A picturesque cluster of stone cottages huddled together on a cliffside outcrop, Dana village has rightly become celebrated as one of Jordan’s loveliest hideaways. Long settled as a farming community, it was abandoned in the middle of last century, only to become the focus for sustained projects of renovation and redevelopment (see The story of Dana). And the story continues: with recent funding from the US government’s USAID programme, Dana is being reinvented as the hub for ecotourism development in southern Jordan. At the time of writing the village was under reconstruction, with new infrastructure being laid for water, electricity and sewage bio-treatment, rebuilt streets and cottages, new parks and play areas – the focus is very much on retaining the village’s Jordanian character, both to draw local tourism and to create a base for sustainable, environmentally sound international tourism as well. Several of the stone cottages are being renovated as simple self-catering accommodation, to be run by the village co-operative; there are plans for a café-restaurant, a small museum and visitor centre, some souk-style shops and even, in time, a low-impact boutique-style luxury hotel.
Till then it’s worth taking a stroll around, to soak up the atmosphere and rural character. Drop into the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) offices, on the left side of the village as you face the valley. They can fill you in on the latest developments, and can advise on walks. An easy one to start with is the Village Tour (2km; 2hr), a stroll around Dana – and up to the springs and gardens on the slopes above – to enjoy the views and visit the workshops where local women make silver jewellery and prepare dried fruit.
Alongside the RSCN’s Guesthouse is a nature shop (Sun–Thurs 8am–4pm) selling local products such as herbs, fruit and jewellery, as well as textiles, gifts and other handmade items from RSCN projects around the country. Beside it is a kids’ learning zone, where informative displays give a sense of Dana’s natural context.