I’ve only mentioned ecotourism in Jordan once on this blog, and yet it seems to have brought in a great deal of interest in the form of links and emails. That in mind, here are some more recent articles from eco-tourists, ecopreneurists and a Peace Corps worker, all experiencing the journey that is Jordan without trashing the country side or the indigenous population.
We’ll start off with some musings from someone six months in the Middle East, where Alysha offers this Arabian ecotourism adventure after a visit to Karak castle:
Rihla ala Jenub (Trip to the South) … we ventured to Wadi Dana, one of several nature reserves in Jordan that have been groomed for eco-tourism. Resplendent with majestic mountain ranges covered in greenery and humongous scarab beetles the size of bottle camps, our group spent the night in pristine white tepees, which were quite comfortable, albeit a bit cold. I relished in the quiet of Dana–although Amman may not be a very large city, there is never a morning when the adhan, or call to prayer, does not blare out from the mosque down the street around 5 am.
Contrary to Alysha’s excellent description of ecotouring the Dana Natural Reserve, we have this gratuitous little post entitled ‘Indie Travelers’ Top 10 for 2008‘ from the Don’t Burn the Day blog where they suggest Petra as a place to experience ecotourism.
Good luck with that as the commercialization of this wondrous ancient site doesn’t really lend itself to the type of ecological tourism that focuses on volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the planet. This isn’t to say Petra isn’t worth the hike, it’s just also crowded with tourists of all kinds there, candy wrappers, discarded water bottles, donkey ska and all.
So if not Petra, then where? Glad you asked … as this short and simple post from the JordanGuide blog entitled “where to go” offers these locations:
Afterwards we headed to the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature’s “Wild Jordan” nature center. We heard a talk by one of the employees about some of the environmental problems in Jordan and what the RSCN is doing to help, mostly they are working in the ecotourism sector. We had lunch in their cafe, of course tons of food again, and the view was spectacular.
And while on the topic of the RSCN, ‘Where in the World is Spud?‘ offers this excellent economic insight into eco-tourism:
Day 2 in Amman and things are going very well. Today we went and visited RSCN, the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature. They were a really neat NGO who realized that nature can not be saved solely for the sake of nature, that in order to bring about real change you have to stimulate economic development as well. The man we met with, Chris Johnson, was from Britain and worked with the World Bank. He had been sent here to Jordan to help start up ecotourism sites throughout the country.
And while on the topic of economics and ecotourism, Peace Corps worker Mindy in Jordan informs us that:
I live in a region of Jordan called the Eastern Badia, in a small village that is home to I-have-no-idea how many people, even more sheep and goats, and a cluster of Bedouins who have a coffee addiction unlike any Starbuck’s devotee in the States. The Eastern Badia region is the entire area east of Amman (the “panhandle” of Jordan) and extends south to an area adjacent to Petra. Its name derives from the root word Bedouin …
… However, notions of the Badia and Bedouin life plug directly into the Jordanian psyche. In 1992…Jordan’s Higher Council for Science and Technology…established the Badia Research and Development Programme (www.badia.gov.jo). The BRDP has identified vast potential in the Badia, ranging from mineral resources to ecotourism, traditional crafts and renewable energy. Badia bees, for example, can produce twice as much honey as those in Ajloun, Jordan’s traditional beekeeping centre; in 2001, the BRDP launched a scheme to kick-start production by private-sector Badia apiaries.
[The BRDP] is now attempting to limit the number of sheep per household to just twenty, instead of thousands, and to turn around the priorities of farmers, who devote land and precious water to crops such as tomatoes and watermelon while simultaneously importing vast quantities of animal feed…
I’m not sure what to think about all that.
And as if we haven’t talked enough about the World Economic Forum, they did at least honors some social entrepreneurs residing in Egypt and Jordan where ‘ecopreneurist‘ MC Milker writes:
Some of those facilitating change in the region were the winners of Social Entrepreneur of the Year for Jordan and Egypt announced at the forum. In Jordan, the winner uses a for-profit model familiar to many female entrepreneurs – take care of business while taking care of the family.
“Zeinab Al Momani’s Sakrah Women’s Cooperative promotes the economic, social and cultural rights of women in the remote and rural areas of Jordan while operating as a successful for-profit cooperative.Its women members cultivate, manufacture, package and market the cooperative’s products and share in the profits, while their children are enrolled in the child care programme or benefit from school and university grants given by the group.”
There are actually a number of programs such as the Sakrah Women’s Cooperative we were made aware of our first full day in Jordan back at a November 4th press panel. Good and interesting to see how ecotourism is providing opportunities for women in the Middle East to overcome poverty.
More next week – from a place you wouldn’t expect me to be – or maybe you would.by