According to the video marketing website ReelSEO.com, YouTube hosts more than two million cat videos, which people have viewed more than 25 billion times. But in Jordan, the cat watching is so excellent that I suspect they don’t need cat videos. On my recent trip, I found that the adorable semi-wild cats perfectly complemented the cultural sites, just as many people enjoy the perfect pairing of wine and food. Here are a few of my favorite cat pairings in Jordan.
Dana Biosphere and Orange Cat
The Feynan Ecolodge is a 26-room, candlelit lodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve. This area preserves wildlife, including the Nubian ibex, and is a last stronghold of traditional Bedouin culture. Ever since opening in 2005, it’s been making top ecolodge lists on all the major magazines and websites.
Three darling orange striped cats live at the ecolodge, where they eat breakfast with guests and generally look adorable.
Wadi Musa and water cat
Wadi Musa, or Moses’ Spring, is supposedly where Moses struck a rock with his staff, releasing a rush of water. This historic, spiritual spring is now housed to protect it.
This cat, just outside the little building that houses the spring, gives visitors a friendly welcome. You can’t drink out of the old spring, but this cat will probably let you have a bottle of water.
Petra Monastery and rugged outdoors cat
Thirty thousand people may have lived in Petra back in its 1st century A.D. heyday. Now it’s populated by tourists and cats. I met quite a few friendly cats while spending the day trekking through this Unesco site. It takes a rugged cat with a deep appreciation for archeology to make its home in Petra.
Desert camp and desert cat
I loved the desert camps that dot the Wadi Rum desert. You feel like you’re out in the middle of sandy vastness with nothing around, then suddenly you see a group of striped tents among the rocks.
We stopped at one called Captain’s Desert Camp for lunch one day. The restaurant was in a huge, pillow-strewn area with walls open to the air. Musicians played on a stage and adorable cats lounged on the colorful textiles. A perfect setting for the regal cats of Jordan.
Umm Quais and Finley
Umm Qais, a village in northern Jordan, is the epicenter of a sustainable tourism movement. Ever since Baraka Destinations opened the Beit al Baraka B&B and started offering the chance to partake of activities like beekeeping, basketry and cooking, the village has seen an uptick in visitors. Because the locals needed to learn enough English to share these experiences with foreign tourists, Arabic student and jack-of-all-trades Roddy Boyle came to Umm Qais. This young man from Scotland has a soft spot for cats. When he found the handicapped Finley, whose back legs are paralyzed, he adopted him. Now Finley lives in the Beit al Baraka garden. He hung out with me while I did yoga one morning and was the sweetest of the many cats of Jordan that I met.
If You Go
If you visit, I can’t promise that these particular cats will be there to greet you at these sites. But if not, their cousins surely will be. For help planning your trip, check out the Visit Jordan website.