Jordan is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in the Middle East. The trek to Petra from Dana Reserve is a shining example of why you need to pop this country on your radar for your next vacation.
Hikers, bikers, and climbers looking to experience the world’s most remote and challenging landscapes head to Jordan, the jewel of the Middle East. Once there, the 50-mile trek from the Dana Biosphere Reserve to Petra is one of the best hikes in the world.
The Dana to Petra trek is a small section of the larger Jordan trail, offering spectacular features. It spans winding hills, valleys (wadis), mountains, and beautiful rock formations. And you get to interact with relics and structures built over 2000 years ago by the Nabataeans.
If you dream of trekking to Petra from Dana Nature Reserve one day, you should be prepared for what awaits. So, what does the Petra Trek entail?
What We Cover
- What is the Dana Nature Reserve?
- Petra Trekking Guide: From Dana Nature Reserve to Petra
- Day One: Arrival in Dana
- Day Two: Petra Trek Begins
- Day Three: Heading to Furon
- Day Four: Trekking to Ghbour Whedat
- Day Five: Destination Little Petra
- Day Six: Final Stretch to Petra
- What to do in Petra City
- Day Seven: Visiting Wadi Rum
- Day Eight: Dead Sea Visit
- 8 of Petra’s Most Stunning Features
- 1) The Siq: Petra’s Main Entrance
- 2) Royal Tombs
- 3) Al Khazneh: The Treasury
- 4) Al Deir: Petra’s Monastery
- 5) Ancient Churches
- 6) High Place of Sacrifice
- 7) Colonnaded Street and the Great Temple
- 8) Petra Theatre
What is the Dana Nature Reserve?
Encompassing an area of about 120 square miles, the Dana Reserve is Jordan’s largest nature reserve. Elevations on the east side of the reserve can reach up to 1,500m, with deep gorges, canyons, and beautiful wadis to the lowest levels of Wadi Dana (Wadi Araba).
On the eastern side of this reserve lies Dana village, which sits at an elevation of around 1,400m. The village can get cold and foggy during the cold months, but its location, perched perfectly on a cliff, makes it worth venturing to regardless of the climate for the spectacular panoramic views.
Dana Reserve is home to a wide range of plant and animal species. These include 25 endangered species like the sand cat and the Syrian wolf. The trek begins here on the Qadisiyah plateau, with a clear view of the mountains of the Great Rift Valley on the horizon.
Petra Trekking Guide: From Dana Nature Reserve to Petra
The trek from the Dana Nature Reserve to Petra generally lasts about six days. As you enjoy daily hiking en route to Petra, you’ll share tea with local Bedouins, feast on food cooked underground in the traditional tagine style, and probably see more goats and camels than other travelers.
The terrain you’ll encounter varies radically from day one to the next. It includes rough climbing, long stretches through the desert, and camping top-tier star gazing far away from the city lights.
Day One: Arrival in Dana
On your arrival day, you will fly to Dana through the Queen Alia International Airport, just a few minutes from Amman. Amman is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and Jordan’s capital.
If scheduling allows, try to get to Amman a day or two before your hike is due to begin so you can experience this ancient city. Book into the Amman Trail Hotel & Studios for its brilliantly convenient location in the city center. Top tourist attractions, like the Jordan Museum and the Grand Husseini Mosque, are just a short walk away, and you must try some local food before moving on to your hike!
Alternatively, you can head straight to Dana Village and check into the Dana Village Camp-Wadi Dana Eco Camp. Here, you’ll be ready and waiting at the hike’s starting point for a slower-paced start to your journey with incredible sprawling views to enjoy with an early morning brew.
Day Two: Petra Trek Begins
If you had booked a hotel in Amman, the first thing to do the following day is to travel to Dana village. But this will be an easy transfer as Dana is only around 2.5 hours away from Amman City. Moreover, your tour company will likely have arrangements for hotel pick-up.
The awaited hike starts at the Dana Nature Reserve. The trek has you exploring four different eco-zones (Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian, and Sudanian), giving life to diverse landscapes with an impressively varied selection of flora and fauna to look out for.
During the first miles of your hike, the trail will lead through the majestic mountains overlooking Dana Valley to the al Khashasha Valley. After around 15km of hiking, you’ll reach the Mansoura camping site, which offers excellent wilderness camping for a restful pit stop.
