A hike is never short of surprises or even discoveries if I may say so. My hike from Iraq Al Amir in the outskirts of Amman, Jordan to Al Kafrin Dam in the Jordan valley was one of those.
Starting from the beautiful village of Iraq Al Amir, all I could see around me was greenery. Always a comfort from Amman with its concrete, traffic congestion and pollution. Olive trees among others were everywhere, water trenches irrigating the farms, dogs barking, chickens, ducks, goats, geese, and beautiful children peeping from behind the windows or roofs of their modest houses waving their hands, giggling, and hiding every time I pointed my camera at them in an attempt to immortalize their smiles in my memory. Fresh air rushed into my lungs, my lips parted slowly in a smile only nature can provoke, my heart felt lighter as I approached Qasr Al- Abad “Palace of the Slave” one of the few examples of the pre- Roman construction in Jordan.
Little is known about the palace and plenty of mystery surrounds it ; most scholars believe that Hyracnus of the powerful Jewish Tobiad family built it between 187 and 175 BC as a villa or fortified palace. Aramaic engravings of the name Tuvya were found in nearby caves giving credence to this theory.
The local version is more of a tragic love and class struggle. Tobias was a commoner who loved and wanted to marry the daughter of a nobleman. The nobleman asked him to build this castle just to have him killed after its completion. Amazing how love turns the wise into a fool!
Another version suggests that the site was intended as a mausoleum for the Tobias family.
The biblical Book of Nehemiah, also, mentions “Toviyya, the Servant, the Ammonite” who left Jerusalem after losing a power struggle, and established his residence east of the Jordan, on the ancestral lands of the Tobiad dynasty.
Whatever version you choose to adapt, what remains of the site will offer you an extraordinary chance to see some of the biggest blocks of any ancient structure in the Middle East, in addition to carvings of tigers and lions that were once native and inhabited this land.
After Iraq Al Amir, we started a steep ascent just to meet the most amazing views at the top; the entire village of Iraq Al Amir on one side and the Jordan Valley on the other. Lucky are the people who live there; greeted daily with amazing scenery and marvelous sunrises and sunsets!
Soaking it all in to the best of my ability, my smile growing bigger with every step, the descent to Al Kafrin Dam began. With each step, I could feel the temperature rising. The hiking group took a trail made by running water taking everything in its path from rocks to dead animals. Dry now, we were left with wobbly rocks and boulders that proved strenuous on the feet and knees. My trekking pole came in handy giving me ample support along the way.
The Dam began to appear in the horizon, behind it the Dead Sea drawing a natural landscape that competes with the works of the best artists. But our treat was still waiting 🙂 Just before the dam, the view of a small village came into sight and I couldn’t wait to get to it.
The village looked extremely old but in reality it was built for a TV series about a courageous poet “Malek Bin Alreib” during the early days of Islam in Saudi Arabia. It was amazing; great attention to details, outdoor tannours “furnaces”, palm trees planted everywhere, pigeon houses similar to the ones you find in Egypt, simple architecture and decorations, ceilings of dried palm fronds, bridges, lizards running inside the rooms and halls, luckily for me, modern toilets for the acting crew, all just sitting there, neglected unfortunately! The entire site has great tourism and educational potential for those interested in walking down history lane; I see no reason in leaving it sit there for nothing.
Just outside the village, the Bedouin settlements with their tents, camels, and greeting smiles came into view. I heard their hellos as I proceeded along with hiking team, the hunters with their pickup trucks, and the 4× 4 riders all heading towards the dam each with a specific target in mind.
Fire, Food, water, sunset, puppies, fishermen, and birds were all part of a tremendous conclusion to my 19km hike.
A jolly heart and a smile that turned gradually into a full blown laugh, what more can I ask for!
Samar M. Salma
Photos by me, scroll down for more 🙂
Click on the links for more information about:
Malek Bin Al Rib:
Al Kafrin Dam:
PS: This blog reflects my personal opinion and my personal take on many issues. Its not a scientific paper, the information used is based on internet searches rather than scholarly articles. Its purpose is to entertain and everything mentioned is open for debate and correction.