“When in Jordan”…as we mentioned in our earlier post about the Dead Sea, Jordan is by no means a cheap backpacker country. But if you’re willing to spend the dinars, which we decided we were, there are lots of amazing adventures to be had.
I came across Feynan Ecolodge while reading about Jordan on the Lonely Planet website. A fellow Canadian described her experience there, highlighting the amazing feeling of mediating under the desert stars in a lodge lit only by candlelight. I checked out the website and it looked every bit as magical as she described. Immediately I made sure to mention it to Skott at least 5 times a day …and so it became our revised honeymoon. We had promised ourselves that even though we are probably not going to make it to Madagascar, we would splurge on a fancy place to have a “honeymoon” within this year long “honeymoon” trekking around the globe. Happiest girl in the world!!!
Feynan Ecolodge is located in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, literally in the middle of the desert
just south of the Dead Sea. It wasn’t until this trip that I realized that the desert is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. It’s so quiet, so serene and so untouched by humans. Our only neighbours at the lodge were a few roaming camels and goats and tiny Bedouin villages made up of a couple of traditional tents. (I’m amazed that they can live in these all year round…it gets SO cold at night).
Getting to Feynan is a little bit tricky as there is just a local, winding, dirt road for the last 7km. We took a bus from Amman to the nearest town, Qurayqura (pronounced Greigra), and were dropped off at the Feynan Reception Centre. From here we arranged ahead of time for a local to take us in their pick-up truck to the Lodge. This is a really great arrangement that allows local people to contribute and benefit from the tourism that Feynan attracts.
Skott had mentioned that it was our honeymoon and since it was low-season, the staff at Feynan were able to upgrade us to room #1-the best in the house! We had a HUGE room (probably the size of the entire 10-person dorms we’ve sometimes stayed in) and a gorgeous balcony framed in glass so that you could see outside. A huge bonus was that although the Lodge runs strictly on solar power, the desert sun in the day is powerful enough to provide wonderfully warm heat for the showers.(This is a HUGE treat for us as we went 2 months in Africa with cold showers only).
Dinner at the Lodge is vegetarian with a number of tasty salads using the amazing Jordanian produce and of course, lentil soup-a staple here. After dinner a fire was lit in the cozy lounge and we huddled in there with the other 5 guests to enjoy some mint tea. We were really interested to learn that because wood is hard to come by, they use pits from the olives condensed to large pellets to fuel the fire.
After our tea, the kitchen staff came out and surprised us with a heart shaped chocolate cake-specially made for us for our honeymoon.How did they know that chocolate wins me over every time!?
On Day 2 we signed up for the hike around Dana. We were very lucky to have a gorgeous day-the clouds were perfect for capturing some really neat photos of our surroundings. Our local guide, Mohammed, wanted us to have a true “Bedouin” experience so he took us all through the area and showed us various local plants and explained their uses.
When we stopped for lunch we had a really authentic cooking class-Mohammed taught us how to make traditional Bedouin bread. He mixed a simple dough from flour, water and a little bit of salt.Then he dug a hole in the sand and lit a small fire. Once the fire had produced a bed of coals, he moved the branches out of the way, smoothed the coals nice and flat and placed the bread dough DIRECTLY in there. Then he buried the circle of dough in the coals with sand on top.
I still don’t know exactly how this works but 20 minutes later, he unburied the dough, banged it against a rock to get the ash off of it and served it up to us. It was amazing-warm bread with a crunchy outside and an inside that had the consistency of a pancake.I can’t wait to show this trick to my friends on our next camping trip!!
When the hike was over Mohammed asked if we would like to visit a local Bedouin family to see how they make traditional coffee. This is what we find is the best part about traveling-being invited into other people’s homes and getting to see what their life is like. The family we visited was very welcoming and hospitable. Their tent had 2 rooms-one for the kitchen and the other where the fire was…which also seemed to be the hangout for the men to have their tea and
We toured the tent and were even invited to join in the tomato stew that the mother had just prepared. She offered TONS of the traditional flat bread (like really thin naan bread) to go with it and with a HUGE smile on her face, explained to me with hand gestures that if I ate lots of Bedouin bread, then I would have a baby. She seemed to love this idea as she made sure to remind me several times throughout our visit. (I wish I could show everyone a photo of the mother because her smile was amazing but unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos of any of the women).
Next the father showed us how he uses a mortar and pestle to grind cardamom seeds-the special ingredient for their coffee.It produces a wonderful aroma!We thanked our hosts and stumbled home in the pitch dark-there’s no street lights in the desert!
Day 3 came too quickly and it was time to go home that afternoon but I made sure to enjoy every last minute under the huge down comforter in our room as I watched the whirling wind storm outside.
I would HIGHLY recommend the Feynan Ecolodge to anyone looking for a break from the hustle and bustle. Whether it is for a honeymoon, to reconnect with nature or just for a little time alone, this is a unique experience that is highly worth it! Thank you to everyone at the Lodge for our amazing honeymoon!
Want to go too!? Check it out at: www.feynan.com