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Tour Code: JOR01

A 15-day holiday in search of Jordan's desert birdlife, and famous archaeological sites.

dates & prices to be confirmed Land Only Price: £ SRS: £

Birdwatching, history and archaeology combine perfectly on this spring tour. Starting in Amman, we visit the Dead Sea, the Graeco-Roman ruins at Jerash, medieval castles and historic Petra, the world-famous ancient city hewn from red sandstone. At all of them, and around the former oasis at Azraq, the Basalt Desert, Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and Wadi Dana, we will also enjoy a wealth of desert birdlife and incoming and passage migrants, Tristram’s Serin, Sinai Rosefinch and Hume’s Tawny Owl amongst the possible highlights. Then we’ll head to Wadi Rum, and complete our tour in Aqaba, at the head of the Red Sea, where a couple of action-packed days of migration-watching should conclude a comprehensive tour through spectacular Jordan!

  • Visit world-famous Petra and spectacular Wadi Rum
  • Float in the Dead Sea
  • Enjoy medieval castles and the Graeco-Roman ruins at Jerash
  • Explore Azraq, and Shaumari and Wadi Dana Wildlife Reserves
  • Look for Tristram’s Serin and other specialist desert species
  • Enjoy the spectacle of the spring bird migration at Aqaba on the Red Sea
  • Learn from our expert archaeologist and ornithologist leaders


All included in the price.


Standard tourist class hotels and guesthouses, most with private facilities, plus one night of fully serviced camping.

White-crowned Black Wheatear (Gerald Broddelez)

White-crowned Black Wheatear (Gerald Broddelez)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Amman

Day 2/3 Amman

Day 4/5 Azraq

Day 6/7 Wadi Dana

Day 8/9 Petra

Day 10 Wadi Rum

Day 11/13 Aqaba

Day 14 Amman

Day 15 Fly London

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a relatively small Muslim country, situated in the Near East at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. The ornithological appeal of this little-known country derives from its position at the juncture of three land masses — Europe, Africa and the Middle East — and the diversity of its avifauna reflects this. Despite neighbouring Israel’s huge popularity with European birdwatchers, Jordan has, illogically, remained completely neglected. On this holiday we will enjoy the heavy migration of birds that annually takes place through the region at this time of year, without attendant hordes of birdwatchers. Furthermore, Jordan is a place of cultural fascination, rich in sites of archaeological interest.

The wildlife opportunities in Jordan are outstanding and the tour runs at the optimum time, when the country’s resident birds are joined by European and west Asian migrants arriving from their African winter quarters. Together with these spring visitors we will also enjoy the specialist birds of the region’s varied desert landscapes, amongst them the elusive larks, whose pale plumages can make them almost invisible against their arid, sandy habitats. Adding to this ornithological experience is the excitement of Jordan’s scenery, which is some of the most varied and impressive in the Middle East. The contrasting backdrops to our daily walks can be explained by differences in geology, and an insight into the country’s varied rock types — limestones, multicoloured sandstones and basalts — will add to our appreciation of Jordan’s scenery and wildlife.

Our holiday begins at the Dead Sea. This is a dramatic location, the waters of the huge, saline lake taking on an almost ethereal beauty in the mist of early morning, whilst the towering sandstone cliffs on its western shores provide an impressive backdrop. Here, we should see the first of the typical desert birds, including the strange, ground-dwelling Arabian Babbler, Blackstarts and Tristram’s Grackles. The extensive and well preserved Graeco-Roman ruins of Jerash lie in Mediterranean surroundings of ancient Gillead, and we will have a full afternoon to explore and soak up the atmosphere of this magnificent site. Our route there will give us an opportunity to birdwatch by the Zarqa River and in the native pine woods of Dibbin. Leaving Amman, we enter the stony expanses of the Eastern Desert. Here we will stop at two 8th century ‘desert castles’s of the Omayyad Period, and search for desert specialities such as Red-rumped Wheatear and Temminck’s Horned Lark, and we may be lucky to discover migrant Thrush Nightingale and Collared Flycatcher in a tree-lined wadi.

Precious little water remains in the famous Azraq oasis but we will use it as our base before heading into the boulder-strewn, lunar landscape of the black Basalt Desert. Our main quest will be to find the dark morph of the Mourning Wheatear but this is a little-known area and we hope to discover much more. Azraq’s castle is built of basalt and is where Lawrence of Arabia and the Arab Army rested before their final assault on Damascus. Trees and scrub around the resthouse and at the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve provide cover for exhausted migrants as well as the resident Desert Finch. With luck there will be some wetland habitat to explore but that is dependent on the winter rains.

