Hammamat Ma’in : Jordan’s natural spa

(Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
I had no idea what to expect when our friends Brian and Claire invited us to the Ma’in Hot Springs after frisbee practice one Friday morning, although I had heard a few people mention Hammamat Ma’in as a worthwhile day-trip destination since I arrived here in November. It turned out to be a lovely place, a series of hot mineral springs and waterfalls nestled in the verdant Wadi Zarqa Ma’in, close to the Dead Sea. اضافة اعلان

It was a strange sensation to let a hot waterfall cascade over my shoulders and to watch steam rise off the streams running on either side of the walking path. It was a new experience for me, but people in the area have been visiting these falls and thermal pools to relax and feel the therapeutic muscle, joint and skin benefits of the hot mineral water since at least the time of Herod the Great, and probably long before then.

People of the area have been visiting these falls and thermal pools to relax and feel the therapeutic muscle, joint and skin benefits of the hot mineral water since at least the time of Herod the Great, and probably long before then. (Photo: Zane Wolfang /Jordan News)

The day got off to a great start when Brian and Claire let us in on one of their day trip traditions, which is stopping at Foron Rex behind Sixth Circle for some fresh baked bread and American-style drip coffee, a delicious Colombian blend from Lweibdeh-based coffee roaster Bunni. The Nabulsi cheese and za’atar sourdough manaqeesh was super scrumptious, and so was the baguette (billed by Foron Rex as the best in Amman) and fresh labneh jerashi I bought for the ride back later in the day.

We munched on our manaqeesh as we meandered southward on Route 40 to the Dead Sea road, admiring the sweeping views and pointing out sections of the Jordan Trail from atop Amman hills as we made our way out of the city.

The springs are about 73 kilometers from the capital, with much of the route we took slicing through lovely farmland in Balqa and the last stretch running along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea before a steep, switchback climb up a newly renovated road into the mountains, snaking past spectacular views of the arid desert landscape and the shimmering sea beyond before plunging back down into the surprisingly lush wadi to reach the hot springs.

(Photo: Zane Wolfang /Jordan News)

The public section of the wadi, which costs JD15 for tourists and JD10 for citizens and residents of Jordan to access, has a thermal pool and changing room reserved specifically for women, some public areas to barbecue, a small waterfall and pool in an area reserved for families, and then a large, beautiful waterfall featuring terraced pools of water ranging from 30 to 35 degrees Celsius and a cave which functions as a natural sauna behind the falls.

Right now is the perfect time to go – the water feels amazing in contrast to the windy winter chill of Amman, and it has not yet become prohibitively hot in the arid region south of Madaba. I cannot imagine the springs being enjoyable in the full heat of a Jordanian summer, but they were perfect for February, especially with sore muscles after a week of intense ultimate Frisbee practices.

(Photo: Zane Wolfang /Jordan News)

We spent some time soaking in the terraced pools, waited for a turn to stand directly under the falls, and sat for a while in the sauna cave, watching hot water gurgle directly out of fissures in the rocks. It was an enjoyably egalitarian experience, and we mingled with Jordanians, some European tourists, and some visitors from Syria.

It was nice to see people from all walks of life relaxing and enjoying nature together outside of the social and professional pressures of city life. We could have stayed longer, but we had not brought a hookah or anything to barbecue, and we wanted to leave with enough time to stop and catch the sunset. We pulled over at a wide expanse of flat ground about halfway back down the mountain to throw the Frisbee and watch a spectacular sunset over the sea, and then made it back to Amman in time for dinner.

There are two other routes to the springs, which run through Madaba, highlighting the fact that Ma’in is the perfect add-on to either a day in Madaba or a Dead Sea trip. It could even serve as a nice side excursion en route to the beaches and resorts of Aqaba.

(Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)

In addition to the public area, there is a swanky hotel and spa in the wadi that offers a more luxurious experience and reserves some of the most spectacular waterfalls for hotel guests. It would be quite feasible to spend a day admiring the mosaics in Madaba and then drive to the Ma’in Hot Springs Resort and Spa for a luxurious hotel stay, and it would also be easy for budget travelers to book affordable lodging in Madaba and do a trip out to Ma’in and the Dead Sea in a single day.

There are also a number of hotels along the coast of the Dead Sea, and Ma’in is quickly and easily accessible from all of them, particularly if you have a rental car. You probably want to bring flip-flops or sandals, somewhat conservative swimwear and a towel, and if you want to stay and enjoy the whole day, it would be smart to bring some snacks, water, and maybe a nice book to read.

The Ma’in Hot Springs were a great escape from the city, easily accessible from both Amman and Madaba and offered a unique, relaxing and family-friendly experience.

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