Dana Nature Reserve

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
Dana hotel

Flag of Jordan  , Ma’an,
Monday, March 1, 2010

From Petra, the bus drops us off on the highway at the runoff to Shobak castle. We are a bit nervous about the transport connections as a fair bit of walking (9km all up) is required with our large bags. Thankfully, a car appears and offers to drive us to the castle, and is happy to wait for us and take us on to the nature reserve. Too easy.
Shobak castle (or what little remains) is a rather uninspiring crusader castle except for one thing. The escape tunnel. Armed with torches and fresh batteries, we scurry down the tiny winding, cramped tunnel to... a dead end.The actual tunnel which we find next, is much larger, it is long and steep and slippery where the stairs have eroded leaving only powdery dust. Turning off our torches to pitch blackness - no light at the end - after 15 minutes descending is nerve wracking, but we soon discover the ladder rungs which deposit us on the roadside at the base of the hill.

The cloud has descended, and the drive to Dana takes longer when our driver gets a little lost amidst the zero visibility. Dana village is quiet and empty, cloaked in grey. The nature reserve includes a huge valley caused by an earthquake but all we can see is a cliff falling away to grey nothingness, occasionally the clouds blow aside to reveal tantalising glimpses of the deep green sloped canyon below.
The cloud clears overnight and we had perfect visibility for hiking down through some spectacularly sticky mud into the canyon, where the scenery changes from steep rocky cliffs to bamboo groves, streams and grassy expanses. The afternoon sun is relentless and climbing back out of the canyon is hard work, thankfully the mud had dried.
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