The 6th century mosaic map at Madaba will be our first stop before we wind our way down the length of the ancient King’s Highway, following in the steps of many a trader, army and pilgrim. We will stop en route to watch Calandra Larks and look for Jordan’s national flower, the localised Black Iris. The landscape is dramatic as we cross the canyons of Wadi al-Mujib and Wadi al-Hasa and no less so at Kerak Castle, commanding the route down to the Dead Sea and west to Palestine. We will arrive at our campsite overlooking Wadi Dana in time to explore and photograph the dramatic view in the rich evening colours. One of the specialities of Dana, and indeed Jordan, is the Tristram’s (or Syrian) Serin which has one of the most restricted distributions of any Western Palearctic bird. We will also be on the look-out for raptors; for, as well as breeding Bonelli’s Eagle, the mountains here lie on the main migration route heading north.

Lost for centuries and rediscovered only in 1812, the ancient Nabataean capital at Petra is one of the highlights of our holiday. Carved from the rose-red sandstone and hidden amongst a range of hills, the city and the vast facades of Petra’s magnificent palaces and temples, are only accessible through a long, narrow winding chasm. Petra is also an excellent place for birds, with two extremely localised specialities — the beautiful Sinai Rosefinch and Hume’s Tawny Owl, which only emerges after dusk. Raptors migrate over the site and we may be lucky enough to witness a spectacular aerial passage of thousands of Steppe Buzzards, Black Kites and Steppe Eagles. We now travel southwards, stopping at the dramatic valley of Wadi Rum where we will camp in traditional Bedouin style, until we reach the southernmost town of Aqaba, Jordan’s port at the head of the Red Sea. Here, a variety of migrants make their landfall from the south. We will watch for such unusual seabirds as White-eyed Gull and Brown Booby, and visit the local sewage works — not on most tourists’s itinerary but one of the most productive birdwatching sites in the whole region. Without doubt this will be a most exciting end to a fortnight packed with ornithological and cultural interest.

Agama Lizard (Tim Melling)Black Iris (Tim Melling)Chameleon sp. (Tim Melling)Crested Lark (Tim Melling)Wadi Dana (Tim Melling)Dead Sea Sparrow (Tim Melling)Desert Broomrape Flower (Tim Melling)Dibbin Forest (Tim Melling)Masked Shrike (Tim Melling)Mourning Wheatear (Tim Melling)Ortolan Bunting (Tim Melling)Petra Monastery (Tim Melling)Red Sea (Tim Melling)Scops Owl (Tim Melling)Sinai Rosefinch (Tim Melling)Steppe Buzzard and Brown-necked Raven (Tim Melling)Treasury, Petra (Tim Melling)Wadi Mujib (Tim Melling)Yellow-vented Bulbul (Tim Melling)Anemone coronaria (Geoff Carr)Black Iris - National Flower of Jordan (Geoff Carr)Cave Houses at Petra (Geoff Carr)Dibbin Forest (Geoff Carr)Wadi Rum (Geoff Carr)White-crowned Wheatear (Geoff Carr)PetraDesert, Wadi RumThe Jebel Qatar Mountain, Wadi Rum
I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday and have nothing but praise for Geoff Carr who was an excellent guide. He went out of his way to ensure that every member of the group saw as many birds as possible and his expertise was fantastic.
The birding was excellent, better than I had anticipated... For me, the balance between birding and cultural interest was prefect - I feel like Ive had the best Jordan experience possible.
The whole trip has been brilliant - far above my expectations. Every day has special highlights. Geoff Carr is excellent.
The fact that the trip leader was an expert on Jordans geology as well as the expert on the countrys birds was an added bonus... As usual the holiday was full of activity..
F. & B.E.
This was one of the most enjoyable trips ever. Many thanks to Richard and the local guide/driver.
This was probably the most enjoyable trip I have made and I think we were all sad when it came to an end.
Thank you and Richard for an excellent and memorable holiday.
One of the best holidays I have ever had! The variety of the itinerary from bird watching to history and from camping to 5-star hotel was mentally stimulating and exciting, and make the holiday seem longer... The Jordanian tour guide was excellent. The fact that Jordan is under-birdwatched/recorded gave the holiday an element of exploration - we felt that we were contributing to the knowledge of Jordans wildlife. The combination of history and birdwatching satisfied my two main hobbies! Thank you and Richard for an excellent and memorable holiday.
The trip was excellent and the leader did a brilliant job of keeping everything to schedule.
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We will be running this tour in the near future but as yet have not finalised dates and prices. To register your interest and be added a waiting list to be informed when details are confirmed, please contact us or phone 01962 733051.

Visiting: Jordan

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I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday and have nothing but praise for Geoff Carr who was an excellent guide. He went out of his way to ensure that every member of the group saw as many birds as possible and his expertise was fantastic.
J.M., Norfolk