Jordan_Kerak Castle and Dana Biosphere Reserve

First year in Jordan was like a continuous road trip throughout the country; in my opinion the best way to get to know the culture and to explore new places. One of the most exciting ones was the trip from Amman to Kerak Castle with an overnight-stay in Dana – the good part was definitely Dana, but decide it yourself from my story.

On our way south we stopped by Madaba for a falafel and hummus breakfast. During our first year living in Jordan there was almost no day without the traditional street food. Meanwhile, I got myself under control. 😉 Two hours’ drive after leaving Madaba, heading along the highway through Jordan’s drylands, Kerak Castle appeared from the distance. An extraordinary beautiful view worth a shot.

A few kilometres later we reached the castle’s entrance with lots of souvenir shops and people who offered their help. Immediately, a man started following us and insisted showing us around the castle. He told us a few interesting details like the one that the castle was built in typical Crusader architecture, with Romanesque-style, and he guided us to some ‘hidden’ underground corridors. Surely nice experience, but also true, nothing we wouldn’t have found ourselves. After 30 minutes touring that way I got a bit annoyed – and of course the guide would ask some money for the ‘not requested’ trip. We gave him 10 JOD what’s already quite a lot of money – but if one already loses shyness he certainly tries and ask for more; totally unusual for Jordan. However, we had to leave fast to avoid further discussion. Summarized, Kerak Castle is a trip worth when living or staying in Jordan for more than a vacation.

Next stop: Dana Biosphere Reserve. A beautiful and untouched area with exceptional biodiversity, which took us again a two hour ride and one more hour to find the exact entrance driveway. The driveway looked so natural and grown over with quite biodiverse plants, that I couldn’t imagine it’s the right way. I was at least hoping for a direction sign, but I guess it is part of the concept keeping everything very natural. Many of the Reserve’s animals and plants are very rare, even a road sign could probably already terrify. But learning it’s also home for the Sand Cat, which is severely endangered species, I certainly live with all that inconvenience. Unfortunately I haven’t seen one, but I made a photo of a poster; such a cute thing. That’s one of the beauties of this country – you never know what to expect and it’s always good for an adventure.

Almost night, we arrived at our accommodation, the Dana Hotel where Suleiman, our host, patiently awaited us. As for the usual Jordanian hospitality we were invited for a cup of tea in the Hotels Bedouin area. At least I named it like that. A super cosy place; I totally fell in love with the traditional Bedouin design furniture. I could have been sitting there for whole night, I could have even slept there, but this was before I saw our room. The room was actually a small house made of natural stone; inside modest but aesthetically furnished. Best part was the open shower, which had a sky view in a kind of a chimney waterfall style… however odd that may sound.

A few weeks later I bought a Bedouin style rug from a street vendor in Amman. Probably some subconscious effect from our Dana trip.

After a refreshing shower and a power nap we were ready to explore the village. Dana certainly is a really small village, but it has huge charm and fascinating natural surrounding. A place with cute little houses, a stunning view over the wadis and hospitable people. Better not be afraid in dogs – because there are many street dogs around. Some of them very cute but some are not, and I actually got into a pack fight. Strange experience.

After a cup of coffee in a small ‘restaurant’ a few minutes from our hotel, it was already dinner time. I was a bit afraid of getting falafel and hummus a third time this day, but it came different. I remember the food at the Dana Hotel tasted so delicious, very fresh ingredients, huge variety of vegetables, chicken, and rice with nuts lovely served. Stuffed, we ended the day, pleased by a cup of tea under a starry sky.

Next day was supposed for hiking. But high temperatures let us decide to leave early after breakfast to better spend the day at nearby the Dead Sea. Anyways, we are planning to come back this autumn for our hike in this wild and beautiful area. Always good to leave some things undone at such a place.

Cheers with sunbeams. ­­­