Dana is a village near the town of Tafilah, in central-western Jordan. It is situated on the edge of a large natural gorge, Wadi Dana and enjoys spectacular view over Wadi Araba.
Dana is about 500 years old, and preserves many aspects of Jordanian villages of the 19th century villages of Jordan. It hosts Dana nature reserve, one of Jordan's premier nature reserves with eco-tourism facilities.
The Reserve was established in 1993 in southern Jordan and covers 320 square kilometers.
It is the only reserve which is relatively easy to reach by public transport : there are buses from Amman, from Ma'an and also from Tafileh. There are no direct buses from Petra some 40kms away, however, a pity. To get from the one to the other, you have either a circuitous bus ride via Ma'an, a taxi costing somewhere between 20 and 30JD or you just have to hitch, probably in several cars.
Originally another community being deserted by its people, Dana village occupies a wonderful site looking out over Wadi Dana and is now gradually coming back to life with the jobs associated with the Reserve. One of the first measures taken by the RSCN was to install a reliable water supply, and the fruit that can now be produced locally is made into jams which are sold at the Reserve shop, together with soap made with the local olive oil. Medicinal herbs, also grown in the valley, are to be found on sale here, as well as silver jewellery made in the workshop nearby. Tourism revenue is reported to be covering all the running costs of the reserve.
It embraces two major bio-geographical zones and four distinct vegetation zones and contains a remarkable diversity of landscapes, ranging from wooded highlands and rocky slopes to gravel plains and sand dunes. It supports a wide variety of wildlife, including many rare species of plants and animals.
Dana Nature Reserve is a system of wadis and mountains, which extend from the top of the Rift Valley down to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba, an elevation drop of over 1600 meters.
The total number of species recorded so far consists of 697 plants, of which 3 are new to science, and 282 animals. Many of these are now very rare and some threatened with extinction : animals like the Grey Wolf, Nubian Ibex, the Lesser Kestrel, Eagle Owl and the Desert Monitor Lizard. So far, 45 endangered or vulnerable animals have been found in the reserve, making it truly a place of world importance. Apart from its wildlife, Dana is also rich in archaeology and culture. About 100 archaeological sites have been identified, of which the ancient copper mines in Wadi Feinan are particularly special, being considered the most important archaeological complex in southern Jordan outside of Petra.
There is a wide variety of hiking trails, from short one hour circuits to day- hikes requiring an over night in camps. All trails offer spectacular views and rock formations and some pass important archaeological sites, including the ancient copper mining centre of Feinan.
Hiking in Dana
Dana offers a selection of trails to key points of interest for both the casual and adventurous hiker. Four of the trails are clearly marked with intermittent piles of stones along the route, and can therefore be hiked independently or with an RSCN guide. The other two trails, which are longer and unmarked, must be hiked with a guide. Guided hikes offer visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy a stimulating walk and learn about the geology, wildlife, and history of Dana in a natural "classroom". Guides are available at the Rummana campsite, Dana Village and Feinan upon request.
You should note that in Dana you are not supposed to leave the marked trails, and that no independent camping is allowed. Most (not all) of the hikes described below are only authorized with an official guide. I quote from the official brochure here, and the age limits are NOT my own idea!
Traditional Tribal Arts Tour : one hour visiting some spectacular viewpoints above Dana Village, exploring the terraced gardens, meeting some local farmers, visiting a traditional bakery, Dana's Jam Factory and the fruit, soap and silver workshop.
Campsite Trail : two hours circular walk around the campsite area, a favorable place for birding, nesting or migrating. (Can be self guided).
Wadi Dana Trail : Long hike lovers will enjoy this hiking experience for 14 Km (5-6 hours) of spectacular uphill walk from Dana to Feinan. (Can be self guided)
Moderate Trails: (up to 47 years old)
Roman Lost Copper Mines Tour(Dana- Feinan- copper mines): 16 Km trail taking 6 hours hiking from Dana to Feinan visiting the copper mines (Guided, group number maximum 20 young, 10adult)
Griffon Vultures Tour: 2.5 Km moderate trail to Rummana scenic peak for an excellent view of Wadi Araba and an ancient cistern. Here you enjoy 1-2 hours of circular walk. Visitors will pass some magnificent rock structures of sandstone and limestone and Roman and early Islamic archaeology, observeGriffon vultures and other birds of prey, view the beautiful nature of the area covered by Juniper trees, early Islamic ruins. (Can be self guided).
Village Overland Trail : 8 Km, 3 hour, horizontal moderate trail starts from Rummana Camp past Wadi escarpments, through terraced gardens and Dana Village to Dana Guesthouse and Visitor Centre. (Compulsory guided)
Feinan Copper Mine Tour : Start from Feinan to see ancient copper mines and Tell of Khirbet Feinan with remains of Byzantine churches, a Roman tower, Christian and Islamic graves, and Iron Age remains. It takes 1-2 hours from Feinan. (Compulsory guided).
Waterfalls area Tour : Two and a half hours- 2 Km - moderate trail starting from al-Barra area to the beautiful springs and ancient ruins in Nawatef area going back to al- Barra area. (Compulsory guide)
Hard Trails: (up to 35 years old)
Palm Trees Wadi Tour: This Trail is exactly suitable for adventure lovers since it takes 6-8 hours of hard hike (16 km) up the Wadi past an oasis with a warm spring beginning from al- Barra to Feinan.
Mysterious Nabatean Tomb Tour: 2 km hike, on a hard hike trail to a breathtaking ravine containing Nabatean tombs from al-Barra to Shaq al Reesh then back to al-Barra.