Amman, Jordan

Private Tour to Black Desert, Azraq Oasis & Desert Castles

Rating:
5/5
(10 reviews)

The tour to the Black Desert will allow us to go back in time to the era of military campaigns and desert warfare as we explore Jordan’s imposing desert complexes. Their fine mosaics, frescoes, stone carvings and illustrations, tell countless stories of life as it was during the 8th century. Known collectively as the Desert Castles, the constructions demonstrate the best of early Islamic Architectural ingenuity.

On this tour, we will visit several of those monuments to discover the rich history and architecture of the Umayyad Period. We will also take a walk in the Black Desert, a truly unique experience, get up close and personal with amazing oryxes and go on a safari, visit an oasis and feed fish, watch birds from a hiding place and take spectacular photos throughout the tour.

You will experience a combination of history and nature, visit well-known sites and those which could be reached only by 4×4 vehicle. I’m constantly working on improving the tour to offer you a truly unique and versatile experience in the Black Desert.

Departure Location
Amman, Jordan (your hotel or residence)
Departure Time
What's Included
✓ Private luxury transfer✓ Entrance fees✓ Bottled water, soft drinks, snacks✓ Coffee/tea (on request)✓ WiFi, iPhone charger, iPad with Netflix✓ Masks and hand-sanitiser
What's Excluded
✕ Professional on-site (local) guide✕ Personal expenses✕ Lunch✕ Safari in Shaumari Wildlife Reserve
Tour Checklist
✓ Comfortable shoes✓ Sun hat✓ Sunblock✓ Sunglasses

Note: We will meet you at the hotel lobby or at your residence five minutes before the scheduled departure time for an introduction and small briefing. Please be on time.

After the tour, we will drive you back to Amman and drop you off at your hotel, where we picked you up or any other location specified by you, at no additional cost.

Tour Itinerary

Amman - Azraq

We’ll begin with a friendly introduction, and a small tour briefing. A detour to Starbucks to pick up your favourite coffee will take place after, on your request. From there, it’s a 1-hour (80 km / 50 miles) drive from Amman to Qasr Kharana, our first stop in a luxury car which includes WiFi, sipping coffee and enjoying your selected snacks. Water and soft drinks are provided at no extra cost. There is also an iPhone charger, headphones and you’ll have access to an iPad with an internet connection, and Netflix.

Qasr Kharrana

80 kilometres (50 miles) East of Amman on highway 40 in an arid part of the Eastern desert, Qasr Kharana welcomes you as one of the Desert Castles in this region. The castle was built in the early Umayyad period by the Umayyad caliph Walid I whose dominance of the region was rising at the time. Here you will discover a square castle, with each side 35 m long. There are many rooms in this 2-store building, some still have decorations. I will guide you through the best-preserved and most interesting parts of the castle while explaining its architecture and history.

Quseir Amra

Quseir Amra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated 75 km East of Amman on highway 40. It is one of the best-preserved monuments in the Black Desert and the second stop of our tour. Its interior walls and ceilings are covered with lively frescoes, and two of the rooms are paved with colourful mosaics which is very unique for Islamic architecture. Here you will discover an audience hall with a throne alcove, a bath complex consisting of cold, warm and hot rooms and the hydraulic structures which include an elevated water tank, a masonry-lined deep well, and the mechanism for drawing water from the well into the water tank. I will also show you the best spots to take photos. After the tour, you are welcome to take a short coffee/tea break at the local Bedouin tent situated next to the visitor centre.

Qasr Uweinid and a walk in the Black Desert

Enjoy a walk in the Black Desert, a truly unique experience, to reach Qasr Uweinid and discover mysterious stone circles on the way. The small military Roman Fort lies on the tip of a law basalt spur overlooking the Wadi Butm which bends around it, providing good natural defence on the north and west sides. Although it is not much left of the building, it's an amazing location with beautiful views of the desert.

Shaumari Wildlife Reserve

This small, 22-square-kilometre reserve is home to some of the rarest species of animals in the Middle East including oryxes, ostriches, onagers and gazelles, which are depicted on many Byzantine mosaics in Jordan. The visitor centre has been set up to provide visitors with information about wildlife, and experience observation of wildlife in the reserve in person. Here you can observe the Arabian Oryx, Houbara bustards, Reem Gazelles and Persian Wild Onagers in fenced enclosures, as well as a variety of wild plants and geographic systems native to the region. An optional 1-hour safari could be organised for 18 JOD/person (minimum of 3 persons) to discover the reserve and see its wildlife up close.

Azraq Wetland Reserve

The Azraq Wetland Reserve is a unique oasis located near the famous Azraq Castle in the heart of the Eastern Desert. The wetland is a location of rich biodiversity, providing a natural habitat for numerous aquatic and terrestrial species, including the Azraq Killifish, the only true endemic vertebrate species of Jordan. Here we will take a 1.5 km (1 mile) Marsh Trail through the reserve, which takes about 30-40 minutes to walk. The trail follows natural paths made by water buffalo, which still roam through the wetlands. The remains of a basalt wall from the Umayyad period could be seen today and incorporated in the trail. Although just a fraction of the original wetlands remain, about 300 species of resident and migratory birds use the wetlands during their winter migration from Europe to Africa. We will feed fish and watch birds from a hiding place during this tour. There is a small museum at the visitor centre, a picnic area and of cause bathrooms.

