Day 5: Hiking in Dana Biosphere Reserve, Little Petra & Petra by Night


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Middle East » Jordan » South » Petra
October 16th 2013
Published: February 22nd 2014
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AbdulyayaAbdulyayaAbdulyaya

A local Range/guide. (yes, we needed to go down here).
Today, I finally came eye to eye with the Treasury in Petra, but first we visited preview: Little Petra. But the day started early: a hike in Dana Biosphere Reserve. But, we started the day with simple but delicious breakfast.

The Dana hotel, is a simple hotel, but quit atmospheric and hospitable. I've really had the idea that I stayed in a small, local mountain town, middle in the biosphere. That's true; however, this town is supporting tourism. It breaths hospitable, and there are other tourists, staying in other hotels as well, in town. From the other hand it doesn't feel completely "live as the locals". The feeling of "living like the locals" can be better achieved in the Wadi Rum. But of course, the local experience is not why you visit Dana; the only reason is of course the Biosphere Reserve. However, Dana is one of the loveliest hideaways, according to the Rough Guide. The Dana village was first known as a farming city, but it was abandoned in the last century. However, a group of twelve women from Amman traveled tough the country with one mission: compile the remnants of the traditional culture. They discovered the Dana town
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Goats, leaded by a goatherd.
in early 90's. The "Friends of Dana", started a project to renovate the village and conservation of the Wadi Dana, by the Royal Society of the Conservation of Nature. In the redevelopment of the town, not only a new infrastructure for water, electricity and bio-treatment was built, but also the streets and cottages. The Wadi Dana became a nature reserve, and ecological research was done in the small research station next to the village from 1994. In 1996, low-impact and "green" tourism was starting up. In 2006 a campsite was established in the hills at Rammuna, following-up an ecolodge at the western end of the reserve in Feynan, build in 2005. All those projects are achieved with the help of the local people. In 2012, another renovation was occurred, and already receiving 100,000 visitors a year, where a quarter of them slept in the Wadi Dana.

Dana B.R. is very beautiful; I really recommend visiting Dana B.R. when you are in Jordan. It's quite pity that not many travel organizations have Dana B.R. in their program. From the other hand: Dana B.R. is still "off the beaten track", a treasure in Jordan, and probably not suitable for everyone. You
The hike The hike The hike

Heavy climbs in Dana Biosphere Reserve.
really need to like nature and hiking if you want to visit Dana. The Dana Biosphere Reserve encompasses 320 square kilometers of terrain, from Wadi Dana to reach Wadi Arabia at the West. The terrain drops to 1500m above sea level at the Dana village. The Dana B.R. has a diverse fauna and flora, such as wildcats, ibex, snakes, foxes, bats, caracals (a feline), eagles, jackals and even hyenas and wolves. It's almost impossible to spot those animals; most of them hide in the day/daylight and do not come close to humans. Especially not a group humans hiking in the Dana B.R. Also, the geology is quite diverse: limestone, sandstone and granite and from watered mountain slopes, juniper woodlands, to an arid sandy desert. In science, more than 700 plant species were found in Dana B.R. Some plants pieces that are found are juniper woodlands, oaks, whistling thorn (acacia) and even Mediterranean Cypress. Dana B.R. is a great place to hike, but it would be stupidity to do it alone: a ranger is really necessary. There are some trails which you can do from Dana Village, from 3 km (3 hours) to 16 km (8 hours). Take in to account
The Cave housesThe Cave housesThe Cave houses

In Dana Biosphere Reserve.
that you need to climb and descend: so it might be a hard trail, not suitable for everyone. The oldest one of the group wasn't fit enough to do the trail, he had to stay in the hotel.

