Hubbly bubbly, Sisha, hookah or in Arabic: “Argilah”, the water-pipe is a common tool to smoke different flavors of tobacco in Jordan. What is it and where can you smoke the best Sisha in Jordan? 

Preparing the Sisha

How do you prepare the best sisha? Learn from the locals in Jordan and use the following tips and tricks:

  • Fire up! Get some coals from your BBQ or put some on the fire. In the meanwhile you can continue with prepping your pipe.
  • Fill the bottle with cool water. You can also add ice-cubes, slices of lemon or some mint to the water for an extra fresh taste.
  • Fill the head of the Sisha with the tobacco of your taste. Put a piece of foil on top and prick small holes in there so the air can go through.
  • Make sure all pieces are well connected. Put some small coals on top of the foil and suck the air through the tube. You’ll see smoke coming into the bottle above the water.
  • While smoking, sometimes it becomes ‘very heavy’. Instead of leaving it, you can go another round by taking the head off and blow in it from the other side.
  • If you’re sitting outside, you can protect the coals from blowing off by either wrapping some foil around the head of the water-pipe or use the little wind-shield that came with the sisha.
  • Drink a small cup of Turkish coffee along with your sisha like a real pro.

For this blog we went out and captured the process with a how-to photoguide:

 

Buying a sisha in Jordan

There are many shops to buy your sisha in Jordan. If you are looking to take this souvenir home, consider buying a full set so you can enjoy it at home. A complete set contains:

  • The sisha itself
  • A good tube and some plastic mouth pieces if you are planning to share it with others
  • Spare parts such as rubbers and ceramic top-pieces
  • Tobacco – keep in mind the regulations of your home country (or next destination) to prevent hassle at the airport!
  • The big tweezers to handle hot coals.
  • A rag to clean it after use
  • A small metal basket so you can burn your coals on the fire.
  • A bag that fits the sisha and all parts exactly, perfect when you want to take it to the beach or on a picnic!

Another tip to clean the tube: put a bit of water inside and sling it while holding both ends. Blow out the water and there you go, ready for the next round!

Shop for tabacco and sisha in Jordan – Picture by Marre

Types of tobacco

The most common enjoyed flavor is double apple. You’ll find it available everywhere. But there’s also the Zaglool – a cigar like taste where the coals are put directly on top of the tobacco (without foil.) But there’s a range of other flavors as well. The tobacco shop can even mix your favorite flavors. Some popular combinations are lemon and mint or watermelon that tastes like sweet sweet bubblegum. But you can also go for something more tropical, for example with a combination of coconut, mango and peach flavor.

"tombac" sisha in Jordan - Photo by Carmen Scholten
“tombac” sisha in Jordan – Photo by Carmen Scholten

Where to smoke a sisha in Jordan:

Almost everyone has a sisha at home in Jordan. In most restaurants in Jordan the water-pipe is part of the menu. But also Bedouins in the most remote places can prepare it for you. In Papaya Restaurant in Aqaba (Pizza street) you will find a beautifully crafted sisha with different and unique flavors.  Sisha Way in Amman – the name already says it, serves different kind of sisha’s. Or visit Books@Cafe, LEMON Jordan or just hop in where-ever you see other people smoking their sisha’s!

Looking for a customized program with visits to beautiful places, good restaurants and the highlights of Jordan? Contact our Jordan destination experts for a custom-made trip! 

Disclaimer: don’t smoke tobacco if you are too young to do so, or if you have an addictive personality. It can become a first step to smoking real cigarettes! 

 

Do you have a sisha yourself? Did we miss any tips and tricks? Comment below! 

 

We notice that nowadays more often people choose to ‘’travel local’’. But what does it mean to travel local in Jordan and why would it be something for you? 

Did you ever wonder where your money would end up during your all-inclusive holiday?

