Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Soaking adventure

It's difficult to see how the country of Jordan should be part of Europe but as an exception we will cover some of Jordan's soaks. That's what exceptions are for.

Totally coincidentally, European Natural Soaking Society contributor Sascha has been to Jordan last month and took some time out to look and explore some of Jordan's hot springs.

In this first of two specials we'll look at what Sascha discovered. It looks still very much undeveloped and natural and/or naturally enhanced.

Readers should also heed the scientific publication The Thermal Waters of Jordan [1] which relates to the 59 known hot spring sources in Jordan.

But let's look at the follwing experiences:
  • Hammamat Borbata

This hot spring was indicated on the map as “closed”, so I did not expect too much. However, from the experiences I made, sometimes closed hot springs can turn into beautiful natural hot springs and therefore I travelled to the region of Tafila. 
Big deception, the ancient infrastructure around the hot spring was in a desolating situation, littering everywhere. But that’s part of the discovering of the natural hot springs.  
My evaluation: n.a.
Also known as H. Burbita (Burbayta / Burbeita), there's not much more available on internet. If you understand German there is this more satisfactory visit from bullireise from 5 years ago. Lonely Planet notes that it's a popular picnic place. The Rough Guide says it's not really woth an investigation.
  • Hammamat Afra
Close to Hammamat Borbata, these hot springs were open to the public. Not really natural and wild, but situated in a beautiful small canyon. 
Only accessible by car, you have to pay an entrance fee of 5 JD (around 6,50 EUR) per person. There are 3 pools for men with different temperatures; the hottest is probably around 40°C. 
Women have to take a soak in a cave that is accessible by an entrance door that can be closed. As there were no women present at the time of my visit, I could also try the women pool which was around 43-44°C. 
The pool is covered by a cave and a roof, the atmosphere is very relaxing and the local policemen told me that the water helps for arthrose and rheumatism.
If you intend to soak in the women pool, keep your food save, as there are some mice in the cave. 
Outside in the men pools, there were some friendly gypsy boys soaking.
Overall, it was not the cleanest place, and I was wondering for what I paid an entrance fee, but it was a nice experience on the road to the Dana Nature Reserve. 
My evaluation: 3 of 5 stars
Hammamat Afra is much more well-known than aforementioned. Rough Guide:
'There are some leisure facilities here, but this is no tourist spa: the atmosphere is unequivocally Jordanian'. 
The Lonely Planet write up is somewhat less enthusiatic.
  • Ain Zarqa
This hot spring lies directly at the Dead Sea in the Madaba region. 
The access is very easy by the main road and indicated on the map. 
Many locals go here for soaking because it is free and you can combine swimming in the Dead Sea with a shower or a soak in the hot river to clean your body from the Dead Sea salt water. 
The water in the river where soaking is possible, was around 43-45°C. 
Unfortunately, easy access and no entrance fee means that there are a lot of people and that there is a lot of littering close to the river and the spring which makes this place not recommendable. 
My evaluation: 1 of 5 stars

More info on Ain Zarqa is very scarce ...

Notes:
[1] Sass, I & R. Schäffer (2014) The Thermal Waters of Jordan. Environmental Earth Sciences 72: 171-187. Springer.

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