Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest protected area and it is home to fascinating geology: mountains, deserts, and canyons, not to mention many plants that only grow here. It is also home to several Bedouin villages that live here for centuries.
This natural reserve cuts through the Rift Valley going all the way to Africa.
King’s Highway an ancient fascinating road
After spending a few days in Amman, we drove our rental car to Dana.
We used an ancient road, called The King’s Highway which dates back to several centuries BC when Nabataeans who lived in Petra already used it.After a few hours of driving we had a stop for lunch and to visit Kerak Castle which was one of the most important crusader castles in the region. Located on the King’s Highway it could influence the trade on the most important commercial route of that time. Whoever controlled the castle also controlled the camel caravans, nomadic herders, which means the trade between Damascus, Egypt, and Mecca.
So, the castle was a powerful center for trade.
Our camping in Dana Biosphere Reserve
Although the distance was short, we reached Dana Biosphere Reserve in the evening. It was rather difficult to find our camp.
There are only a few options for accommodation in and around the Dana Biosphere Reserve.
Where you stay depends on your budget levels and what hikes you plan on doing.
We choose to stay in a camp. We booked a tent for 6 euros/ night/person in Al Nawatef Camp (5km from Dana village), which is an eco-friendly camp that offers a traditional Bedouin experience on the rift of the canyon. They have Bedouin type rooms and tents, very simply furnished and decorated. It is fitted with mattresses, pillows, and blankets.
There are a Bedouin restaurant and a shared bathroom.
The dinner and breakfast were buffet style traditional food, everything was very tasty. Our breakfast was included in our booking and for dinner we paid 7JOD.
We reached Dana on December 24th in the evening and it was already very cold.
We spent the evening in the restaurant close to a stove, drinking hot tea and chatting till late.
Dana Biosphere Reserve is one of those places where you throw yourself into nature. No internet connection, no modern facilities, no village or houses around. Just simple nature.
Sleeping in a tent in December was quite difficult. It was so, so cold.
But when the morning came and I went out of the tent, we woke up on the rift of the canyon and see nothing but the amazing colors of nature in the morning sun.
The camp can arrange hiking and walking trips upon request.
We did this and they organized for us a private hike immediately after breakfast.
We left the camp and started to descend into the wadi (canyon) on a steep trail.
Because we started very early in the morning, the big downhill section was completely in the shade of the mountain. Which means that it was really cold.
After about an hour, the steepest part of the trail finished, and we could start to enjoy the trail. We looked up, up the mountain and we couldn’t believe that we descended for much.
We continued our hike on the sunny part of the mountain.
The sun became strong and made the hike more and more difficult. We were lucky to stop under the shadow of some trees and had Jordanian tea prepared for us, by our guide.
It was so difficult to continue after this break. But we continued for about two hours till one point where some vans were waiting for us to take us back to the camp.
How to reach Dana Biosphere Reserve
To reach Dana by rental will be the best choice.
The place can be difficult to get to by public transport.
Amman-Dana Biosphere Reserve 160km
Where to stay
Dana is a protected area, so hotels are not allowed to be constructed, but there are few options:
In Dana village
Dana Village is about 500 years old village, and in many ways is representative of Jordanian life from the 19th century.
The accommodation is very basic, but there you can find some rooms to book.
This is another option of accommodation, which also gives you unbelievable views of Wadi Dana. Removed from the rest of Dana Village, it’s a retreat from the world.
We choose to stay in a camp. We booked a tent for 6 euros/ night/person in Al Nawatef Camp
For hiking, the Dana Biosphere Reserve trails guides are not mandatory but are recommended. You can ask for a guided hike at your accommodation or Dana Biosphere Reserve center and they’ll be able to get you a guide.
Try to give them 1-2 days’ notice so you can be sure that you’ll have someone to take you.
Be sure to carry cash. Dana Village does not have any ATMs.
What You Need for hiking
It is a serious hike and you have to be prepared for it.
Hiking Boots – the trail is extremely rocky in many places
Suitable clothes: – the effort level is quite high so you need to have comfortable cloths
Sun Protection –Having a hat and sunscreen is recommended.
Water and snacks – there’s no place to fill up your water bottle or to buy something. So, be sure to have all you might need.
Famous hike- Wadi Dana Trail (14km, 5-7 hours)
The Wadi Dana Trail is the most famous trail in Dana. It just follows the valley from Dana Village till the end of Wadi Dana where it is Feynan Lodge, the end of the trail.
The start of the trail goes steeply downwards to the bottom of Wadi Dana, then the rest of the trail is mostly flat. You just follow the contours to the end of the valley.
Strange and unique plants grow in this unique climate.
For us, hiking in Dana Wadi was simply amazing. The view was breathtaking.