dana biosphere reserve

A Guide to Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest nature reserve, covering an impressive 320 square kilometres of diverse landscapes and habitats. During our 10 days in Jordan, we made the visit the Dana Biosphere Reverse to spend a one night in this tranquil oasis. Located in the south-central region of Jordan, it stretches from the top of the Jordan Rift Valley down to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba.

Established in 1989, Dana Biosphere Reserve is a sanctuary for wildlife and a hub for eco-tourism, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore its rich biodiversity and stunning scenery. In this blog post, I will guide you through the highlights of Dana Biosphere Reserve, why it’s worth a visit, what to do there, and how to get there.

Sunrise Views from Our Bed

How to Get to Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dana Biosphere Reserve is located about 200km south of the capital, Amman, and easiest to reach by car. We booked a taxi from our hotel in the Dead Sea and I’d recommend this option over any other. Alternatively, you could look into renting a car and do the drive yourself. I would say this requires quite a lot of planning and navigating, so we were glad to have the stress taken off with the taxi, despite the higher cost. If you’re driving from the capital, expect it to take between 2.5 to 3 hours via the Desert Highway and King’s Highway.

Alternatively, public transportation options include taking a bus from Amman to Tafila or Ma’an and then hiring a taxi to Dana Village. While this option may be more affordable, it is less convenient than driving directly.

Once you arrive at the reserve, you’ll have the option to either stay at the Dana Eco-Lodge or camp within designated areas. It’s important to note that camping requires a permit, which can be obtained from the reserve’s visitor centre.

Best Things to Do in Dana Biosphere

Explore the Diverse Ecosystems

Dana Biosphere Reserve is home to four distinct bio-geographical zones: Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian, and Sudanian. This diversity results in a remarkable variety of flora and fauna, with over 800 plant species, 190 bird species, and 45 mammal species. Among these are endangered species such as the Syrian wolf and the sand cat.

Hiking and Trekking

Dana offers some of the best hiking and trekking experiences in Jordan. Trails range from easy walks to challenging hikes, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the reserve. Popular trails include the Dana Village Trail, Wadi Dana Trail, and the challenging Feynan Trail, which takes you deep into the reserve’s heart. You can choose to hike self-guided or with a group. We spent our first day doing a hike near our lodge which showed us incredible terrain and views of impressive, expansive landscapes.

Hiking Trails

Bird Watching

With nearly 200 bird species recorded, Dana Biosphere Reserve is a paradise for bird watchers. The reserve’s diverse habitats attract a wide variety of birds, making it an excellent spot for both amateur and professional ornithologists.

Cultural Heritage

The area also has a rich cultural history. Inhabited for around 6,000 years, visitors can explore ancient ruins, traditional Bedouin communities and historical sites. Dana Village, with its restored Ottoman-era houses, offers a glimpse into the region’s past and present.

Traditional meal with everyone at the camp

Enjoy the Peace!

My favourite thing about Dana Biosphere Reserve was just sitting and enjoying the quiet amongst the incredible scenery. We met so many incredible people at our accomodation and it was great to share travel stories together. However, I loved being able to sit with a book in front of incredible nature with complete silence. Such a change from my normal busy life in central London. We also had amazing sunsets to enjoy and we all gathered round together to watch in awe at the sky’s colours. I recommend getting up early to enjoy the sunrise too…again, very peaceful!

Eco-Tourism and Sustainability

The Dana Biosphere Reserve is also well known for its sustainable tourism and conservation. The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) manages the area, focusing on eco-friendly practices that benefit both the environment and local communities. Staying at eco-lodges like the Feynan Ecolodge supports these initiatives and provides a unique and responsible travel experience.

Our Accomodation for the Night


When’s the best time to visit the Dana Biosphere Reserve?

You can visit year-round, but the best times are during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the temperatures are mild and the landscapes are at their most vibrant. We were there in September and the temperature was perfect!

Do I need a guide to explore the reserve?

While it’s possible to explore the reserve on your own, it’s highly recommended to hire a local guide, especially if you plan on hiking in the more remote areas. Guides can provide valuable insights into the reserve’s flora and fauna, as well as ensure your safety. If you’re thinking of doing a complicated hike or going very much off-the-beaten-path, I’d recommend looking into guides or tour groups.

What should I pack for a visit to the Dana Biosphere Reserve?

Depending on what you’re choosing to do here, be sure to pack good hiking or walking shoes. We had running trainers which were sufficient, but this isn’t an area to be wearing flip flops or flimsy shoes. Given how open the area is you’ll also need to be mindful of wearing enough sun protection and having good hydration with you. I liked using hydration tablets to add to my bottled water each day. Also bring a camera to capture the stunning landscapes and sunsets/sunrises…although, note the pictures will never do the actual scenery justice! I would also recommend bringing a few layers, as it got chilly early in the morning and evening.

The Dana Biosphere Reserve is a true gem that offers a unique and unforgettable experience. It felt off-the-beaten track and unexplored compared to other places in Jordan, so definitely one to consider if you’re looking to do something a little different. With its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and sustainable tourism initiatives, this reserve is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling around Jordan.

Check out my other guides for Jordan, including Petra and the Dead Sea.

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