Jordan Trail Dana to Petra How to Hike Lotus Eaters Travel

Having survived walking three different Camino de Santiago routes this Summer, we were keen to do some hiking when we visited Jordan. Upon researching and finding the Jordan Trail, we were full of glee and knew that we had to do it! This was how we came to trek the Jordan Trail from Dana to Petra. It was truly one of the best travel experiences that we have ever had!

Jordan Flag in Petra

We gladly share our detailed guide on how to book and walk this stretch of the Jordan Trail in the hope that you can enjoy this as much as we did.

  1. What is the Jordan Trail?
  2. Why walk the Jordan trail from Dana to Petra?
  3. How to organise a guided hike on the Jordan Trail for the Dana to Petra stretch
  4. Dana to Petra Trek Cost
  5. Specialist Tour Company
  6. Independent Tour
  7. How to arrange an independent tour
  8. Pros and Cons of Independent Booking
  9. Can you hike all the way to Petra on an independent tour?
  10. Group size with an independent tour
  11. How difficult is the Dana to Petra section of the Jordan trail?
  12. What to pack to walk the Jordan Trail from Dana to Petra
  13. Itinerary for walking the Dana to Petra section of the Jordan Trail
  14. Want to save this to read later?

What is the Jordan Trail?

The Jordan Trail runs from the North of Jordan in Umm Qays to Aqaba in the South of the country. In total, it is 670km and if you follow the recommended stages of the Jordan Trail official guide, hiking the entire trail would take you 40 days. More information can be found on the Jordan Trail official website – here.

It is best described as a rather difficult and complex trail. In fact, most of the route is not waymarked, there are many steep elevations and rocky tracks. Quite frankly, you’d have to be a very confident navigator and survivalist to attempt to go this trail alone. Even then, unless you have an overwhelming desire to get lost and end up with chronic dehydration, we would highly recommend walking with an experienced guide.

This is exactly what we chose to do on a recent trip to Jordan when we walked the Dana to Petra trail.

Why walk the Jordan trail from Dana to Petra?

The Dana to Petra section is by far the most accessible part of the Jordan Trail. This is the seventh section of the trail and spans 84km.

Firstly, it is far more likely that you will be able to find a guide to help you independently to walk this stretch, as opposed to other sections of the Jordan Trail which are less frequented. Additionally, Dana is less than 2 hours from Amman, making it relatively easy to get to the start of this trail when you are travelling on vacation to Jordan.

Not only that, but National Geographic named this hike one of the top 15 in the world. It truly is one of the most scenic hikes that you will ever experience.

You’ll walk through rivers, canyons and hike up steep mountains. You’ll see rock formations so spectacular that you will wonder why it has taken you so long to visit Jordan. You may meet Bedouins along the way, staying in camps under the stars and dining by candle light. And finally, you’ll walk into Petra seeing one of the great wonders of the world, knowing that you have walked their by your own steam.

How to organise a guided hike on the Jordan Trail for the Dana to Petra stretch

There are a few different ways that you could arrange a guided trip to hike the Jordan Trail from Dana to Petra. Here’s our guide to booking the Dana to Petra hike.

Dana to Petra Trek Cost

Firstly, a quick word on the cost of doing the Dana to Petra trek. As set out below, there are different ways to book the Dana to Petra hike.

If you choose to book through a specialist tour company (details below), the minimum you can expect to pay is $900. To get this price, you would have to shop around, as many companies charge significantly more than that.

We booked an independent tour that cost us around $280 – you cand find out more below.

If you walked this trek alone, without a guide and wild camping along the route, then it could be significantly cheaper. But, in our view at least, you’d have to be pretty barking mad to give that a go!

Specialist Tour Company

It’s relatively simple to book an organised tour to hike the Jordan Trail from Dana to Petra. Here are a few different specialists that offer this tour:

Independent Tour

Although the organised specialist tours have their appeal, we chose to do things a little more independently. As mentioned earlier, it is not recommended to walk the Jordan Trail without a guide, and also not recommended to walk it without some level of support with food and water. However, this doesn’t have to mean that you need to choose a full bells and whistles organised and expensive tour.

How to arrange an independent tour

In order to arrange a somewhat more independent tour, I contacted a few camp sites in Dana Nature Reserve and asked if any of them would be willing to help us trek from Dana to Petra on the Jordan Trail. To my delight, the Al Nawatef Eco Camp in Dana agreed to do just that! For 250 JOD (private) or 200 JOD (with others in a group), the Eco Camp owner arranged for us to hike the Jordan Trail for 3 days, inclusive of food, camping for 2 nights and a support crew for luggage. In GBP (as of 2022), this is approximately £300 for private tour or £250 with a group. This is vastly cheaper than the more organised tour providers which specialise in Jordan Trail hiking.

