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The Best of Jordan

Tour Code: JOR02

A 9-day holiday in search of the specialist mountain birds and migrants to be found amongst some of the country's most dramatic landscapes, plus a visit to the country's most famous archaeological site, Petra.

9 days from £2495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £2195 SRS: £250


This autumn birdwatching tour also visits historic Petra, the world-famous ancient city hewn from red sandstone. October is an exciting month when not only the late-breeding Sooty Falcon and other desert specialities may be seen, but when late passage migrants add an unpredictable element to each excursion. We visit the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve at Azraq, and the Wadi Dana Wildlife Reserve where we may see Sinai Rosefinch, Tristram's Serin and Hume's Tawny Owl. Then we also visit Wadi Rum and Aqaba, on the Red Sea Coast, where unexpected seabirds and an anticipated mix of sandgrouse, wheatears and south-bound migrants may be encountered.

  • Visit world-famous Petra
  • Explore Azraq, and Shaumari and Wadi Dana Wildlife Reserves
  • Look for Sooty Falcons and other specialist desert species
  • Enjoy the excitement of autumn bird migration
  • Visit Wadi Rum
  • Sample the Red Sea Coast at Aqaba
  • Learn from our expert guides

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Standard tourist class hotels and guesthouses, most with private facilities.

Sinai Rosefinch (unknown)

Sinai Rosefinch (unknown)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Amman

Day 2 Azraq

Day 3 Wadi Dana

Day 4/5 Petra

Day 6/7 Aqaba

Day 8 Amman

Day 9 Fly London

Jordan is a small country at the boundary of the Levant and Arabian faunal areas, and is one of the most easily reached and welcoming of Middle Eastern countries. It has a predominantly Muslim population but its monarch and particularly his late father, King Hussein, have pursued strong links with the West as well as neighbouring Arab countries.

Following the great success of our annual spring tour, this shorter itinerary concentrates mainly on the south-west corner of Jordan, an area that holds some of the most dramatic mountain scenery of the Middle East. Here, the varied wildlife habitats are controlled by a variety of rock types. The highland plateau reaches 1,736 metres, and is cut by deeply incised wadis that provide routes down to the plains of Wadi Araba below. In between lie dramatic sandstone mountains, their gorges and red mesas capped by white domes. It is against this backdrop that we will go in search of birds — some unique to this region, others visiting from other climes. We will also have ample time to explore the coast at Aqaba — a resort which lies on one of the world’s main bird migration routes. 

In October, after six months of drought, many birds are concentrated in areas of water and springs, especially the beautiful Sinai Rosefinch. Some of our sightings will be familiar European species in unfamiliar settings, whilst others such as the resident Sand Partridge and Pharaoh Eagle Owl may attract more attention. Our visit coincides with autumn migration when anything could turn up, from raptors and waders to warblers and shrikes: Levant Sparrowhawk, Spur-winged Plover, Little Crake and Masked Shrike were among a wide variety of scarce migrants we found in 2016 at the Aqaba Bird Observatory.

Our tour begins with a flight to Amman, from where we will drive to Azraq. Here we will explore the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve before heading into the boulder-strewn, lunar landscape of the black Basalt Desert. Moving south we reach Dana, for many one of the chief highlights of the holiday. From this ancient hilltop conservation village we will visit Wadi Dana, a spectacular wildlife reserve of Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and home to some of the country’s most attractive and unique birds. Tristram’s (Syrian) Serins breed here, as do resident Sinai Rosefinch, Bonelli’s Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Hume’s Tawny Owl, Rock Martin, Long-billed Pipit and three species of raven, including Brown-necked and Fan-tailed. Our overnight stay at Dana will give us time to explore the high ground at the head of the wadi, as well as nearby woodland and a very productive drinking pool.

Next we head into the Petra mountains, bound for Jordan’s most famous site. Petra is renowned for its antiquities; it was a city built by the Nabataean people as a trading capital, was later occupied by the Romans but was ultimately by-passed by new trade routes and subsequently fell into oblivion ... until, that is, it was rediscovered in 1812. The Nabataean and Roman cultures left an awe-inspiring array of rock carved monuments, which we will have plenty of time to appreciate. However, the natural wonders of Petra are only marginally less stunning, with colour-banded sandstones displaying extraordinary forms of natural art. Here we will walk away from the main tourist trails, hoping to encounter such birds as Desert Lark, Scrub Warbler, Orange-tufted Sunbird, Striolated Bunting and the elusive Sooty Falcon.
 
