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Jordan's natural beauty

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19 February 2013 by Luke McCormick

The Kingdom of Jordan will be showcasing its natural beauty and desert wildlife this week with the launch of the new BBC wildlife documentary, Wild Arabia. The three-part documentary begins on February 22 at 9pm, with scenes filmed in a variety of locations including Jordan's Wadi Rum and Petra.

Situated in the heart of the Arabian Desert, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is considered to be the safest in all of the Middle East. The country is roughly the same size as Portugal, and has a population of around six million people.

From the hustle and bustle of the capital Amman to southern desert, Jordan is awash with biblical, historical and cultural significance. Jordan's iconic landmarks include the panoramic views from Mount Nebo, the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Renowned for its vast desert landscape and historic sites, Jordan actually contains a surprising variety of wildlife, including over 70 species and subspecies of mammals, such as the asiatic jackal, desert fox, striped hyena and wolf, as well as 190 bird species and 73 species of reptile. Jordan also boasts a wide diversity of wild flowers, including the national flower - the black iris.

Wild Arabia will see the BBC team venture into some of Jordan's top tourist sites, including Wadi Rum and Petra, to unearth the region's fascinating array of desert wildlife. The towering dunes of Wadi Rum hide a number of wild animals including the grey wolf, Blandford's fox, the sand cat and the ibex, as well as a variety of small birds, of which the most common is the desert lark.

The intricately carved Nabatean temples and shrines in the ancient city of Petra are also home to birds including Hume's tawny owl and the sinai rosefinch.

Nature lovers looking to visit Jordan in 2013 will be able to visit the new Royal Botanic Garden near the country's capital, Amman. Covering two and a half mountains (180 acres), the gardens will open to the public in June and include the re-creation of five native Jordanian habitats; including a deciduous oak forest, pine forest, juniper forest, freshwater habitat and Jordan valley habitat.

Visitors will also be able to take in the views from a variety of scenic lookouts, placed around 20km of hiking trails. Bird watching huts and a butterfly house are also under construction.

To celebrate the launch of Wild Arabia, Visit Jordan has compiled the five best experiences for nature-lovers:

Ajloun Woodland Reserve - situated on a remote hillside above the town of Ajloun, the reserve comprises of evergreen oak, wild strawberry trees and olive groves where wild boar, foxes and badgers roam free. Two scenic walking trails take you through wooded valleys and ridges through the reserve and nearby villages.

Dana Nature Reserve - encompasses the beautiful Wadi Dana. The area is home to the Syrian wolf and other endangered animals, as well as 700 plant species, and 215 kinds of birds. Varied terrain provides plenty of walks.

Wadi Mujib - this giant canyon is 4km wide at the top and narrows to a high rocky gorge carrying a fast-flowing river down to the uniquely mineral rich Dead Sea. Four plant species never before recorded in Jordan were discovered here. It is one of the most dramatic and unspoiled areas of natural beauty in Jordan.

Azraq wetlands - in the eastern deserts of Jordan, the Azraq oasis includes a protected area of wetlands. The oasis comes to life at sunrise, and
isolated bird-hides offer spectacular bird-watching opportunities.

Dibeen Forest Reserve - characterized by pine oak forest and home of several endangered animals and plants.

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