Dana VillageApril 17 in Jordan
Our driver Fahdi, ( also known as Abu Hamza -Father of Hamza) with whom we have spent the last four days, drove us in the late afternoon to the old village of Dana located at the edge of Jordan's Dana Biosphere Reserve. Established by Jordans's Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature , it is Jordan’s largest nature reserve, covering some 320 square kilometers of spectacular mountains and wadis along the face of the Great Rift Valley. The Reserve is home to a great variety of plants and animals characteristic of true desert, of Mediterranean forests and of the dry plains of Russia. Many of these are endangered which makes this a place of global importance.
The Dana Village area has been occupied since about 4,000 BCE by many civilizations such as the Egyptians, Nabateans and Romans attracted by the fertile soil, water springs, and the strategic location. Today, it is home to the clans of the “Al Ata’ata” tribe, which settled in the area during the Ottoman period, about four hundred years ago, and built the present village. Over the years, many of the families i moved to the nearby village of Qadissiya, in search of better jobs, schools, and housing. The crumbling Dana Village was nearly abandoned. However, the Friends of Dana, a dynamic women’s group in Amman, raised the funds to restore over 70 of the traditional stone houses , enabling some families to remain in the village and to provide tourist lodging to visitors.
Once we were settled into the Dana Guest House, we took a sunset stroll around the hilly village, viewing the restored homes and those that still are in ruins. We were told by our hiking guide the next day that the RSCN plans to spend $2 million US dollars restoring additional homes over the next few years. Today, there are just a few hostels and budget hotels located in the old Ottoman structures; the visitors to this off the beaten path village are mostly European millennials travelling through Jordan as well as a few European hiking groups.
We stopped along the way to buy some snacks from a resident operating a "convenience store" in one of the alleyways. Definitely not your usual depanneur. Having read on Trip Advisor that the "buffet style dinner" at the Dana Guest House left something to be desired, we found a little restaurant called "Finians Way" The restaurant was nothing more than a few beat up tables and old school chairs on top of the roof of a house and a few more inside spots on the first floor , but the meal was superb Jordanian home cooking. A one pot affair of slow-cooked chicken, potatoes, peppers, onions and tomatoes ! We watched the sunset along with some fellow Canadian travellers and headed to bed early, ready for our 12 kilometer walk the next morning from Dana Village to Feynan.Read more