Inside In2Jordan: Meet Henk

Meet Henk, the newest member of the pack! Let him tell you about his favourite places in Jordan, what he likes to do in his free time and his (new) job with In2Jordan!

Name: Henk (Jan) Sanders

Age: hmm… I don’t remember when I was born, too long ago. Someone told is now 55 years ago, but I don’t believe it. Still feels like 30 or so.

Occupation: My last jobs were business manager. I had my own business in IT-consulting. Over the years I used to buy, re-organize companies, re-structure, make them profitable and sell them again.

Languages spoken: Dutch of course, English and German are standard second languages for most Dutch people.

 

Q: How long have you been working with In2Jordan?
A: 3 weeks now! Yes, quite an achievement!

Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: I must say, the selling part, communicating with costumers, making nice presentations these are the things I like most. 

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
A: Dealing with some of my colleagues , who ask too many questions! No, just joking… I have very nice and helpful colleagues. Hardest is collecting all the prices and once a trip is booked by our costumer, making sure that the costumer has the holiday of his life in Jordan and wants to come back! 

Q: What parts of Jordan do your guests get most excited about?
A: For sure Petra and Wadi Rum!

Q: Where is your favourite place in Jordan?
A:. The deserts, the mountains, not only in Jordan, but all over the world. And in Jordan, of course Petra is spectacular to see and visit. The best thing for me in Petra is the hiking and climbing to the high parts of this city. But I go crazy for deserts and mountains: the views, the air that you breathe – always amazing for me!
I used to drive rally (4X4 Landrover Dutch Profi team) in some of the worlds most beautiful deserts and therefor visited many deserts. I love to be in these places, just sit or lay and listen to the silence. In the time I still lived in Holland, I frequently just went for a weekend to Switzerland or Austria to walk in mountains. 

Q: Why did you decide to move to Jordan?
A: We lived in Egypt for several years before last summer, and left for Jordan, because my wife received a job offer in Jordan. She really wanted to do this job and enter this company, so we went to Jordan. 

 

Inside In2Jordan: Meet Henk

 

 

 

Inside In2Jordan: Meet KhaledMeet Khaled Sabbah Atieg, In2Jordan’s colleague in Wadi Rum! Let him tell you about his job, his favourite places and what it’s like growing up in the desert.

Name: Khaled Sabbah Atieg
Age: 34 years old
Occupation: Tour guide and camp owner of Khaled’s Camp in Wadi Rum
Languages spoken: Fluent in Arabic and English

 

Q: How long have you been working with In2Jordan?
A: I have been working with In2Jordan for 6 years now.

Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: The best part of my job is meeting new people every day! It is very nice is to help them explore and discover the desert of Wadi Rum, especially if they are visiting for the first time.

Q: What parts of Jordan do your guests get most excited about?
A: I think usually people who come to Jordan and Wadi Rum are most excited about Petra, the Dead Sea and of course Wadi Rum.

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
A: There is not really a hard part in my job but what I don’t like when guest leave Wadi Rum and they are sad because they don’t have enough time to stay longer in the desert.

Q: Where is your favourite place in Jordan?
A:. My favourite place in Jordan is Wadi Rum, of course! But I also like Petra as well as Um Qais and Jerash in the north of Jordan.

Q: What was it like growing up in Wadi Rum?

A: Growing up in Wadi Rum means being close contact to nature. 

There is  a big connection between me and the desert because I was born and grew up here. I’m in love with the desert and I cant imagine any life different.

Being a Bedouin means knowing how to live in the desert and how to survive with limited resources in food, water and technology. It also means to know how to appreciate everything that nature has to offer. Our rhythm of life is the rhythm of nature.

For us, it is important to keep our traditions with generosity and hospitality and welcoming people. I am really proud to be a Bedouin .

 

 

To find out more about Khaled and his camp, check out his website: http://www.wadi-rum.com/index.php

or follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WADIRUMCAMPING/

 

 

Inside In2Jordan: Meet Khaled

Going to Jordan for an internship that has nothing to do with NGOs or aid organisations but for tourism sounds pretty random at first. When I tell people what I’m doing here, most people look at me in surprise and wonder “Why Jordan?”- I found that the best answer is “why not Jordan?”

 

Why Jordan?

Jordan is a great place to do an internship. It has so much to offer: from breathtaking landscapes and a warm and welcoming culture to endless activity offerings and food that makes your mouth water. Whether it’s an internship for 3 months or a year, you’ll have plenty to see and do in your free time. You can, for instance, go diving (or snorkelling), abseil from waterfalls, go on exciting hikes through canyons, sleep in Bedouin camps, join Arabic classes, see the world wonder Petra, float in the Dead Sea or race on a camel through the desert. From Jordan, it is also easy to pay a visit to the surrounding countries like Israel, Egypt, the UAE or Lebanon for example on a slightly longer weekend.