At 9 am our hike started. Of course, with Ranger. Our ranger was called Abdelyaya (I hope I write it good), one of the locals. The bus took us to a place out of town. During the hike, there was much attention how the people lived in the Wadi Dana in the past, and how they used the flora and fauna. Abdulyaya found it very important that this way of living should not be forgotten, but he also found it important that people and the kids living here should not forget the importantly of bio reserve and "living green". He agreed that education was one of the best methods to reach this goal, but also green tourism. I think it's very hard to describe our trail, but at one moment we saw cave houses. Abdulyaya leaded us to the caves, down below in the area. We had to do a great descend. It was quite adventures, which you can see at the pictures. Some parts were hard. He showed us the cave houses, a water recourse, but also nature make-up. And I was used as model. Pretty good choice of him, because I do like make-up. He added some blush (rouge) at my cheeks. I looked like a clown. Back in our hotel, I tried to blend it into my skin, and it worked. I really had to remove it with make-up remover that night before sleeping. Yes, it works better than my rouge in powder, which you can buy at the store. We went further with our hike. We had to climb some parts. In the middle of the hike, we got a break. Abdulyaya made tea and we got something to eat. We really needed some energy, some heavy climbs were waiting. It was hard, I think my heart rate was at some point at 80-90%, the same hart rate that I have when I do my running interval exercises at the runners club. I really was glad when I was on top. I really was whacked when we arrived at the bus, and not only me. I really liked the trail, it is hard but it's really worth it. I really would recommend visiting Dana; it was one of the treasury's of my trip.

After a lunch, we went further. It was time to leave Dana. The beautiful Dana B.R., but it was time to reach our next goal: the beauty of Petra of course! That night, I really shall see the Treasury with my own eyes, but first, we drove to the roads and made a quick photo stop for the Shobak Castle. The Shobak Castle was the first castle that was built by the Crusaders, and rebuild by Mamlukes and Ottomans. Sadly, its condition is poor (ruinous), compared with the Kerak Castle. We only did a photo stop, and not a tour. It is possible to do a Shobak tour. Omar, our guide told us about Shobak. The Mamlukes left inscriptions, dating back from some years before 1300. There is a chapel, a gatehouse, a secret passage, an Ottoman cottage, an Ayyubid Palace complex, a church and another secret passage. The last secret passage is worth to mention. According to legend, it contains 375 meter of slippery steps, which lead into the heart of the hill. From here, there should be a tunnel of 205 meters long and was the main water supply. It seems like the Crusaders digging so deep, that they ran into water, and decide to build the water tunnel. However, this last passage is not open for public anymore. The stairs might crumble under your feet, and lead in the past to injuries. I agree that Shobak can be adventures, but you should skip the last passage.

We arrived in the afternoon by Little Petra. Little Petra (Siq-al-Barid), is 9 km north of Wadi Musa (the town located by Petra). Little Petra is similar to 'big' Petra, but only smaller. The trade caravans came from, or had to go to Petra, reached Little Petra as first/last top of their route. The city was billed by the Nabataeans, the same people which build Petra. The building has the same style as Petra, familiar carved out of rocks. However, the site of Little Petra is different than 'big' Petra; the destiny of the buildings was different and it's shown of. Little Petra is small, and it's possible to visit the site in some 2 hours. Just like the 'big' Petra, you can enter Little Petra by a Siq, the "cold Siq", an opening between high walls. This opening is "just" 350 meters long. In 'big' Petra the Siq is quite large, the rocks are quite high, in Little Petra it is smaller, but it's still quite nice to walk in between it. You can find temples, four triclinium, (porter houses, where the traders could eat and drink). It is possible to climb up to the Painted house, a Biclinium, where the Nabatean painting on the ceiling is still visible. Also, it was possible to climb to the emergency exit. A large stairs, where the people could flight when they were attacked. The stairs lead to an area of rocks outside Little Petra. Of course, I tired the climb. The stairs was quite hard to climb it. I really needed help with some steps. But the view was spectacular; it was all worth of the climb. The view was breath taken; of course pictures had to be made. It was quiet, I really had the idea I was standing in the middle of a nature area. However, there is not many information available over Little Petra, and I think it's quite hard to write about it. You better can enjoy the
Emergency exit stairsEmergency exit stairsEmergency exit stairs

