Wadi Araba

Wadi Araba




Location: 150 km South of Jerash, Aqaba Governorate


Visiting Wadi Araba desert

Wadi Araba or just Araba is a picturesque valley in desert Wadi Rum, the driest and largest desert in Jordan. In the Book of Genesis (Old Testament) it is mentioned as the area where Jews wandered for almost 40 years. The best way to visit Wadi Araba valley is by renting a jeep. You can spend hours to days exploring valley desert, depending on how you feel about spending the night under the open sky  in a nomadic Bedouin camp. It is a unique experience like no other, but keep in mind that desert night in the region is extremely cold. Additionally you can purchase a traditional souvenir, a red had weaved Bedouin scarf, probably the most necessary accessory in the wilderness for protection from sand and wind in Wadi Araba. Local nomadic tribes claim that if you walk through Wadi Araba desert for several hours you can forget the name of your mother due to unimaginable silence and isolation of an alien landscape.


Located south of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. This is a small and very arid territory occupying the Jordan Basin. The desert stretches for 166 km in the Wadi al-Arab Valley, which is part of a large geological fault starting in Asia Minor and ending in Central Africa.

The relief of the desert is flat. This large valley, sandwiched between the ridges of the Edomian mountains from the east, and the Negev highlands from the west, was once covered by the sea, at the same time its characteristic flattened relief formed, but already in the early historical era, Wadi el-Arab acquired a familiar look. Further aridization (drying out) turned Arava into a real desert, feeding on seasonal runoff from the surrounding hills. The long-term accumulation of sedimentary material determined the characteristic surface profile of the valley. The central, deepest part of this elongated valley is lined with loose fractions (sand, sandy loam, loess), while the periphery is mainly occupied by coarse-grained material (gravelly-engraved surfaces). In the central part there are also “sabhas” - depressions with moist, highly saline substrates.

Wadi al-Araba lies in the zone of distribution of extra-arid deserts, territories with an extremely arid and hot climate, while Wadi al-Arab is densely populated by vegetation, which cannot be said about the adjacent territories of the Negev, Sinai and the Arabian desert, which are lifeless spaces rocky gammada. Flora of Arava - as indeed of Israel as a whole - is peculiar in that it is formed by species originating from different floristic regions. The most widely represented are the elements of the Sahara-Arabian floristic region (retama, tamarix, arborea arvensis, Jericho rose), to a lesser extent Mediterranean (caper, echium) and Iranian-Turan (saxaul, mordovia). Representatives of the Sudan-African tropical complex (palm doom, calatropis, umbrella acacias) penetrate the desert from the south.

The vegetation cover in the Wadi al-Arab desert is uneven. In different parts of the valley, depending on the nature of the surface and the degree of moisture, various types of communities are composed (vegetation of rocky and rocky habitats, loose sands and salt marshes). Significant areas on the periphery of the valley are almost devoid of vegetation; here, individual specimens of biyurgun, phagonia, zillas of prickly and typically desert ephemera: Jericho rose and opufum succulent are fixed here at great distances from each other. In areas with a close occurrence of groundwater and in dry channels, a dense cover of quinoa, combers, acacia, dereza, wild oats and millet appears. The lumpy sands of the middle part of the valley are occupied by sparse communities with the participation of white saxaul and kandym. Arava is characterized by the widespread occurrence of tree formations that violate the usual concept of the desert. The constituent species of acacias give Arava the appearance of the African savannah. The rare stand of Acacia raddiana, A. tortilis covers flat, gravelly, and sandy surfaces, mainly in the southern part of the valley. In Arava is the extreme northern point of distribution of the African doom palm. This unusual palm tree - the only one among palm trees - with a branching trunk, grows in two tiny exclaves in the region of Eilat. Finally, the vegetation of raw, salted depressions called “sabhs” is represented by various types of hodgepodge, vault, bluish arthrocnemum and blunt saltpeter, whose red fruits, similar to raisins, are edible and tasty.

In the Wadi al-Arab desert, there is a state border between Israel and Jordan.