Wadi Dana

[Wadi Dana]

Wadi Dana is one of the most dramatic and unspoilt wadis in the Southern Rift Margins, and it is the showcase reserve of the RSCN. The surrounding hills reach 1500 m, and hold a rich and distinctive, high altitude avifauna. The wadi itself, flanked by red sandstone cliffs and narrow side gorges, runs down to Wadi Araba, and contains a range of habitats, many of which can only be reached on foot. At Dana, the RSCN has a policy of helping local communities benefit from the nature reserve. It employs local people, buys produce from the area for the Guest House, and is developing crafts and small businesses.

[Wadi Dana map]

Access is essentially from three points: (1) Rummana Campsite (in summer), (2) Dana village, and (3) Feinan Campsite.

The Rummana Camp is situated on the northen rim of Wadi Dana, overlooking a spectacular landscape of white sandstone domes and red cliffs. It is reached by taking the King's Highway north from the Ar Rashadiyya cement works and then the untarmaced quarry road west (signposted). Bear right off this road and then turn left immediately before the spring at Ain Lahdha. There is a gate at the Tower where you leave your car, and a shuttle bus takes you down the final steep descent to the campsite. Several walks have been pioneered in the vicinity of the camp, the more adventurous of which require a guide.

On spring visits, it should be possible to see the local breeding birds, such as Chukar, Cuckoo, Hoopoe, Desert Lark, Rock Martin, Black-eared Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike, Orphean Warbler, Orange-tufted Sunbird, Fan-tailed Raven, Tristram's Grackle and Rock Sparrow. Several drinking pools have been provided in the vicinity of the campsite, and in dry periods these prove a great attraction for the local birds, especially Sinai Rosefinch. Woodlarks have been heard singing on the high land to the north. Eagle Owl, Hume's Tawny Owl, and Scops Owls (in summer only) can be heard at night in the vicinity of the camp. Passerine migrants also stop off in the wooded areas and wadis. There is also a chance of spotting the rare Nubian Ibex or a Rock Hyrax on a distant outcrop.

The Barra Forest contains a unique habitat of open oak and juniper woodland on the south side of the wadi. To reach the forest by car, turn off left 1 km down the Al Qadisiyya to Dana village road, and then left again at the Department of Forestry building. On foot, a productive walk takes you from the Dana village car park, along the old road to the Forestry building, and then down into Barra itself.

The Barra Forest is home to 400 pairs of Tristram's (Syrian) Serins which can be elusive, but are best looked for in the forest near the Scout Camp. They can also be seen adjacent to the tarmac road down to Dana village and on the walk to the Forestry Building. Take a good look around the Pistacio trees, which are favoured perches. The rocky slopes above the village and Forestry Building are habitat for Lesser Kestrel, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Rock Sparrow, Long-billed Pipit, Chukar and Tristram's Grackle. A pair of Pale Rock Sparrows was found breeding in 1994. Finsch's Wheatear occur in winter.

On the high plateau above the village, Lesser Kestrels hunt and the low scrub is prime habitat for Spectacled Warbler.

[Dana village and orchards]The irrigated Dana orchards cover the slopes NE of the village and can be explored from the road to Ain Dana spring, or via the complex network of internal access paths. It is also possible to walk from Dana village down a very steep track towards the wadi itself, and view the orchards from there. The orchards not only support resident species such as Yellow-vented Bulbul and Tristram's Grackle, but also a large number of passage birds during the migration seasons.

In the lower wadi, around Feinan, there are White-crowned Black, Mourning and Hooded Wheatears, Blackstart, Scrub Warbler and Brown Babbler. Hume's Tawny Owls are also present, and Sooty Falcon occur in summer.

Resident birds of prey include Griffon Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle and Barbary Falcon, with Short-toed Eagle also present in summer. A major raptor migration route passes over Wadi Dana in the spring, with probably hundreds of thousands of birds (mainly Steppe Buzzard) involved. As many as 20 species of raptor (resident and migrant) can be seen on spring days.

ACCOMODATION

[Rummana campsite]Rummana Campsite There is an entrance fee (3 to 5 JD) and tents, mattresses and blankets are available for hire (additional 5 JD for up to four persons). There are toilets and (cold) showers, and camp meals can be arranged (e.g. breakfast 2 JD, evening meal 5 JD). The area is open from 1 March to 31 October, except noon Tuesdays to noon Wednesday.

Feinan campsite A more basic camp is located close to the ancient copper mines at Feinan, in Wadi Araba. Tents, water and a kitchen are available. Access is from Qurayqira farm on a rough track suitable for 4WD vehicles only. The camp is open all year, but is closed on Tuesdays. Prices are the same as Rummana.

[Dana Guest House]The Dana Guest House is perched on the edge of Wadi Dana next to Dana village. It offers accommodation for up to 20 people in nine rooms, most of which have private terraces overlooking the wadi. Bed and breakfast prices range from 10 to 35 JD per person, dependant on season and occupancy per room. Other meals are available by arrangement. The Dana Centre, adjacent to the Guest House, sells organically produced foods and highly original gifts made by the villagers.

To book accomodation at any of the RSCN facilities in Dana contact the RSCN at PO Box 6354, Amman 11183, Jordan, or to contact the Dana Centre phone (+962-3) 368497/8 or fax (+962-3) 368499. E-mail: dhana@rscn.org.jo

Other local accomodation The Dana Hotel, in the village itself, has five rooms and is run by the villagers. Further information can be obtained from the RSCN or people on site.

Revised and updated from Andrews (1995) The Birds of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

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