Eco-adventure in Wadi Feynan Jordan
If you happen to travel to Jordan, why not enrich your holiday with some nature friendly eco-adventure, and stay at the Feynan Ecolodge right in the heart of Wadi Feynan? It is rated one of the top fifty Eco-lodges in the world by National Geographic Adventure Magazine. It was built in 2005 by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) deep in the Arabah’s remote landscape.
Almost three hours away from Amman, passing by the Dead Sea, and a number of villages, you stop at the reception area for the Wadi Feynan Eco Lodge. A number of trucks owned by the local Bedouin tribes in Feynan will by available to transport you there. A 4X4 vehicle is needed to go through the rough roads leading to the lodge, but the twenty minute ride is quite enjoyable, especially if you hop at the back and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Be sure to cover your mouth with a scarf or a Hatta and wear your shades as no one enjoys sand in their face!
As you pass by a few Bedouin tents, you will notice that a whole community is living in that area, and what makes it interesting is that the lodge prides itself on hiring its friendly and well-informed staff from the village itself in a successful attempt of giving back to the community.
The lodge itself is so cozy, and the staff’s attention to detail is grand. The rooms have a distinctive design; creating an extraordinary Arabesque atmosphere. Being an environmentally friendly hotel, the use of electricity throughout the lodge is limited to a minimum. Electricity is only available in the bathrooms; the rest is all candle lit. The RSCN have also installed solar panels on the roof for hot water which is available 24/7.
A number of activities can be enjoyed at the lodge. Adventure and hike lovers will particularly appreciate the list of hikes provided. They take place at scheduled timings accompanied by a local, well oriented, English speaking guide. Whether it’s a sunset, sunrise, historical copper mines or just a mountain bike tour, they are all equally informative and entertaining.
The sunset and sunrise hikes are both nice ways for you to enjoy the stunning views of the area, where diverse shades of mountains and valleys stand before you, so make sure you have your camera on you, or you will miss the perfect opportunity to take that postcard snap shot. They are also widely educational; as the guide explains the many types of plants and wildlife while discovering diverse flora and fauna at the only reserve in Jordan to boast four different bio-geographical zones, and learning how they are used by the locals in medical remedies, and serve as a part of their food régime. Refreshing, hot, herbal tea brewed on wood fire and snacks in the form of Arboud Bedouin bread are made on the spot during the hikes. This Bedouin Shepherd’s delicacy bread is made by mixing water, flour with a dash of salt, and burying it under hot wood ashes after kneading it into a big flat piece, usually made in preparation ahead of a long trip into the wilderness.
The ancient copper mines are a different story, as you are transformed back in time with the help of the detailed explanations and storytelling of the guide. Archaeologists believe this land to be one of the oldest places of continuous human activity in Jordan, inhabited during the Stone and Bronze Ages and later populated by the Romans and Byzantines. The presence of the ancient Romans is attested to by the well-preserved aqueduct, a mill and water storage facilities, while that of early Christendom is confirmed by the monastery, church and cemetery.
Those who are intrigued by the Jordanian Bedouin culture can pick out different activities, from learning how to make and apply genuine Bedouin Kohl (black eyeliner), to watching the way they weave wool and make it into fabric for their tents, or experience what they call ‘Ta’leelah’ where you are hosted by one of the local Bedouin families and get the chance of listening to their stories and poetry. A lesson in roasting and making authentic Jordanian Arabic coffee and herbal tea is a nice touch too.
The whole idea behind this; is interacting with the locals. Spending time with those warm hearted, sparkling eyed Bedouin people is an experience you will never forget. It will leave you thinking how materialistic we have become! The simple way they live with minimum possessions makes you envy their happiness and contentment, and you realize how education has nothing to do with internet access, as you will be astonished on how well informed and educated they are!
The night time is where the whole lodge is entirely transformed; it becomes this dot of soft light in this huge valley. All the corridors are lit by candles; a huge chandelier stands out with sparkling soft lights. All the rooms are also candle lit by the friendly staff at sunset, and if it’s a bit chilly outside you will be surprised when you slip into your bed late at night and find a warm water bottle they place under your sheets to warm up the bed for you. Amazing!
Night entertainment consists of low key selection of board games, a good pick of books and novels to be enjoyed by the fireplace. Make sure to ask about star gazing. The high tech telescope setup by the knowledgeable staff, gives you the opportunity to witness stars sparkle so bright, and enjoy an endless canvas of the sky.
The food is a totally different experience, as you will indulge in an all vegetarian buffet, with a variety of mouthwatering dishes both Jordanian and international for all three meals. Such a healthy and detoxifying experience will leave you not only full; but also energized and pumping for all those long hikes and walks.
Make sure to pass by this unique place and help give back to the community and Mother Nature.