Perfect, your holiday is arranged from A – Z, you don’t have to worry about anything. Your room is getting cleaned, three times a day a hot buffet meal is waiting for you and if you are bored of the beach and the swimming pools, then the inhouse ‘travel agency’’ can arrange a ‘jeep safari’, ‘local diner with authentic dance performance’ or a ‘camel tour’ in just a wink. Why not? It is often cheap, easy and arranged without any hassle and you will even have the idea that you have learned something about a new country. But, did you ever wonder about what kind of impact your dream holiday has on the local community and economy?

Wadi Araba

Often, your money will disappear and goes to all those who are working behind the scenes. For the locals, there’s nothing left. The wages are poor, working conditions bad and often Europeans are flown in to take over the reception and hostess work. Even worse, local tour guides can’t find business anymore when the tour operators take their own guides from abroad. The same counts for cab drivers and restaurant owners. They get an offer from the big companies. But in the end, they lose their profit on ridiculous high amounts of commission. It’s not worth to participate in the end. I am sure you cannot agree with this. But can you change this positively? You can, and it is even easier than you think!

Travel local!

This way, the local people and the country’s economy benefit from your stay. Make sure to choose how and where to book your next holiday wisely. There are numerous companies who do care about the country and their people. Like this, drivers and guides will be booked and paid directly instead of the money rolling from here to there before arriving in the country.

Something else you can do while traveling, participate in a community based project such as a local family dinner or come along for the day with a local farmer and see how he’s harvesting olives to make soap or oil out of it. Projects like these can be found in almost every country in the world. Have a sincere look at the holiday destination of your choice and sign up for one of those projects to support the locals.

Zikra initiative, local family dinner

Traveling local is not boring or old fashioned. Local destination experts know the ins and outs, like hidden gems and hotspots, that you definitely must visit during your holiday. Traveling local will certainly has a positive effect on your holiday experience.

Enough reasons to think twice about where to book your next holiday, so that you can ensure that local people get the profit they deserve and that your money is not disappearing behind other people’s back.

Traveling with In2Jordan automatically means that you are supporting Jordan’s locals. We choose our drivers and guides carefully. We know them and their family’s personally. In this way, we know that the profit goes to our drivers and guides and their families as well.

This list shows you 5 of the many community based activities that In2Jordan is offering in order to support local communities:

1) Local family dinner: Enjoy a fresh home-made dinner at a local family. Experience how Jordanians live. Enjoy a cup of sweet mint tea while listening to their stories.
2) Bedouin weaving workshop: Experience centuries of old weaving techniques together with the Woman from Udruh (Petra area). You will go home with a unique handmade souvenir.
3) Visit the woman’s initiative of Iraq al Amir: Let the ladies show you their handicraft skills: from making soap to pottery and handmade paper.

Local woman in Udruh, weaving course

4) Visit local initiatives in Ajloun: At the soap house, you can learn more about traditional soap making, don’t leave without buying one of the unique soaps.
5) Come along with a local Bedouin and his goats to experience what it’s like to be a herder in rural Jordan. This day you can experience in Feynan, a ecolodge situated in the middle of Jordan.

 

To get more information about community based itineraries and what excursions we offer, please click here.

Don’t miss out on the ultimate food experience when travelling in Jordan. The kingdom’s national dish, Mansaf, should be a point on every traveller’s bucket list.

Photo by: WAELBQ

What is Mansaf?

It is a traditional Arabic dish, noticeably most popular in Jordan, which has made Mansaf its national dish. It is a dish made of rice, lamb, dried goat yoghurt (also called jameed), pine nuts and shrak (very flat bread, similar to crepes). Sometimes, the head of the lamb is placed on top as a symbol of good quality and fresh meat. In fairness, Mansaf is also popular in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Palestine, with slight variations in preparation.

In Jordan, it is usually served on a huge platter, with the shrak spread out on the bottom. Then, a gigantic mountain of rice is piled on top of it. The lamb meat is scattered on top, and pine nuts are sprinkled over the whole dish.

Mansaf is more than just delicious food, it is an experience in itself!

