Culture, Community, Connection are key themes from my recent trip to Jordan. Located in the Middle East bordering Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea, Palestine, Israel and Iraq, it is a country with diverse and rich cultures and community. Given its’ geographic location multiple cultural connections, it offers many opportunities for those interested in sustainable and responsible tourism.
I’ll share just a few of the highlights I was fortunate to experience in my October 2017 Jordan adventure.
- Wadi Rum UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Dana Biosphere Reserve & Feynan Eco Lodge
- Beit al Baraka – part of Baraka Experiences
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wadi Rum is a MUST for any Jordanian itinerary. It will be an experience of a lifetime. In my short 24-hour visit, we had rich array of activities and adventures. Examples include: Jeep Caravan Rides in the desert, views of majestic natural beauty and landmarks such the Seven Pillars of Wisdom (named after T.E. Lawrence’s book), a traditional Zarb dinner cooked underground in earth ovens followed by an overnight stay in a Bedouin camp. Personally, our sunrise camel ride was crown jewel of my many Wadi Run adventures. Stunningly beautiful and peaceful.
Dana Biosphere Reserve also extraordinary perspectives and vistas. The reserve is home to a mix of plant and animal species from Europe, Africa and Asia, many of which are rare. We were fortunate to enjoy the spectacular natural landscapes during our stay at Feynan Eco Lodge. It is recognized by National Geographic Traveler Magazine as one of the best 25 ecolodges in the world. The 26 guest rooms are lit by candlelight at night and offers a rooftop terrace for stargazing after dining al fresco from a local vegetarian buffet. Sustainability is upmost priority as expressed by The Guardian quote below.
“Feynan is arguably the most eco-friendly of the RSCN (Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature) lodges, entirely solar-powered, with natural ventilation, and all water coming from a local spring” – The Guardian
I found it interesting and inspiring to learn that money from guests staying at Feynan goes towards other conversation activities in the reserve such as:
- Research and monitoring to better comprehend biodiversity, habitats and population trends
- Employment opportunities to address environmental pressure of over-grazing. Examples include: jobs in ecotourism, handicraft workshops and Reserve rangers
- Community-based and income generating ecotourism initiatives featuring cultural heritage (i.e. coffee and tea experience with Bedouin family)
For a rich community experience, Beit al Baraka Bed & Breakfast, in Umm Qais, is focused on connecting visitors with locals. As a part of Baraka Destinations, sustainable tourism is a priority demonstrated by community partnerships, local sourcing, and environmentally-friendly practices. In addition to an overnight stay in the charming B&B, I was able to participate in multiple community-based experiences such as: Beekeeping, Basket Weaving, Cooking Class, historical tour of Gadara, and ‘Galsoum’s Kitchen’ – an in-home dining experience. Other opportunities for those seeking outdoor adventure include foraging, cycling tours and guided hiking expeditions. Just over 2 hours driving from the capital city of Amman, Umm Qais will feel a world away.
Jordan exceeded my expectations and I look forward to the opportunity to revisit this country so rich with culture, community, and connection.
Links below for More Information:
As is customary in the industry, my trip was sponsored by the Jordan Tourism Board.