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Eight-day Jordan road trip with hiking in Dana nature reserve

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We travelled to Jordan in late March 2024 during our Easter break. We rented a car for an eight-day Jordan road trip with hiking in Dana nature reserve, with hotels booked in advance. Eight days is too short, and our itinerary is more compressed than usual for us. We started in the area around the Dead Sea, drove south to the Dana Nature Reserve where we hiked Wadi Ghuweir and Wadi Dana, with a night at the recommendable Feynan Ecolodge.

Petra followed next, and we had two days which allowed us to see the main sites and to hike a full day in lesser-visited areas. South of Petra is the desert of Wadi Rum, where we stayed in a desert camp and had a jeep tour in the unique landscapes. From Wadi Rum we would have continued to Aqaba for snorkling if we had more time, but instead we drove north to Madaba to stay close to the airport before flying home. 

We had planned this trip before. In 2020 it was cancelled due to the pandemic, and in 2022 we cancelled because Tobias was ill with ME. We were grateful to be able to make this trip we had dreamed of for many years. 

Danish passport holders need a visa for Jordan. It can be bought in advance in combination with a Jordan Pass, which includes entrance to many sites, including Petra. There is a bit to save when buying the Jordan Pass. 

We travelled during ramadan. We were aware and wanted to be respectful, but as tourists we might not have noticed if we didn’t know. We had brought snacks and light meals, to manage without eating out. All the hotels we stayed at had restaurants that were open all day, and the same was true for the restaurants in Petra. The guide in Wadi Rum made lunch for us during the tour.

Late-night arrival

We arrived in Amman’s airport at 22:30, and passed immigration and baggage claim reasonably fast. We had bought an Airalo Esim and activated that with the airport WiFi while waiting for baggage. 

Many local and international car rental companies operate in Jordan. We booked a Kia Sportage with Europcar. The model we had booked was not available, so the agent upgraded us to a Geely Azkarra. We would have preferred the Kia. Picking up the car was efficient, and we were quickly on the road towards the Dead Sea.

The site where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan river

The road was in good condition, and there was not much traffic around midnight. We were stopped at police check points a few times, and these were not the last. It seemed that tourists are simply waved onwards with a friendly “welcome to Jordan”. The police take security seriously. None of the officers we met were looking for bribes and all were very polite. Towards the Dead Sea, Google maps suddenly started showing us towards non-existing roads. It turned out that all our phones believed we were in Cairo, Egypt. The road signs were easy to follow, so we made it without the navigation app.  

Floating in the Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea

All Dead Sea hotels are large international resorts, that are grouped in the north end of the lake. We had booked two nights at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort, and checked in at 01:00. After a short night we had a slow morning. The weather was sunny with fresh temperatures around twenty degrees. 

Day one. Jesus’ baptism site and the Dead Sea

We drove to the Baptism Site of Jesus at the Jordan river. Again, Google maps intermittently changed between our actual location and Cairo. We learned that the GPS signal in the area is spoofed, probably by Israel. This apart, driving in Jordan was easy and hassle-free.

The Baptism site is a place of pilgrimage, and also one of the places where you can get close to the Jordan river, which marks the border with Israel. It has a visitor centre, from where you but mandatory tickets to guided tours, that take you to the main sites. The area is maintained well and with respect to the history of the place. 

Back at the Hilton Dead Sea, we walked to the beach and floated in the salty lake. The Life Guard offered to cover us in Dead sea mud, to benefit from the healing qualities.

The Wadi Mujib viewpoint on King’s highway

Day two. King’s highway, Karak castle and Dana Nature Reserve

The next day we drove south on King’s highway, which roughly follows ancient military and trade routes, but it neither grandiose or a grand highway. It took us through small villages and offered a glimpse of everyday life. It does however also pass by the Wadi Mujib damn, where there is a viewpoint that offers a great panorama – don’t miss that.

What much of King’s highway looks like

Further south, we stopped at the crusader castle of Karak, impressive for the size and interesting for the role it played in historic events.

The Karak Crusader castle

In the afternoon we arrived at Dana Eco Lodge right on the edge of Dana Nature Reserve. The Eco Lodge has amazing views across Dana Canyon, but it was windy and cold when we were there, and in those conditions it was a rough place to stay.

