Wadi Feynan, in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, is mostly desert, although there is enough rain to support grazing for Bedouin sheep and goats. And of course, any spot that actually does get water will have something growing, at least during or just after the ‘rainy season’ (everything is relative, of course).
Even on the hills you can see spots where runoff concentrates, and provides enough water for things to grow.
You may need to look closely, but once you do, you will see a surprising amount of green on this seemingly barren rock face. Of course, if you are expecting to see nothing but rock, it may not take all that much green to surprise you.
On the other hand, in the bottom of the Wadi there are places that clearly get quite a bit of water.
Although even here, if you step back and put this picture into perspective, you realize that plants, strategically placed and adapted to the desert, can thrive in rather hostile environments.
We stayed at Feynan Ecolodge, which in addition to offering a very “earth muffin” experience, also provides a number of local tours with Bedouin guides. We decided to check out the ancient copper mines with a fairly low key, but quite interesting tour. I will dedicate a later post to the copper mines, so for today I will just give you a flavour for the tour itself.
The hike was fairly easy (there are also more strenuous hikes), with a small group and a local Bedouin guide.
The Bedouin guides were very friendly, with a great sense of humour. Over tea, an essential part of any Bedouin gathering, our guide ended up exchanging Tafilah jokes with Ashoosh, who has been in Jordan long enough to get the local humour. Every country has one region that is, often unfairly, the butt of jokes. In Canada, it is Newfoundland. In Jordan, it is Tafilah.
One of the more interesting tidbits is how sweet the Bedouin like their tea. You get a sense of this from the amount of sugar being added to a rather small tea pot.
I will leave you with a series of images from the hike, beginning with exposed tree roots along the edge of the Wadi.
With so little vegetation, it is hardly surprising that many plants have rather intimidating thorns.
Alas, it is somewhat futile. Even with these thorns, Camels can still eat the leaves. But it appears the defenses work well enough to allow the trees to grow fairly large. They certainly look as if they have endured years of hardship.
I will close with one of my perennial favourite themes – flowers. Blooming in the middle of the desert.