Emerging birding destination Jordan

Jordan is on the crossroads of three continents; Europe, Asia and Africa… It is not yet known as neighbouring country Israel for its birds, but has everything it takes to become a fantastic birding destination. Jordan is a country with different habitats, from pine- to oak forests, steppes with shrubs, and hot dry deserts. Olive- and pistachio orchards in the North and wetlands in the east which emerge as fata morganas. The Jordan Rift Valley with its valleys which descend to Wadi Araba and the Dead Sea, the Wadi Rum desert in the south and the salty beaches of the Red and Dead Sea.  These diverse landscapes give home to 434 bird species. So take this opportunity to discover Jordan as a bird watching destination!

bird


13 days/ 12 nights itinerary

Highlights:
Azraq Wetlands, Black Basalt Desert, Dead Sea & Wadi Mujib Reserve,
Fifa Nature Reserve, Petra, Dana Nature Reserve, Wadi Rum,
Qatar Nature Reserve, Aqaba Bird Observatory.

Including:
Experienced local & licensed bird guide (except for day 9 in Petra).
Full board basis (all meals included)
Exclusive accommodations in nature reserves, 3* hotels and a Bedouin camp in the desert

Next departure dates:
Mon. 21 March to Sat. 2 April 2016
Mon. 11 to Sat. 30 April 2016

 Prices 2016 ranging from:
1254 JOD – 1782 JOD per person
1768 USD – 2513 USD per person
(Depending on amount of people per group)
Min 6  – max 14 guests

Single supplement:
255 JOD / 360 USD per person

Optional:
Extension Aqaba, enjoy some days at the beach.


Wetlands

Day 1. (D) Transfer from Amman Airport to Azraq for an overnight in Azraq Lodge. Azraq came up around 300 AC because of the proximity to the biggest water springs. They were the ‘blue pearls’ in the desert. In spite of the decrease of the area of the wetlands, it still offers a splendid habitat for migrating, breeding and wintering birds.

Day 2. (B, L, D)  In Azraq Wetland Reserve we can see the water birds like Temmink’s Lark, Desert Lark, Hoopoe Lark, Desert Wheatear, White-cheeked Bulbul (introduced in Jordan a decade ago), Purple Heron, Little Egret, Squacco Heron, Marsh Harrier and Little Bittern. In the afternoon we go to the Black Basalt Desert. This area is characterized by the big black basalt stones and has a barren appearance. It is home to the unique black morph of the Mourning Wheatear and the dark race of the Desert Lark – both adapting to the desert colour here. If there is time, we visit Azraq castle before we go back to the hotel in Azraq.

Day 3. (B, L, D)  Located South of Azraq is the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve. The RSCN opened this first Reserve in Jordan to start a reintroduction program for some of Jordan’s extinct desert fauna like the Arabian Oryx. The area around this Reserve is good to see desert birds like Pallid Harrier, Cream colored Courser and Thick-billed Larks. The tall trees attract a large variety of migrants.

On our way to Mujib we stop at the desert castle Qasr Amra, situated in Wadi al Butm, to look for migrants.  The wadi is lined with Pistacio trees and other low shrubs. In autumn the Imperial Eagle and Steppe Eagle frequent the area as Striolated Bunting and large flocks of Stock Doves. From this stop we have a three to four hour ride to Wadi Mujib. This is located in the Rift Valley on the east side of the Dead Sea. We stay the night in Wadi Mujib Chalets.

Dead Sea

Day 4. (B, L, D)  The shore of the Dead Sea, around Wadi Mujib, is the best place to look for Fan-tailed Ravens, White-crowned Wheatear, Blackstart and Hooded Wheatear and perhaps some migrants. After the lunch you can experience the sensation of floating on the salt water of the Dead Sea. Overnight stay in the Wadi Mujib Chalets.