Day Three: Heading to Furon
On day three, things start to become more challenging as you head to Furon. The hike begins by climbing past steep mountains before entering the expansive Wadi Araba desert.
For about an hour or so, the views will include steep mountain walls and jagged rocks until you can see the stunning Sharah Mountains. You’ll also see some interesting Wadi Araba rock formations created by centuries of erosion.
The day will end at the Furon camping site, where you’ll enjoy a night under the stars. The hiking distance for today will be around 14km, so a good night’s sleep will be vital for your next day’s adventure.
Day Four: Trekking to Ghbour Whedat
You’ll start your fourth day of hiking with a trek to Ghbour Whedat. Today’s trail is relatively easy, comprising gentle slopes and gradual ascents.
You’ll also enjoy stunning views of the Jordanian desert landscape, including its many canyons and valleys. The bare black mountains’ beautiful peaks overlook the trail, and as you ascend higher on the hills, your jaw will drop at the views of the barren desert ahead.
Your day ends at the Ghbour Whedat camping site, where you’ll enjoy another beautiful night under the clear skies. You can enjoy the remarkable sight of stars shining down on you from above. And as you take your time to relax, you’ll have covered around 17km.
Day Five: Destination Little Petra
You’ll have covered a distance of around 46km by now since you started your hiking journey. The fifth day of your Petra trek leads to a place known as Little Petra.
Also known as Siq al-Barid, it’s around 14km from Ghbour Whedat. The journey takes you past more stunning views of the Jordanian landscape, including its mountains, valleys, and canyons.
You’ll also pass through several Bedouin camps, agricultural plots, and sheep sheds, indicating increased human activities. This ends a long trekking journey of only rock, valleys, mountains, and expansive desert scenery.
As you enter Little Petra, you’ll be mesmerized by the sight of its ancient buildings and rock carvings. Archeologists believe Little Petra was a suburb built for traders conducting business along the Silk Road.
You’re certainly exhausted by now. And a relaxing night is welcomed.
The Bedouin Camp offers an excellent place to spend the night near Little Petra. At least you get some free time to take a hot shower after that exciting but tiring day.
Day Six: Final Stretch to Petra
The Lost City of Petra is only around 14km away from Little Petra, so on the final day of your six-day trek, you’ll get to witness the iconic spectacle of the city carved into the rocks. If you want to avoid the large crowds that frequent this most popular part of the Jordan Trail, your hike might follow the Wadi Ghurab or Wadi Musa route. The route takes you through spectacular views of sandstone mountains, through the Nabataean trail, and skirts around one more mountain with an improved natural rock terrace.
The trail leads to a hidden plateau above the chasm of Wadi Siyyagh, offering an impressive view. Just a little bit further, you’re rewarded with the sight of ‘The Monastery.’
After an exhausting but extremely rewarding, journey of around 73km, you’ve finally reached Petra! And as you enter Petra, you’ll walk past temples, rock-cut tombs, and even a Roman-era theater. And lastly, you have your eyes on Petra’s most famous structure, the “Treasury.”
What to do in Petra City
Reaching the city is just half the fun during your Petra Jordan travel. Adding a few days to the itinerary gives the unmissable opportunity to enjoy more of what the entire trail hike has to offer when visiting Jordan.
Day Seven: Visiting Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Jordan. And it’s not hard to see why, with stunning red sandstone mountains and rolling valleys.
There are numerous things to do in Wadi Rum, from hiking and exploring the many ancient rock carvings to a Wadi Rum Jeep Tour. With a 4×4 Jeep, you can explore all the expansive desert offers in record time. You’ll have more to enjoy than you can take in, from the deep valleys, gorges, sand dunes, rock bridges, and ancient rock inscriptions.
Finally, you end the day by watching one of the best desert sunset views ever. Now, this makes up for the long trekking journey to this place.
Day Eight: Dead Sea Visit
From Wadi Rum, where you spent the night at Bedouin Camp, the next destination will be the Earth’s lowest point, the Dead Sea. Multiple rivers, including the River Jordan, feed the Dead Sea.
It has no outlet, meaning the water evaporates, leaving high concentrations of salt and minerals. You can enjoy floating on the sea’s extremely salty water, making it almost impossible for anyone to sink.
