The Jordan Trail
Hiking in Jordan has gained attention in the recent years. The most obvious reason is the implementation of the Jordan Trail. One of the highlights is supposed to be the section between Dana and Petra. This part connects one of Jordan’s most beautiful biosphere reserves with the most iconic tourist attraction, Petra. Many have praised this section of the Jordan Trail, including National Geographic who included it in the top 15 trails of the world. It has been on my bucket list for years and in 2020 I finally had the chance to join. Initially, I planned for it in March this year, but things turned out different.
The Jordan Trails runs throughout the country and connects Umm Qais in North with Aqaba in the South. On a journey more than 650 km long, hikers can discover stunning green forests and mountains in the North. They will pass by world wonders and UNESCO world heritages. They will pass by more than 50 small villages, cross different climate, elevation, vegetation and see forests, deserts, castles and finally the sea. Of course, you don’t have to take on the whole trail in one go. You can hike each section separately, connect some or hike a region of your choice. In Spring, the Jordan Trail Association organizes the yearly Thru-Hike, where hikers from all over the world cross Jordan as a whole.
About Hiking from Dana to Petra
Again, I had to postpone but finally in October I joined TREKS, one of Jordan’s top adventure travel agencies. TREKS also operate a store that sells hiking, camping and climbing gear. Due to the current restrictions because of the ongoing pandemic our trip was deviated a bit from the usual way. Anyway, there are different alternatives from three to five days for the section depending on your speed and which route exactly you choose. As a result of the limitation as mentioned above, on the first day we hiked from Little Petra back towards Ras Al-Feid. On the second day we took a loop route between Wadi Malaga and Ras Al-Feid. On our 3rd day we hiked the back trail to the Monastery from Little Petra to Petra. In general, you will probably do it a bit different, but nevertheless, it was a great adventure.
Little Petra to Ras Al-Feid – Dana to Petra – Day 1
On our first hiking day, we came from Amman and drove to Little Petra, where we started our hike toward Dana. The region features a lot of limestone and sand stone rock formations that leave an overwhelming impression on you. It is a very unique area and I especially love the round rocks that look like heads coming out of the ground. Of course, in Autumn/Winter the area is mainly colored in shades of yellow and beige. We had some meters to ascend and all in all it was a tough but rewarding day. Once we left the area near Little Petra, we enjoyed the views on Wadi Araba to the left. These mountains are stunning and provide a contrast to the yellow with their black appearance. Apart from that vegetation is scarce and we came across some trees that have died. We also discovered a blue lizard.
After a long day, we arrived to our camp in the middle of nowhere. It was one of the nicest locations you can imagine. The team of TREKS and some of the locals setup everything in advance, so we enjoyed our outdoor shower, changed and only had to wait for dinner. The local team prepared dinner and a campfire and after relaxing for a while, we were all ready for bed pretty soon.
Ras Al-Feid and Wadi Malaga – Dana to Petra, Day 2
On our second day, we left our camp after breakfast, walked a bit back on the we came, before descending into a valley. Wadi Malaga is an interesting and diverse valley at some parts reminding me of Wadi Ghuweir, except for the palm trees. We hiked down and through the valley until reaching point up high near a waterfall. At the small water pools, we had our lunch break and enjoyed the views at the sharp, steep grey and black rock walls. For a reason they are called knife rocks in Arabic.
During some sections, we walked down in the riverbed, on others we hiked up on the rocks looking down. The colors ranged from grey and black to red, yellow and orange rocks and occasionally there was a lot of green as well. Ascending back, was pretty tough as we had still relatively warm weather. Nevertheless, we managed to go slow and steady and ended our hike a bit earlier on the 2nd day. After another improvised outdoor shower, we sat down to sip on tea and enjoy another great sunset near our camp.
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Little Petra to Petra – Dana to Petra, Day 3
Our last day on that weekend was the section from Little Petra to Petra. I hiked this part already in summer last year. Especially the route after the control point is very nice. There are many steps involved and you will actually climb up and down a few meters for about 1.5 hours. The views however are stunning and the excitement to reach the Monastery will keep you going. As I have been to Petra several times before, I was rather excited to see it with only a few people. The last time Petra was that empty must have been at least 20 years ago. I do feel for the people and locals working in tourism, who are obviously going through a very rough time now. But I also loved the calm up at the monastery and the possibility to take pictures without any other tourists blocking the view.
We had a very calm and relaxed break and enjoyed some Lemon and Mint juice before we continued. From the monastery you will then descend a few hundred steps until reaching the ancient city of Petra. The world wonder located at Wadi Musa in the center of Jordan is a truly unique place. A range of different buildings, including tombs, courts and other facades have been carved out of the red stone by the Nabataeans hundreds of years ago. While the famous treasury is the best-known image of Jordan, I personally find the monastery much more impressive. When hiking this section on the Jordan Trail, you will enter Petra from the back. Therefore, you will not discover the treasury, like most travelers, through the Siq. Anyway, you can later turn around and still enjoy that iconic view.
Concluding on Hiking from Dana to Petra
In summary, it was a wonderful weekend and a great hike. We met lovely people and TREKS, as always, provided professional support in all ways. Is the section Dana to Petra on the Jordan Trail however one of the best in the worlds? I am not totally convinced. Truly it is diverse and offers some unique landscapes but from what I have seen so far in Jordan, the highlights lie actually a bit off the Jordan Trail. My all-time favorites are Wadi Ghuweir, Wadi Al-Hasa and Wadi Al-Rayan. Maybe I am a bit spoiled, because I have already discovered many places in Jordan while living here.
Further information on Jordan
If you are coming on your first or second visit to Jordan, I still recommend to take some time to hike parts of the Jordan Trail. For some my stories on hiking parts of the Jordan Trail see the following posts.
The Jordan Trail – From Khirbet Al-Souq to King Talal Dam.
Hiking the Jordan Trail from Mathlutha to Wadi Hidan with Experience Jordan.
The Jordan Trail Thru-Hike 2019 or The Jordan Trail Thru Hike 2018.
For a list of great things to do in Jordan see The Best Places and Experiences in Jordan and When to go and if you like to discover the less explored North of Jordan see 10 Things to do in the North of Jordan.
The Jordan Trail App
Last but not least, they recently released an app for both iPhone and Android. This way, you can take all the necessary information with you. This includes maps, route descriptions, important way marks and contact numbers. Everything is well grouped in section and you can explore each route in more detail. The layout is simple and straight forward and I will try to use it next time I explore a route on my own.