Dana Biosphere: an unexpected bad Karma, but’s let’s give it a second chance!
20 April 2018
This is just our second article in the “issues” section. We hope not to have too many others! Dana biosphere is presented as The Perfect Place to visit in Jordan. Its reserve is regionnaly known for its biodiversity. The village is renowned for its authenticity. Its ecolodges are reputed to have been in 2013 one of the 25 most beautiful in the world according to National Geographic.
We are now in April and the tourist season is in full swing. We subsequently anticipated it, and planned to spend 3 days / 2 nights with the village of Dana, as the Feynan ecolodge is totally overpriced this season : 250 JOR for a whole family. Gulp.
The choice of accommodation in Dana biosphere reserve is very limited (only 3 hotels and 2 ecolodges and a camp). As we don’t know the place yell, we chose accordingly to availability and internet reviews … With an excellent tripadvisor feedback (4.5 / 5), Dana Tower Hotel just seemed to be the perfect place. We booked night nights, for 57 JOD per night. Tower hotel is the second best hotel in Dana. Allright, the second…out of two referenced hotels :-).
From the start, we immediately felt a little bit of a disappointment: despite a room announced (and paid …) for 5 beds, we only saw a miniature bedroom, with only 4 beds. The (folded) bedsheets are simply placed on the mattress : feel like Home, just make your bed yourself ! Pillows are completely saggy. The bathroom cleanliness is questionable (washbasin visibly cleaned a little fast ..)
… In short, not at all convinced, but as we are rather rustic, we will not quibble, despite a start chorus sounding like “we got a little ripped off …” trotting in the head.
Disappointed with the room? No worries ! let’s enjoy the hotel !
test : failed. The reception was commensurate with the bedroom: wejust didn’t get a single smile of the manager (Nabil) in 24 hours, where as the rest of the staff was pretty much smily. As a”family” offer , we only pay 4 people instead of 5 for the dinner…Our 2 years-old girl well deserves a discount ! Now, there is an issue. This is the first time in seven months and dozens of hotels or camps, in Jordan, that we are to pay full price for our boys (5 and 8 years for reminder).
Remember, the tradition to welcome people with a cup of tea? Well, not here. Here, you have to pay for your tea. And also, you have to ask several times. A very common breakfast: no jam or honey available,just bread, eggs and labneh. Aw, and not fresh vegetables, also.
The (good ! ) evening meal was an interesting human experience . Imagine an unsmily mutique cerbère, posted next to the fridge, opening and closing the padlock of the door, each time the dary customers come to him to ask for buying water and and soft drinks. Oh yeah, here, by the way, to actually to pay fo drinking water. (I stop to count the closed / closed padlock cycle after about forty openings).
In short, we decide to abbreviate: 1 night should be enough for us …
I pass you the details on the re-negotiation of the price with the manager. We ended up getting our 3 teas for free, and a half price meal for both boys… It is not a question of money here, but we (unsuccessfully) tried tomake him understand that a questioning is necessary …
But we soon undestood that the weakness of the hotel offer in Dana biosphere gives much power to the hotel managers … No matter it is good or bad, the hotel will still be filled at the end of the day! This statement is called the law of supply and demand.
Disappointed by the hotel? No worries ! let’s have a walk in this nice village!
Dana is beautiful in the photos. Small perched village, clearstone walls, cypresses waving in the wind, narrow streets,magnificient view on the valley … It almost looks like a provencal or sicilian village, but in the heart of the Bedouin world.
The village is certainly cute at a first glance. But soon , it appears to be polluted with various waste of any kind as soon as you leave the main street … The ruins are not yet totally rehabilitated, and the forgotten parts serve very clearly of wild dump . After 8 months here, it is not surprise for us to observe that there is no education on waste management, but this is really heatbreaking in a so-called nature reserve. Five volunteers and one day should be enough to clean the small village: does this initatiative have to come from the tourists?…
Ah, the sweet voice of the muezzin at sunset … It can be a truly magical moment. But not in Dana, not today, not with us in the corner, because this weekend, we decidedly dragged our bad star to the minaret of the small mosque of the village …
Do you remember your childhood, when you always had a little friend who sang like a saucepan? Well, the little comrade became a man, and he decided to become the muezzin of the village 🙂 I have one regret : I didn’t have time to record his pray call, it would for sure have made your day today ! 🙂
(and in our heads : “will this bad trip have an end?”, in loop…)
The village is not attractive? No worries ! Let’s hike down to Feynan !
The Dana-Feynan hike is very well rated on the guide books. (see here our review in french language on-almost all existing guides on Jordan). The ride is certainly pretty, all right. Not exceptional either … Quite similar to Petra with nice colors, but not as spectacular, not vertical, and not carved. A few birds and laurels flowers in will brighten the hike. It is a 15 km long walk, with 1100 meters of negative elevation.
We are always happy to meet new people. Luckily, we crossed the path of Ibrahim and his son Faycal on their way to Feynan: the father on a donkey, and the son driving (piloting…) an old rusted pickup . Ibrahim kindly proposed to take the boys with him on his donkey for one kilometer, and offered us to share tea with him. This will be our only good surprise of the day!
The hike was “nice, but no more than that”? No worries ! Let’s enjoy Feynan ecolodge!
The arrival was eagerly awaited. We were a little short on water , temperature was over 30°C, the walk ended with a sandy wadi… Let’s get some fresh drinks in the exceptional ecolodge of Feynan (remember, the one at 250 JOD per night … gulp!). At this price, we expected to find plenty of drinks !
Actually, nope…The only available drink is hibiscus juice – very good and healthy by the way ! It was however necessary to explain the “moushkila” to the kids, to whom we had promised 2 fresh cokes each one as a motivation to cover the 15 kilometers. In short, the ecolodge is beautiful, it’s organic, the food is probably very good (we didn’t eat here), but, still, the menu card is a bit short… And it’s not like the coke was a scarce ressource in Arab countries … Ah, uh, and by the way, one hibiscus juice glass costs 3 JOD. gulp, again.
The ecolodge was “nice, just nice, only nice”? No worries ! Let’s take a short ride to go back to Dana !
A minvan is requested to come back to Dana. You ABSOLUTELY have to book it before leaving Dana village. This, we negociated it for 55JD the evening before, with our new friend the manager of the Tower hotel. As we bumped by chance into a couple of french friends during the hike, we convinced them to join us down to Feynan, assuming we would bring them with us in our minivan. But in fact, no. Because there is some kind of a mafia for the drivers down there. If you don’t pay in advance, you have to go up to Dana…walking. And our friends thus had to walk up there, ending up in a 30 kms day hike… Welcome to Dana! 🙂
The hike is 15 km … So we hoped that the drive back up there will reasonably last 45 minutes. But as there is no road in the Dana Valley, you have to make a very big detour by little Petra, Shobak, ….And it took us almost 2 hours and a half ! By the way, it is a very nice road, if you have time …
In short, Dana biosphere in Jordan was not totally as wonderful as we expected it to be… However, everyone ihas a right to do mistakes, so next time we will try Dana in an alternative way. There is a very nice looking Bedouin camp in a close wadi , and the hike between Shobak and Feynan is unbelievable, according to our informations…
Wanna discover other bad trips? Discover with us how to solve a car accident issue in Amman ! 🙂
Gorillaz was here!
Mist on Dana, end of the day