Wadi Dahek, Hiking Jordan’s White Desert
Located in the Eastern desert in Jordan, Wadi or “valley” Dahek stands in sharp contrast with its surrounding. Lying next to Al Harra; a pitch black desert covered with volcanic basalt rocks, this patch of white takes visitors by surprise.
The Arabic word Dahek translates to English as “Laughing”. Locals believe that the name of the wadi comes from people’s reaction when they first see it. They smile or laugh revealing their ivory teeth that resemble the color of its massive chalk rocks.
After approximately two hours of hiking in the basalt desert, I understood exactly what the locals meant. The view of this beautiful white wadi triggered my giggles. It was as satisfying as being served a dish of crème brulee after devouring an 80% dark chocolate bar.
But what sent me running down the wadi was a totally different story. Chalk rocks are mainly composed of Calcium Carbonate that form under deep marine conditions from a micro-organism called Coccolithophores. Millions of years ago, this entire desert was once an ocean inhabited by all kinds of primitive marine creatures. The prospect of finding fossils there thrilled me.
Luckily, I found what I was looking for faster than I expected. I doubt it belongs to a megalodon, or a great white shark, because it’s only 3 cm long but it was my first fossilized shark tooth dating back to over 65 million years 🙂
It’s worth mentioning here that the oldest mammal fossil in Jordan was found in Wadi Dahek. It belonged to a prehistoric whale with legs before it evolved into a sea mammal.
These teeth can be found in the grey layer of the wadi’s rocks and escarpment. During winter time, erosion of rocks makes them easier to find as they fall down on the ground.
The white rocks of the wadi were also dotted with pisolites which are sedimentary rocks mainly limestone. They seemed to me like moles decorating the skin of a fair lady.
Further down, the basin of the wadi appeared. The sand and rocks that covered the ground turned to soft cracked mud flats that felt like cushions under my feet.
Where there is water there is life. The basin was covered with different types of plants and bushes, traces of wild life, birds, eagles nesting in nearby rocks and unfortunately human litter carried with the running water or left by campers.
I always say the wind is the best sculptor; it creates the most fascinating spontaneous works of art. With little imagination, the beautifully sculpted rocks gained character and my hike turned into a walk in the corridors of the great Acropolis museum or the Metropolitan. One can easily visualize the sphinx, Noah Ark, or even the presidents’ heads in Mount Rushmore.
The area is home to many minerals like Gypsum, Barium sulfate, Bentonite, Diatomite, Silica Sand and Chalk among others. All are important minerals to many industries in Jordan. Signs of mining were understandably evident as my hike continued among the white glittering rocks.
The beauty of the desert’s sunset is always the cherry on top. I never tire of watching the sun as it disappears in the vastness of the desert, nor the sky that gradually turns pink before the lights go completely out. I know, however, that my 28km hike came to an end and it’s time to say goodbye to another amazing spot in Jordan. I sincerely hope that mining is regulated in this area, and Wadi Dahek is soon listed among the protected areas in Jordan.
Some more photos from the hike. Enjoy 🙂
Amazing Rock Formations; allow ur imagination to run wild 🙂
Rocks I luved
Beautiful plants :
Wild life I met:
Wadi Dahek Below 🙂
Click here for a photo album from this hike.
Writing and Photography
Click here for an adventure & photos from the Black Desert
The trail can be downloaded here.
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 and some scholarly articles. Its purpose is to entertain and everything mentioned is open for debate and correction. Content & Photos are copyrighted.