May 12, 2016
Lonely Planet touts the Dana Biosphere Reserve as one of Jordan’s “hidden gems”. On a world scale, unless you have a insatiable fascination with desert landscapes, this is a bit of a stretch. I consider the Dana Wadi a rather average canyon, pretty but not amazing. That said, if you have the time and are looking for back country solitude this is the trail for you. If, on the other hand, you are short on time and don’t want to waste it on lesser landscapes, I ‘d keep on moving.
View of trail from Dana VillageThe supposed 16K trail to the Feynan Ecolodge is easy to find and follow, just walk through town towards the wadi (canyon) and follow the road that leads downhill.
You can practically see the entire trail from the top. We don’t believe it is really 16k/10 miles as it took us less than 4 hours to the ecolodge including photo ops and a snack break.
The track follows the dry (at least in May) riverbed through the canyon. The canyon walls are highest most dramatic near Dana town. After about an hour and half on the trail the canyon wall diminishes in height and it looks like you will run out of wadi, but it keeps going for another couple of hours.
Mid-May the pink oleanders that grow along the riverbed were in full bloom. Having grown up with this desert tolerant plant in Arizona, these were by far some of the most beautiful specimens I have ever seen. The flowers a profusion of an exquisite deep pink on healthy green bushes. I don’t know if it is an unusually good year or they always look this good.
About 2.5-3 hours from the top, on the right side of the river bed, the road climbs up while a foot path continues along the bank of the riverbed avoiding the climb. Climb up the road for an up-close view of the sandstone cliffs that have eroded in intricate patterns, a sort of three dimensional lace.
Nearing the Feynan Ecolodge you encounter a number of Bedouin camps. The trail crosses through the camps at several places where the local children come out to greet you.
We were expecting it to take longer to get the ecolodge and were surprised when it suddenly appeared around the corner on the bank of the riverbed.
The walk back to Dana was not as pleasant as the way in. First, you are walking into the sun. Second, the wind is at your back and doesn’t cool you off as much. There are many more flies than on the way in. And lastly, the steepest part of the hike up the canyon wall to Dana is at the end when it’s the hottest. It might better, if you had the time, to spend the morning at the lodge and start the hike late in the day when the sun is at your back.