Looking for a new destination for your New year’ resolution on taking care of yourself? If you’re looking for some great adventures to a special destination, we got you covered! Recently we were featured in this fantastic article on the Telegraph UK. It covers 10 destinations to find peace and quiet around the world. Our unique Horse Wisdom Retreat we offer in Little Petra is one of them. 

Jordan: a place for your next horse wisdom retreat

Jordan is a fantastic country, where we daily learn from the local customs. For example from the Bedouins, who love to live in the moment. Something we tend to forget in our daily lives. Being your authentic self, or just enjoying the moment without the continue updates from social networks or work. Just with a cup of tea, slowly brewed on the camp fire.

During the horse wisdom retreat in Little Petra

The authenticity of the Bedouins, living in the moment and getting back to who you really are. All of this is combined in our horse wisdom retreat. Host Sandra Jelly is a great coach and certified yoga teacher. Together with her horses she guides you to on a quest to find your true self.

You can experience the horse wisdom retreat during this round-trip to Jordan. Or as an extension to your own itinerary with this 3 day workshop. During this mini retreat you increase wellness & get inspiration while on a breathtaking in Jordan; Little Petra.  You enjoy yoga, but also meditation & horse coaching, which will all invite you to connect from the heart and embrace the moment.

Sandra, coach during horse wisdom retreat in Little Petra Jordan
Sandra, coach during horse wisdom retreat in Little Petra Jordan

Our horse wisdom retreat is mentioned in the Telegraph UK by Travel Journalist Emma Thompson:  “Take your Namaste to the next level and try horse meditation. In this version of equine-assisted therapy, the horses intuitively mirror your state of being to offer powerful insights into your hidden behaviour. This three-day retreat at Little Petra combines yoga sessions with excursions to Wadi Rum and private Bedouin camps inside Petra. Massages, horse rides and stargazing are also on offer. It’s hard to say neigh…”

You can find the full article here.

 

Namaste! 

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/ 

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.

As In2Jordan’s driver and local guide for the south of Jordan, Bukr is the man on the ground who will help unlock the magic of Petra & Wadi Rum during your visit.

Name: Bukr
Age: 28 years
Occupation: Southern driver and guide for In2Jordan
Languages spoken: Fluent in Arabic, fluent in English. Learning Italian and Japanese

 

Q. How long have you been working with In2Jordan?

A. I hosted my first driving tour for In2Jordan three years ago.

Q. What does ‘Southern Driver’ mean?

A. It means my expertise is in the southern regions of Jordan. I mainly take guests from Madaba to the Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba. Jordan is not a big country but there is a lot of history and locations are spread out. By driving the south, I can share more information with guests because I know these places very well.

Q. What’s the best part of your job?

A. Being a driver is a nice job. Every day I get to travel to different places so it is not a boring job. I also really like meeting new people. If I didn’t meet new people I would go crazy.

Q. Which parts of Jordan do your guests get most excited about?

A. There is a back road through the desert behind Little Petra that I take my guests down to get to the Dead Sea. It is an hour drive through different desert landscapes and is really beautiful. It means the guests get off the highway and get to see Wadi Araba which other tourists miss. It is a really exciting road.

Q. Describe what it is like being in your car?

A. Relaxing and informative. As I drive, I explain to my guests about the history of certain roads like the Kings Highway or old Bedouin routes. I also tell them about the mood or feeling they can expect from sites we will go to. Petra for example, I like to give my guests the history of how people came to the place and how it was built. Then I show them special views that only locals know that are more beautiful than others. Petra is my home and I want to help my guests feel welcome and enjoy it.

Q. Where is your favourite place in Jordan?

A. I was born and still live in Petra, but I really love visiting Aqaba. It has the desert and the Red Sea. It is beautiful there but too hot for me to live.

Q. What is the hardest part of your job?

A. Actually, it is leaving my guests. Many guests ask me to continue north with them but my job is in the south. I keep guests happy because I give them water, juice, Wi-Fi and good information. And I am an honest man. I am so happy when I do my job well and my guests are happy too.

For more information on private tours in Jordan, click here: https://in2jordan.com/intineraries/

Meet Carmen Scholten, In2Jordan’s Co-founder and General Manager. Or as the locals in Aqaba know her, the blonde with the bull.

 

At In2Jordan, Carmen Scholten is known as the boss. But in the small southern town of Aqaba where she lives with her husband, son and her British Bulldog, Carmen is simply known as ‘the blonde with the bull.’

It’s a rather unassuming profile for the woman who drove from Amsterdam to Jordan in a 500 Euro car just to complete a university assignment. This also being the woman who then identified a need for high quality tours in Jordan and launched In2Jordan as the ideal solution two years later.

But that’s the way Carmen likes it. “Always over deliver,” she says.

“Running your own business is fun, especially when you love and believe in what you do.”

From her home office – which also doubles as the reception area of her husband’s PADI dive center – Carmen juggles client service, team leadership, and business development with a smile.

“Running your own business is fun, especially when you love and believe in what you do,” says Carmen. “No two days are the same and I enjoy the diversity that comes with managing financial budgets, motivating the team, developing strategic planning, and translating these elements into practical outcomes for my team and clients.”

According to Carmen, her passion to offer clients high-quality customized experiences in Jordan stems from her own unforgettable first impressions. “I was meant to visit Jordan for a few days but I fell in love with the country. Within six months of graduating university I’d moved here,” she says.

“I studied cross cultural management and sustainable entrepreneurship at university. Pairing that with a passion for travel, a career in the tourism industry was the perfect fit.”

“I believe there is a place for responsible tourism in every destination across the world.”

Since the official launch of In2Jordan in January 2013, Carmen’s team has grown to include five local guides and drivers, and six travel consultants. Each with specialist knowledge in cultural sites, horse tours and yoga and meditation retreats. A partnership with Amani Tours in Amman and travel agents across the Middle East also offers clients a wide range of customized packages and experiences.

“One of my greatest achievements is knowing that I’ve surrounded myself with a team of dedicated and loyal experts at In2Jordan,” says Carmen.

“I’m also proud of how we have tapped into the expertise of local guides and drivers. Not only does their grassroots knowledge add value for our clients; the money they earn directly supports small entrepreneurs and local communities. I believe there is a place for this kind of responsible tourism in every destination across the world.”

It is this kind of thinking that earned Carmen and her off-sider, Gail Reid the title of 2017’s Best New Destination Expert Worldwide on Trip.me.

“I could roam the ancient architectures of As Salt and lush areas of Ajloun all day.”

Carmen also has the gift of the gab with her international clients thanks to her expertise as a destination expert in Jordan, and her ability to speak four languages. “I speak Dutch, English, German and Arabic,” says Carmen. She laughs before adding, “so I guess so does my dog, Hendrix.”

So how does the woman who organizes tours travel herself? “I love walking the numerous beautiful routes in Petra, and climbing the hills of Wadi Araba to enjoy the stillness of the desert,” she says. “Next to that, I could roam the ancient architectures of As Salt and lush areas of Ajloun all day.”

Is there anything the blonde with the bull can’t do? “Well, I’m trying to grow veggies in the desert. We’ll see how that goes,” she concludes.

For more information on In2Jordan’s itineraries, excursions and retreats, visit https://in2jordan.com/tours/