Additionally, the famous Dead Sea mud is said to be magical. So, you can also try that or even go for some spa experiences. This offers a fantastic way to relax the tired feet and legs after a long hike.
From the Dead Sea, it’s time to return to Amman city. Once in Amman, you can fly back home from the Queen Alia International Airport. Your Petra trek adventure is complete!
8 of Petra’s Most Stunning Features
Petra is an amazing destination and an experience of a lifetime. But reaching Petra at the end of an epic adventure through the wildest regions of Jordan is an adventure trek like no other on Earth.
A 73 km-long hiking adventure is exhausting, especially involving hills, valleys, and hot desert temperatures. So, what makes Petra so unique to make it worth the effort to pay a visit?
1) The Siq: Petra’s Main Entrance
As you start your Petra adventure, you’ll first notice the Siq. It’s a 1.2km long and narrow gorge, with some points a mere 3m in width, that leads to the ancient city.
The walls of the Siq can reach as high as 180m and are made of red, white, and pink sandstone. It’s a fantastic sight, especially when the sun shines and casts a beautiful light on the rocks. As you pass by old carvings and inscriptions on the rocks, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time.
2) Royal Tombs
Petra is home to some of the most impressive tombs in the world. These tombs were carved into the mountainside and served as burial chambers for ancient kings.
The most famous tomb is The Urn Tomb, one of Petra’s largest tombs. It was built high on the mountainside and was consecrated in the mid-first century.
The other tombs include the Palace Tomb, the Corinthian Tomb, and the Silk Tomb. They all show the extent of ancient ingenuity and how far human civilization has come.
3) Al Khazneh: The Treasury
At the end of the Siq is the most famous monument in Petra, the Al Khazneh (The Treasury). This unique structure was carved from a sandstone rock face, and it’s one of the most beautiful ancient structures. It forms the face of Petra.
This facade dates as far back as the 1st Century BC. And it’s undoubtedly a marvel that’s worth the long tour.
4) Al Deir: Petra’s Monastery
The Treasury is not the only impressive building here. The Treasury might be the most famous monument in Petra that comes to mind, but The Al Deir, known as The Monastery, is an even bigger structure. In fact, it’s the largest monument in Petra.
Al Deir is a Byzantine monastery cut into a mountainside. It has an impressive façade that offers a perfect view of Wadi Araba.
And like The Treasury, it’s also made of sandstone. The monastery was used as a place of worship and also for storage.
5) Ancient Churches
Petra has several ancient churches to its name. The first and most famous one is the Petra Church. Although it is one of the most recent additions to Petra, the church holds a significant place in the city’s history.
Petra Church is a Byzantine church built in the 5th century and remains a stunning monument to date. It is in the city’s center, built on an elevated ground, north of the famous Colonnaded Street. It’s among the three Byzantine churches in this area, the Blue Chapel and the Ridge Church being the others.
The Petra Church is famous mainly because of its astounding mosaic decoration, which is still well-preserved. Around 152 ancient papyrus scrolls were discovered in recent excavations in it. That makes the church a great source of ancient church history.
6) High Place of Sacrifice
This is one of the most significant religious sites in Petra. The High Place of Sacrifice is a platform on top of a mountain that offers stunning views of the valley and surrounding mountains.
It’s believed to be where ancient rituals and ceremonies were conducted. And there are still many remains that can be seen here, including altars and sacrificial tables. If you’re visiting during the summer months, you can catch the sunset from this spot.
7) Colonnaded Street and the Great Temple
Colonnaded Street is the main street in Petra and runs through the center of the ancient city. This street was once lined with shops and was a bustling hub of activity.
Today, it’s a beautiful sight with columns and stone carvings. At the end of the street is the Great Temple, one of the most significant structures in Petra. The Great Temple is undoubtedly among the most prominent structures, placed on the highest point in the city, which might indicate its importance for the city during that era.
8) Petra Theatre
Along the city’s main street stands the ruins of the once-great Petra Theatre. This was used for plays, concerts, and other public gatherings. It’s believed to have been built during the reign of King Aretas IV.
What makes this historical marvel unique is its design. The entire theatre was carved into a rock face that could entertain over 8,000 people. It’s so well preserved that it provides a valuable glimpse into the life of local people in its heyday.