Azraq Wetland Reserve
Azraq is a unique wetland oasis located in the heart of the semi-arid Jordanian eastern desert, one of several beautiful nature reserves managed by the RSCN. Its attractions include several natural and ancient built pools, a seasonally flooded marshland, and a large mudflat known as Qa' al-Azraq. A wide variety of birds stop at the reserve each year for a rest during their arduous migration routes between Europe and Africa. Some stay for the winter or breed within the protected areas of the wetland.
The Azraq Oasis derives its name from the Arabic word "Azraq", meaning blue. In the past, the pools, marshes and streams of Azraq formed a sparkling blue jewel in the desert, a haven for up to a million migrating, breeding and wintering birds. Despite the loss of most of the permanent wetland habitat during the past decade, due to a lack of rainfall, Azraq continues to provide a seasonal habitat for a large number of wildlife species.
The new Visitors' Centre holds a small but impressive museum with an aquarium and biotope showcases vividly telling the story of the ancient oasis and its modern ecological threats. Slide shows and videos as well as guided tours are being offered. In the Nature Shop you can find typical local products such as handmade reed toys and painted ostrich eggshells.
The Azraq Lodge of the RSCN with its 5 bedrooms and a cozy common room with a fireplace, is set within the beautiful surroundings of Azraq. In addition to the lodge, 10 two-room bungalows are available to accommodate the visiting tourist. Bookings can be made at the RSCN headquarters in Amman or on site at the RSCN Lodge.
Azraq is one and a half hour drive from Amman. There are two major routes
leading to Azraq:
- Desert Highway:
From the Desert Highway, take the Madaba turn and go east (in the opposite direction from Madaba). Follow the road signs to Azraq.
- Zarqa Highway:
In Amman, go east on King Abdullah Street, driving past the Roman Theatre to join the Amman-Zarqa Highway. The road to Azraq branches off from the highway before you reach Zarqa.
Upon reaching South Azraq (Azraq al-Janubi), make a right turn on the Saudi Arabian Highway. Make another right turn after about 15 km at the entrance road to Shaumari Wildlife Reserve.