Last weekend, we went camping in Wadi Dana for a friend's birthday. Wadi in Arabic means valley and Jordan is abundant with them - even in central Amman! Wadi Dana is located sort of in the central-west of Jordan, about a 3-4 hour drive from Amman and was made into a nature reserve in 1993 due to having so many diverse bio-geographical zones and species of plants and animals. You can read more about it here.
There are several ways you can drive to Wadi Dana and we decided to take the road along the Dead Sea and then take the turning towards Tafila town through the Kings Highway. I'm really glad we chose this route, as it's so scenic and calm. I love the Dead Sea and considering how close it is to where we live (less than an hour away(!!)) we don't make it down there as much as we really should. Here's an embarrassing confession - I used to think that the Dead Sea was basically a small pond...um..no...it's nothing like that at all! It is absolutely HUGE and when you're on one end of it, the tip goes right up to the horizon and beyond. Anyway, I'd really advise taking this route if you're heading to Wadi Dana.
|The Dead Sea.|
When you turn off away from the Dead Sea highway, you enter the Kings Highway, a long, extremely windy uphill road. It's not quite for the fainthearted (me). It is very beautiful though, in its barrenness. As you climb higher and higher, you get a fantastic view of the valleys below, and the stark contrast between the jagged mountains and flat lands beyond. It does make your journey time to Dana longer but it's worth it.
|View from the Kings Highway.|
Dana is a fairly large area as is the nature reserve itself. This means that the "official" camp and biosphere entrance is completely separate to Dana village (where we had lunch) and the camp that we stayed at, which was a few kilometres away from the first sign of Dana. My friend had stayed at Al-Nawatef camp before and she recommended that we stay there on this trip. I'm so glad she did! It's a lovely little camp, isolated from the world and overlooking a cliff. A short while after getting to the camp, we decided to go for a short walk and explore the area. The weather wasn't too hot at this time so it was perfect.
|The bedouin tents and teepees.|
|Verandahs outside the tents.|
|View of the valley.|
We were taken very good care of at the camp. They had a variety of lodging available, little stone rooms, bedouin tents with verandahs over looking the view, large teepees and an area where you could pitch up your tent. Louis and I got one of the stone rooms (the rooms and bedouin tents each have 2 single beds). The room was SO hot but when the night fell and we went to bed, the temperature inside was just perfect, since it was freezing out there. I'm generally very good at camping, but since buying my own sleeping bag (with a dedicated pillow pocket) I find that I can sleep well without thinking of creepy crawlies. Just to note, though, the camp was very clean and had a lot of linen and supplies. There were several bathrooms you could use and Louis managed to have a shower in the morning. The dinner we had was delicious and varied and we were served tea throughout the night. There was a nice group of people at the camp that night and we played games and made jokes. So overall, a fantastic night camping!
The next morning we decided to make the short drive back to the nature reserve, since we were already really in the area. We paid the entrance fee and went for a short hike. The terrain was different to that in Al Nawatef camp and there were more dramatic cliffs that you could peek over.
After our short hike, we decided to try and find Ashoback castle, located near Wadi Musa. We did manage to find it, but unfortunately the road leading up to the castle was closed for works.
|Jagged rocks leading to the valley below.|
|Sitting on top of the world.|
After having lunch at a local falafel restaurant, Fatafeet, we headed back towards Amman via the Desert Highway, a flat road that takes you all the way from Amman to Aqaba down in the south (this is the road we take when visiting places like Petra and Wadi Rum). Not wanting the weekend to end, one of our friends suggested we get ice cream at Four Winters, a little ice cream cafe that makes your ice cream using liquid nitrogen. Very cool and very yummy!
Now that the weather is ideal, I'm hoping there will be a few more road trips before the hot months of July and August. Have a great weekend everyone!