Explore eastern desert of Jordan with this weekend trip itinerary. Hike and bike through the Azraq Wetland Reserve and visit the desert castles along the ancient Baghdad – Jerusalem trade route. You will also have the chance to eat dinner with a local family and go on a safari tour in the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve.

 

Guidance throughout this weekend trip

Enjoy this short weekend trip to the eastern part of Jordan: The Arzaq Wetland Reserve. You will stay at the RSCN Azraq Lodge, which is a converted 1940’s British military field hospital. All the staff members are from local Bedouin, Chechen, and Druze communities. At Azraq Lodge’s Chechen Kitchen, guests can enjoy exquisite, authentic local cuisine. The kitchen is managed by a local Chechen family who continues to cook their ancestors’ tasty homemade recipes.

Before you arrive at the Wetland reserve, you will discover the desert castles located along the ancient trade route. Back in the days, these castles were richly decorated and used to provide refreshments and festivities for the elite. You will arrive in the late afternoon and can spend the evening relaxing at the Azraq Lodge.

On the second day, you will explore the wetland reserve to the fullest. In the morning, you will go on the so-called Marsh Trail, leading you through the wetlands on boardwalks. In the afternoon, a guide will take you on a bike tour from Amra caslte back to Azraq Lodge. You have some time to freshen up before a local family is ready to host you for a traditional dinner.

On the last day, you will visit the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and go on a two hour safari tour. You will see Arabian Oryx, and if you are lucky enough also a few Persian Onager. Subsequently, your driver will take you back to Amman.

 

What to expect during this weekend trip 

Price:

296 JOD / 417 USD per person based on two people travelling

245 JOD / 346 USD per person based on three people travelling

 

What’s included:
Private transfers in AC tourism car
Overnight accommodation for 2 nights at Azraq Lodge including breakfast
Dinner with local family in Azraq
Shaumari Wildlife Reserve safari
Guide for Mudflat Biking Trail

What’s excluded:
Jordanian visa and entrance tickets (see www.jordanpass.jo)
Flights
Personal expenses and tipping

Availability:
This trip is available all year round, however, to get the most about it we would recommend travelling between March – June or September – November.

Optional activities:
Azraq bus tour (18 JOD pp)
Usaykhim Bus Tour to Usaykhim fortress and Azraq Castle (21 JOD pp)
Azraq Village biking tour (31 JOD pp)

Day 1
Depending on your arrival time, your driver will pick you up at the airport or a place of your preference in Amman. You will be taken into the Eastern desert of Jordan. On the way, you will discover the renowned desert castles (Umm al-Jimal, Qusayr Amra, Qasr Kharana and Qasr al-Azraq). Overnight stay at Azraq Lodge.

Day 2
You have the morning to discover the Marsh Trail (30 minutes, 1.5 km). From the visitor centre, follow the boardwalk which leads you to a viewing platform overlooking the artesian pools. The tail will then take you over an ancient black basalt wall to a bird hide, where you can observe migratory birds and maybe even a water buffalo. Follow the trail back to the visitor centre.

In the afternoon, you will go on a guided biking tour, discovering the Mudflat Biking Trail (12km, 2 – 3 hours). You will start at Amra castle, passing through the desert leading to Azraq Lodge. Your guide will tell you about the people living in the area, the history and nature. On the way, you’ll stop at a desert well for snacks and juice. The tour will conclude at Azraq Lodge. In the evening, a local family will be ready to host you for a traditional dinner. Overnight stay at Azraq Lodge.

Optional: Instead of a bike tour, you can also go on a bus tour, where you will discover Azraq castle, Old Druze village, then hiking 2 km to Aines-Sil. You will then go to a local Druze home for tea and dinner (18 JOD pp)

Day 3
In the morning, your driver will pick you up from the lodge and take you to Shaumari Wildlife Reserve. Here, you will go on a Safari Tour (2 hours), bringing you close the Arabian Oryx, which is thought to be the origin of the mythical unicorn. On the way, you will stop for a picnic and a cup of tea. Once you have returned to the visitor centre, your driver will await you and take you back to Amman/ QAIA for departure.

What is RSCN?

RSCN (Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature) is an independent national organisation in Jordan. Their priorities are managing and protecting natural resources and its wildlife, setting up protected areas and promoting the sustainable use of said resources. RSCN is a pioneer organisation in the Middle East, as not many other organisations exist to conserve the natural environment.

Photo by Terhaal Adventures

What do they do?

Apart from that, RSCN also raises awareness on environmental issues and conducts research to aid conservation efforts. Moreover, they run a captive breeding programme, which saves endangered species from extinction. In fact, they have successfully reintroduced animals like the ibex, gazelles or the Arabian oryx into the wilderness. RSCN is also involved in socio-economic development projects, benefitting the local communities living in the nature reserves.

Where are they present?

To date, RSCN has successfully set up and is managing the following nature reserves:

  • Dana Biosphere Reserve
  • Wadi Mujib Biosphere Reserve
  • Azraq Wetland Reserve
  • Shaumari Wildlife Reserve
  • Dibeen Forest Reserve
  • Ajloun Forest Reserve
  • Fifa Nature Reserve
  • Yarmouk Forest Reserve
  • Wadi Rum Protected Area

And what is Wild Jordan?

In short, Wild Jordan is the eco-tourism and socio-economic division of RSCN. It is dedicated to developing nature-based business opportunities for local communities, such as eco-tourism or handicraft enterprises. These initiatives are very important as they provide an alternative livelihood for locals other than hunting or keeping livestock and therefore contribute indirectly to conserving the natural environment and its wildlife.

Especially the handicraft enterprises provide enhanced livelihoods for women, particularly for the over 60 generation. The eco-tourism part offers to explore the nature reserves, with plenty of hiking, activities, canyoning, camping or cycling opportunities.

Photo by Maureen Barlin

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