The Irbid region boasts several green forests and nature reserves, the largest being the Yarmouk Forest Reserve. Established in 2010, the Yarmouk Forest Reserve spreads over an area of mountains up to 500 meters above sea level, while the valleys sometimes reach 100 meters below sea level.
Overlooking the River Yarmouk, which marks the border between Jordan and Syria, the Reserve protects a swathe of deciduous oak forest along with two rare orchids, mammals like otters, hyenas, and wolves, and the threatened mountain gazelle, reptiles, fish, and rare birds. As a matter of fact, the Yarmouk Nature Reserve is heaven for birdwatchers.
A total of 199 bird species have been identified in this area, representing 27% of Jordan’s bird population. Kestrel, Chukar, Sand Partridge, Moorhen, Hoopoe, Syrian Woodpecker, Collared Dove, and Bee-eater are just some feathery friends you might see here.
Due to the extensive natural scenery, hiking and bicycling are two of the most popular activities in the Irbid Governorate. The Jordan Trail and Jordan Bike Trail start here, and you can camp or go on safari-style tours in the forests. At Wadi al Arab, rock climbing is very popular.
Other famous natural wonders include the Barqash Forest, Jordan Eco Park, Wadi al Shallala, the Wadi al Arab Dam, and the Sharhabeel Dam.
If you like your adventure in nature topped off with some remarkable history and culture, Irbid is the place to be. These places include ruins of Roman and Greek civilizations and sites of biblical significance. The city of Irbid itself, is a bustling place, being home to several universities. Definitely try the Irbid specialty Makmura; chicken and onions finely chopped, and buried under a blanket of dough, then cooked in the oven until well-done. It’s yummmm.
Outside the city of Irbid, Umm Qais holds the Archeological remains of the ancient Decapolis city of Gadara, uniquely built with black basalt stones. The remains are very well preserved. A few kilometers from Umm Qais, you’ll find the Jesus Cave or the Cave of Issa. It is said that Jesus of Nazareth stayed in this cave while traveling from this region.
In Pella, a city with remains of the Byzantine Empire, you will find the shrine of Prophet David and the tomb of Abul Darda, one of the companions of the prophet Mohammad.
● Destination in the northwest with Yarmouk Forest Reserve, Barqash Forest, Wadi al Shallala, Wadi al Arab, and Umm Qais Archeological site.
● Hiking: There are eight trekking routes in Umm Qais, including the start of the Jordan Trail. Suitable for all levels.
● Umm Qais is great for all levels of cycling. The Jordan Bike Trail starts here.
● Rock climbing at Wadi al Arab
● Birdwatching in Yarmouk Forest Reserve
● A great offer of local culinary, foraging, and agricultural tourism experiences.
Biking: The Jordan Bike trail starts here.
● Rock climbing: Wadi al-Arab is a hotspot for rock climbers.
● Birdwatching: The Yarmouk Forest Reserve is considered a heaven for birders.
● Local experiences: these include bee-keeping experiences, basket weaving, local cooking, and pomegranate picking.