Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dana Biosphere Reserve

Off all the places we went during our Jordan trip, Dana Biosphere Reserve was one of our top, favorite places! Dana is Jordan’s largest reserve, covering some 320 square kilometers of spectacular mountains and Wadis along the face of the Great Rift Valley. From scorching sand dunes in the west to cool mountain tops in the east, The Dana Biosphere Reserve is home to a great variety of wildlife.  

It is a hiking location with many different trails. We spent one night in Dana Village where we did the Wadi Dani Trail and one night in Feynan Ecolodge. We would have stayed longer in Dana if we had more time. 

Dana Biosphere Reserve is a place that most people completely miss while visiting Jordan. We think this is a shame because it is a very beautiful place.

Our experience 

After the Dead Sea, we headed to Dana Biosphere Reserve. We arrived around 6 pm in Dana Village. Dana is a small village perched on the edge of the Dana Biosphere Reserve with a couple of small streets with sandstone houses and buildings and a couple of hotels and small shops. 

We stayed at the Dana Tower Hotel which we really recommend. You get a bed in hostel-style accommodation with shared bathrooms, an all you can eat dinner and breakfast. They have a wonderful terrace where you can sit and relax, and enjoy the view over Dana Village. 

The next morning during breakfast Nabil (the owner) told us where we could find the start of the Wadi Dana Trail.  It’s a 16km unguided hike (6 hours) from Dana Village to Feynan Ecolodge. This hike is listed as one of the best in the world by National Geographic. You can either spend a night at the Ecolodge or you can return by pre-arranged car, which takes around 2 hours and cost 45 JOD or you can hike back but the return hike is hard because it’s mainly uphill and very steep. 

After finishing breakfast we made our way towards the end of the village where the trail starts. We were immediately surprised by the great view over the Wadi. 

The start of the trail goes steeply downwards to the bottom of Wadi Dana. Getting down wasn’t very easy, we had to take every step carefully to maintain balance. Once we conquered the first part of the trail the rest is mostly flat. We followed the path to the end of the valley. 

We enjoyed the sound of nature, bird songs filled the air, butterflies past by, and the views were just incredible. With each step that we took, we got lost in the beauty and peace of this place.     

Suddenly the trail became a traffic jam when a massive herd of goats appeared and blocked the road completely. A Bedouin shepherd got the goats to continue to the side by throwing rocks to get them in the right direction. 

The Bedouin stopped to say hello, to find out where we are from and offered us some tea. He picked up some branches and started to make a fire for the tea. We enjoyed sitting there and had a nice conversation with him. 

We thanked him for the tea and continued walking. Slowly, the landscape changed from green around us to lifeless. The sun was quite high at this point and we couldn’t find shade anywhere. 

After some twists and turns, we saw some Bedouin tents and little children running around. The children asked our names and told us that we were almost there. 

After hours on the trail, we finaly spotted the Feynan Ecolodge. 

Feynan Ecolodge 

At our arrival, we were greeted by Suleiman one of the lodge’s local Bedouin guides. He gave us water and explained what the ecolodge is all about. 
 

Feynan Ecolodge practices and promotes ecotourism. The lodge works to keep its impact on nature at a minimum. Using large solar panels, Feynan Ecolodge produces all its own electricity while keeping usage to a bare minimum. At night, the hotel is lit by candles. And in the winter it’s heated by using olive pressing waste. The lodge helps to support the local Bedouin community. The staff is all from the local area. It is a destination that offers guests some unique and authentic experiences engrained in nature, adventure, culture, history, and food. It is listed as one of the best ecolodges in the world by National Geographic. 

We had a delicious vegetarian lunch and relaxed a bit.

After relaxing it was time for our first activity, we chose the Bedouin Coffee Experience. Suleiman guided us and some other guests to a Bedouin tent where we learned more about the Bedouin lifestyle.

We learned; that the host will make coffee over a hot fire. The first cup he pours will be his, to taste the coffee and to make sure it is acceptable. The second cup will be for the guest. The guest should accept the first cup, holding it by the rim. Drink it without placing the cup on the ground. If you would like another cup, hand your cup back to the host for a refill. If you don’t want anymore, hand the cup back to the host and give the cup a little wiggle, a signal that you are finished. Never put the cup on the ground! 

After the Bedouin Coffee Experience, we did the Sunset Hike. Suleiman guided us and the other guests to the top of a small hill. He made a campfire to brew fresh mint tea. We sipped on our tea while watching the sun going down. We were lucky to see the sky turn golden and the views were incredible. It was so quiet and we felt like we were a million miles away from the city life. 

We return to find the lodge illuminated by a sea of flickering candles. It was an unforgettable sight coming around the corner with our flashlights and seeing our path lit by candlelight. 

Dinner, like all meals at Feynan, was a delicious vegetarian buffet.

After a candlelit dinner, we all made our way to the rooftop to gaze at the night sky. Mats and pillows were available and everyone found their spot to take in the beauty and catch a glimpse at a shooting star. 

Ali (one of the Bedouin guides) shared his knowledge of the stars with us. We gathered around him and his telescope as he brought the night sky to life. He told us tales of the beautiful queen of Cassiopeia, the winged horse (Pegasus), and the chained lady also known as Andromeda. We took a closer look at the moon and Saturn through the telescope. 

 Since the ecolodge doesn’t have electricity in the rooms, we called it an early night. We fell asleep to the sound of the howling desert. 

The next morning we had a delicious breakfast on the lodge’s outdoor terrace. After breakfast, it was time to leave and go to Petra

Jordan is full of highlights but the Dana Biosphere Reserve was a surprise! What we enjoyed the most was having the opportunity to learn about the Bedouin lifestyle. Our stay in the Feynan Ecolodge was magical! We would love to go back and spend a full week in the Dana Biosphere Reserve to do more hikes and learn more about the Bedouins.  

If you are looking to disconnect from the modern world than this is the place for you! 

Tip: There is limited service in the Dana Biosphere Reserve so we recommend you book everything in advance. 

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