Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dana is Jordan’s largest nature 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. There are plants and animals characteristic of true desert, of Mediterranean forests and of the dry plains of Russia. In fact, Dana is really a melting pot of species from three continents: Europe, Africa and Asia. Such a combination of natural communities in a single area is unique in Jordan and many of Dana’s animals and plants are very rare. So far, a total of 700 plant species, 190 bird species, 37 mammal species and 36 reptile species have been recorded in the Reserve, of which 25 are known to be endangered, including the Sand Cat, the Syrian Wolf, the Lesser Kestrel and the Spiny Tailed Lizard. Without special care, some of these could disappear from Earth forever, which makes the Dana Biosphere Reserve a place of global importance.

The Dana Village area, overlooking the scenic Wadi Dana, has been occupied since about 4,000 BC. Archaeological evidence indicates that Paleolithic, Egyptian, Nabatean, and Roman civilizations have been drawn to the area by the fertile soil, water springs, and strategic location. Today, Dana Village is inhabited mostly by clans of the “Al Ata’ata” tribe, which settled in the area during the Ottoman period, about four hundred years ago, and built the present village. Over the years, many of the families in Dana Village have moved to the nearby village of Qadissiya, in search of better jobs, schools, and housing. The crumbling Dana Village was nearly abandoned, but thanks to the fund-raising efforts of Friends of Dana, a dynamic women’s group in Amman, over 70 of the traditional stone houses have been restored, enabling some families to remain in the village.

The spectacular landscape of the Feynan area and the communities that live within it, host an extraordinary history.  While research is still in progress, it can be said Feynan has one of the longest sequences of human settlement in the world.  Feynan is home to some of humanity’s first communities and is one of the oldest and most important centres of sustained copper exploitation in the ancient world, and one of the best preserved due to the lack of modern mining.  

Where to Stay:

Dana Guesthouse:

Perched on the edge of the precipitous cliffs of Wadi Dana, this beautifully styled building merges elements of village vernacular architecture with more modern elements, creating a structure with a definable Arabic character, unlike any other in Jordan, offering breathtaking views of the reserve.

It consists of only 9 comfortable rooms, but with a few extra beds, it can be made to house up to 23 people. Considering that the Guesthouse was originally meant to house researchers, all the rooms share external toilets and showers, except for one suite which has a private bathroom, adding character and authenticity to the entire experience. Most rooms also come with private terraces that offer spectacular views of the surrounding wadi and mountains.

The Guesthouse is also equipped with facilities for courses and conferences, making it a perfect location for retreats and workshops. The Guesthouse is open all year round.

Rummana Campsite:

The Rummana Campsite occupies a rare and exceptionally beautiful location within the designated core zone of Dana Biosphere Reserve. Originally, the location of the campsite was a favored Bedouin camping area, occupied every summer season for goat grazing. At present, the campsite contains 20 large tents that can house up to 60 people, bathrooms, and barbecue grills for visitor use. Each tent comes equipped with mattresses, blankets and pillows. Traditional Arabic meals are also provided upon request.

The campsite is open from March 15 to October 31 regarding weather conditions.

Feynan Ecolodge:

Feynan Ecolodge is a 26-room environmentally friendly lodge located at the South-Western edge of the Dana Biosphere Reserve and off the Dead Sea highway. It is a unique place in Jordan; it is completely off-the-grid, generating most of its energy needs from the sun, and is lit by candles and stars at night.

Depending on your preference and budget, choose from three room categories all with ensuite bathroom facilities: economy, standard or deluxe. The Lodge has rooms that sleep 2-4 people; comfortably accommodating groups, families, couples and independent travellers.

Feynan Ecolodge is ideal for group getaways and retreats, such as team buildings, corporate meetings and trainings, and yoga and meditation retreats. Feynan Ecolodge is open year round.

Food and Beverage:

Dana Guesthouse and Rummana Campsite Restaurants:

There are two main restaurants at Dana Biosphere Reserve, one at Dana Guesthouse and the other at Rummana Campsite. Both restaurants serve home-made traditional local meals.

Feynan Restaurant:

The lodge serves healthy exclusively vegetarian dishes.

The ‘Feynan Experience’ package is inclusive of the three main meals along with a morning and evening coffee breaks.

