Simply.Just.Walking

peace is every step

Dana Biosphere Preserve

Two hours south of Amman and close to King’s Highway lies the Dana Biosphere Reserve. My son Lorenz and his wife Ale joined us for a two day hiking experience.

For the Wadi Dana trail (16km), we started in the almost abadoned 15th century village of Dana (1700 m), and walked down  to Feynan Ecolodge (50 m below sea level). At the start, heavy  mist covered the valley, wonderful relief from the burning sun.  Birds were chirping, a sound not so common anymore in Jordan. The area is home to 180 species of birds and 600 species of plants. Mammals like ibex, foxes and wolfes live here. 

Having lunch under a shady tree
The area of the preserve is rich in copper. 6000 years ago, copper mining started in the valley. Over 100 archeological sites document this history. The Jordan government does not allow copper mining anymore.

A taxi picked us up from Feynan Ecolodge. We were told that it is a two hour car drive to come  back to Dana Guesthouse (the place we were staying overnight.

Feynan Ecolodge, reachable only by 4WD
However, the car soon had a problem. It only  could only drive in the 4th gear without stopping. This worked OK in the Wadi Araba, the flat desert although there was no airconditioning and it was very hot. But as soon as we started to climb up to Dana, the car completely broke down. We had to get out and wait for a replacement.

With a sip of Whiskey, we enjoyed the sunset and the view to the Dead Sea. It took almost an hour for the next taxi to arrive.

The next day, we decided to hike the Al Ghuweir trail, a trail leading along a riverbed and through a Siq. Lorenz drove with his 4WD from Shobak castle down a windy, steep road to the entrance of the trail.

Soon the trail narrowed into the Siq. The shade was such a relief from yesterday!

We were prepared to swim through part of  the Siq, but there was no water at all. At one point, a rope was leading over a rock to the lower part. The place was described as the “waterfall”. Anna-Sophie climbed down and went farther into the Siq.

We had lunch and ate for desert a melted Austrian Zotter chocolate. Yummy!

In the evening, we picked up my car at the Shobak visitor center. After we drank tea with mint and sugar, the peope of the visitor center showed us typical Bedouine objects.

Between Petra and Wadi Rum

 It would take 6 days of hiking from Petra to Wadi Rum. Anna-Sophie and I hiked part of the trek for one day. We started in an area where heavy fighting took place between Israel and Jordan in 1967. A cemetery of fallen soldiers was speaking of this


We hiked down into a wadi with hardly any path visible. The uneven ground was scattered with many rocks and boulders and required utter attention. Our Bedouine guide Yusuf was looking for a dry stick for me to use as a staff. It helped. He could not speak English, but pointed to many interesting sites and plants.



In the middle of nowhere, a Beduine family guarding their goats invited us for tea. They were extremely nice and welcoming. When I asked if I can take a photo, they posed with their weapons.

Farther down the valley, we passed some places with water still in the creek.


Our host picked us up in the evening. He prepared  a typical Jordanian meal for us consisting of pieces of lamb, tomatoes, onion, potatoe, garlic and coreander. It was delicious!

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum, the biggest Wadi in Jordan, is located in the south of Jordan and dedicated as a World Heritage site. Because of it’s beauty, Anna-Sophie wanted to do some hiking in it. We were picked up by Obeid at the visitor center, a Bedouine owning the Bedouine Life Camp. We spent two nights in his camp, a wonderful experience!
We slept outside our tent under the bright milky way and the Andromeda galaxy. Our dinner called Zarb was prepared in a cooking pit. For centuries, the Bedouines cooked their food underground in earthen ovens.

Obeid inviting us to dinner

A year ago, I had a very unpleasant experience on a camel ride. The camel threw me off. In order to overcome my fear of camels, I decided to ride a camel again. We started at 6 am in the morning, just before sunrise.

This time, an experienced Bedouine was  leading the group of camels, which were connected by a rope. They were calm. Anna-Sophie was riding on a mother camel with the baby trotting close by.


We hiked through a wadi close to the visitor center. The newly married son of Obeid was our guide. It was hard to walk in the sand, the sand was constantly filling my shoes. When it was cooler, I took off my shoes and walked barefoot. It is not the Bedouine way!

 
Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon,  is 278 sq mi. One has to use a camel or 4-wheel drive to get around. Obeid’ s son was driving us to different places.

At the place where the movie of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed in 1962, we stopped for tea. Down below you see Obeid’s son.

 


We also saw Nabatean petroglyphs and the place where Lawrence of Arabia lived for a while.

