Wadi Ibn Hammad
Wadi Ibn Hammad is one of Jordan’s most beautiful canyons. This canyon has everything steep canyon walls, colors, frogs, plants, waterfalls. Best of all, you can have it all for yourself; this canyon is almost completely unknown in the tourist industry.
The rangers asked for 5 JD entrance fee and told me, do not climb down the three meter high waterfall without rope and harnesses. According to the ranger, it was one km to the waterfall; I have learnt what one km can be anything between 500 meters to maybe seven km in Jordan. In my views one km sounds short after all this canyon kept me busy for seven to eight hours but I am a photographer!
After a couple of hour I had walked down to the waterfall most of the time walking in the middle of the water stream. The ranger was right the waterfall was steep and the rocks slippery. I didn´t dare to climb down the waterfall. I returned and walked about 50 meters upstream when I heard echoes from people shouting in the canyon. It was five Jordanians on their way to the waterfall one of them had a backpack, fine they have rope and harnesses.
. I thought I should ask them if I can follow them down the waterfall. But before I had picked up my photo gears and returned to the waterfall the Jordanians had climbed down the waterfall and disappeared in the canyon.
I asked them after wards, didn´t you use rope and harnesses? Why rope and harnesses? No this is easy! They even jumped down into the water a few meters from the waterfall. But it´s beyond me how they manage to come up the slippery cliff again.
The Wadi Ibn Hammad is located about 45 minutes driving northwest of Karak. Follow the king highway north out of Karak for 10 km until a road sign Wadi Ibn Hamad, turn left. A tarred small road goes for about two to three km to a new Wadi Ibn Hammad road sign, turn right. Follow this road for several km until it ends in a T-junction; turn right (no road sign). Continue for several km until a school appears on the right hand side after the speed bump, turn left (no road sign). Follow this road until a road sign Wadi Ibn Hammad appears turn left. The tiny tarred serpentine road goes down a very steep canyon into Wadi Ibn Hammad, pass the small water stream and park at the entrance to the canyon and the spa. Be very careful when driving out of this canyon again, a midday tour in 35°C can cause the car to overheat, use the right gear and speed on this very steep and narrow road.
I rented a car at Mariam hotel in Madaba. The receptionist called a rental company in Amman; I booked a car for 29 JD per day for unlimited mileage. The rental company delivered the car to the hotel next morning. Driving in Jordan is easy if the traffic jam in Amman can be avoided. A good base to start travelling in Jordan is Madaba southwest of Amman and 18 km west of Queen Alia International Airport. If one has to cover long distances a rental car is by far the cheapest option. A day tour by taxi from Madaba to Wadi Ibn Hammad would cost 90 JD using Mariam hotels excellent discounts on taxi fares.
Drive down to Karak and stay overnight at the excellent Cairwan hotel 29 JD for a room with shower, toilet, air-con, fridge and bed. Follow King highway into Karak just after hotel Mujeb a road junction meets desert high way turn left follow this road for a couple of km until a very steep hill, drive up to the top, it goes sharply down hill on the other side. Look for Cairwan hotel on the right hand side when going downhill, on the other side of the valley one can see Karak Castle.
The Karak Castle is the second most important crusader castles in the Middle East after Crac des Chevaliers in Syria. A stroll around Karak city Centre is nice in the evening when things has cooled down a bit but if one wants to see the mighty Karak Caste it´s necessary visit during the day.
A good restaurant can be difficult to find in Karak. I would advise following the King High way north out of the city until hotel Mujeb (don’t miss to turn left at the junction with the desert highway). On the same side as hotel Mujeb in the next buildings there is a sign Restaurant Company. This restaurant has excellent food for only 2 to 4 JD. If you visits during Ramadan it´s best to eat after sun set. They will prepare food at other times but one must eat indoors behind screens so no one sees you.
There is an ATM machine in the building between the restaurant and hotel Mujeb, if one needs to exchange money. A cross the street (King Highway) 30 meters downhill there is a bottle shop selling beer, wine and alcohol. The bottle shop is closed during Ramadan. A petrol filling station can be found at the junction between Desert High way and King High way easiest to reach driving out of Karak. There is another petrol filling station on the way out of Karak towards Dead Sea but it’s a long way down before the station can be seen on the right hand side.
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