How To

Black Desert Interactive Tour Guide

Northeastern Jordan, sometimes nicknamed the Black Desert for its basalt bedrock, is one of the least traveled yet most charming regions of the country. Like much of Jordan's badiya, Mafraq governorate is largely rural, punctuated by farms and small towns amid the arid landscape. With a little planning and a sense of adventure, a day or overnight trip through the northeast makes a memorable addition to anyone's stay in Jordan.


Northeastern Jordan is filled with ancient sites, many of which are easily accessible to local and foreign travelers. While facilities in the region are developing steadily, overnight accommodations are as yet limited. Currently only one hotel is available, located in Azraq, while limited, informal camping for backpackers with their own gear is an option at Umm el-Jimal. In addition, the interactive guide above includes directions, food and water options, and restroom facility information for each site included.


Several routes through major sites in the north and east are convenient for those with access to a vehicle. From Umm el-Jimal, visitors could travel northwest through Al Baij to Umm es-Surab and Sama es-Serhan, ending up on the Syrian border at Jabir. Heading east from Umm el-Jimal along northern Jordan's rural highways brings travelers through the twin sites of Subhiya and Sabha, then on to Umm el-Quttein and the impressive Deir al-Kahf. Meanwhile, Khirbat es-Samra, the hilltop fort Qasr Hallabat, and Hammam es-Serah baths are clustered within range of each other south of Umm el-Jimal. Finally, the desert castles Qasr al-Kharana, UNESCO World Heritage site Quseir Amra, and Qasr al-Azraq form an accessible chain southeast of Umm el-Jimal or east from Amman. For any one of these possible loops, be sure to allow plenty of time to stop, look around, and enjoy the experience. Why hurry?


The interactive map on this page is cross-platform compatible and should work on most media devices. To explore the guide, simply zoom in or out to a site of interest using the (+) and (-) keyboard buttons, click on a particular image, or use a mouse wheel. Click and drag to pan around the image. Site descriptions are organized from the outside inward. Make the guide full screen by clicking the small square icon in the upper right corner; click the Escape (Esc) keyboard button to return to the normal viewer window. Use the Home button to return to the original map view. Users with slower Internet connections should allow time for each image to load in full resolution. For more information about the technology underlying this guide, required computer plugins, and troubleshooting see the Help page.

Travel Tips


While a four-wheel drive vehicle is unnecessary along the routes highlighted in this tour guide, quality road maps are sometimes difficult to find outside Amman. Travelers using their own vehicle without local support should make sure to bring a detailed highway map or GPS navigation system with regional map data.

Field Guide

Jarir Maani's Field Guide to Jordan, ISBN 978-9957-8623-0-5, is an excellent English language overview of the nation's archaeology, environment, flora, fauna, and geology. The book is Jordanian published and printed by, and available internationally online. (The Umm el-Jimal Project is unaffiliated with the author and printer; it's just a great local resource.)

the Barracks

Other Interactive Content

Interested in more interactives? Zoom around a photographic chronicle of Umm el-Jimal's history in the Timeline, view a wall of objects unearthed from the ancient site in the Artifact Exhibit, or wander through a 360° site walk in the Virtual Tour.