 

Three days hiking in Petra and surrounding

The area my daughter Anna-Sophie and I are hiking in is the cradle of Western civilization.  9000 years ago, people started to cultivate the land and domesticate plants and animals.The land was fertile with lots of trees and water. Now it is desert caused by constant exploitation of the resources.


Bayda, a Neolithic settlement near Little Petra. The settlement is as old as Jericho and is considered one of the earliest farming settlements in the Middle East.

A Neolithic house. At nearly 40 degree Celsius, this house had a fresh breeze and felt cool.

For three days, Anna-Sophie and I hiked different trails in Petra and Little Petra. In Little Petra, our Beduine guide Khaleb showed us many over 2000 year old water cisterns carved into the rock, water canals and tombs. They were done by the Nabateans.

We walked through narrow passages, over ancient stairs and steep smooth rocks. The red sand stone reminded us of Arizona. Our  guide showed us a tree with kakao beans- they tasted delicious!

In the photo below, you see a Bedouine who had used the traditional eye make up called Kohl to protect his eyes from ailment. Kohl is made by grinding a mineral called stibnite. It is the same the Egyptians used.

The next day, our hike in Petra started at 6 am. For the first 3 hours we walked with the guide Jusuf. He told us that at one time, 60 000 people lived in this place. It was a -trading center for incense, cardamon and amber. Camel caravans stopped here on their way to Damascus and India. Two major earthquakes ( 4th and 6th century) destroyed the water system, the people left and the place was abandoned.

Siq into Petra

 


 

In the evening, we walked up to the monastery and continued the path in the direction of Little Petra. Our host, Shady, waited for us at the road that hardly can be called a road – luckily, he had four wheel drive.


Anna- Sophie, fascinated by a white blooming flower.

 

 

 

Over centuries, the area was invaded by different peoples- Romans, Crusaders, Saladin, Mamluks  and Osmans. Each civilization left a footprint. We were told that the most destructive footprint for the environment was done by the Osmans who cut all the trees down in order to build a railway. This lead to the desertification of the land.

We visited Shobak Castle, built by the crusaders. The whole area is called Shobak meaning forest. Only a few trees are left. A tunnel with 365 stairs cut into the rock led down to a well. At the end, we had climb up an about 10 m vertical shaft to the surface. The well still had water.

 

Shobak castle with visitor center in the front

 


Anna-Sophie climbing out of the deep shaft

Grosser Stubaier Höhenweg, day seven

There was a lot of  uncertainties at breakfast if to continue the hike to the Innsbrucker Hütte or descend into the valley. Only when the hut host went from table to table and strongly advised against hiking to the Innsbrucker Hütte, I decided to follow his recommendation. In the night, many mudslides around the area swept away part of the path and blocked roads down in the valley. In two days, more rain was falling than normally in the whole of August. Except of one adventurous Dutch man, everybody else  walked into the valley. Enormous amount of water rushed down from every direction.  One time, I did not ckeck a puddle on the path and sank in to my knee. As I did alteady the last part of the hike several weeks ago, it was not too hard to stop the tour. Still, I would have preferred to finish the circle. 

Grosser Stubaier Höhenweg, day six

The weather forecast was bad- rain and snow over 2000m. However, in early morning the sky above was clear! Heavy clouds blanketed the vally down below.  Today, I walked the shortest section to the Bremerhütte.  Many iron ropes and iron clamps secured the way. A tiny stone house stood on the top of the pass- I was told that it was a former custom house, marking the border between Austria and Italy. When I arrived at the Bremer Hütte around noon, it started to rain. Tomorrow, the section will include a via ferrata ( secured climbing path) and is the longest distance so far. If the weather continous to be bad, I will have to descend into the valley and finish my hike.

Grosser Stubaier Höhenweg, day five

This day was a long day, as I combined two stages into one. When I left the Dresdner Hütte at 6:30 am, heavy mist was hiding everything around, except the immidiate surrounding. The rain made the path slippery and treacherous. At the start of my walk, I stepped on a nearly polished rock and slipped,  Luckily, I did not injure myself. After that, I was extremely careful! Soon, the mist disappeared. The weather was so beautiful that I climed the nearly 3000 m high Grossen Trögler. Heavy wind made it difficult to balance. After having lunch at the  Sulzenauhütte, the path was leadig up to the turquois green Grünau See and into another High Valley. Rain and hail started when I climed over a moutain pass secured by iron ropes and iron stairs. After nine hours of walking,  I was happy to arrive safely at the Nürnberger Hütte.

« Older posts

© 2017 Simply.Just.Walking

Site by SimplyWillUp ↑