Pros and Cons of Independent Booking

There are pros and cons to booking a tour in this way. Firstly, many of the tourist sites around Jordan are very much in the business of organising and running tours. So, whilst it may seem odd to book a hiking trip through an accommodation provider, it is quite common to do this in Jordan. Therefore, you can (mostly) feel assured that the trip will be well organised, and everything will be taken care of.

Clearly, a pro is also the significant cost difference. The price we paid for our tour was at least 75% cheaper than other specialist options. However, our trip was 3 days and 2 nights. Many of the more specialist trips are longer.

We had an absolutely incredible experience booking this tour through Nawatef Eco Camp and could not have asked for anything better! We were fully looked after, everything was very organised, and our guide was absolutely INCREDIBLE. Not only was he an expert on the various hiking pathways, but he was also warm and kind and looked after us for the entire hike. Even though he didn’t speak English (and we couldn’t communicate much Arabic to him) we missed him as soon as we finished the tour!

The only advice that I would provide to anyone booking through Nawatef Camp, or similar tour operators, is that you may need to be prepared to relinquish a little control and trust that everything is organised for you. With a specialist Jordan Trail hiking tour, you’ll receive an itinerary, detailed information, an English-speaking guide, packing lists and clear guidance on what to expect every day. With the tour that we booked, there was less certainty as to what exactly we ought to expect. But, you could argue, that this makes it more fun!

Can you hike all the way to Petra on an independent tour?

I will provide more detail on this below, but one other drawback of booking a tour through an independent provider, is that you will not be able to complete the hike all of the way into Petra. There are a limited number of “official guides”, who are allowed to take tours hiking into Petra. Subsequently, our hike ended in Little Petra. However, as I will explain below, you are able to independently continue the hike into Petra proper, should you choose to.

Group size with an independent tour

The other thing to be aware of if you do book a tour in this way, is that it’s unlikely to be a large group. We were joined by two other (delightful!) hikers who made excellent company. But you could inadvertently end up on a private tour if nobody else books to hike the Jordan Trail from Dana to Petra on the same days.

If you wanted to, you could also consider advertising for others who are looking to do the same hike from Dana on Facebook or other forums. This may mean that you could share the costs of doing an independent tour (it’s likely to cost less per person if you’re a larger group) and also meet like-minded travellers before you head off to Jordan.

Personally, we enjoyed the smaller group atmosphere. In a larger group (some of the tours may have 20 people on), there can be a bit of difficulty finding a pace for everyone to walk at, and I imagine, quite a bit of debate about when to take breaks. Conversely, this offers a chance to meet lots of people!

How difficult is the Dana to Petra section of the Jordan trail?

The distances you will cover each day are not huge – around 18 to 25km per day. If you’re used to hiking for 6 or more hours, then this should feel OK for you. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that the hike is easy based on the distances. Due to the challenging terrain, you are likely to average around 3km/h as a maximum. On a fairly flat terrain, most people would walk around 5km/h, so the Jordan trail is significantly slower. This can mean that some days you are walking for 8 hours plus breaks.

The terrain under foot is inconsistent, sometimes you’ll be walking through water on riverbeds, at other times there are sharp rocks, or sand under foot. Be prepared for uneven ground, as well as steep climbs up and down. On the second day of this hike, we climbed around 1000m up.

The other challenge for anyone walking this stretch, is the heat. Make sure that you are well prepared for this. There are parts of the hike during which you can find shade, but this is not always consistent.

We would say that we have a “moderate to good” level of fitness, and whilst there were moments when we found this hike challenging, overall, we felt that it was very achievable with enough breaks and rest overnight.

What to pack to walk the Jordan Trail from Dana to Petra

We walked the Dana to Petra stretch of the Jordan Trail in late October. At this time of year, you will need to pack multiple layers to prepare for both extreme heat and colder weather.

  • Hiking Boots – although trainers could suffice if you’re confident and injury free
  • Waterproof or quick dry shoes with a decent tread – these are for walking through water in Wadi Ghuweir
  • Trousers and shorts for walking
  • A couple of quick dry hiking tops
  • One warmer layer or jumper
  • A windbreaker or light hiking jacket for cooler mornings and evenings
  • A change of clothes for the evening to wrap up by the fire
  • Warm clothing for sleeping in the tent overnight (particularly in the Ras Al Feid area)
  • Personal Items, basic toiletries etc.
  • Suncream – ideally factor 50 or something strong enough to defend against the dessert sun
  • A hat or scarf to protect your head from the sun
  • A battery pack – you won’t consistently have access to electricity
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Wet wipes, tissue or toilet roll as well as a ziplock bag to seal any used toilet tissue (yes, there will be a lot of opportunities for using the “nature toilet”)
  • Extra snacks in case you aren’t given enough lunch
  • A large (at least 2.5 litre) water carrier – I got through more than this each day, approx 3.5 litres, but basically as much as you can carry to be on the safe side

If you book a tour, they will no doubt carry your luggage for you in a vehicle. But make sure you keep any items you need during the day in your backpack when you hike.