A bit of history

There is no better way of putting it: Mansaf is not only food, it is part of the Jordanian culture. In the past, the dish was known to resolve conflicts between Jordanian tribes. Nowadays, it is common to eat Mansaf at parties, family reunions or celebrations.

Mansaf was first prepared by Bedouins in the Arabian desert. Back then, it was made with camel or lamb meat, shrak bread and ghee or meat broth. Rice and jameed were included in the dish at a later stage. As Bedouins lived like nomads and moved around a lot, they spread their recipes throughout the region.

Photo by: Delphine Vincent

Etiquette around Mansaf

There is a certain Jordanian pride and significance that goes with eating Mansaf. The national dish is served on one big platter, with everyone eating from the same platter with their hands. Amongst locals, women and men sometimes have separate platters. Usually, Mansaf is eaten while standing around the table it’s served on.

In a very traditional setting, the host is always serving the guests. This shows appreciation, respect and good hospitality. The host is expected to continuously place pieces of lamb in front of all guests, and also keep pouring the jameed sauce. As a guest, you would not help yourself to the meat, but a good host will ensure that there is always some in front of you. You should also only eat from the “section” in front of you and not take food that is placed in front of other people. The host is not supposed to stop eating until the last guest has finished.

And finally: After your feast, you are allowed to lick your hands! Only if you don’t intend to dip your hands back into the platter, of course…

How to eat Mansaf

To really get the taste of Mansaf, you should eat it the traditional way: with your hands. It’s not as easy as it sounds, though. First and foremost, you should eat with your right hand and your left hand behind your back.

When aiming to catapult the first load into your mouth, take a good handful of rice and lamb, and form a ball in your hand. Avoid squeezing the rice too hard, as it will stick to your palm otherwise. Eat the entire ball in one bite and try not to touch your mouth or lips, if possible. Also, try to keep your face and the space around you tidy J

If you know how, Mansaf is not too difficult to prepare. Here is a good recipe: http://foodemag.com/recipe-mansaf/

Photo by: Gigiola

If you want to experience a Mansaf feast during your trip to Jordan, get in touch with us, and we make it happen! Contact us via Trip.me here: https://www.trip.me/profile/31265 or check out the trips on our website: https://in2jordan.com/intineraries/

 

Meet Ahmad Alomari, In2Jordans tour guide for Um Qais and proud camp owner. Let him tell you about his job and favourite places. 

Name: Ahmad Alomari
Age: 45 years
Occupation: Tour guide and camp owner in Um Qais, Northern Jordan
Languages spoken: Fluent Arabic, fluent English, proficient in German

 

Q: How long have you been working with In2Jordan?
A: I have been working with In2Jordan for three years now.

Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: The best part of my job is that I get to go hiking in beautiful landscapes every day and help visitors discover the history and natural wonders of Jordan.

Q: What parts of Jordan do your guests get most excited about?
A: It’s not a specific aspect of my program that people enjoy. It is the way I put each piece together that my guests like most. When hiking, I take my guests on unique trails that other people don’t get to see. During the homestay, my guests get to forage and farm the organic food they will eat, and prepare it using traditional methods. All of this takes place in a camp surrounded by panoramic views. I also offer swimming in hot springs for further relaxing moments for guests in summer and winter seasons.

Q: Where is your favourite place in Jordan?
A:. I love Petra and I’m yet to find a guest who doesn’t love it too. Wadi Rum is my favourite place in Jordan though. The red sand and rock formations are amazing.

For first-hand insight into what hiking through Um Qais with Ahmed is like, check out Hiking In Umm Qais and Yarmouk Nature Reserve by Baker Alkarimeh.

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
A: Actually, but the hardest part of my job is to find an assistant when I have a bigger group coming. It doesn’t sound so difficult, but it’s the hardest part.

 

Updated In2Jordan travel app: Your personalised travel app will now provide an even better experience, having everything you need for your holiday in one place!

What is Vamoos?

