The Dana Biosphere Reserve: Natural Beauty and Ecological Importance

The Dana Biosphere is one of the most important natural areas in Jordan. At the meeting of 3 continents, Dana is significant because it’s home to 4 ecosystems in a relatively compact area. The reserve’s importance and gorgeous scenery is why Time named Dana one of the World’s Greatest Places in 2021.

Dana is also Jordan’s largest nature reserve. It covers an area of 300 square km, with altitudes ranging from 1700 m (5570 ft) on its east side to -50 m (-160 ft) on the west. The variety of ecosystems and the reserve’s protected status mean plants and wildlife can thrive despite the arid conditions. So far, 700 plants, 180 birds, 37 mammals, and 36 reptile species have been identified in Dana. To learn more about biospheres and Dana’s ecological significance, check out UNESCO’s helpful article here.

A trail runs along the Wadi Dana Valley in the Dana Biosphere Reserve

Thankfully, access to the reserve is not limited to researchers and scientists, but is open to the public. And the abundance of hiking trails means travelers can easily explore all that Dana has to offer.

The Dana Biosphere: Walks and Hikes for AllA gently flowing stream runs along the base of Wadi Ghuweir in the Dana Biosphere Reserve
The Dana Biosphere is often associated with hiking and trekking, and for good reason. The reserve has a variety of trails that offer sweeping views of the valley, take you through picturesque wadis, and allow you to experience its diverse plant and wildlife. From 2-hour introductory hikes to multi-day treks, there’s a trail for pretty much every skill level.

You can do a short hike in Dana during a stopover on your way to Shobak Castle or Petra. Or plan a couple longer walks with an overnight at the Dana Guesthouse. Or disconnect from it all for a couple days of hiking and cultural activities at the award-winning Feynan Eco-lodge, on Dana’s western front.

Note: For safety reasons, several of Dana’s trails close during the winter months. Some trails require a guide year-round. Because of this, it’s good to plan your itinerary in advance (see Lonely Planet’s Jordan guide for great descriptions of Dana’s trails). Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) is responsible for deciding on trail availability.