Dana Biosphere Reserve is a Jordan holiday with a difference; you can leave the tour bus behind, pull on your hiking boots, stretch the legs and marvel at some of the most magnificent sights in the country.
Jordan’s largest nature reserve lies around 120 miles south of the capital Amman although there is no direct bus link, so if you are travelling independently the best way to get there is to rent a car and brave the Jordanian traffic. To make the best of your trip why not stay over at the Feynan Ecolodge which provides basic, rustic accommodation for a fair price? The lodge is set on the western side of the reserve and is owned by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature which also manages the reserve.
Dana, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative Sites, is around 115 square miles in size and extends from the top of the eastern Rift Valley to the deserts of Wadi Araba and the salty waters of the Dead Sea, dropping over 5,000 feet in the process. UNESCO says “Dana is renowned as a model of integrated conservation and development in a well-managed man and biosphere reserve where the protection of biodiversity goes hand-in-hand with improving the social and economic welfare of the local population.”
For an eco-tourist in Jordan there is a huge amount to see. The reserve supports over 800 plant species, some which are only found in Dana, and many different types of rare birds and animals including threatened species like the sand cat, Syrian wolf, lesser kestrel and spiny tailed lizard.
Visitors to Dana can follow a number of hiking trails: the easy ones that meander through Dana village allow an opportunity to buy goods from some of the local small businesses and the slightly more strenuous ones that lead to the top of Rummana peak where the campsite is located. Other trails allow glimpses of ancient Roman ruins, Nabatean tombs and a 6000 year old copper mine. There are around 100 archaeological sites which have been identified, what better way to spend your time at Dana which according to one recent visitor is, “possibly the most peaceful place on earth.”