What every nature lover looks for in their travels is to connect with ecosystems they are not accustomed to seeing in their day-to-day life. And if they can find several of them on the same trip, even better. That is precisely what you can do in this country: Jordan’s nature is surprisingly diverse, especially considering its small territory. And the country has identified this strength, successfully promoting ecotourism. On this page, we will tell you everything you need to know about the natural attractions located in Jordanian territory.
As we also pointed out on the geography page, three major natural regions or eco-regions can be clearly distinguished in Jordan:
Jordan Valley, in the western part of the country, along the border with Israel Plateau of the eastern bank of the Jordan River Desert, which covers most of the central, eastern, and southern parts of the country In addition to these terrestrial eco-regions, the Gulf of Aqaba can be added, whose marine biodiversity occupies a prominent place in Jordan’s nature: just submerge your head underwater to begin discovering a world full of richness and color, featuring over a thousand types of fish and hundreds of coral species.
And there is good news for travelers, especially those interested in nature: Jordan is a relatively small country, and these eco-regions can easily be integrated into any multi-day itinerary.
It is a very unique space because it is located in the middle of a geological fault caused by the fracture of the African and Arabian tectonic plates: it is known as the Great Rift Valley, which runs from southern Syria to eastern Africa. This separation led to the emergence of the Red Sea to the south, but also to the three spaces in which the Jordan Valley can be divided:
The Jordan Valley is one of the most unique spaces in Jordan’s nature because it preserves a permanent, humid, and fertile body of freshwater in the north. The Jordan River originates in the Lebanese mountains and, after passing through the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias on Israeli soil), joins the Yarmuk River to serve as a border between Jordan and Israel, flowing into the Dead Sea. It is mainly fed by rainwater and some rivers or wadis in the area, such as the aforementioned Yarmuk.
One of its most unique characteristics is its negative altitude: it runs several hundred meters below sea level, reaching its lowest point in the Dead Sea, at less than -400 meters above sea level.
As for flora, there are fire trees and tamarisks, while the most representative species of fauna are birds, such as the kingfisher, the sunbird, or the Sinai rosefinch, considered Jordan’s national bird. Otters, which are in danger of extinction, are harder to spot.
In Wadi Araba, south of the Dead Sea, the valley is completely arid. Nevertheless, scientific studies and evidence collected on the ground demonstrate that thousands of years ago, the entire area had a wet ecosystem, with flora and fauna very different from what exists now (rhinoceroses, lions, elephants…). But all of this vanished with the evaporation of the large body of water that covered the area, a problem that seems to still exist in the Jordan Valley, in addition to water diversions for human consumption.
From the Jordan Valley, in a steep ascent through rocky gorges, you reach the plateau and mountainous areas of the eastern bank. In this area, the majority of Jordan’s population is concentrated in cities, and it makes sense: it is the most environmentally friendly area, with wooded areas and a milder climate.
Here, Jordan’s nature is tinged with a certain greenness, mixed with other colors thanks to Aleppo pines, strawberry trees, oaks, wild blooms in spring (poppies, daisies, black lilies, etc.), as well as species cultivated by humans: olive trees, vineyards, or fig trees.
The fauna is also more diverse here, with the presence of wild boars, martens, porcupines, African lynxes (caracals), and ibexes, the latter endangered and subject to an ambitious conservation and reintroduction program in Jordan’s nature.
Approximately 95% of the country is desert, occupying mainly the center, east, and south of the country. Here, the interest lies in its rock formations, mainly sandstone and granite, which in some cases give us dreamlike formations and landscapes, such as in Wadi Rum.
But there is also space for some oases that seem to miraculously emerge, such as Azraq, where the biodiversity of flora and fauna is greater: reed beds and wetlands that host nearly 300 species of migratory birds, such as egrets and grey herons. There is also the presence of amphibians such as toads and mammals such as hares, desert foxes, jackals, and wolves.
Beyond the scarce desert oases, barren lands are simply populated with reptiles such as the Sinai agama or chameleon, as well as about thirty species of snakes. Among the invertebrates, the yellow Palestinian scorpion stands out.