For more information for female travellers about what to wear in Jordan, our article here provides a detailed guide.

Itinerary for walking the Dana to Petra section of the Jordan Trail

As we booked an independent tour, we took a slightly different route at times to the main Jordan Trail. We weren’t far off, but our expert guide knew the terrain like the back of his hand and was able to find short cuts.

This is the itinerary that we followed:

Day One: Dana Nature Reserve to Wadi Al Ghwer Camp

The first day started in Dana from our camp, with incredible views out across mountains. We entered canyons, walking through water before finding our camp for the night. This was a hot day of walking with temperatures increasing as descended from Dana, but there was plenty of shade inside the canyon.

Distance: 24km

Highlights:

  • The initial views across the sandstone mountains of Wadi Dana
  • Walking into Wadi Ghuweir and seeing the incredible rock formations
  • The swing in Wadi Ghuweir is so much fun and a totally unexpected surprise – get someone to give you a good push!

Challenges: Today, there were two factors that made this hike challenging. Firstly, early on (at least on the route that we walked), there were some quite steep ledges that required a lot of concentration to avoid slipping. Secondly, there was about 4km walking through water in Wadi Ghuweir The walking is easy for the most part, although there is one section crossing a small waterfall that requires a bit of flexibility to clamber around a rock. The main challenge is getting the footwear right to make this as pleasant a walk as possible. Water shoes or sandals (with some grip) could work well, but you may find this painful under foot. If hiking boots are water proof, this could work well. Otherwise, trainers that dry quickly would be best. We walked this route in late October and the river is passable, but it can be more challenging later into winter.

Top Tip: Pack water shoes or appropriate footwear for walking through water.

Overnight: The official Jordan trail stop is at Feynan Eco Lodge. We stayed instead at a camp in Wadi Al Ghwer (here), which is very close to the Eco Lodge. This camp was quite basic, but had hot water and everything that we needed. Our hosts cooked us a large dinner whilst we watched the sunset and slept very well.


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Day Two: Wadi Al Ghwer Camp to Ras Al Feid

The next day started at 07:30, we made an early start to attempt to arrive at Ras Al Feid before it became too cold. Day 2 was a shorter hike by distance but still required 6 – 8 hours of walking due to the steep climbs.

Distance: 17km

Highlights:

  • Climbing from rock to rock felt like a proper hiking adventure as we made our way up the mountain
  • Getting to the top to see views over stunning Wadi Araba
  • Watching the sunset at the camp in Ras Al Feid is very special, with the camp perfectly placed to provide a full display

Challenges: Over the course of this day of walking, you will climb in excess of 1000m. There is a fairly clear path as you clamber up the rocks but it is hard going with some of the rocks requiring a bit of gritty effort as you climb. There is also a steep uphill section on road (dirt track) as you approach the camp in the last 5km. This can be very exposed to the sun with little shade available for respite.

Top Tip: As you climb up today, it can become chilly in the shade. Pack layers to ensure you can keep warm during breaks.

Overnight: Ras Al Feid is a wild camping area, therefore you need to arrange camping equipment. Our hosts had organised and set up the camp here for our arrival. We then enjoyed a traditional Bedouin BBQ and music around the fire before some star gazing. There are no showers, toilets or electricity available.

Day Three: Ras Al Feid to Little Petra

Day Three started early for us and it was a cold morning leaving the heights of Ras Al Feid. This was another stunning day of hiking across sandstone ravines before arriving at a 360-degree viewing spot with Little Petra and Petra in the distance.

Distance: 22km

Highlights:

  • Stunning views from Mount Safaha
  • Starting to emerge to see Little Petra and Petra in the distance
  • Spotting a wild camel, which our guide soon had to chase away
  • More climbing up rocky terrain to reach the incredible views

Challenges: Despite a cold start in the morning, as we left Ras Al Feid, the sun was soon heating up. We climbed for approximately 4km in the heat, which was punishing to say the least. Approaching Little Petra, there are some challenging downhill pathways with loose rocks, making the descent quite slow.