Qasr Azraq

Qasr Azraq is often included on day trips from Amman to the Desert Castles, along with Qasr Kharana and Qasr Amra, both east of the capital and reached via Highway 40. The settlement was known in antiquity as Basie and the Romans were the first to make military use of the site, and later an early mosque was built in the middle. Its strategic value came from the nearby oasis, the only water source in a vast desert region. Here you can explore most of the castle, except for some sections closed for visitors. During the Arab Revolt, T.E. Lawrence based his operations here in 1917–18, an experience he wrote about in his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The connection to “Lawrence of Arabia” has been one of the castle’s major draws for tourists. I will take you to the room he occupied and tell you his story and the history of the castle.

Qasr Ain Es-Sil and Qasr Usaykhim

Located just 2 km (1.3 miles) from Qasr Azraq, Ain Es-Sil is one of the examples offering a different prospective to Desert Castles. Lying by the pine trees it was never used as a palace but rather as a farming estate with a bathing complex attached. This complex was built by the Umayyads, possibly over the existing fortifications of a Roman building. We will take a short walk around the complex before driving to our last stop of the tour. One of my favourite places to visit in Eastern Jordan, Qasr Usaykhim seats on the top of the hill just 22 km (14 miles) north of Azraq. We will drive off-road to reach this superbly located fort. It is worth the scramble up the steep slope for the wonderful views. A large stone arch is a desired place for a photo with stunning views of the black desert behind.

Azraq - Amman

We will drive you all the way back to Amman and drop you off at your hotel, where we picked you up. No doubt after a satisfying and inspiring few hours in the Black Desert and Jordan’s most famed archaeological sites.

Photo Gallery

Additional Info

  • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
  • Travelers should have a moderate physical fitness level
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Infants must sit on laps

Cancellation Policy

You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the tour for a full refund.

  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the tour’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the tour’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the tour’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on Jordan’s local time.
SHARE

What our customers say

5.0
5/5

29 reviews

Shannon D
5/5
This is the one!
Alex is the best. He knows his stuff, is always on time, goes beyond the call of duty to take care of his clients. The itinerary is very well designed and Alex is happy to take into consideration any physical limitations you may have, even if it is just because you hiked a little too hard the day before =) . This tour took us to some awesome well-known spots as well as some more esoteric spots Alex has discovered through years of research and exploration. You will not be disappointed.
Written August, 2022
Heather B
5/5
Great Tour!
This was a great tour with a lot of variety! It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the various structures in the desert. Qasr Amra is a must see with its unique frescoes. The trip also included a hike in the Black Desert and a visit to the Azraq Oasis. The oasis offers a chance to see some birds and learn about water management/environmental challenges in Jordan. I was also able to visit the nearby Oryx reserve, although this was an optional add on but a neat stop for learning more about how this animal was brought back from the brink of extinction. Overall, the trip had a large amount of variety between nature and history. Alex was professional, engaging, and knowledgeable. Water, soft drinks, and snacks were included.
Written April, 2022
Oliver l
5/5
Private tour black desert and castles
Alex was extremely professional from point of booking. He gave clear instructions and met us at our hotel. Alex had a very nice and comfortable car which he provided: Wi-Fi, snacks, water and chocolates. He had an iPad loaded with movies but we didn’t use as he was a great conversationalist (has had a very vibrant and interesting life). Alex was very knowable and took us many areas which the main tourist groups would not go (4WD’in). Wish we had more time in Jordan to do another tour with Alex.
Written April, 2022
Aria S
5/5
Magnificent castles in the arid desert, great tour
That was amazing, I really love the castles, especially Ames with all its paintings. The walk in the desert was a crazy beautiful experience and the oasis with many birds was a treat to top it all. Alex is very kind and flexible and addressed all my needs. I’m really happy I picked this tour.
Written April, 2022
Michel D
5/5
A perfect day!
That was an exceptional tour with Alex, we were so happy to do it. After visiting Petra and Wadi Rum, we decided to see more of Jordan and found this tour to Desert Castles. Alex made it very interesting, educational and exciting: from a walk in the wild desert, discovering castles and learning about Islamic culture and history to feeding fish in the oasis... it was a perfect tour to remember.
Written March, 2022
Mimo S
5/5
Discovery of the Umyyad history in Jordan in one day
We did this tour during September when still somehow hot but yer enjoyable... now would be the perfect timing to book it as the weather will be perfectly pleasant. You get to discover some beautiful spots that otherwise would remain hidden from you. I went with my two kids who had a blast discovering the sites and finding their way around like little monkeys :-) what I enjoyed most is that we went to different destinations so be prepared to have the entirety of the day booked and got to discover part of the country try but also region's history that remains very well preserved surprisingly. This tour is perfect as much for couples and for families because adults and children enjoy the site seeing.
Written September, 2021

from $144 (104 JOD)

Fixed price per group (1-3 travellers)

Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance

Book Directly with Us

A problem was detected in the following Form. Submitting it could result in errors. Please contact the site administrator.
Tour Price: $144 (104 JOD)
Tour Price: $144 (104 JOD)
Tour Price: $144 (104 JOD)

We will confirm your booking via email and provide you with payment details.

More Booking Options

Instant booking confirmation at the time of booking, free cancellation up to 24h in advance.

Available tours in Jordan