Azraq Wetland Reserve
Azraq is a unique wetland, located in the heart of the arid Eastern Desert, which takes its name from the Arabic word for ‘blue’. A migratory stopover for birds from three continents, Azraq is becoming increasingly popular for bird-watching. From the walkways and hides, visitors get the chance to observe birds close at hand, including local, migratory and occasional rare species.
The Azraq area also has a rich cultural history due to its strategic location and water resources. It was used as a station for pilgrims and camel trains and Lawrence of Arabia was stationed in Azraq Castle during the Arab Revolt. The local people are also unusually diverse, coming from three different ethnic origins, Bedouin, Chechen and Druze; each of which has distinctive beliefs and traditions. Bedouins have lived a nomadic life style in the area for generations, whereas the Chechens are descendants of settlers from the Caucasus and the Druze stem from Arab tribes in Syria and Lebanon.
Many interesting archaeological sites lie within easy reach of Azraq Lodge, including the famous but misnamed ‘desert castles’: Qasr Amra, Qasr Kharana and Azraq Castle. Qasr Amra is one of the best preserved Umayyad bath houses in the world and a World Heritage Site. Its interior walls are covered in lively frescos dating back to 700 AD. There are also many dramatic desert landscapes to discover, including moon-like plains of black basalt and white valleys of chalk.