After early morning hotel pickup from Amman, journey east through Jordan’s rugged countryside by private, air-conditioned vehicle on your way to your first stop: Al-Azraq.
Built from black basalt rock in the heart of the Al-Azraq oasis, this impressively designed desert fortress was once a hunting retreat of Umayyad rulers, and used as a base by T.E. Lawrence, the 20th-century British soldier and Arab Revolt leader nicknamed ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’
Wander around the haunting ruins of the castle, with its arches and battlements, and then continue with your driver to Amra, the most impressive of eastern Jordan’s desert fortresses. This architectural masterpiece was built in the 8th century by Umayyad caliph Walid II, and is most notable for its faded-but-stunning frescoes, including a depiction of the zodiac painted onto the domed ceiling of the bath chamber.
After admiring the frescoes and vaulted chambers of this unusual edifice, travel to Kharaneh, a picture-postcard, square fortress complete with rounded turrets and a central courtyard. Another Umayyad construction from the 8th century, archaeologists believe the building served as a fortress, meeting place, or caravanserai, a resting place for travelers or high government officials.
Admire Kharaneh's simple design and early Islamic architecture, and view the rooms fringing the courtyard, seeing their ornamental pilasters and niches.
Having explored here, continue to the 12th-century castle of Ajloun, built in the time of Saladin to defend against Crusader armies. Head inside this semi-intact hilltop fortress, and roam the rambling corridors and staircases. See the ‘murder holes’ through which occupiers could pour hot oil or pitch on invaders, and admire the stunning views over the lush hills of the Jordan Valley from the towers.
Then, reconvene with your vehicle and relax on your ride back to Amman where your trip ends with a hotel drop-off.