Day 5. (B, L, D) We leave early to go to the Feifa Nature Reserve. This area is located along the south east Dead Sea coast with a freshwater spring and oases full of subtropical vegetation. There we will look for the Dead Sea Sparrow.  This site has become one of the major strongholds of the species after a lot of its other habitats unfortunately have been destroyed along the Rift Valley. In the afternoon we arrive in Dana. Depending on the time of arrival we make a first exploring hike. Overnight in Dana.

Dana Nature reserve, Picture by Jolanda Koopman

Day 6. (B, L, D) Today we will spend a full day in Dana. We start with a hike to the Rummana mountain. This could be a great opportunity to look for passage migration of raptors and the view from the hilltop is spectacular, as it provides a great view over Wadi Dana and Wadi Araba. In the night we’ll look for owls. Scops Owl is heard regularly! Overnight in Dana.

Day 7. (B, L, D)  Today we will hike from Dana to Feynan to cross all three habitats of Dana Nature Reserve to see many different birds. It’s one of the best areas to see the beautiful rose red colored Sinai Rose finch. This bird is chosen as the national Bird of Jordan because its color is similar to the color of the rocks in Petra, the rose red city. At the end of the day we arrive in the valley. From there we will go up the plateau again to Petra. Overnight in Petra/ Wadi Musa.

Sinai Rosefinch in Wadi Rum

Day 8. (B, L, D) In the morning we visit Little Petra. Long-legged Buzzards nest in this area and Desert Lark, Blue Rock Thrush can be seen. The rest of the day we use to cross the extended area of Petra, the hidden Nabatean village. Some special birds can be seen here like Sand Partridge, Mourning Wheatear, Scrub Warbler, Palestine Sunbird, Striolated Bunting and Rock Sparrow. In addition, this region is situated within a strong raptor migration route, so we can expect to see good numbers of these passage migrants as they soar overhead. Overnight in Petra/ Wadi Musa.

Day 9. (B, L, D) Today is totally dedicated to Petra, one of the modern world wonders and UNESCO world heritage site. Walk through the mystic Siq until you reach the Treasury. You could climb up to the High Place of Sacrifice and enjoy the marvellous view over this Nabatean city. Make your way back down via Wadi Farasa and see all the colourful tombs and monuments along the way. Overnight stay in Petra/ Wadi Musa.

Wadi Rum

Day 10. (B, L, D)  We leave Petra to go to the desert of the moon, Wadi Rum. On the way we visit a small Bedouin well to look for Trumpeter Finch. When we drive down the steep Ras al-Naqb, you’ll be surprised by the wide stretched Wadi Rum desert, red sand and stones, surrounded by high sandstone rock-formations and towering cliffs. We change the bus for jeeps and enter the protected area. We can see the Long-legged Buzzard and with a lot of luck also the Verreaux’s Eagle. Other species to be seen are Scrub Warblers, Hume’s Tawny Owls, Trumpeter Finch and Sinai Rose finch. We stay the night in a Bedouin camp where you can sleep underneath the stars or in a Bedouin tent.

DSC_0284 bee eaterDay 11. (B, L, D) After a Bedouin breakfast we are brought back to the bus and we’ll drive down to Aqaba. We will visit the Aqaba Bird Observatory, a former sewage work. Here the passage birds can prepare before they make the long flight to Africa. Highlights here are the Little Green Bee-eater, Slender-billed Gull, Grey Heron, Caspian Tern and Spur-winged lapwing. Around dusk we will spend our time around an open sky area (a hotel rooftop for example, to look for roosting raptors that come to spend the night in Aqaba Mountains)

Day 12. (B, L, D) On the last morning we will make a visit to the shoreline on the South side of the harbor of Aqaba to look for White-eyed Gulls. In the afternoon we drive to Qatar, a nature reserve with the most dense acacia forest of Jordan to see Blackstart and Arabian Warbler. Overnight stay in hotel in Aqaba.

Day 13. (B) Depending on the time of the flight you can spend some time at the seaside or explore Aqaba. Transfer to King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba to fly back either to Amman or directly to your home country.

cooking-1

 

More pictures with this program: 

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