Vamoos is an incredibly handy (and free) travel app. With the app, you can access all your documents, important information and even the local weather forecast. Moreover, you can easily share your holiday photos and message with your travel companions. All you need in one place!

Other features of Vamoos include:

  • Your itinerary and a count-down to your departure date
  • A map with all the locations you will visit
  • A general overview of local customs, language tips, and additional excursions that might be useful during your visit
  • Your transport and accommodation vouchers
  • suggested points of interest in your surrounding area
  • Links to external websites
  • Separate sign-in for all travellers

With In2Jordan being the first company using Vamoos in the Middle East, you’ve got a clear advantage if booking with us!

How does it work?

It’s really easy, you cannot go wrong. Firstly, our In2Jordan experts work with you to create your perfect holiday. When you’re happy with the itinerary, we’ll invite you to download Vamoos via the App Store on your phone.

Once downloaded, enter your personal reference number, which you will have received from your destination expert. Upon opening the app, you will be presented with the names of all travellers. Choose your own name and enter the app. You will be presented with a fully personalised app, containing all the information about your holiday. Simple!

Why use it?

Apart from all the obvious reasons why you should use it, here is another one: We also aim to reduce our environmental footprint by digitising many tourism paper-based processes, making them available 24/7. The updated Vamoos app houses all your travel essentials on your phone.

For In2Jordan, responsible tourism is a priority. We build itineraries that allow you to spend as much time with locals as possible so you can learn their ancient culture from the grassroots and make the most out of your holiday!

 

Here is a list of the 7 biggest differences between Western and Jordanian culture. Some of them will blow your mind!

1. Clothing in the Jordanian Culture 

Photo: Lauras Eye

It’s pretty obvious that clothing is a major difference in culture. Especially with locals and tourists, different ways of clothing often lead to misunderstandings. If you show too much skin it can come across as disrespectful and offensive in Jordan.

You will also notice that Jordanians pay more attention to dress well than people in the West. You would rarely see someone walking down the street in scruffy looking clothes! In Jordan, both men and women, expose as little skin as possible and always cover upper arms.

 

2. Culture around invitations

Here is something worth knowing: When being offered something, it is actually considered polite to refuse a few times before accepting!

If you genuinely don’t want to accept, this is a way of saying no in a socially acceptable way. With a big smile and right hand over your heart saying ‘shukran shukran’ (which means ‘thank you, thank you’). Although, you might have to say this a few times due to the ritual of polite insistence…

A tip for female travelers in Jordan: If you’re happen to be invited to a local family for dinner, it might be handy to wear trousers instead of skirts or low cut waists. Also bring a scarf with you. Most of the people sit on the ground to eat and you need to bend over to reach the food. On this way you’re sure to not show any cleavage, whether it’s on the front or the back! Jordanians also eat with their right hand, as the left one is for the toilet. You might want to do the same if you don’t want people looking at you in a confused way 🙂

Another cultural difference exists around gift giving: Be aware when complimenting someone’s possessions. As opposed to in the West, if you show interest in an object your host is supposed to give it to you!

3. Interactions between men and women

Men and women interact very differently with each other in Jordanian and Western culture. Public displays of affection between a man and a woman like holding hands or kissing are not recommended, even if the couple is married. Though you see more couples holding hands these days, a kiss on the lips is still kept for inside the house.

It is less known that Islamic women cannot interact freely with men outside their direct family (e.g. father, brother, closest cousins). Therefore, it is also common for a man to only greet the husband. Greeting the wife could be interpreted as showing too much interest.

Tip for male travelers: A woman might place a hand on her heart when greeting you, which means that she would not like to shake hands with a strange man.

A tip for female travelers: You might automatically look everyone in the eyes at home. It’s considered a sign of honesty in the West. Though, in the Middle East it might be considered as an invitation to something more than that!

4. Status of women

You will notice a big difference regarding the status of women in Jordan and in Western countries. In the Middle East, most women are staying at home, taking care of the family and children instead of having a career of their own. However, many women actually go to university (and even more so than boys) but once married don’t work in their profession.