Hiking Trails:

From Rummana Campsite:

Campsite Trail

(March 15 – October 31), guided or self-guided

Grade: Easy

Distance: 1.5 km

Time: 1 hour

Starting time: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Group size: 4 - 20 people

Description:

This circular walk around the Rummana campsite is a great place to see birds, especially during migration seasons. The scenic viewpoints along the trail offer picturesque views of the Dana Mountains.

The Cave Trail

(March 15 – October 31), guided or self-guided

Grade: Easy to moderate

Distance: 1.5 km

Time: 1.5 hours

Starting time: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Group size: 4 - 20 people

Requirements: No fear of heights

Description:

Starting at the Rummana campsite, this trail passes by the unusual sandstone formations of Shaq al Kalb (Wadi of the Dog) to a group of small caves, believed to have been a religious retreat or hermitage.

Rummana Mountain Trail

(March 15 – October 31), guided or self-guided

Grade: Moderate

Distance: 2.5 km

Time: 2 hours

Starting time: 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. from the Rummana Campsite

Group size: 4 - 20 people

Description: 

This circular trail starts from the campsite and ascends to the top of Rummana Mountain, where the views of Wadi Araba are breathtaking. Highlights on the trail include magnificent sandstone and limestone formations, birds of prey, and beautiful views of the nature reserve.

White Dome Trail

(March 15 – October 31, except during Ramadan), guided only

Grade: Moderate

Distance: 8 km

Time: 3 - 4 hours

Starting time: 8:00 a.m. from either the Rummana Campsite or the Dana Guesthouse

Group size: 4 - 20 people

Description: 

This trail contours the huge escarpments of Wadi Dana between the Rummana campsite and Dana Village. Passing through the terraced gardens of the village, the trail offers breathtaking views of the canyon-like Wadi. If desired, the trail can be done in reverse, from Dana Guesthouse to the Rummana campsite.

From Dana Guesthouse:

Dana Village Tour

(Year-round), guided or self-guided

Grade: Easy

Distance: 2 km

Time: 1-1.5 hours

Starting time: 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. from the Dana Guesthouse

Group size: 4 - 20 people

Description:

Starting from the Dana Guesthouse, this trail winds above Dana Village and through the terraced gardens and local craft workshops. Visitors can meet the local residents, see original Ottoman architecture, and learn more about Dana's rich history.

Nawatef Trail

(Year-round, except during Ramadan ), guided only

Grade: Easy to moderate

Distance: 2 km

Time: 2 hours

Starting time: 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. from the Dana Guesthouse

Group size: 4 - 20 people

Requirements: Transportation from Dana Guesthouse to the starting/ending point in Qadissiya; reasonable level of fitness; no fear of heights.

Description:

This circular trail begins from the Al-Barrah area and takes you to beautiful mountains, springs and ancient ruins in the Nawatef Area.

White Dome Trail

(March 15 – October 31, except during Ramadan), guided only

Grade: Moderate

Distance: 8 km

Time: 3 - 4 hours

Starting time: from either the Rummana Campsite or the Dana Guesthouse

Group size: 4 - 20 people

Description:

This trail contours the huge escarpments of Wadi Dana between the Rummana campsite and Dana Village. Passing through the terraced gardens of the village, the trail offers breathtaking views of the canyon-like Wadi. If desired, the trail can be done in reverse, from Rummana campsite to the Dana Guesthouse.

Shaq al Reesh Trail

(Year-round, except during Ramadan), guided only

Grade: Moderate to difficult

Distance: 3 km

Time: 4 - 5 hours

Starting time: 8:00 a.m.

Group size: 4 - 20 people

Requirements: Transportation to and from al-Barra area; no fear of heights

Description:

This circular trail traverses from Al-Barrah, through a breathtaking siq, and to Shaq al Reesh

Wadi Dana Trail

(Year-round), guided or self-guided

Grade: Moderate

Distance: 14 km

Time: 5 - 7 hours

Starting time: 8:00 a.m. from Dana Guesthouse

Group size: 10 - 20 people

Description:

Start from the Dana Guesthouse at 1200m above sea level and adventure down through the beautiful Dana Biosphere Reserve to Feynan at 325 m. Cross paths and exchange warm greetings with local Bedouin tending their goats or stop to rest and enjoy sweet tea. Experience the 4 different bio-geological zones of Dana and keep an eye out for the many rare forms of flora and fauna to be found here such as the Nubian ibex. For those looking for a steeper challenge, this hike can be made in reverse, uphill from Feynan to the Dana Guesthouse. Local drivers can transport your luggage to the lodge or the guest house. There is an additional charge for transfers.

