Tucked into the desert mountains, the Feynan Eco Lodge has racked up a series of international awards, including being named among National Geographic Traveler’s Top 25 Eco Lodges in the world.
An ecolodge provides facilities and accommodation to travellers that have the least possible negative impact on the environment in which it is situated. The Feynan Ecolodge accomplishes this through its use of solar panels to provide energy, a vegetarian meal plan with a food waste composting system, and the use of a traditional water filtration system that saves the equivalent of 15K plastic water bottles per year. Working with the local Bedouin community is also a pillar of excellence for the Feynan Ecolodge.
Created by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, the lodge is hailed by environmentalists for its commitment to sustainability and ecotourism. The lodge is located in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, formerly a valley dedicated to copper-mining.
The Dana Biosphere covers 320 square kilometres of mountains and valleys, making it the largest natural reserve. From hot sand dunes to cold mountain tops to tropical-like forests, the reserve is home to 700 different plant species, 190 bird species, 37 mammal species and 36 reptile species. According to Wild Jordan, 25 of the 963 different species in the area are endangered.
True to its commitment to the environment, there is no electricity. With only limited solar power, the lodge is lit by candles at night; approximately 4,000 candles handcrafted on-site by local women are burned here every month. Currently, Feynan is also building a water treatment area on site to recycle waste water from the lodge into energy. The Feynan Ecolodge is the first hotel in the region to get rid of single-use plastic bottles, as well as introduce a wastewater treatment system to create biogas for cooking and water irrigation.
Why we love Feynan Ecolodge
Across the lodge there is evidence this ecolodge is serious about its five ethos:
1. Unique and authentic guest experiences
2. Contribution to conservation
3. Local community benefit
4. Minimal environmental impact
5. Provide education and interpretation to guests, staff and community
Following generations of a nomadic lifestyle, local Bedouin people continue to live in tents along the wadi (a dry valley that can flood in the rain season). A traditional culture of animal herders, Bedouin settled in the area of the ecolodge in the 20th century, mostly abandoning their nomadic lifestyle. They still move twice annually to relocate further in the mountains for cooler temperatures and out of the mountains closer to the wadi in the summer.
Bedouin are known for their hospitality which they extend to visitors of the lodge by inviting guests to learn how to make Arabic coffee or bake bread in the earth. Feynan Ecolodge staff are made up entirely of Bedouins.
The eco-lodge provides work to locals, reaching approximately 400 people, as well as helping local entrepreneurs with microbusinesses by providing employment and financial opportunities. This includes the locally-made candles that are the main lighting source for the lodge. In addition to this, 80 per cent of the food and supplies for the ecolodge is purchased within a 40km radius of Feynan Ecolodge, stimulating the local economy while building up the community
Perhaps the best part about Feynan Ecolodge and the Dana Biosphere Reserve is the hiking. There are incredible hikes through rocky desert terrain, along sandy cliffs, through the wadi, passing a surprising amount of greenery and Bedouin tented homes. Feynan offers locally guided hikes and sunset walks, but they are easy enough to do solo. It’s definitely the place to go to unplug.