Motives of decision making are also different, with the Western culture being more individualistically oriented. Jordanian women, on the other hand, are more focused and make decisions based on the collective interest of the family.

In order to empower more women to work and to be self-sustainable, we organize different activities around Jordan. If you are interested, consider joining one of our excursions to the Iraq Al Amir Women Cooperative Society in Amman or the Looming Ladies of Udruth in Petra. The women there have numerous skills to teach you, like producing soap or Bedouin weaving! Click here for more info: https://in2jordan.com/tours/workshops-in-jordan/

5. Customs around social interaction

Photo: petergustafson9

Jordanians are very energetic with regards to social interaction. Even if they are strangers they will hang around for a chat and exchange opinions. Westerners, who are not used to lengthy conversations with strangers, can often come across as cold or uninterested if not being too chatty when in a shop, for example.

So, when travelling in Jordan, have a chat with shopkeepers, they are genuinely interested where you come from.

 

 

Jordanians also shake hands more often – also with strangers. You’ll notice that sometimes Jordanians also shake hands with each other while in conversation when agreeing on something or joking around.

6. Muslim men can have up to four wives

In Jordan, Muslim men are allowed to have up to 4 wives – unimaginable in Western culture! Still, in Jordan polygamy is restricted and the first wife has to give her consent. It is not very common anymore, though.

7. Family is important

Family is very important in Jordanian culture. Here, people like to stay close to their family and relatives, and daily visits are not uncommon. If the family is not in close proximity, you’ll see a lot of people talking on the phone or Skype to their relatives, sometimes for hours or while doing other things. Respect for the elderly is also a big part of the culture, as well as taking care of parents when they grow old.

If you want to interact with locals and experience the famous hospitality of Jordanian families, have a look at our community-based tourism itinerary. Click here for more information: https://in2jordan.com/tours/community-based-tourism-jordan/

When Spanish writer and blogger, Patricia Peyró wanted to explore the benefits of yoga in the desert, she called on In2Jordan expert, Jolinda Cath.  Check out her article below which includes seven key reasons to practice yoga.  

Click here for the original article, which was first published by Patricia Peyró on The Luxonomist.  

Credit: Jolinda Cath

“The culmination of pleasure: doing yoga in the desert

Do you like yoga? And travel? Now it is possible to combine both hobbies by practicing yogi tourism, an upward modality of health, well-being and spirituality.

Enjoying yoga in the middle of nature has become one of the favorite retreats of those who practice this type of alternative tourism. Within nature, connoisseurs describe the desert as the culmination of pleasure to make any escape a real refuge where to abandon the well-being of moderate introspection.

How does an early morning yoga session sound? And a walk among dunes, steep rocks and endless plains of intense reddish tones that will change color with light? The desert of Wadi Rum in Jordan may be the best proposal for an unforgettable vacation practicing your favorite sport. Jolinda Cath has Dutch nationality but has settled for years in Jordan, where she develops the greatest of her passions: yoga.

 In addition to being an instructor of this modality, she has worked for years in tourism, organizing tailor-made trips in different countries of the world, in each of them adding knowledge and new hobbies. In fact, there are three of her great loves: yoga , photography and travel. Certainly a combination of the most attractive. As she explains: “Perhaps my passions seem very different from each other, but somehow I live them as complementary, since one inspires the other and creates the next.”

Credit: Jolinda Cath

” Jolinda offers tailor-made tours for small groups combining yoga with tourism in Jordan.”

 Jolinda offers tailor-made tours for small groups combining yoga with tourism in Jordan. A basic yoga trip would have a program with practice in the morning and afternoon, although it can be intensified on demand up to three times daily and with meditation. But what is important is what the group is looking for.

 “I prefer groups of between six and 16 people, so it’s an intimate experience that creates a safe and inspiring atmosphere, ” says the instructor. “Travel can be done all year round, but in the summer we go north of Jordan, because in the south it’s too hot.”

