Africa & the Middle East

Jordan

written by | Posted on July 1st, 2010

In the years since it opened its doors, Feynan has run at an amazing 80-90 percent capacity during its peak season, which runs from March to the end of May. The rest of the year, it still manages to run at about a 65 percent clip.

Perhaps the most appealing attraction to the place is its accessibility to the Bedouins in the area.

At night, Feynan guests are welcomed to their smoke-filled tents to sip sweet mint tea while sitting cross-legged on carpets. Children scurry nearby and goats can be heard bleating in their pens. It’s fun to try to breach the impenetrable language barrier while trying to comprehend the austerity of Bedouin life.

Female guests at Feynan may also be invited to the “women-only” tent to watch Bedouin women weaving colorful carpets from goat hair. Sorry, they aren’t for sale.

Hours will glide by when drinking tea with the Bedouins who live as if it were the 10th century (although they often pause to answer their cell phones) and a sense of peacefulness is felt during the short walk to the lodge to enter the very ecologically minded 21st century.

Clients who want to sample even more primitive conditions should be directed to Wadi Rum, one of Jordan’s most memorable destinations, to spend time at Captain’s Eco Camp in the Um Infous Mountain near the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a majestic natural stone formation named in 1980 after T.E. Lawrence (of Lawrence of Arabia fame) who used the poetic phrase as a title for his famous book.

As a matter of fact, scenes from David Lean’s now classic movie, “Lawrence of Arabia,” were filmed around here. Lawrence loved the place because he found solace in its isolation during the time when he was a leader of the Arab Revolt against the Turks in WWI. Although he was a bit eccentric, he had a flair for poetry and called the area, “vast, echoing and God-like.” Lawrence had a point.

This place, about 75 miles south of Petra, stuns with its stark beauty. In the camp, visitors will experience authentic Bedouin life. They sleep in typical Bedouin goat-haired tents with a main room and a seating area.The staff likes to sing ageless Bedouin songs while gathered around a roaring fire after a traditional Zarb dinner of lamb, chicken and rice.

Rates here vary, depending on accommodations. A single tent runs about $50, rising to a jr. suite tent for about $120.

This is desert living at its best with nights so cold and silent that the wind is the only noise one hears.

Lawrence, again dipping his poetic quill into the ink well, wrote that nights in Wadi Rum are “…as vast and silent as landscapes in a childhood dream.”

The camp offers a large number of activities like hiking, camel riding and exploration. But those preferring to just stand back and gasp at the magnificence of the Jordanian Desert will find that Lawrence was right: Wadi Rum is like a place of childhood dream.