 

Why In2Jordan?

In2Jordan is a fantastic company to work for. Everyone in the company is incredibly friendly, doesn’t hesitate to help, give advice and share their knowledge. I always felt very comfortable and when working and enjoy going to work every morning.

Moreover, I was able to learn a lot from my internship with In2Jordan. Through the fact that I was involved in so many different and varied tasks, I feel like I gained more experience in several areas at the same time. Like, for instance, sales, product development or social media.

If there is a conference or seminar taking place, In2Jordan will send you to go there if possible. I, for example, was able to visit the women cooperation in Iraq al Amir, which was a great day and gave me a better insight of what they are offering.

When I arrived and before coming here, In2Jordan was very helpful with getting things organised. They helped me in finding a place to stay as well as pickup, transfers and accommodation in the first few days. They also assisted me with visa renewals and helped me to get a Jordanian phone number.

Last but not least, for some periods during my internship, I was able to work from home – or where ever I was. One day I worked in Wadi Rum!

 

My role during the internship

My duties in my role were varied and wide-ranging. I communicate directly with clients about what they want and how they imagine their holiday to be like, and create an itinerary accordingly. Part of that is also to calculate quotations and look after the payment procedure. I also book the hotels and activities for them, which means that I am in direct contact with suppliers. I am also available while customers are travelling, in case there are any issues or they have questions. Although colleagues who are from Jordan or lived here longer are often more useful in that as they know the country better.

Further duties include doing the monthly accounting, keeping up with posts on our social media channels, writing blog posts for our website or creating new trips and uploading them to our various sales channels. Lately, I have also started translating our itineraries into German, as we will soon be offering our customised holidays to the German market. This will be very exciting…

 

Options for after the internship

If the internship goes well for everybody and you enjoy the work, there are several possibilities for once the internship finishes.

You can, for example, continue working for In2Jordan as a travel consultant, but be based outside of Jordan. That means that you can choose to live where ever, as the job can be done from your laptop. Also, you might happen to be in the same country as some of the clients, which is also an advantage.

There is also the possibility of staying with the company as a fully trained travel consultant and living in Jordan. You can choose to base yourself in Amman, Aqaba, Petra or which place you would like best.

So, all in all, it might have been a bit of a lucky coincidence for me to have ended up in Jordan. I did not assume that this was the country I would work in after my studies, and before coming here I would not have thought that I would decide to stay in Jordan after my internship. But I have to say, I had a great time in Jordan and with In2Jordan, and I can only recommend it.

To see what vacancies we have at the moment, check out the career section of our website: https://in2jordan.com/about/careers/

 

 

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.

 

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/

While in Jordan, why stay on the beaten track when you can make your own? Introducing Eid, In2Jordan’s horse riding guide who can show you how.

Age: 38 years

Occupation: Guide for horse riding treks and tours

Languages spoken: Fluent Arabic, fluent English.

Q. How long have you been working with In2Jordan?

A. I’ve been guiding horse tours for over 15 years and its been 3 years since I hosted my first horse guided trek for In2Jordan.

Q. What is your cultural heritage?

A. I’m Jordanian, born and raised in Wadi Musa – the town next to Petra.

Q. Have you always had a passion for horses?

A. Yes, my father used to have a horse when I was a child and I worked in Petra with his horse when I was younger.

Q. What do you enjoy most about working with tourists in Jordan?

A. Showing people around our country and showing them the true Jordanian hospitality.

Q. Can you tell me what people love most about their experience with you?

A. They feel as if they are with friends. They are not just our customers.

Q. Why are horse riding tours of Jordan perfect for both beginner riders as well as proficient riders?

A. We have different trek options to match the riding experience of our customers.

The short 1.5 hour horse ‘walking’ tour for example, is suitable for beginners. When we have groups (two or more people),  each horse is given a personal guide who leads the horse via a rope. This means any assistance they might need isn’t far away and the guest gets to focus on enjoying the view.

Our longer ride options better suit intermediate or experienced riders because you need to be able to control your horse. These longer rides can span from three-hour tours to full day, two day, four day or 6 day rides.

No matter which tour you choose, horse riding treks give guests the chance to see a whole different side of Jordan. We take roads that other tourists don’t get to go down and, we get the chance to meet some locals along the way.

Q. Where is your favorite place to visit in Jordan and why?

A. Wadi Rum because of the wide open spaces and the silence.

Q. If you weren’t operating horse tours in Jordan, what other job might you be doing now?

A. Absolutely no idea. I can’t imagine a better life.

Click the following link to find out how you can join Eid on his next trek from Petra to Wadi Rum on horseback.

