Looking for Covid escapism? There is a wonderful place to explore in Jordan in the region of Wadi Feynan.
Getting there: Wadi Feynan is located about 200 miles southwest of Amman and represents one of the regional centers of the ancient metallurgy in the Middle East. The industrial-scale copper production started in the Early Bronze Age and continued during the Roman-Byzantine Period while the final exploitation of copper occurred in Mamluk Period.
The copper was transported to other parts of the region but this trade isn’t what we’ll talk about. It’s what you are going to do there.
Feynan Ecolodge is one of the most basic and eco-friendly places in Jordan. It is also considered a top 50 eco hotel in the world. There’s no electricity in the hotel except for the kitchen, bathroom and showers. You won’t find plastic bottles, meat and alcohol – though you can bring your own.
The hotel is built in the middle of nowhere between the Dana Reserve on the mountain plateau and the valley where only four-wheel vehicles have access. The nearest road is miles away and the area is tough but good for a rugged hike and stargazing in the evening.
At night, the hotel is lit by candles produced by the local Bedouin community.
Rooms are nice but minimalistic while hefty price tag could be a big turn off for people used to luxurious accommodation or those who would rather choose one of many Bedouin camps in Wadi Musa and Wadi Rum. However, most visitors won’t stay more than a few days due to complete isolation from civilization. On the other hand, tourists who enjoy solitude can get the full board of breakfast, lunch and dinner. For most visitors, breakfast and dinner are included in the offer.
In the wintertime, the lodge can be freezing due to the lack of electricity so the hosts provide very thick blankets and hot water bottles. During the summer, the main issue is the scorching heat as temperatures range between 38 and 45 Celsius for most of the days between June and September.
The best period for hiking is fall and spring.
When it was established in 2005 by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, the Feynan Ecolodge was to offer travelers, particularly hikers and young people, the opportunity to learn more about untouched wilderness, the ancient history of Wadi Feynan and local communities.
Built as traditional waystations that are scattered throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, the Feynan Ecolodge uses solar panels while the inner courtyard is designed for stargazing or meteor showers.
In the Dana Biosphere Reserve
At the lodge, hot drinks and non-alcoholic beverages are served while guests can bring their own alcoholic drinks but are advised to use them discreetly because Jordan is primarily Muslim and alcohol is not permitted. Read more here about Muslims and alcohol.
Solar –generated electricity is used to light the bathrooms, kitchen, mobile phones and laptops. One can’t find an electric outlet in the rooms, but cameras, laptops and mobiles can be recharged at the front desk.
The lodge is smoke-free but travelers can go outside the lodge and smoke in a smoke-designated area. Because of the solar system, each room has enough hot water for the whole year.
The main outdoor activities are a sunrise hike, a sunset hike, the Feynan area plants, hiking between ruins of ancient civilizations and exploring famous mines. So hiking. Or doing nothing. Or exploring the area ion mountain bikes as well as interaction with local communities. Normally, hikes last between two and four hours and guests are escorted by a guide.
Spending a day with a local shepherd or cooking Arabic coffee, the weaving of a goat hair tent,preparing eye makeup called kohl and making arbood bread are interactive activities that would help a tourist understand the heritage of locals in Wadi Feynan. Highly recommended.
One of shortcomings of the lodge are flies especially in the summer and the lack of access for visitors with disabilities. The terrain around the hotel is very rough and the hotel has no elevator to the first floor.
To summarize, the ecolodge is an excellent place for travelers interested in meditation, extreme sports and physical isolation from modern civilization. Disadvantages are unreasonably high prices for a spartan accommodation, exposure to the elements – hot summers and freezing winters – and a staff that barely speaks English.
If you are looking for wild travels in the Middle East or North Africa, try this eco hotel in Morocco.