Dana Nature Reserve
A servees deposits you at the outskirts of the small town of Qadsiyya where a road drops down to the village of Dana, which lies at the head of the valley which constitutes the heart of the Dana Nature Reserve. This is the “show-piece” of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, and is famed for its hiking as well as its wildlife and flora. Whilst Syria has got some beautiful landscapes, it doesn’t have this sort of “accessibility” to its outdoors.
The village of Dana is a collection of stone & adobe buildings seemingly cut-into the cliff-face at the end of the Dana Valley which stretches out to the desert plains on the horizon. Nowadays, the only real permanent inhabitants of the village are staff of the four hotels & hostels that provide respite from the cities and the tourist trail. The Tower Hotel is the cheapest, and its rooms are full of graffiti along the lines of “I came to Dana for one night, and ended up staying for 11”. I came for a couple and stayed three… Maybe if the weather wasn’t so bad for the last couple of days, it would have been longer.
The visitor centre of the reserve has very little information about the hiking on offer, the staff saying that “you need a guide” for most of it. Pft. All you need is a sense of direction, a pic-nic, and some strong calf-muscles for the steep climb back up to the village from the valley floor at the end of the day.