That time we hiked through paradise.
Where? Dana Nature Reserve, Jordan.
When? July 2017.
With whom? Martin.
When most people think of Jordan they will cast their minds to ornate buildings creating and entire city carved out of rock or the sweltering heat and Bedouin lifestyle of the desert. We explored both Petra and Wadi-Rum, falling in love with both places amidst getting smuggled behind the police roadblock armed with machine guns. We also explored the lesser known places such as Wadi Mujib and Dana Nature Reserve.
We drove a loop around Jordan with the nature reserve en route back towards Amman from where we flew. We had no data so followed Google offline maps, which used to work really well but they have since ruined everything useful about it, instead try maps.me to navigate you around with an absence of data.
We were apprehensive at first when Google directed us off the main road to what appeared to be a barren field, but staying on the GPS track of this “road” led us straight to our destination, quite literally as the crow flies. Who needs tarmac? Al Nawatef camp replicates a bedouin lifestyle with tents overlooking a beautiful valley.
We decided to hike through a canyon for a day, starting it off as you should start any day, with an awesome breakfast. M&S falafel has nothing on fresh Jordanian falafel, and it cost us about 20p for a bag of 30. The smell alone is enough to make your mouth water. Delish.
We started on an arid rocky plane, slowly descending into the valley, having to manoeuvre our bodies in ways we didn’t think possible to fit between tiny crevices, nooks and crannies. Clearly, contortionism is not a career either of us should pursue.
The canyon had different layers, each a different colour like a contour line coming together to form a marble-like pattern.
We were astonished by how the terrain changed from the dry canyon to a small stream, which we followed as it meandered and grew into knee-deep water pools and opportunities for us to splash around in waterfalls.
We were so surprised that we could walk from a completely scorched terrain to one abundant with water and flush with green plant life.
Suddenly, we were in paradise, surrounded by palm trees hanging out of the side of the rocks in the canyon more than 50 feet above our heads, with water trickling down to form many teeny tiny waterfalls. It was a completely different Jordan to what we had seen already and felt much more like a tropical island.
The oasis was filled with wildlife with bold dragonflies coming to rest on my knee and on Martin’s phone screen, and frogs jumping around our feet.
Eyebrows is a good game. Its similar to Odds On. A lot of people are all about the talk, but these games challenge their often ridiculous claims and sometimes force people to follow through with an offhand comment. Martin regretted eyebrows when he said he could drink the water through which we walked.
We stopped for lunch, using camping stoves and ingredients we’d carried in our backpacks, making a delicious tomato based meal that was so satisfying yet so simple. We enjoyed being completely alone in the canyon, the only humans there at all. We had a short rest, soaking up the sun!
We were in a valley yest descending, so we had to lower ourselves down to the next level, sometimes on dry rock but often through waterfalls.
The final terrain change took us into much hotter air as we began to climb again, getting closer to the circumferential black mountains around the valley.
We got picked up at the end of the hike and hitched a ride back to our Bedouin tents for dinner. We pigged out of kofta, fried tomatoes and yummy bedouin sage and mint tea.
The sunset created a barred sky like a flattened rainbow of red, orange, yellow, green, and then the deep purple-blue night sky. The stars were awesome.
Info: this is not on the tourist route in Jordan but provides a break when driving from the desert back up to Amman. You will need to have the route programmed in before you leave WiFi as it is not easy to find! The staff are very friendly and informative of the available hikes in the area according to the season. Dinner is included with the price and is a feast.
Product of the week: Fresh falafel from a street vender. You will not regret it! My second favourite this was the headscarf we bought. It saved our scalps from burning and kept the sun off of our faces. Maybe ask anyone but Martin to wrap it round your head.
Tip of the week: Venture off the beaten track and experience unusual things as well as the main tourist attractions. None the tourists we met in Jordan had heard of Dana, it was only from our research that we discovered this hidden gem!