Ecolodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan


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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Ecolodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan


Feynan Ecolodge is designed to operate in harmony with its environment. Feynan is managed in partnership with its owner the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) - a Jordanian NGO dedicated to conserving the Kingdom's wildlife. A large proportion of all revenue goes directly to the RSCN for conservation projects in the Dana Biosphere Reserve.

At Feynan, we also aim to minimise the impact that our guests have on the environment. Completely off the grid, Feynan generates its own electricity from photovoltaic panels and heats water using solar collectors for hot showers. We also minimise electricity usage within the lodge, providing electricity only in the guest bathrooms, kitchen and small office and lighting the rest of the lodge by candle light at night. We reduce our energy usage by measuring and monitoring our use, air-drying laundry and using energy efficient appliances and lightbulbs. All of this means Feynan uses less electricity than an average two bedroom apartment in Jordan's capital, Amman.

We source our water from a perennial spring in Wadi Dana and ensure that we minimise the use of water in the lodge by monitoring our usage, using aerators in faucets and encouraging guests to consider their water usage during their stay.

At Feynan we reduce the amount of waste that we produce by shunning plastic bags and eliminating plastic bottles from the lodge. Instead we provide guests with water in clay water jars made by a women's cooperative in Petra, introduced our own reusable water bottles for hiking and provide a free water refilling station for guests to use. This has meant that in 2013 we eliminated over 15,000 disposable plastic bottles from the lodge.

From the waste that we do produce, we recycle as much as possible and encourage our guests to do the same by providing recycling facilities on site. Our raw food waste gets composted onsite and re-used as fertiliser.

In winter we heat the lodge by burning jift - a sustainable bi-product from Jordan's olive harvest. By using this instead of wood, we save 4 tonnes of trees from being deforested in Jordan every year.

We also try to source as many of our supplies as possible locally and in 2013 over 80% of our food and supplies were sourced from within a 40km radius of the lodge.


Feynan is operated in harmony with the local Bedouin community, aiming to provide real benefits from tourism and a warm and authentic experience from the local people. It was designed as a project that would provide economic opportunities for the local population who were affected by poverty. Our hiring policy means that all our 26 staff are hired from the local community and we provide them with a fair wage and the ongoing training needed to provide the highest levels of service to our guests.

As well as our staff, we have many other projects that are aimed at spreading the benefit of tourism at Feynan across the local community. We are really proud that in 2013 over half of the money paid by guests stayed within the local community, benefiting 80 families.

Transport along the 8km dirt track to Feynan is provided by a pool of 45 local Bedouin drivers who provide this service in their free time, providing an important source of additional income for these families.

The bread served at the lodge is baked fresh every day by a Bedouin woman from her goat-hair tent. Feynan is her only client and she is the main income earner in her household - an unusual position for a woman in this conservative society.

The candles used to light the lodge at night and the leather goods decorating the lodge are made on site in two workshops providing employment for a further four women and a man.

The soaps provided in guest bathrooms are made from olive oil by a women's project in the north of Jordan. Not only is this an environmentally friendly alternative to many commercial soaps, but it spreads the benefits of tourism. We also sell many crafts, herbs and jams in our gift shop produced by community projects all over Jordan.

As well as the economic benefits, our Bedouin experiences and knowledgeable local guides are the best way to understand the local environment and culture. They offer travelers the chance to understand Bedouin culture, encourage pride in traditions and in some cases are even reviving almost forgotten skills, for example goat hair tent weaving which we have noticed being encouraged again as local women see that tourists place a value on this tradition.

We are also happy to provide advice and encouragement to other local people wanting to start their own businesses. For example we have helped a community member to start a business offering accommodation for tour guides.

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