In Little Petra.
pictures, or visit Little Petra yourself *wink*

After visiting Little Petra, it was time for our next hotel, where we had first a meeting: also for the booking of optional excursions. In total, you could choose 4 optional excursions, but some of them you had to pre-book in advance. However excursion 3 and 4 were at the same time, so you couldn't do them both: 1. Petra by Night (day 5 at night, only booking in via the hotel). 2. Turkish Hammam in our hotel (day 5 and day 6 at night, advance booked and booking in our hotel) 3. Horse riding in the mountains close by Petra/Wadi Musa (day 7 in the morning, advance booking only), and 4. Trail at the High Sacrifices in Petra (day 7 in the morning, only booking via the hotel). I've already booked 2 excursions in advance: the Hammam (2), and the Horse Riding (3). In the hotel, I booked the Petra by Night excursion (1). Our Travel group leader told us that we were very lucky that we could visit Petra by Night. It seems like it was canceled for a long time, and this evening, it was the first night they
View pointView pointView point

In Little Petra.
continue the show. But first, our group tour leader advised to take diner in the hotel. The hotel was outside of Wadi Musa, so you need to get a taxi to the town for a restaurant. We took a buffet dinner in the hotel. Our hotel was the Al Anbat Hotel, build against a rock cliff. The entrance/main ground was at the highest level, the rooms where in the lower levels. You had to go down in the "ground". Elianne and I had room 634. The hotel was quite luxury, the employees were hospitable. With dinner, you had a broad choice of different meals. The food was fresh and tasted quite good. Sadly, the hotel didn't have a certificate, so they aren't allowed to serve alcohol. Some people out of our group were disappointed about that, but I already found something much better: the Lemon Mint drink! A juice of lemon and mint. Those who did book the Petra by Night tour didn't have much time: time to visit Petra.

Petra, the rose city. I never believed it could exist, it looked like a dream. When I got interested in travelling, I started to watch some travel programs. I
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Diner in the Al-Anbat Hotel
saw many countries, all looked beautiful. Until a new program showed up: Erica op Reis, about Erica Terpstra, a Dutch ex- Olympic swimmer and old politician. She going to visit Jordan, and Petra. First, she started to visit Amman. A total different world, an Eastern-Arabic world. I was hooked. I really liked imminently. She also visits Petra, an ancient city, carved out of rose rocks. Sounds interesting, so I kept watching. She took a carriage with horse, to cross the Siq. It was beautiful, but what was outside the Siq? And then I saw the Treasury, I didn't know what happens, but I really was so in shock. Did this really exist on earth? I'm almost started to cry, my eyes were became wet. This couldn't exist, it just couldn’t. Or could it? I really needed to check out, I really needed to go to Petra. I needed to go to Jordan. I needed to see it with my own eyes. Then, I started to read about Jordan and I knew it for sure. I needed to go to Jordan, so quickly as possible. And that night, I should check it out. It couldn’t exist, nor could it?

We
The SiqThe SiqThe Siq

Petra by Night.
took the bus and we went to the Petra Visitor Center. From there, you could walk to the Siq. The Siq was lighted with candles. It was very hard to take pictures. Of course, it was crowded. But it was so special. It was dark, and only the candles shown you the way. The high rocks, the Siq, it was quite long. The candles let the Siq colored orange of the light. And where was the Treasury? It looked so long: does it come? Is it just a dream? Is it coming now or just one curve left? It was so atmospheric, and so special. You better can see the pictures. And there it came: the Treasury. It did exist. It did! I really saw it with my own eyes. Lighted by the candles, colored orange. I kept looking, and looking, and looking. This really did exist! A dream came true! O I really could start crying out of happiness, I reached it! We took a sit in the sand, and the show started. It was a show, a little bit disappointing. Much people came, so it was quite busy. Some people really went sitting beside the musician, so where
Petra by NightPetra by NightPetra by Night

Quite hard to picture it.
we sat, you couldn't see them. That was a little bit disappointing. The show was short, also little bit disappointing, I expected much more a show, with (belly)dancers, music, theater and that kind: but only 2 songs (and we almost couldn't see anything), and a little tale about the Nabatean people and the city of Petra, especially for kids. After the show, we had to say goodbye to the Treasury. Goodbye Treasury, we shall meet tomorrow again. And we walked away, into the Siq, leading by the candles back to the Visitor Center.


Additional photos below
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Climbing down during the hikeClimbing down during the hike
Climbing down during the hike

In Dana Biosphere Reserve.
One of the easiest climbs One of the easiest climbs
One of the easiest climbs

In Dana Biosphere Reserve.
Cold SiqCold Siq
Cold Siq

Little Petra
View pointView point
View point

In Little Petra.


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