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Travel: Feynan Ecolodge, Jordan

Immerse yourself in Bedouin culture. Where you choose to stay while traveling largely dictates your personal relationship with that country. And while we appreciate the logical necessity and assumed ease of bedding down in a chain hotel, stepping out of the ordinary makes for a life-changing experience. Take Jordan’s Feynan Ecolodge. This 26-room property sits at the southwestern border of Dana Biosphere nature reserve, the country’s largest—boasting 703 plant species, 215 species of birds, and 38 mammal species.

The hotel is largely off the grid, generating most of its energy from solar panels on the roof and lighting its rooms and hallways by a network of candles each night (though “off the grid” doesn’t exclude the Wi-Fi in the main lobby). The hotel employees are all from the local Bedouin community, water comes from a nearby spring, the bread that’s served in the all-vegetarian restaurant is made daily by a local Bedouin woman, and the gift shop sells handicrafts sourced from local artisans and farmers. Despite this near-obsessive locavore focus, you feel fully embraced, whether you’re lying on the expansive roof deck, observing the panoply of stars stretched out across a night sky unblemished by light pollution, or playing soccer with the local Bedouin children as you watch the sun turn the rocky, mountainous landscape stirring shades of orange and gold.

From Feynan you’re within striking distance of a variety of outdoor activities. Go on an exhilarating, full-day hike through the slot canyons of Wadi Ghwayr, spend the day with a Bedouin shepherd, take cooking classes to learn the local cuisine, or find a breezy spot to…do nothing at all. Whatever the choice, you win. And you’ll remember Feynan far more fondly than whatever chain hotel you last stayed.

 

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