Dana to Petra Hike

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

Day 1

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

Day 2

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

Day 3

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

Day 4

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

Day 5

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 …