After 4 days at the Dead Sea we were ready to see more that Jordan has to offer. Our next stop was the Dana Biosphere Natural Reserve, but we made a quick stop along the way at the Wadi Mujib Adventure Center.
At 410 meters below sea level, the Mujib Biosphere Reserve is the lowest nature reserve on earth. Its rugged and spectacular mountains border the Dead Sea coast and are dissected by several river-filled canyons that offer the best river and adventure hikes in Jordan. The breathtaking scenery and the challenge of negotiating Mujib’s fast-flowing rivers make the Reserve one of Jordan’s most popular natural attractions. Most activities are only offered April through October and unfortunately since we arrived in November we knew that all this fun would have to wait for a subsequent trip. The Ibex Trail is a dry trail hike which can be prearranged during the winter months, however only groups of 6 are allowed.
We pushed on, climbing higher and higher east out of the Dead Sea, passing sheep herders with their flocks and oddly huge packs of beautiful large dogs. Driving into Dana Village at sunset was truly fantastic – one of the most beautiful sunsets we had ever seen.
We stayed at the Dana Towers Hotel which doubles as a hostel. A funky place located on the edge of the cliff over the Dana Biosphere. We really enjoyed the vibe there and the fantastic views over the canyon. The food, which is offered for breakfast and dinner buffet/family style, is a good value and had great options for me. During the dinner we met some fellow travelers who quickly became our friends. We decided to travel together to Petra with a stop at Shobak Castle.
Shobak Castle (originally called Montreal) is an early 12th-century Crusader castle perched on the side of a rocky mountain at 1,300 m (4,265 ft) above sea level. It has fantastic views of the valley and the fruit trees below it. Although it is not as well-preserved or visited as Kerak Castle, it is definitely worth a stop – especially for the catacomb tunnels (not marked) which we discovered underneath one of the churches.