Overnight: We moved on to stay in Petra main town (Wadi Musa), but there are some accommodation options in Little Petra if you choose to stay there and continue your walk from Little Petra. Check out the Jordan Trails official website for more information.

Day Four: Little Petra to Petra

Our organised tour stopped in Little Petra. However, we had accommodation arranged in Petra (Wadi Musa.) Therefore, we chose to stay in Petra and instead walk just the “Back door” to Petra hike via the Monastery. This ended up being a slightly practical decision which was in part also required as we needed to go to the visitor centre in Petra to get our tickets for Petra before completing the back door hike.

For an easier day, we would highly recommend the back door walk, which is a wonderful way to enter Petra. It starts here, is easily accessible and marked on Google Maps. Taxi drivers in Petra will be able to drop you at the start of the trail.

If you choose to walk this route we would recommend starting early. It is extremely well publicised as a hike and therefore gets very busy. If you arrive in Petra early, you’ll also get a chance to enjoy a full day there too!

If you would rather walk the full route from Little Petra to Petra, details of the route can be found on the Jordan Trails website here.

We will be publishing a detailed guide on Petra shortly with more information on how to get the most from your visit.


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21 responses to “Jordan Trail Dana to Petra: How to Hike”

  1. […] Walking the Jordan Trail – read here […]

  2. Nancy Klein avatar

    Wow. That sounds great! Thanks for all the detailed information about this hike. We must check out Jordan one of these days. We had already heard lots of good things about it and your post gives me more motivation to go there.

    1. lotuseaters.travel avatar

      It was a truly amazing hike and the organisers of ours were so kind and friendly. Glad to hear you are thinking of doing it.

  3. Ruth avatar

    That sounds like a fabulous hike. I was lucky enough to stay in Wadi Rum but my kids were small so we went by jeep. This would be great to do now they are grown up!

    1. lotuseaters.travel avatar

      Oh fab, we are actually in Wadi Rum now. Wonderful place

      1. Ruth avatar

        Isn’t it amazing? I hope it’s warm enough to sleep outside. So envious.

      2. lotuseaters.travel avatar

        Sadly not warm enough to sleep outside. But it’s been very pleasant weather.

  4. ronmitchelladventure avatar

    Thank you for this excellent share of information and experience on your hike. We are considering a change of plans based on your post.

    1. lotuseaters.travel avatar

      Ron that’s nice of you to say! Curious to know what we said that made you change your plans. Really glad it was helpful.

      1. ronmitchelladventure avatar

        For upcoming travels, we decided to roam on our own instead of arriving on a prearranged tour. Plus, Aqaba is now on the list. Thank you!

  5. Mike and Kellye Hefner avatar

    Wow! This is an amazing trail. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  6. wetanddustyroads avatar

    Wow, we’ll definitely have to add this one to the list – it looks amazing! How much fun that swing must be! And surprisingly, your food looks delicious. Petra … hmm, can’t wait to read more about your visit here! But the hiking trail was fun (says the one laying on the couch 😉) – thanks for sharing it with all the info!

  7. brilliantviewpoint avatar

    Excellent review of your trip. Looks beautiful.

  8. jenne49 avatar

    So interesting and informative. I’m not in this part of the world and am unlikely to visit – age, finances, oh, lots of things – but I love learning about new places. And who knows, you might be providing the setting for a future story. Travel well! 🙂

    1. lotuseaters.travel avatar

      That’s sweet of you, go well

  9. […] take heed of safety advice and guidance from your camp site hosts. Fresh from walking part of the Jordan Trail, we took a few independent hikes in the area and found this really […]

  10. Theresa [Hey, Traveler] avatar

    This sounds intense and badass. Thanks for a glimpse into the experience – I’m not sure it’s one I’ll ever have!

    1. lotuseaters.travel avatar

      Thanks for saying Theresa! It was a but narly. But we wanted more by the end.

  11. […] You would need to allow 3 to 5 days for this walk. This may seem like a big chunk of time, but the sights you’ll see will wow you so much, that it’s guaranteed to be worth it. If you’re interested and want to read more, our guide on how to walk the Dana to Petra Jordan Trail is available here. […]

  12. Márcio Santos avatar
    Márcio Santos

    Hello. First of all, congratulations for your excellent guide to Jordan Trail. I’m still exploring it. Thank you so much! Please, do you have any contact of Nawatef Eco Camp? I’m trying to organize an independent hike, just myself, in April. Thank you again.

    1. lotuseaters.travel avatar

      Hello! So pleased that you find it useful. The camp doesn’t have a website, but the number listed on their google page is +962777240378. We booked via Booking.com and contacted them through messenger on that site. Good luck!

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