the natural life it supports, and the Dana guesthouse, perched at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Dana valley, provides magnificent views. The Rummana campsite is located amidst the rolling hills and beautiful nature of Dana, and activities on offer include a number of hiking trails and village tours. At the western gateway to the reserve sits the Feynan Eco-Lodge. Built in the style of traditional caravanserai that hosted passing travellers in the past, the lodge presents a new concept in environmentfriendly design. Isolated from paved roads and electricity supplies, essential utilities are driven by solar power and the building is completely lit by candles at night, creating a mystical atmosphere.
Of all Jordan’s natural attractions, Wadi Mujib, which lies within the Mujib Nature Reserve, is probably its most popular. The reserve borders the Dead Sea, which lies 400m below sea level, and surrounds Wadi Mujib, a deep and majestic canyon which cuts through rugged highlands and drains into the Dead Sea. Two main rivers flow down from elevated heights in the rocky mountain, cutting through the rock to create the narrow canyons that can be found in the reserve. The wadis are host to luxurious aquatic plants, which surround in the river beds, as well as a variety of aquatic life. A selection of exciting hiking trails allows visitors to explore the reserve, whether through easy walks or difficult hikes, or through more adventurous routes, such as wading through water trails and abseiling down waterfalls. The canyon is magnificent and the challenge of manoeuvring through it is a thrill not to be missed. As well as offering numerous trails and hikes through various parts of the reserve, the RSCN also operates 15 chalets that are situated on the Madash delta, which penetrates into the Dead Sea. The chalets offer a cool, relaxing retreat, and command stunning views over the Dead Sea.
Dibeen forest is one of the largest remaining continuous blocks of natural forest in the country. However, intensive use of the forest for tourism and other human associated activities has caused severe degradation of the natural vegetation cover which ultimately influenced all other forms of the forest wildlife. Protection of this unique forest through the organization of different activities taking place in the site will hopefully minimize the negative impact on the forest. In addition, plans to develop the site will allow visitors to enjoy the forest while at the same time introducing new economic opportunities for communities living around the forest.