Azraq Oasis was a traditional stopping point for both human trade caravans and migratory birds. It is just over an hour’s drive east of Amman, on the busy highway which links Amman to Damascus.
The most striking human artifact is the black basalt fortress. This fort was first built by the Romans around 300 CE. The structure was in almost continuous military use by the Byzantines and Umayyads. In 1917, T. E. Lawrence used the fortress as the winters headquarter during the Great Arab Revolt.
The oasis is an important stopping point by air as well as land. Each year flocks of birds visit Azraq during their annual migrations making this a must-see for any bird enthusiast. By the late 1980′s the wetlands which encouraged the migrations had been all but destroyed. Now that the Azraq Wetlands Reserve has been detailed to the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, the slow process of re-nourishing this environmentally critical feature has begun, and Azraq once again hosts tremendous flocks of birds along the migratory routes between Africa and both Asia and Europe, making it a twice-annual bird watchers’ paradise.
Both the Azraq Wetlands Reserve and the Shumari Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll find successfully-bred herds of Arabian Oryx and ostriches, are within and alongside the Azraq Oasis. The Shumari Refuge is currently closed to visitors while re-zoning is in process.