Due to environmental challenges the country has encountered in the last couple of decades, the need for eco-friendly practices has grown tremendously. Faced with the issues of water scarcity and widespread pollution, Jordan has needed to buckle down on environmentalism across all industries, and tourism has been no exception.
As a result, popular tourist attractions have new eco-friendly standards, and sustainable accommodations are popping up all over the country.
With all these new options in sustainable travel, it’s a bit easier to be eco-conscious while traveling in Jordan. Still, there are many things you can do yourself to make sure you’re making as little impact as possible and taking full advantage of ecotourism in Jordan.
Here are our recommendations on how to plan a responsible trip to Jordan.
Top Tips for Ecotourism in Jordan
Whether it’s in Jordan or anywhere else, remember some basic responsible travel principles to always be aware of:
- In general, make sure to practice the principles of Leave No Trace in order to minimize your environmental impact.
- Stay on the trail wherever you go, and don’t touch any of the monuments.
- Make sure not to purchase pieces of rock, pottery, or other archeological remains, as this supports the exploitations of historic sights
- Be responsible when interacting with children. Avoid taking photos with or of children without their parent’s or guardian’s permission. Be aware that children that work at tourist sights are at great risk physically, mentally, and emotionally. Buying from children and giving into child begging keeps them on the streets instead of in school. For more tips and guidelines head over to the Child Safe Movement.
- Don’t ride animals.
Visit Sustainable Destinations
You’ll no doubt want to see all the famous sights on your holiday in Jordan. Luckily, in response to environmental struggles in recent years, most of the well-known nature areas and world heritage sites have enforced stricter rules and regulations to better preserve these areas for generations to come.
By visiting them and adhering to the above guidelines, you’ll be supporting preservation efforts and ecotourism in Jordan.
Petra, an ancient city and archaeological hotspot in the south of the country, is Jordan’s top tourist attraction. Built in 9,000 BC, Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the best known for it’s Treasury, a towering carved rock facade.
Petra has a great sustainability program called Care for Petra. They have multiple international partners and do a great job spreading and encouraging sustainable behaviour in and around Petra.
If you’re heading out into the Wadi Rum desert, you’ll want to hire a local guide or take a tour. Be sure to choose a responsible tour operator that allows you to visit the desert while respecting the customs and traditions of the Bedouin life.
Opt to experience the desert on foot rather than by car, where possible and choose to stay in a desert camp that uses traditional fittings and has a minimum impact on the desert.
Dana Biosphere Reserve
Although not as well known as Petra or Wadi Rum, the Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest nature reserve and perhaps the single best destination for ecotourism in Jordan.
Here, you can go hiking, biking, canyoning, or simply relax and take in the views. Their ecotourism project is run by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and the work they are doing is making a huge difference in the environmental health of the area.
Mujib Biosphere Reserve
If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure in one of Jordan’s natural areas, head to the Mujib Biosphere Reserve. At 410 meters below sea level directly adjacent to the Dead Sea, you’ll find rugged canyons with quick flowing rivers and tons of hiking trails.
Ajloun Forest Reserve
Ajloun Forest Reserve is a peaceful forest is full of a variety of tree species such as oak, pine, and pistachio. Located just north of Amman, the Ajloun Forest Reserve is the perfect place to visit for some relaxed nature walks.
Shaumari Wildlife Reserve
Run by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve is a breeding ground for some of the most endangered wildlife in Jordan, like the Oryx, ostriches, gazelles and more.
Support their programs by planning a responsible visit and learning how the protect and preserve their wildlife.
Azraq Wetland Reserve
The Azraq Wetland Reserve is a desert oasis best known for its population of migrant birds. Many interesting archaeological sites lie within easy reach of the reserve, including the famous but ‘desert castles’: Qasr Amra, Qasr Kharana and Azraq Castle
For more ideas on sustainable destinations and activities in Jordan, refer to the Meaningful Travel Map of Jordan.
Stay in Sustainable Accommodation
One of the best things you can do in terms of responsible travel in Jordan is to book your stay in an eco-hotel in Jordan.
Accommodations use a lot of natural resources and energy, so make sure to minimize your impact by researching the green practices of your hotel or apartment.
There are not a ton of sustainable accommodation options in Jordan, but there are a couple of great options worth adding to your Jordan travel itinerary.
Wild Jordan Lodges, Amman
Wild Jordan hosts five environmentally friendly lodges right in the center of town. Each one is named after a nature reserve that is run by the Royal Society of Nature Center. They all adhere to eco-friendly practices such as diligent recycling, and their restaurant’s source local and sustainable food. All located right next to each other in the center of Amman, the location is unrivalled.
All of the lodges accommodate two guests, have balconies with unbelievable views, and cost $140 per night.
Feynan Ecolodge, Dana Biosphere Reserve
The Feynan Ecolodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve is perhaps the greenest hotel in all of Jordan. Having been featured in National Geographic as one of the best ecolodges in the world, it is now quite famous across the globe.
This lodge boasts some impressive sustainability practices: The entire facility is run on solar power and they use only water from local springs. They also donate a lot of funding to the reserve in order to preserve and protect the region’s nature.
If you want to book an ecolodge for your responsible trip, this is the BEST Eco Lodge to experience!