Wadi Dathneh Trail

(Not available in winter and during Ramadan), guided only

Grade: Difficult

Distance: 19 km

Time: 8 - 10 hours

Starting time: 7:00 a.m.

Group size: 10 - 20 people

Requirements: Transportation to and from the Nawatef area; high level of fitness; no fear of heights

Description:

Perfect for adventure lovers who have no fear of heights, this trail descends through Wadi Dathneh, past an oasis, and through Wadi al Hamra to the Feynan area.

Wadi Ghwair Trail

(Not available in winter and during Ramadan), guided only

Grade: Difficult

Distance: 18 km

Time: 7 - 8 hours

Starting time: 7:00 a.m.

Group size: 10 - 20 people

Requirements: Transportation to and from Al Mansoura near Shoubak area; no fear of heights

Description:

Continue along the gravel river bed of the Wadi, alongside a flowing stream, to the entrance to Wadi Ghweir. Very similar to the famous Siq in Petra, the trail leads through magnificent sceneries of different stone formations and many unique plants and trees on both sides of the river. The scenery is so breathtaking it has been known to cause visitors to forget about everything else -- including how long they have been hiking! After 3.5 hours, you will have tea and you can rest and learn more about the area from your guide. From there, continue to the Byzantine archaeology at Khirbet Feynan until you reach your final destination at Feynan Ecolodge.

*This trail is closed in the case of rainfall in the surrounding mountains, due to the possibility of flash floods

From Feynan Ecolodge:

Sunrise hike 
(Year-round), guided only

Grade: intermediate to advanced (no children permitted for safety)

Distance: 2km

Time: 2 hours

Starting time: check daily schedule on http://www.ecohotels.me/feynan/calendar 

Group size: up to 10

Description:

Start off a great day in the wilderness with this challenging sunrise hike. Depart from the lodge at dawn with one of our local Bedouin guides to climb into the mountains just as Bedouin shepherds do with their goats each morning. This hike involves negotiating Bedouin shepherd trails atop the ridgelines of steep hills and cliffs that surround the lodge. There are two different trails, the more challenging Abu Khalil route (a local elder) ending by his winter and summer beits (‘homes’ in Arabic) and the Abu Mohammed route (another local elder), ending by his beit. At the summit of both routes you will be able to gaze for kilometres over Bedouin villages, ancient ruins, and the desert of Wadi Araba. The colours over Feynan are fantastic as day breaks and the sun begins to shine over mountains, canyons and the surrounding desert surrounding.

Sunset hike

(Year-round), guided only

Grade: easy, suitable for all ages

Distance: 1.5 km

Time: 2 hours

Starting time: 90 minutes before sunset time. Check schedule on http://www.ecohotels.me/feynan/calendar 

Group size: no limit

Description:

Every evening, guests are invited to join the lodge’s guides on a 20-minute stroll to the top of a gentle outcrop to watch a sunset like no other. Against the dramatic backdrop of rugged, multi-coloured mountains, the sun descends, spreading vivid ambers, violets and reds across the canvas of the evening sky. Take this rare opportunity to witness the end of the day in the Bedouin camps below; with children wandering home from play, women tending the evening fires and men rounding up their herds in a peaceful dance as the sun falls to the haunting sounds of the call to prayer. Feel the gentle breeze ushering in nightfall as stars dot the sky and guides brew fresh mint tea over the warm fire. The whole activity takes 2 hours, including 40-45 minutes of walking.

Feynan Plants Hike

(Year-round), guided only

Grade: Intermediate

Distance: 3 km

Time: 2.5 hours

Starting time: check daily schedule on http://www.ecohotels.me/feynan/calendar

Group size: up to 15

Description:

Discover the hidden uses of the plants of the Dana Biosphere Reserve. Our guides will explain how the Bedouin use different plants as soap, herbs, medicines and treatments for their animals. This circular hike is also a great route to spot some of the birdlife that call the Dana Reserve home and see the varied geology of the Great Rift Valley unfurl before your eyes.