Sunset at Dana Eco Lodge. It was a cold and rough place to stay, but the views were unbeatable
Sunrise over Dana canyon (Wadi Dana) in the Dana Nature Reserve

Day three and four. Hiking Wadi Ghuweir and Wadi Dana trails

The next morning we left the car in Dana, and were driven to Al Mansour village, to the trailhead of the Wadi Ghuweir hike. Wadi Ghuweir is a canyon in the Dana Nature reserve. It is an incredibly beautiful day hike. The canyon has steep sides where palm trees grow. At places we rappelled with improvised ropes, and waded through the pools.

Read a separate post about the hikes here, where you will also find the map.

Sunset hike with tea at Feynan Eco Lodge

We stayed at the unique and award-winning Feynan Eco Lodge in Dana nature reserve.

Feynan Eco Lodge is lit be candles produced in a local community. There is no electricity in the rooms.

From Dana Nature Reserve, we drove further south on King’s highway towards Petra, where we had planned two full days. Petra is huge, and with one day we would only see the absolute highlights.

Day Five and Six. Petra

Many people recognise the Treasury in Petra from movies and brochures

On the first day we walked through the Siq to the Treasury, in the footsteps of Indiana Jones. We visited the central parts of the Nabatean capital. 2000 years ago, water was channeled into the city, where 30.000 people lived and prospered from the caravans passing through. The carved-out facades are the visible remains from a people that had connections both east and west. Petra was finally conquered by the Romans, and the Nabatean cities became part of the Roman empire. As trade routes moved north, the importance of Petra decreased.


In the afternoon we bought nuts at a stall, and Tobias had some. We realised too late that the nuts may have been contaminated with gluten. Tobias started feeling nauseous an hour later, and we hurried back to the hotel.


On day two, Tobias was tired and not feeling well, from the gluten he had the day before. Helle and Peter took the free shuttle bus to Little Petra. We wanted to hike from little Petra to the Treasury, and from there via small trails back to the Siq.

Little Petra is also a siq (slot canyon) with many carved-out facades. When we left the siq, we were on a large mountain plateau that is part of the Petra area. Local beduin live in the area, and their 4×4 tracks criss-crossed the area. We used a navigation app to choose the trails we wanted to follow.

The little-used trail from Little Petra to the Treasury

We walked little-used trails through amazing landscapes and met nobody else. The landscape was similar to what we had seen in Dana Nature Reserve. It is possible to walk between the two areas, by following sections of the Jordan Trail.

After several hours we reached the Monastery, and walked back to the main square from there. It is the largest facade in Petra. And yes, it is Helle in front of the huge door at the photo on the right!

From the main square we continued towards the siq via the marked trail to the “High place of sacrifice”. Few people go there, but it is as spectacular as the main sites, but more subtle. With every turn, there were more Nabatean facades. The view from the high place itself is great, and it gives a new perspective on Petra.

Day seven. Wadi Rum

Tobias was feeling better, and we left Petra in the morning. We were heading to the desert of Wadi Rum. We were staying at Desert Magic camp, one of the many similar camps in Wadi Rum. We were directed to a car park in a nearby village, where we were picked up by the owner of the camp and driven to the camp, where we checked in the chalets with panorama desert view. It is located very close to the village nearby, where other camps are further into Wadi Rum, which may bring a more secluded feel.

There are more than sixty camps for tourists, some have amenities similar to a hotel. We saw camps and 4×4’s everywhere.

Wadi Rum is a desert surrounded by picturesque sandstone cliffs hundreds meter tall. There are many small canyons and natural stone bridges, and it has been used in many film sets. It is popular with serious climbers and especially with tourists like us who want to experience the desert without leaving modern comforts behind.

Wadi Rum volleyball with guides and guests

We had a guided, six-hour jeep tour in a very worn Landcruiser. The tour included lunch and sunset, with stops for walks and photos at the main tourist sites. Wadi Rum really is amazingly beautiful, and the many camps and 4×4’s doesn’t distract too much.

Our guide was difficult to understand, and communication was at a very basic level. During stops, he took a nap in the car. But he also made an effort to entertain. At one stop there was a volleyball and a net, and he proved himself a capable volleyball player who had a fun day.

Day eight and nine. Dead Sea highway to Madaba

Wadi Rum was essentially our last part of the itinerary. If we had had more time, we have taken a few days to snorkle in the Red Sea, but instead we drove the Dead Sea highway north to Madaba, where we spent the night before flying home.

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