Meet Jolinda Cath, In2Jordan’s travel consultant for spiritual, holistic, and wellbeing trips.

If you were to ask In2Jordan’s Yoga & Spiritual Retreat Consultant, Jolinda Cath, where her favourite place is in Jordan, she wouldn’t be able to tell you. After six years living in the small coastal town of Aqaba, choosing just one to top the list is still a challenge.

“Wadi Rum is amazing and has a special energy,” explains Jolinda. “But the Dana Nature Reserve is breathtaking and perfect for hiking. The canyons of Wadi Mujib with its stunning walls and waterfall that you can abseil down is such a thrill. Then again, Aqaba is so close to the desert and at the Red Sea. See, picking just one place is impossible!” she laughs.

Credit: Jolinda Cath

Jolinda says it was an opportunity to work in Jordan that lured her from her native Holland in 2010.

“My story in Jordan began 10 years ago while I was working as a worldwide tour-leader for a Dutch travel company. I had a degree in social cultural development and a degree in activity therapy under my belt and I was running my own photography company at the same time,” says Jolinda. “I liked that my job as a travel guide allowed me to combine my two vocations and introduce photography trips in Jordan.”

A few years later the opportunity to join a new tourism company in Aqaba arose and Jolinda settled in for a desert sea-change.

“We wanted to provide holistic wellbeing and mindfulness retreats that were not yet offered in Jordan.”

Over the next few years, Jolinda recognized the demand for spiritual-based trips growing as a global tourism trend. Aligning to her expertise and passion for yoga, Jolinda joined In2Jordan as a travel consultant and worked to develop a broad offering of wellbeing and mindfulness trips in Jordan.

Credit: Jolinda Cath

“Our aim was two-fold,” explains Jolinda. “We wanted to provide holistic wellbeing and mindfulness retreats that were not yet offered in Jordan. We also wanted to create a platform whereby we could tap into the expertise of local yoga and meditation coaches.”

Today, Jolinda leads In2Jordan’s meditation, mindfulness and yoga retreats for travellers as well as offering reiki and massage experiences.

“After all these years I am still so passionate about introducing guests to the variety of landscapes this country has to offer, and exposing them to the kind nature of the local people. It is a blessing to be part of someone’s journey and extra special that I get to guide spiritual journeys, as well as physical ones,” concludes Jolinda.

Credit: Jolinda Cath

To find out more about Jolinda’s private and multi-day yoga, mindfulness and meditation retreats, visit https://in2jordan.com/weekend-trips/

Meet Sandra Jelly, travel consultant, yoga teacher, and equine-assisted coach at In2Jordan.

When most people ready their bags for a holiday to a foreign country, paintbrushes and horse riding boots are rarely essential items to pack. But Sandra Jelly is not most people.

As a yoga teacher, equine-assisted coach, social entrepreneur, chakra & crystal lover, and artist, Sandra believes in seizing the moment; but such is the life of a true adventurer.

“I was born in the Netherlands, but home for me was always where my heart is,” says Sandra. “One day I saw an article in a magazine that read: “To Petra on horseback”. It inspired me to go and explore this magical desert land.”

In 2009, Sandra exchanged advertising in Amsterdam for a world of Bedouin horses. Her plan: to undertake a sabbatical in Jordan to paint and ride the endurance race in Wadi Rum. “It was a dream of mine to fully dedicate myself to my passions of art and horses. What better backdrop than the vastness, peace and light of the desert?”

When Sandra’s horse, Gamar (meaning Full Moon) became pregnant, she decided to settle in Jordan permanently for a new desert lifestyle.

Using her powerful intuitive skills, Sandra is passionate about guiding clients on a voyage of self-discovery and transformation.

Today, Sandra and her four horses are based in the ancient valley of Little Petra. Here she leads In2Jordan’s yoga retreats and offers equine-assisted coaching with her own Arabian horses. Using her powerful intuitive skills, Sandra is passionate about guiding clients on a voyage of self-discovery and transformation.

“I really enjoy hosting visitors from foreign countries in Little Petra because I get to introduce them to the incredible beauty of the landscape, and help them tap into the power that can be drawn from the silence found here.”

Through the practice of Vinyasa Flow yoga, Sandra invites guests to develop a deep relationship within themselves where listening is cultivated, the body is honored, and playful, creative exploration is welcomed.

“Just like life, if you let your yoga practice flow and be fully absorbed in the breath; you will discover the beautiful gifts of the present moment,” says Sandra.

According to Sandra, any traveler who wants to be captivated by the beauty of Little Petra; explore beautiful desert trails; immerse themselves in the culture of the Bedouins; and, connect with their true-self; there is no better place than Jordan.

For more information on the yoga or equine coaching tours led by Sandra, visit  https://in2jordan.com/intineraries