Credit: Jolinda Cath

“Jordan has many nature reserves and even waterfalls. Not everything is desert.”

 What starts out as a yoga retreat trip can also be used to visit a fascinating country that has a lot to offer . It is possible to do this route halfway between the holistic journey and the dream destination:  “Many people come a week to the retreat, but it is a perfect country to travel, as well as very safe.”

And this is said by the religious theme, which generates some confusion and resentment, despite the reality:  “Here live many Christians in peace and harmony with Muslims.”   And, breaking more myths, “Jordan has many nature reserves and even waterfalls. Not everything is desert,” she clarifies.

Yoga: Much More Than Fashion Exercise

In recent years, yoga has gone from being the great unknown to one of the most demanded fashion practices. However, beyond appearances and that is cool to practice, the truth is that it has huge benefits for the practitioner. What in many cases begins being a moment of relaxation to work the muscular elasticity, ends up offering much more and “little by little, the people begin to see it like a very complete practice in physical and mental level”, explains the expert.

Credit: Jolinda Cath

 Reasons to practice yoga:

  • Strengthens and tones muscles, increasing physical endurance.
  • Increases flexibility because it favors the stretching of muscle groups.
  • It gives more energy and brings a state of well-being.
  • It helps to improve posture.
  • The positions or asanas are effective to combat different ailments (arthritis, asthma, anxiety …).
  • On a mental level, concentration increases, emotional stability and inner peace.
  • Spiritually integrates the personal experiences favoring the psychic harmony and favoring the inner connection with the world that surrounds us.

 Why Wadi Rum? 

It is disconnecting. To achieve this, paradoxically, nothing better than to get in touch with the most authentic and grand nature, which will make you feel small with respect to the universe, helping you to relativize everything. The Wadi Rum desert is located in the south of Jordan, bordering Saudi Arabia.

It is the same that Lawrence of Arabia crossed, and stands out for the beauty of its mountains of rocky sandstones, with spectacular and grandiose forms. The yogi experience in the desert will make you connect with your most mystical side, but at the same time will allow you to do some tourism in the country if you wish, enjoy the good gastronomy of the Middle East and record in your retina forever The ochres of Wadi Rum.

 Get more information by clicking here 

Photographs: Cath Productions.”

Credit: Jolinda Cath

For more information on joining a yoga session or retreat with Jolanda, click here: https://in2jordan.com/tours/vipassana-retreat-yoga-day-silence/ 

Meet Marre, In2Jordan’s trainee travel consultant who says a series of chance encounters led her down a dream career path in Middle-Eastern tourism.

As the saying goes: It’s not what you know, but who you know. For Dutch tourism student, Marre Van Lente, the saying has never been more accurate. After all, it was a chance meeting with a horse guide in Petra which led her to In2Jordan.

Marre’s In2Jordan story began in 2012 on her first visit to Jordan. “I was traveling with my mother and sister,” says Marre. “I love Arabian horses and wanted to fulfill my dream of riding through Petra.”

When a family issue called Marre’s initial horse guide away during their ride, Bedouin vet, Emad took over.

 

Emad and Marre – 2012

“Emad rears Arabian horses which he uses for endurance races in the desert,” says Marre. “While interacting with his horses, Emad mentioned there was a small Dutch community of ex-pats living in Petra and put me in touch with his friend, Jolanda Koopman.

 

“Marre found herself developing a deep desire to live and work in the Middle East.”

“At the time, Jolanda was frequently traveling back and forth between The Netherlands and Petra. I got to meet her over dinner in Amsterdam on my return home from my holiday,” says Marre.

In the months that followed, Marre found herself developing a deep desire to live and work in the Middle East.

“Within two years of my first Jordanian adventure, I went backpacking around Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Jordan,” Marre recalls. “I got a job in a guesthouse in Amman and realized I really enjoyed answering guest enquiries about what they should see while in Jordan.”

