Everything You Need to Know Before Hiking From Dana to Petra

Dana Biosphere Reserve
Dana Biosphere Reserve | © Grant & Maassen / WikiCommons
Photo of Yasmin Faruki
20 June 2018

Hiking from Dana to Petra is at the top of many adventure seekers’ bucket lists. The 73-kilometre trek, voted one of the best 15 hikes in the world by National Geographic, will expose you to Jordan’s diverse ecosystems and historic sights. The trail is notoriously challenging because of its lack of trail markings and its uphill routes, but the panoramic views and landscapes make the trip worthwhile. Should you decide to undertake the excursion from Dana to Petra without a guide, here are a few things you should know.

You’ll need maps, a GPS, and batteries

If you don’t have a guide, hiking Dana to Petra is impossible without a map, GPS, and batteries. The Jordan Trail from Dana to Petra is largely unmarked and requires you to traverse an extremely harsh and desolate landscape, including multiple wadis, canyons, and mountains. Be sure to check out the Jordan Trail website, which offers a suggested itinerary and an overview of the hike, along with maps and GPS coordinates that can be uploaded to a GPS device or your phone on GPX. Whether you’re using a GPS or your phone, make sure to pack enough batteries and power banks to fuel your device throughout the journey.

Petra | © Andrew Kippen / Flickr

Go with people you can rely upon

Unless you’re an extreme hiker, you should not hike from Dana to Petra by yourself. You’ll need to rely on the people around you to assist with trip planning and responsibilities, both before and during the hike. Before the trip, divvy up individual responsibilities like distributing a packing list, checking weather conditions and collecting emergency information, consolidating first-aid kits and supplies, and grocery shopping. Once on the hike, you can rotate collective responsibilities like orienteering or carrying the shelter. Regardless of how long it takes for you to complete the hike, the journey is sure to test your physical and mental limits, so it’s important to establish a strong sense of teamwork and camaraderie.

Water is scarce

Dehydration is probably the biggest risk in hiking from Dana to Petra. Water sources are extremely scarce along the trail and the areas usually designated as having water supplies are not always reliable. Bring water pills and plan which days you’ll be planning to resupply with water, either at a natural water source or in a village. Conserve water while you are hiking and share with the people in your group.

Be sure to bring pills and research local water sources ahead of the hike | © Jens Johnsson

Pack light, but bring shelter

Given that you’ll already be carrying food, camping gear, and water, some people debate whether or not to bring a tent. While tents and shelters can be more heavy and burdensome to carry, it’s highly advised that you have some form of shelter with you in the event of flash floods and storms. Look for something lightweight but durable that can withstand strong winds and rain. Otherwise, you’ll already be carrying food, gear, and water, so don’t bring more than a change of clothes and an outerwear layer.

Food matters

Plan ahead what food you’ll bring on the trip. Consolidate with teammates and agree on collective dishes you’ll cook at camp at night to lighten everyone’s load. Avoid salty foods and bring fruits or vegetable that won’t get crushed easily in a bag (such as carrots, apples, and cucumbers). Don’t allocate more than one or two cans of protein per day that you can eat for lunch or cook at night (beans, tuna, corn, etc.).

Canned goods like tinned fish make a great camping lunch | © Bex Walton / Flickr

Plan for emergencies

Devise a plan and bring a satellite phone in case of emergency. Most of the trail is remote and unmarked, so it would be difficult to get help in the case of an injury or emergency, especially while hiking the trail’s canyons. Research stopping points in advance and agree to a contingency plan before undertaking the hike so that everyone is on the same page.

Be conscious of tourist stops and local customs

The trail from Dana to Petra often passes through Bedouin villages and shepherd paths, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked to share breakfast or a pitcher of shaneena, or goat yogurt, with the locals – remember to be respectful and open-minded with people you meet. At the same time, keep your guard up at tourist locations: don’t get too cozy with shopkeepers and travelers at locations like Little Petra and Petra.

Bedouin cooking in a tent | © Ed Brambley / Flickr

Stop and enjoy the views

You might be so focused on achieving your daily goals and staying hydrated that you miss out on the views. Be sure to stop every once in a while to appreciate the difficulty and beauty of the hike you are undertaking! And be sure to document some memories along the way. For some personal inspiration, check out this recent documentary video of one group’s hike to Petra, produced by a Lebanese film student who traveled to Jordan specifically to complete this hike.

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