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<h1>Feynan eco lodge in Dana Biosphere reserve</h1>

Most agri-tourism destinations promote a single product such as a winery, a farm, a dairy, and so on. Feynan Eco Lodge promotes and supports an entire eco culture. The oh-too-short time I spent there was the most sustainable life style I ever experienced.

Feynan Eco Lodge is located in Wadi Feynan, the heart of the Dana Biosphere Reserve's magnificent mountains. It's built on what was once the old trade route for camel caravans and designed to resemble the old caravanserai, the stops along the route, where the drivers would stay and replenish their supplies, get a good rest, and keep their animals in the enclosed courtyard.

Feynan Eco Lodge in Dana Biosphere Reserve
Feynan Eco Lodge blends totally into its surroundings

Our guide, Mohammad, brought us to the visitor's center where we transferred our gear to some pickups driven by local Bedouins. I later learned that the Eco Lodge supports local families not only by hiring them to act as drivers but in many other ways.

The route—it couldn't accurately be called a road—to the lodge was rough and bumpy. Each mile we traveled into Dana Reserve took us that much farther from civilization as we know it.  It was after dark when we arrived. The lodge keepers welcomed us and showed us where we could plug in our phones and tablets. Our rooms had no electric plugs. To keep it sustainable, solar energy is used only in the office, the kitchen and for a light in our bathrooms. The rest of the lodge was softly lit with luminaries.  Our hosts showed us to our rooms.

my room at Feynan Eco Lodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve
My room

I found myself in a simple room.  Two beds dressed in plain white with mosquito nets and a brightly covered pillow and woven bed runner with end tables built into the wall as a part of the beds; a small desk, a shelf with a clay water bottle, and some candles comprised the main part of the room. In front, there was a catty-corner vanity with a lavatory built in to it, and sectioned off from the main room, a small bathroom.  By candlelight it had a soft kind of beauty. Leaving my room I felt I had entered a magical Arabian Nights story. The luminaries flickered and created strange shadows which  blended with the moonlight as I transcended the corridors and courtyard.

Group having lunch at Feynan Eco Lodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve
Food is good and plentiful

Down in the dining area there was a large selection of food, all vegetarian. Still it was surprisingly good. Water was again in those little clay jugs. I learned that the lodge purchases most of its food from the nearby village. The little clay jugs are made by a women's cooperative close to Petra where local women make them and other pottery items. All those candles that brought such a soft feel to my room and lit the lodge at night are made by an onsite candle workshop as are all the leather furniture items around the lodge.

I met a few of the resident cats who make themselves very much at home. They looked smug and well fed. I didn't see any mice or insects in the lodge so I guess the cats earn their keep.  One more part of the eco system preserved by the lodge.

cat eating at Feynan Eco Lodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve
She's not earning her keep here. Just enjoying breakfast along with us,

After dinner, Suleiman Hasaseen, one of the staff, led us to the roof for a stargazing adventure. There were comfy mattresses we could lie on and gaze upward. We embarked on a heavenly trip from the Milky Way to the Big and Little Dipper and on to Orion's Belt. He showed us the Seven Sisters used by Bedouins since prehistoric time to navigate a trackless desert. The stars were so big and bright here, a big plus to being so far from civilization. Suleiman is another of the local Bedouins who are supported by the Eco Lodge.

Back in my room for the night, I found the water was as hot as any supplied by my expensive water heater at home. There were no outside traffic or city noises and the bed was surprisingly comfortable. I fell asleep instantly with the soft candlelight flickering and the moonlight bright outside my windows. I was beginning to see the charm of this simple lifestyle.

Solar panels at Feynan Eco Lodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve
Solar panels supply all the electrical needs at Feynan Eco Lodge

When I awoke in the morning and gazed out the window, I fell in love with the beauty around me. What was not visible when we arrived last night was the magnificent mountains surrounding the Eco Lodge. It was enclosed in a bowl of buff colored rock with a bit of greenery, some unknown trees and shrubs, and here and there oleander bushes with  red blooms against dark green leaves added a touch of bright color. The entire landscape was covered with a perfect blue sky. I later learned that the Bedouins boil the poisonous oleander leaves in water for a flea poison for their animals.  When you live in a country with sparse resources, you make use of the ones you have so that you learn to use things others might pass over.

Rear area at Feynan Eco Lodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve
The rear of the lodge is where we dined.

We all regrouped on the back patio. That sweet Bedouin tea with its jolt of caffeine made me even more aware of the beauty of the surroundings. The courtyard is enclosed on all sides by the building but open to the sky.   The sand colored lodge has flat stones jutting out from the walls. I later found they had a purpose. In winter they absorb the sun's heat to help warm the lodge and in summer, offer shade to the windows below them. No matter where you are at the lodge you are surrounded by nature. As a friend and I sat finishing our breakfast in a tiny, tree shaded nook, a herd of goats with their shepherd and some of the lodge guests who were partaking in the "Day with a Shepherd" experience drifted right around us.  They looked like they were having a very good time. A few others were preparing for one of the variety of hikes offered by the lodge. Wish I had time to try out those experiences too.

Goats grazing near Feynan Eco Lodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve
Some of the goats that rambled by as we had breakfast

After am excellent vegetarian breakfast shared with the Eco Lodge cats, Ali Hasaseen, another of the local Bedouins who work as guides here, took us on a special "Bedouin Experience." We met his family and learned about the Bedouin way of life. Learned the coffee making traditions and watched and sampled the traditional earth-baked bread. (See more here)

As we walked the mile or so to his family's camp, I noticed the black plastic piping running along the track to carry precious water to make the family gardens fertile and produce most of the food we had eaten. I will never take my Florida rainfall and humidity for granted again when I plant my small veggie garden.

Some of the other eco experiences available at the lodge besides meeting the Bedouin family and learning the coffee making tradition and bread making are a Jordanian Cooking Class where you learn to make the vegetarian dishes served at the lodge; a demonstration of weaving the goat-hair tents which is a seasonal activity usually done in early summer; and making Kohl, the traditional Bedouin eye makeup they feel protects and strengthens eyesight. These are all wonderful ways to understand the local Bedouin culture.

office at Feynan Eco Lodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve
The office is the only place where we could plug in our phones and tablets.

Feynan Eco Lodge puts you squarely in the lap of sustainability and makes you love it. National Geographic rates it one of the top 25 eco lodges in the world. That's a natural conclusion considering that it is entirely solar-powered, with natural ventilation, and its water coming from a local spring plus the fact it supports one of the few remaining pastoral Bedouin tribes left in Jordan. Sustaining a culture that is one of the most ancient on earth ranks almost as important as sustaining the earth's resources.

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