“It was during this time that Marre had her second chance encounter.”

It was during this time that Marre had her second chance encounter. “One day, I was traveling through Amman in a taxi and got talking with Osama, the driver,” Marre explains. “I told him I was from The Netherlands and he asked me if I knew the Dutch ladies living in Petra. I told him ‘yes, Jolanda’!”

“Suddenly, he passed me his phone and I found myself talking to Carmen, In2Jordan’s co-founder. She is also Dutch and a friend of Jolanda’s, so when she invited me for coffee, I accepted” says Marre.

Before she’d had a single sip of coffee in Carmen’s living room, Marre says she didn’t have any intention to study tourism. Instead her plan was to return to The Netherlands to study Arabic. Once the cup had been drained however, Marre realized a career in the travel industry could be the key to unlocking her future in the Middle East.

“Carmen and Jolanda both explained that they enjoy working at In2Jordan because they got to unveil the wonders of Jordan to others,” says Marre. “I am the same! I love to make people enthusiast about the Middle East by telling stories from my own experiences.”

“Jordan has so much more to offer than the major sites of Petra and Wadi Rum.”

When Marre officially joined In2Jordan in May 2017, it was her sixteenth trip to the Middle East. “I’m excited to complete this internship at In2Jordan as part of my new course in tourism and Arabic,” says Marre. “Every day I get to help people travel through this magnificent country – something that I think everyone should do.”

“Jordan has so much more to offer than the major sites of Petra and Wadi Rum. I also think that Jordan is an ideal country for those who want a first taste of Middle Eastern life or for those who are unsure about the region,” says Marre.

Marre and Carmen at the Dead Sea Adventure Conference, May 2017

“My home is in the Middle East. One day I will live in Egpyt and work in tourism or for an NGO there.”

For the next few months, Marre will divide her time learning from In2Jordan’s destination experts in Aqaba, Petra and Amman. At the weekend however, you’ll likely find her sitting in a small coffee house in Jabel Weibdeh.

“It’s Amman’s most multi-cultural and artistic neighborhood,” Marre explains. “Here, the Muslim and Christian communities mingle in a contemporary scene of art galleries and cafes, but with a distinct Middle-Eastern flavour.”

In November, Marre will return to Holland to complete her studies. When asked how she feels to head home, Marre gives a perplexed look. “Home? My home is in the Middle East. One day I will live in Egpyt and work in tourism or for an NGO there. For now, my home is in Jordan.”

For more information on In2Jordan’s itineraries, excursions or intern program, visit https://in2jordan.com/tours/

Meet Jolanda Koopman, In2Jordan’s expert on the birds and the bees – bird watching and macro photography that is.

Birdwatching in the Jordan Valley
Birdwatching in the Jordan Valley

International travellers often find themselves discussing the birds and the bees with Jolanda Koopman. Strange for some but we would expect nothing less from In2Jordan’s resident hiking and bird watching expert.

Positioned on the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa – Jordan is located at the heart of a magnificent bird migration path. Each year, its vast and varied landscapes become home to over 434 bird species, making the country a fantastic bird watching destination. Equipping travellers with this valuable information and exposing them to this unforgettable natural phenomenon first-hand is what Jolanda is all about.

“I fell in love with this country – Wadi Rum and Petra in particular – and  my love for Jordan keeps growing.”

Jolanda Koopman
Jolanda Koopman

“Bird watching has been a growing passion since a friend took me to watch birds in my study time,” explains Jolanda. “When I first joined In2Jordan in 2014, I led all kinds of tours and helped with bookings and guest services. I started organizing bird watching tours for this same friend who has a birding and nature travel agency now!”

Jolanda’s love affair with Jordan’s flora and fauna blossomed in 2007 while undertaking a short volunteer project. “During my stay, I visited the cultural highlights and fell in love with the country – Wadi Rum and Petra in particular,” she explains. “and my love for Jordan keeps growing.”