Journeying south from Petra to Aqaba, we now climb up to the high steppe country of the Sharra Highland Plateau, before descending to our next destination — the Wadi Rum. Immortalised by Lawrence of Arabia (and the film that followed) this famous site is an excellent place in which to search for Jordan’s desert birds. White-crowned Black and Mourning Wheatears feed at the base of the rocky slopes, over which Long-legged Buzzards and Barbary Falcons fly, while round the fort of Jordan’s Desert Patrol, Tristram’s Grackle and Sinai Rosefinch are frequent visitors. As evening approaches, we will continue to Aqaba along a road that drops through barren granite hills towards the coast.

Aqaba is Jordan’s southernmost town, lying at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba, at the confluence of the Jordan Rift Valley and the Red Sea. Sea-watching can be productive during any season, as can exploration of the town’s sewage works. This site provides a vitally important focus for visiting birds but, despite this, is rarely visited by anyone except our Naturetrek groups! Each visit is therefore something of an adventure of discovery, and with a daily turnover of birds, we hope to see a varied selection of interesting visitors during our stay.

Finally, we must drive north to Amman. The journey initially takes us through the broad plains of Wadi Araba, where we will make a further search for desert birds, before reaching the Dead Sea and ultimately the capital.
Agama Lizard (Tim Melling)Crested Lark (Tim Melling)Wadi Dana (Tim Melling)Masked Shrike (Tim Melling)Mourning Wheatear (Tim Melling)Ortolan Bunting (Tim Melling)Petra Monastery (Tim Melling)Sinai Rosefinch (Tim Melling)Steppe Buzzard and Brown-necked Raven (Tim Melling)Treasury, Petra (Tim Melling)Yellow-vented Bulbul (Tim Melling)Cave Houses at Petra (Geoff Carr)Roman Basalt Fort at Azraq (Geoff Carr)Roman Ruins at Jarash (Geoff Carr)Wadi Mujib (Tim Melling)Wadi Rum (Geoff Carr)White-crowned Wheatear (Geoff Carr)PetraPetra
S.A.
London
Nice variety of hotels from posh to wonderful views to the charmingly eccentric! Birdwatching content excellent.
Mr & Mrs F
Worcestershire
We were very grateful Cliff Waller was able to guide the tour so well at short notice. We also thought that Ghaith was an excellent local guide for history, culture and birds. Ghaith was also very helpful each day checking which food was gluten free.
S.C.
Norfolk
Gerald was an excellent leader, a very knowledgeable birder and had a good rapport with the group.
B.D.
Gloucestershire
Dana Guesthouse was best accommodation from location and food point of view - both excellent.
P.D.
Derbyshire
Thanks for arranging a most memorable holiday and my thanks particularly to Marcus for all that he did to ensure we got the most from our trip - he was a most able leader, enthusiastic and indefatigable in sharing his knowledge and experience as ornithologist.
R.D.W
Dunbartonshire
Andrew Wilson as leader was excellent... His abilities as a birder are exceptional, at times astounding.
W.C.
West Midlands
Andy was a first class leader, displaying an excellent knowledge of the areas visited... his organisational skills served us well and contributed to a relaxed and informative trip.
H.C.
Gwent
Trip leader was very competent and excellent at explaining identification features of birds.
F.W.
Ireland
An excellent trip and well organised.
B. & G.B.
West Yorkshire
Ian Andrews was an excellent leader and if he is leading other trips to other parts of Jordan we would be interested.
W.B.
Oxfordshire
Ian was fantastic.
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Sat 6th October 2018 - Sun 14th October 2018

YES

£2495

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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2195 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Jordan

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Andy Tucker
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01962 733051

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BirdsCulture

Tour Reviews

Nice variety of hotels from posh to wonderful views to the charmingly eccentric! Birdwatching content excellent.
S.A., London