Hiking Wadi Dana to Feynan, Jordan
Greetings from Petra, Jordan.
Today will go down in the history of this blog aka “SHABL” as one of the more rewarding days of the trip. The fact that it was a perfect day without a cloud in sight is only a minor detail. Today myself, Abdul (my guide) & Mohammed (Bedouin Guide) hiked Wadi Dana all the way to the Feynan Eco-lodge which is about 14KM. Afterwards we visited the lodge, a Bedouin family and took the back route through the mountains into Petra. Let us go into further details…
At about 5:30am woke up like a kid on Christmas, perfect time for a sunrise photo over Wadi Dana, the problem was my iphone was acting weird, 5 minutes later the photo was taken but it wasn’t as cool, oh well. Passed out until 7:30 before getting the day going…
At 8:30AM we ran into Mohammed who would be our guide for the day and began the 14km hike to Feynan. The first part of this hike is very steep downhill with lots of loose rocks. Pay attention, yours truly was day dreaming about what was for dinner or whether to join some new social media network and bailed. Then bailed again later when my mind wandered, pay attention.
About 2-3KM in we saw some blue lizards and ibex. Ibex are small mountain goats who basically live their lives on the sides of really intense mountains. Had never seen legit mountain goats before, took some photos with my zoom camera, they didn’t come out so well, just take my word for it. At about this time we ran into a crew traveling by donkey…
The crew was a bunch of villagers from Dana dressed in army fatigues. Made some small talk, took some photos, had a laugh and they were on there way. A few minutes later my mind wandered again and bailed. For what it’s worth, broke my knees in a freak leg press accident 10 years ago so paying attention is part of it but really need to keep your legs bent, if you straighten them at all, you will skid.
We continue walking and take a break under some shade, see this random British guy walking at a fast pace, ask him what’s happening and he’s going for a walk for a few hours. Thought he had to be insane as the path was so steep, you’d need to be crazy to want to tire yourself out then hike back up, more on him later…
We continue hiking and run into the friendly villagers again. They are drinking tea and offer us some, I oblige and have 3 cups, delicious. It’s called “Bedouin Whiskey” as a joke, it’s delicious until you see them make it, seriously half a pound of sugar goes in there. It’s time to leave, we all leave together in a small caravan of sorts.
Get along with all of them, one gent in particular. He speaks little English, yours truly speaks little Arabic and we get along famously. He’s the guy you see in most of the photos, notably the one of him looking backwards on a donkey. Try my luck at riding on a donkey for a while, kinda felt bad for the little guy but they sure are reliable and sturdy.
We break for lunch and say farewell to our new friends, that is the last we ever see of them. We enjoy a nice packed lunch and make pleasant conversation with random laughter before drinking more tea. This is when I see how much sugar is put in. It’s one of those things I’ll always enjoy drinking but could never get myself to make at the “appropriate ratio”. We continue on our way…
At this point we’re 8-10km into the path and the sun is hitting us hard. You can see the heat coming off the rocks which surround us, we hear a flute being played, look up and see a Sheppard jamming by himself with the entire valley as his audience, the audience was vast yet deserted. Continue walking until we run into that British guy…
At this point we ask him if he wants anymore water, he had walked even further and has been backtracking for 1 hour. He just brought water, no lunch nothing. Try and push some water but he says he is fine. At this point think “I hope this guy makes it back, he has a LONG LONG way to go and a lot of it is uphill”. That’s the last we ever saw of him.
Continue on what is now starting to feel like a slight death march as yours truly isn’t exactly “Johnny Endurance” or “Johnny Adventure”. It was pleasant but like that time I went looking for a lost hunter in Tanzania, near the end you start feeling it. We start passing Bedouin tents. We continue until we find some shade and water, we rest and this random what appeared to be stray donkey shows up, drinks water, tips his hat and leaves, random.
At this point I’m like no more stops, let’s just motor to Feynan. The guide says “not long now” as we are about to round another corner, what a joker, we were there. Part of the reason this was so rewarding was that the first 2-3km I felt like I couldn’t make it, ran into the local villager who were hilarious and was loving it, afterwards found my rhythm and felt I could go on forever, was humbled near the end when we finally arrived and knew I didn’t have much left in me. Very glad this transpired.
We get to the Feynan Eco-Lodge and meet Nick, nice place, the photo of a room above is from there. The place is quite empty as it’s not prime time, too hot. He says most hike that trail in the winter, for good reason, I understand why. He shows us around and then we head to a Bedouin tent to see how they make the local bread and hang out with some kids. Mohammed also fills me in on many questions I had. The bread was tasty and the kids were cool.
The area is rich in history as well. There were copper mines there and as a result a long presence has been in the area. There are remnants of churches from an era whose name eludes me. Obviously Roman ruins and mass Christian graves. Christians were used as slaves in the copper mines by the Romans until the Romans adopted Christianity. The average age of the bodies found was 25-30, goes to show the conditions they worked in.
A gentleman in traditional get up and truck as old as myself shows up, he will be escorting us to Petra. Since we’re in Feynan, we’re going through a valley then cutting into the mountains which is dubbed the “back door to Petra”. It’s about 60KM and takes well over an hour…
The road is very tranquil and you barely pass a soul besides the odd goat herder or random vehicle that was filled with friendly faces all waving, tipping their hats or giving head nods of acknowledgement. We went through the valley filled with sand dunes until we hit the mountains.
Once you hit the mountains, the road changes drastically for the worse and it just winds and winds and winds, forever and forever more. You think you’re at the top, but you just don’t stop, you continue as the engine roars. Once the top is reached, the views are spectacular, in fact they are class the whole way up but all pale in comparison until the top.
You begin your descent and you’re almost there, you pass a small village where the local people who used to live in the historical site that is Petra were moved too. They are very pleasant and your hand will be tired from so much waving, as will your neck from head nodding. Drive a little further and you see Petra on the right, wow.
We’re in Petra now at the Marriott Petra Hotel. Was given a class room on the top floor and quite comfortable to say the least. The photo above is of sunset from my room and those below are of the room and pool.
Today was rewarding for numerous reasons and will always be held in high regard.
P.S: Check out the Aeroplan Blog, they just published my first photo contribution, more to come…
P.P.S: Lots of videos but the connection here is poor as I’m on an air card, will save them for a later date. FYI, all photos are from the iPhone.