National Geographic rated the 75 km Dana to Petra Trek one of the world’s 15 best multi-day hikes. We took 5 days with the help of our Bedouin support crew and specialist guides plus a donkey, organised by Experience Jordan. The map is here.
Dana to Petra Profile
Dana to Wadi Ghwair, 16Km – Ascent 280m, Descent 1420m – 6 hours
A relatively easy walk with the trail dropping steeply to drop about 500 meters in the first hour and then more gradually through the Dana Biosphere Reserve.
Ahmed, our guide, ready to take us down the steep 500m descent into the Dana Biosphere Reserve
Until 50 years ago people lived in this cave in the valley wall
Feynan copper mine from 3300 BC, later Roman – site of King Solomon’s mines?
Desert flowers of the Dana Biosphere Reserve
Desert lizard blends in
We stopped for tea at this Bedouin camp, it’s a hard life in the desert
Our first night’s campsite
Wadi Ghwair to Furon, 16.4Km – Ascent 1320m, Descent 390m – 8 hours
Climbing up through the mountains, the colours and rock formations change at every turn. It’s a steep and more difficult section but made easier by the dramatic and stunning views all around. We found ourselves constantly looking back in wonder.
Setting out on day 2. Mohamed and his donkey head across unmarked stoney desert, the mountains ahead
The terrain gets steeper
Yes, we have to go up there!
Donkey shows no fear on the narrow path
Mohamed prepares tea on the narrow ledge
Dramatic mountain views all around
Pretty mountain bird
Interesting rock patterns, colours and shapes
Looking back down to the Wadi Araba Desert where we spent the previous night
The path goes through a gap in the rock …
… and heads down hill
Bedouin engrossed in his mobile phone whilst leading his sheep
Another night under the stars, cool at about 1200m
Furon to Ghbour Whedat, 17.1Km – Ascent 750m, Descent 920m – 8 hours
Into the remotest and wildest Jordan the route followed barely visible (to us) Bedouin shepherd and hunter’s trails. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better we tracked along a narrow path with steep drops into the canyons below, absolutely spectacular.
Mohiad and Mohamed made us the best meals we’ve ever had trekking
All fresh ingredients, Jordanian recipes prepared and cooked at the site
I was briefly in charge of Donkey, a great responsibility – he didn’t notice
Bedouin tent made from goat’s hair
Across the desert on an old Bedouin shepherd trail
The higher we go, the more spectacular the views – impossible to capture the feeling
A narrow path with steep drops into the canyons below
Black mountains overlooking our trail
We came across a zarb, traditional Bedouin earth oven, in the middle of the path
The old path, worn over the centuries, doesn’t get a lot of use now
Spectacular rock formations below
These look like skulls
Our third wilderness camp
Sunset from our tent
Ghbour Whedat to Little Petra, 14Km – Ascent 610m, Descent 560m – 4 hours
We thought this 14 km would be easy, along the road, but no. Mohamed took us on a shortcut close to huge rocks appearing out of the desert then down a steep descent, so steep even Donkey was reluctant!
Sunrise, day 4
Nabataean wine-press – the grapes were crushed in the upper square pit and the juice ran down to the round pit below
It’s a rough rock strewn path …
… and around this huge hill that comes straight up out of the desert
Canyon carved out by water and wind
The colours are made by iron, copper and sulphur salts dissolved in the sandstone
A short cut so steep even Donkey was reluctant
Looking back at the rocks we just descended, thinking how is it possible?
Then across flat desert filling our shoes with fine sand …
… to arrive suddenly at Little Petra, Nabataean 1st century
Tombs and steps carved into the rock 20 centuries ago
A local Bedouin told us that camel caravans used to stop here on the Silk Road
Lizard soaking up the sun
2,000-year-old frescoes on the ceiling in the Painted House were discovered in 2010
Delicious Bedouin BBQ for dinner at the Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp – chicken and vegetables cooked on a rack in a drum on a wood fire
Little Petra to Petra 18-20Km – 2 hours to Petra then 3 hours in the Petra site
Guided by a National Parks officer and his wife we entered Petra via “The Back Door”. This way follows a Nabataean route around the mountain guarding the approach to Petra using steps and a natural rock terrace which has been improved (for the safety of walkers).
First sighting of the Monastery of Petra after 5 days walking was a little emotional.
Leaving Little Petra
Between Little Petra and the climb into Petra
Getting close, here’s a tomb
The steps have been improved for tourists
Looking back down the steps
Remains of Umm Saysaban Bronze Age settlement – 3000 to 2000 BC
Centuries of erosion to form these shapes
The old path to Petra was along this narrow crack in the rock face
This is the “new” path
Finally we round a bend and there’s the silhouette of the Petra “Monastery”!
But we don’t enter Petra until we’ve had tea …