If summer’s drawling out in front of you, long into the distance, with the promise only of semi-rainy weekends and another festival with Sketpa in it ahead, consider a holiday. Duh – right? Well, yes. But we’re thinking less another trip around the Europe of which we’ll soon no longer be a member, and more a journey somewhere you won’t soon forget: somewhere worth more in the mind than a few likes on your Marbella sun lounger selfies.
Jordan might well be the place. We should know, having done all the legwork out there so you don’t have to – the hard life of the travel journalist is not without its perks. Never content to take the path of sterile, conventional hospitality, and always keen to seek out those places bringing new meaning to the idea of luxury in all its multi-sided definitions, we went for a stay at the Feynan Ecolodge in South Central Jordan’s Dana Biosphere Reserve. Hailed as one of the 25 best ecolodges in the world by National Geographic, we had to try out this candle lit retreat.
Nestled among the sweeping valleys of the Reserve (which also boasts the charming 15th Century village of Dana – itself boasting awe inspiring views of the ancient landscape below the precipice on which it perches), and located, quite literally, at the end of the beaten track, this solar-powered, 26 room lodge provides the ultimate in sustainable opulence. By partnering with Jordanian NGO The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, EcoHotels have been able to create an experience as easy on the conscience as it is relaxing. That means you can lay back in the Feynan’s serene courtyards sipping tea, or roam Bedouin-like around the surrounding terrain safe in the knowledge that you’re not wreaking apocalyptic havoc on Jordan’s valuable wildlife and time-worn environs.
Still, if this traditionally styled retreat feels too protected, too touched by tourism’s hand, don’t miss a chance to venture into the parched valleys of Wadi Rum. The desert has long held a strange and primal appeal to man in its vast blankness and Bowelsian vigour, and a night (or two) spent amid the extreme temperatures and perspective-melting vistas of Wadi Rum is sure to afford some window into the desert’s timeless and intoxicating thrill: unforgettable is an understatement where this is concerned.
Nonetheless, if you don’t fancy yourself a foolhardy traveller of these challenging terrains, capable of setting up tent yourself for the night, don’t fret. Authentic guidance and hospitality comes in the form of Captain’s Desert Camp: a Green Key certified, eco-friendly camp that offers dining tents serving delicious local cuisine, overnight tents (both private and communal), as well as a luxury Pasha tent that’ll have you feeling positively princely in it’s historic decadence.
Finally, no trip to Jordan would be (nor should be) complete without a visit to Petra. One of the true wonders of the Middle East – and, indeed, the world – Petra dates to around 300BC and is justly renowned for its architecture that’s hewn out of the pinkish rocks which have stood firm for over 2000 years. The jewel in Petra’s already impressive crown is undoubtedly it’s iconic landmark, Al-Khazneh (The Treasury). With a massive façade measuring 43m high and almost as wide, it’s a devastatingly impressive sight and an enduring testament to the intelligence of the land’s ancient people. Another memory that won’t, rest assured, be soon forgotten. All this is to say nothing of the camel rides, succulent Medjool Dates, guaranteed-tan weather and even warmer hospitality of the region. That trip to Corfu ain’t looking so impressive now, is it?