Jordan has proven to be a remarkable country. With an abundance of ancient history and natural wonder, it is a county full of surprises. There are some beautifully preserved nature reserves to be found in Jordan and during our stay we were able to visit two. After an inspiring stay at a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, then a couple of days relaxing in Aqaba, we make the journey to the Dana Nature Reserve for a chance to sample some of Jordan’s Ecotourism at the Feynan Ecolodge.
Now getting there was interesting activity. After searching online for information, we knew we had to get on bus at Aqaba Bus Station going to the Feynan Reception centre. The Ecolodge was helpful, giving us some information on how to get there from Aqaba. We knew the bus would be at the station at 9:00 a.m, so we made sure we were there on time. What we didn’t know was that finding the right bus could be an ordeal. Luckily, a helpful passenger who understood English on the first bus we were told to get on told us we were on the wrong bus.
After a little bit of a debate with the driver and the helpful passenger, the bus driver called over a non uniformed attendant from the bus station and he directed us to the right bus. The second bus driver advised that he would drop us off at the reception but we would need to pay for 3 seats. This was because our luggage would take up a seat, stopping another passenger from being able to board. In the end, we found this to be only fair and at 5 JOD per seat it was definitely not a bank breaker.
The bus itself is only a 20 seat mini bus and the driver waits at the station until he has a full bus. So, make sure you’re not in a rush as you can wait a few hours before the bus leaves. We found it a good time to catch up on a good book. Our bus finally left a 1:00 p.m and we headed off to Feynan.
The full journey took about 2.5 to 3 hours, and was quite enjoyable. The bus was full of local townsfolk. They constantly offered us drinks and food along the journey. There were also a few children onboard testing out their English skills, so we helped them with a few Aussie phrases, to their delight.
Although arriving a little later than expected to the Feynan reception office a staff member was available to transport us to the Ecolodge by 4WD about thirty minutes away. Driving into the nature reserve we pass Bedouin tents and families herding sheep and goats until we reach the hotel.
The sandstone coloured hotel is located between two hills alongside an empty river bed. We are guided by our driver into the main hotel reception area where we are kindly greeted and given refreshing towels and a drink so ease our travels.
The Ecolodge has all the comforts of a 4 star hotel except it relies on solar power to generate its electricity. The rest of the hotel is lit at night by romantic candlelight. During our check in we are advised that the only power available in the room is the bathroom. They ask us to ensure that the bathroom light is switched off when not required as the Ecolodge has limited battery life. The only other available power is in the reception which they allow guests to recharge their phones, cameras and laptops. Recharging points are limited, so you will need to be patient to obtain a free space.
We are escorted into our room and it has two comfortable beds a desk, a cold filtered water jug with safe drinking water and a separate bathroom. Unfortunately, this room had an issue with its hot water supply so we were moved so they worked out the problem.
Our second room was a lot like the first except it was little larger with and extra vanity setting. The rooms have candles strategically placed around the room to give ambient lighting at night.
Feynan Ecolodge offers is guests a variety of hikes and cultural experiences throughout the day. Their program list is set, so depending on the day you arrive dictates what events are available. Subsequently, if you decided that you’d rather hike on your own, Feynan’s staff will point you in the right direction and give you advice on where to go. Make sure you fill up your water bottles from the water tanks available in the hotel or from your filtered jug in your room.
As we arrived pretty late on the first day, we missed the first evenings sunset hike. We then made sure we scheduled it in for the next day because it is one not to miss.
The stay package includes all meals and drinks at set times during the day. The selection of food was excellent, and they ensured that any guests with food allergies are catered for. All meals are vegetarian as they don’t have sufficient cold rooms to keep any meat products.
After the main dinner break the staff provides a brief presentation about the Ecolodge. The presentation highlights what the lodge are trying to do and what activities are available the next day. Once the presentation is complete we are taken onto the roof leisure area and are shown the stars through an impressive telescope.
If you’d prefer to stay in, Feynan has a lounge area with board games and a range of books in various languages. I found that most people would of course congregate around the reception room as it is the only area that has access to Wi-fi and power.
The next day it’s an early rise, with breakfast in the dining area then a guided sampler hike in the nature reserve. Our local guide for the day is Suleiman who ensures we experience the Bedouin lifestyle. He speaks excellent English and speaks about life in the nature reserve. As he walks, he talks about various plants and their benefits to the local Bedouin people. After a good hike we have sage tea and sit chatting about our travels.
We return back to Feynan in time for lunch followed by a visit to a Bedouin tent for local coffee. Once again Suleiman is our guide for this experience. He introduces us to a local family who invite us in for some home-brewed coffee. Suleiman explains the significance of coffee, to the Bedouin culture. Coffee is only prepared when important matters need to be discussed between families or to welcome new people into the Bedouin village. It was fascinating to watch the head of the household grind the coffee beans in a metal mortar which chimed out to neighbours that coffee was being made. It isn’t long before a neighbour pops his head in to see the newcomers (us) and indulge in a cup of coffee.
When we return to Feynan, it isn’t long before the start of the sunset hike. We all chat during our walk and when it came time to watch the sun go down, we were amazed by its pure beauty. Our guide makes the group sage tea and we drink whilst enjoying the surrounding view.
Once the sun disappears its back to the Ecolodge for another incredible dinner, with visits from local goats, camels, sheep, and donkeys. It is quite fun having your meals with a local animals wandering freely around.
After a busy day we are exhausted and retire early. The next day we are convinced to take the longer canyon hike by ourselves. A local driver transports us to the canyon entrance and organises our pick-up time. Then we hike down the river bed taking in the freshness of the air and the constant flow of a small stream. We see frogs and lizards and a couple of Bedouin woman herding their family goats. The area is beautiful and after a few hours we head back to meet up with our driver to return to Feynan.
Feynan Ecolodge is a perfect place to visit when in Jordan. There is no pressure for you to do anything. If you want you could just relax the days away reading a good book. I recommend doing the activities available to you. Take some hikes, meet the local Bedouin people or learn to cook Middle Eastern cuisine. The staff are friendly and helpful, and speak many different languages, so communication shouldn’t be to much of a problem.
Therefore, visit the Dana Nature Reserve and the Feynan Ecolodge soon, Say hello to Suleiman for me and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you.
Additional Information for the Feynan Ecolodge
Address: Dana Nature Reserve
Ph: +962 6 464 5580
Prices of accommodation per night at Feynan Ecolodge
Ranging from 160 JOD(AUD$300) – 195 JOD(AUD$365)
Check in: 1400hrs Check Out: 1200hrs
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