Oh Dana

A couple of weeks back Katrina and I organized a trip down to Dana Nature Reserve. Dana, pronounced like the Ritchie Valens song, is the largest reserve in Jordan and located around three hours South of Amman. After getting lost a couple of times and dead ending at a group of tipsy, sneering shebab, our two car caravan rendezvoused with Katrina at the campsite just after dusk. We were greeted warmly by our hosts and escorted down the hill to our tents overlooking a wide valley. The location of the camp was incredible. We were a good distance from town and several miles from any paved roads. After dropping our packs our group convened in the large communal tent at the North end of the camp. After a simple dinner of stewed vegetables, hummus, and pita we smoked arguile at the foot the canyon under a full moon before heading to our tents.

Camp

The next morning we awoke to catch the remnants of the sunrise, eat a light breakfast, and hop into a pimped out van to take us to our trailhead above Wadi Feynan. There were around ten of us that crammed into the silver Korean made van with pastel shaded geometric shapes and phrases like “turbo intercooler” decaled on the side. I sat up front with our driver Mahmoud, and our Guide (Mahmoud) who looked ready for a jungle scuffle in his full fatigues. Mahmoud and Mahmoud blasted a mix of Arabic pop, rap, and top 40 and looked to all of us for approval, they seemed content by the the dance party in the back of the bus.

The hike was to last six hours but as we descended into the valley and Mahmoud signaled us to stop and rest every fifteen minutes or so it was clear it would be a leisurely six. Like Mujib and Kerak the canyons of Dana were tall and dramatic, mostly dry, with occasional water features, and palms and figs growing out of the rock. We saw crabs, frogs, and millipedes and Victoria spotted a small water snake that burrowed into the mud when we tried to get a look at it. We stretched the hike into five or so hours before arriving at Feynan Lodge where non-cammo Mahmoud was waiting for us. We piled back into the disco van and began winding through the rolling rock formations alternating on paved and dirt roads, mostly dirt. We were just 10km or so away from Petra and I snapped a picture from the van looking back at the setting sun.

It took us three hours by car, through the rugged terrain and winding dirt roads, what we did in half an hour in the car and five hours on foot through the canyon earlier in the day.

Retribution

I’ve been taking pictures of people sleeping on the car rides since we arrived and karma finally caught up with me. We arrived back at camp just past dusk, ate our dinner, and played on the monkey bars in the dinner tent.

When we awoke the next morning the fog was thick and stagnant over the valley and camp and was reminiscent to the tule fog we get in Northern California in late fall. Though the sun was starting to come up you could could not see ten feet in front of your face, let alone make out the horizon. A few of us woke up and walked up the hill to try to catch a glimpse when the sun broke through.

Camp Mess Hall
Betsy after dawn, at the foot of the camp

The next morning we headed into Shoubak to look at the 900 year old Crusader Castle sitting on the top of the hill. We explored the underground tunnels with torches, including one that was over four hundred steps and descended several hundred feet below the castle.

Katrina at Shoubak Castle
Victoria and I making our way down

Another great weekend getting out of the city and sampling the fruits of Jordan. More to come soon…

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