Dana Valley – The Blooming Desert
Dana Valley was my favourite destination in Jordan. Our experience of the reserve stretched from the Dana Guesthouse to the Feynan Ecolodge, connected by a breathtaking 16 kilometre trek with diverse, magnificent flora and fauna, over a multi-climate landscape.
At the top of the valley, where the Dana Guesthouse was perched over a cliff overlooking the breathtaking views, we were treated to a cool Mediterranean climate. Down in the valley floor though, we walked through tricking streams in Saharan temperatures.
Our guide, Saleh, had been a soldier stationed in Bosnia during the war. He was also a painter. We liked him. He knew a lot about the valley and was friendly with the Bedouin tribe that lived near the valley floor. We would recommend getting a guide for the trek, because while straightforward, the many little shortcuts a guide would find, I found invaluable, particularly towards the end of the trek.
The most stunning portion of the trek, at least for us, was at the bottom of the valley. We visited in late April, when the streams were just about slowly tricking out. The floor was a riot of pink flowers, tiny silvery leaves and the wiry trees they grew on. It was in bloom, and it was beautiful. Little black goats grazing completed the picture.
Dana Guesthouse has simple, comfortable rooms, with balconies that overlook the valley. It gets cold at night, both here, and at the Feynan Ecolodge. I made the mistake of not packing a sweater. The food is vegetarian, and very good.
Feynan Ecolodge is larger than the Dana Guesthouse, with more things to see and do. It is truly one of the most charming places I have ever stayed in. After the 16 km trek, it was an oasis. The rooms are beautiful, the beds comfortable, and the dinner absolutely delicious. It is also the sort of a place where you would meet other like-minded travellers, and we had a lovely dinner with two of them.
After the dinner, a star-gazing session was held on the rooftop. We saw Jupiter and Mars through their telescope. A Bedouin who knew about these things told us how to find our way through the desert using the stars. I only wished I had brought that darn sweater, it got quite cold at night. Bringing some sandals along would have been lovely too, to be able to get out of your trekking shoes after walking for half a day.