Today, Jolanda is based near Petra, dividing her time between operating her B&B homestay in Wadi Musa, and organizing tours for In2Jordan. While In2Jordan was Jolanda’s first foray in the tourism industry, her expertise has grown quickly based on her passion for the local sites.

“To me, the ancient city of Petra feels like magic. Simply being in its vicinity renews my energy.”

 

Hiking in Petra
Hiking in Petra

“To me, the ancient city of Petra feels like magic. Simply being in its vicinity renews my energy; it’s no wonder the Nabateans choose this location among the mountain ridges,” she says.

“Beyond Petra, there is so much beauty in Jordan to share with the world. From the antiquities in Jerash, the stunning green mountains in the Jordan Valley with great hiking trail, to the Neolithic village in Beidha and the deafening silence of the Wadi Rum,” says Jolanda. “I simply want everybody to have a great experience here, and to be part of a guest’s experience, as their B&B host, is really special.”

With her camera in hand and a flare for macro photography, Jolanda keeps narrowing her focus on furthering nature-based tours in Jordan. “I am interested in both its’ big and small natural wonders,” she explains. “From capturing the lives of the bees in my garden each day, to supporting government initiatives that improve the Jordan Trail for future generations. There are natural wonders to interest every traveller in Jordan.”

“It will be a big joy when people join our newest 13-day bird watching tour this coming autumn!”

Credit: Carpenter bee in the garden of B&B Petra Fig Tree Villa, Kolanda Koopman

In the meantime, the bird migration is around the corner and Jolanda continues to focus on her goal: “For me it will be a big joy when there’ll be enough people to join our newest 13-day bird watching tour this coming autumn!” she concludes.

For more information or to book your place on the bird watching excursion, visit: https://in2jordan.com/tours/emerging-birding-destination-jordan/ 

Patricia Enkels, In2Jordan travel consultant and horse riding guide, says she is living a dream. Read on to discover how you too can fall in love with Jordan from horse back, just as Patricia did.

When Belgium-born traveler, Patricia Enkels booked her holiday to Jordan in 2004, she fully expected to fall in love with the beauty of Wadi Rum from a-top her horse. As a passionate rider, horseback was her favourite mode to explore the many countries she’d visited before – why would Jordan be any different?

What Patricia didn’t count on was falling in love with her Bedouin horse tour guide, Eid. “From the moment we met, it was love,” laughs Patricia. “We shared a passion for horses, wanting to uncover the hidden treasures of the desert, and for guiding people through truly rewarding experiences. How could I resist!”

“A horseback adventure is a trip of a lifetime.”

Today Patricia says she is living a dream come true. Together with her now husband, Eid, Patricia leads In2Jordan’s horse tours, guiding guests on four and six day riding trips through the Jordanian desert.

“Eid started guiding horse tours a few years before we met and I started working in the tourism industry in 2007,” says Patricia. “Being able to organize horse rides with our own horses, and helping guests to uncover the magic of the desert every day is truly something special.”

Whether completing a desert loop across incredible rock formations and natural springs, or trekking from Petra to Wadi Rum; Patricia says a horseback adventure is a trip of a lifetime.

“We journey through mountainous areas, over vast sand plains and along steep rock formations.”

“Riding through the south of Jordan where the natural environment is ruggedly beautiful is really impressive. We journey through mountainous areas, over vast sand plains and along steep rock formations. The feeling of the breeze on your skin while listening to the silence of the desert as you tread past red sand dunes, really is like no other.”

For Patricia, it is the response she gets from her guests that keeps her passionate about her work. “Someone telling you they just had the nicest ride they’d ever experienced or just seen the most beautiful desert in their life, is so rewarding.”

For those interested in booking a horseback tour in Jordan, Patricia is happy to answer any questions. She does have one tip in advance though: “Pack wet wipes! After a long day riding through the dusty desert, a packet of wet wipes is your best friend.”

To find out more about In2Jordan’s horse back tours, or to contact Patricia and Eid, visit https://in2jordan.com/intineraries/