Ajloun Cabins, Ajloun Forest Reserve
Managed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), the Ajloun Forest Reserve offers 23 cabins designed to help you experience nature with a bit of added luxury. Each cabin offers all the comforts, including a private bathroom and a small terrace where you can enjoy the rolling forest vistas.
Azraq Lodge, Eastern Desert
The Azraq Lodge is located only a short distance from the Azraq and Shaumari Nature Reserves, at the edge of the Eastern Desert. This converted 1940’s British military field hospital offers authentic atmosphere, combined with a modern twist, and provides comfortable accommodation with 16 fully equipped 1940’s style rooms with private bathrooms and terraces, overlooking Azraq Village and sand flats of the Azraq Basin.
All the staff members at the lodge are from local Bedouin, Chechen, and Druze communities and the kitchen and restaurant are under the management of a local family, who provide home-cooked Chechen food.
Mujib Chalets, Mujib Biosphere Reserve
Mujib Chalet Village located on the shores of the Madash peninsula offers an excellent alternative to unsustainable all-inclusive resorts that are prevalent along the Dead Sea coast.
With 15 double rooms equipped with two Twin Beds, a private bathroom and a terrace offering some of the best views of the Dead Sea, this accommodation option is ideal for anyone looking to explore the Mujib Biosphere Reserve.
Responsible shopping in Jordan can have a powerful impact on the local economy.
By supporting local producers and organizations, you’re putting your souvenir fund to its best possible use.
Avoid the typical souk shopping experience, as most of the items sold at these markets come straight from China and do absolutely nothing to promote local manufacturing and provide jobs for the local population.
Instead, opt to purchase from smaller producers, ones that provide jobs for the local community or pride themselves on producing the products themselves.
For a wide selection of responsible souvenirs head to the Wild Jordan Centre shop where you can find plenty of crafts and works of art made by local artisans. In addition, try visiting local social enterprises such as the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative or the Syrian Jasmine House, two local organizations that support local artisans.
One of the best things you can do to contribute to ecotourism in Jordan is to eat in restaurants that make the most of local produce and resources.
Seeking out locals’ favourite restaurants is not only a great option for finding the best food, but it also helps those small “mom and pop” establishments that support themselves independently through the food industry.
Another way to eat sustainably is to eat a vegan diet and luckily, Jordan is a fantastic place to do so. With local specialties such as falafel, tabbouleh, and pita bread, it’s simple and delicious to eat meat-free in Jordan.
Here are a few of our recommendations for a few great restaurant options in Amman, Jordan
Wild Jordan Centre Restaurant
The Wild Jordan Centre has a restaurant, bar, and cafe where you can enjoy stunning views of the city while filling up on some delicious and eco-conscious Middle Eastern fare. There are very vegan-friendly and have plenty of options for health-conscious diners as well.
Shams El Balad
If you’re looking for an authentic farm to table restaurant, this is your place. Shams El Balad restaurant cooks up delicious Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food using only organic and sustainably sourced ingredients. In addition, their seasonal menus ensure you always get the freshest meals based on the time of year.
This fast food option is great if you need a quick yet authentic bite during your day in Amman. Here you’ll find a very simple menu of Jordanian staples such as fresh falafel and mint tea. Most of the options are vegan.
Take a Cooking Class
One of the best ways to get immersed in the local culture is to take a cooking class. By taking a class with a local or joining a local family for dinner, you’re supporting them directly with your tourist dollars, not to mention you’ll likely have some seriously incredible food.
This traditional family-run joint has you pick out ingredients and lets you cook them up yourself. Beit Sitti has cooking classes daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just make sure to make a reservation in advance to secure your spot.
Try searching for food and drink experiences in Amman on Airbnb. You can find a number of options for different cooking classes, including one run by a non-profit for local women, the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative.
Choose a Responsible Jordan Tour Operator
We’ll be honest with you, there are not a ton of operators offering responsible tours around Jordan. Of all the operators, G Adventures, a responsible small group tour operator is one of the best. We travelled with them during our time in Jordan.
Their tours are run by a local guide with the utmost knowledge of local history, customs and traditions. Plus they have a strong commitment to responsible travel through their involvement with organizations like Planaterra and Child Safe Movement.
We visited Jordan on their Explore Jordan Tour, but looking back, we would recommend their Jordan Multi-Sport Tour instead, as it allows you to visit more of Jordan’s ecotourism destinations.
The Bottom Line on Ecotourism in Jordan
Overall, Jordan is making great strides in the way of ecotourism and conservation across the country, but planning a sustainable holiday to Jordan is still a challenging task.
Eco-hotels and other responsible accommodation options are limited only to the ones offered by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, and there are few activities and tour operators that are truly embracing responsible practices as a part of their operations.
But as with every destination, a part of the responsibility for eco-conscious travel lies on you. As travelers, your demand for more sustainable offerings across Jordan and your support of existing sustainable hotels, activities, and destinations is in and of itself a big step in the establishment of more sustainable travel practices across Jordan.
Have you been to Jordan? Tell us about your favourite sustainable, tour or hotel below!
Disclaimer: We traveled to Jordan as guests on the G Adventures Explore Jordan tour, but all opinions expressed in this article are our own.