Copper mines

(Year-round), guided only

Grade: easy, suitable for all ages

Distance: 6-7 km

Time: 3-4 hours

Starting time: check daily schedule on http://www.ecohotels.me/feynan/calendar

Group size: up to 15

Description:

Learn how vast deposits of copper were discovered, mined and processed at Feynan 
by ancient civilizations thousands of years ago and what an important supply centre Feynan was for the Roman Empire. Come explore deep, long-forgotten mine shafts and visit nearby sites to see how the copper was transported and refined, leaving vast slag formations from the smelting process that are still visible today.

Archaeological treasures

(Year-round), guided or self-guided

Grade: easy, suitable for all ages

Distance: 5-6 km

Time: 3-4 hours

Starting time: check daily schedule on http://www.ecohotels.me/feynan/calendar

Group size: up to 20

Description:

Uncover the remarkable history of Feynan through the many archaeological treasures that dot the landscape surrounding the lodge. Well-preserved Roman ruins include an aqueduct and mill. Remnants of an early Byzantine monastery and church still stand atop a nearby hill and the remains of Neolithic settlements attest to the shift from a nomadic way of life to that of permanent dwellings and agriculture.

Wadi Dana sampler

(Year-round), guided or self-guided

Grade: easy, suitable for all ages

Distance: 6-7 km

Time: 3-4 hours

Starting time: check daily schedule on http://www.ecohotels.me/feynan/calendar

Group size: up to 20

Description:

This half day hike explores the lower end of Wadi Dana. Starting from the lodge and the open desert-like zone of Dana Biosphere Reserve, the trail gradually becomes greener as the hike moves more and more into the valley of Wadi Dana, with tall peaks that line either side of the valley. Highlights of the hike include passing through groups of Bedouin families in traditional goat-tent homes, seeing natural springs, and catching a glimpse of some of the birds that call Dana Biosphere Reserve home. This hike returns to the lodge along the same route.

Wadi Ghwayr sampler

(Not available in winter), guided or self-guided

Grade: Easy to intermediate

Distance: 7-8 km

Time: 4 hours

Starting time: check daily schedule on http://www.ecohotels.me/feynan/calendar

Group size: up to 15

Description:

This scenic trail begins from the lodge and passes by Khirbet Feynan, where many Byzantine and Roman ruins are preserved passing onwards into the Wadi Ghwayr basin (wadi means valley or canyon). Following the gravel riverbed, the trail proceeds onwards past a Neolithic settlement estimated to be over 11,000 years old. The trail then follows the riverbed past pink oleander, reeds and other plant life. A regular stream of water keeps the gorge green and alive. Our guides enrich the experience by explaining the local uses of the plants as medicines, soap and shampoo. Before returning our guides will prepare for you a cup of tea to enjoy along the scenic path. The route returns the same way back to the lodge. Be prepared for your feet and ankles to get wet.

*This trail is closed in the case of rainfall in the surrounding mountains, due to the possibility of flash floods.

Wadi Dana to Wadi Ghwayr

(Not available mid-September to mid-October), guided only

Grade: Difficult

Distance: 14-15 km

Time: 6-8 hours

Starting time: check daily schedule on http://www.ecohotels.me/feynan/calendar

Group size: up to 10

Description:

This hike is ideal for those wishing to take in the full spectrum of landscapes and terrains Feynan has to offer. Beginning from the lodge, set out towards Wadi Dana, with mountainous peaks to either side of the wadi. Here, you might chance upon some of the beautiful birds that call Dana home or some of the beautiful plants and flowers lining the gorge. Further on you will have a chance to explore the lower end of Wadi Ghwayr, another bountiful wadi that receives seasonal flows from rainfall in the mountains to the east of Feynan. Here you can explore some of the Neolithic, Roman and Byzantine ruins that demonstrate the historical importance of the area on your return leg back to the lodge.

*This hike is closed mid-September to mid-October for Ibex breeding season.

- See more at: http://www.wildjordan.com/eco-tourism-section/dana-biosphere-reserve#sthash.Mkwrwcge.dpuf