When travelling to Jordan, most people head to the south of the country where Petra and Wadi Rum are located. But the wild green mountains and unique flora and fauna of the Ajloun Highlands in the north of Jordan are an under-visited gem just waiting to be discovered.

Located around 76 km north of Amman, the main attractions of Ajloun are the Ajloun Forest Reserve and the nearby Ajlound Castle.

Ajloun Forest Reserve is one of Jordan’s Nature Reserves, under the control and protection of Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN). The reserve protects over 13 square kilometres and offers various marked trails for hiking and exploring.

If you like hiking and are looking to spend a couple of days exploring several trails away from the heat of Amman, then Ajloun Forest Reserve is an ideal destination for you.

The Reserve consists of the Visitor Center, the restaurant, and wooden lodges where guests to stay overnight. Ajloun Forest Reserve is a very peaceful and relaxing place away from the crowds and major tourist hotspots. The reserve supports a wide variety of wild plants and animals and takes care of the hiking trails.

One of the most interesting hiking trails in the area is the Ajloun Soap House Trail.

Need to Know

Length: 7 km
Time: 3 hrs
Elevation Gain: 1,100 m
Grade: Easy (good trail conditions, some road walking with traffic)
Style: Circuit
Path Taken: Visitor Center – viewpoint – Soap House – Biscuit House (optional) – Visitor Center
Park: Ajloun Forest Reserve
Further Info: Local rules require that you hire a guide for this trail from the Visitor Centre, which will cost you about 17 JOD. If you don’t want to hire a guide, you should do one of the shorter trails – mostly around an hour – which don’t require a guide. Most of the hiking trails in the area are well-marked and don’t require any climbing or special equipment.

The Ajloun Soap House Trail

There are several trails in the Ajloun Forest Reserve, but the Soap House Trail is among the most interesting and rewarding. If you have only one day to spend in the area, you should consider doing this trail. The Soap House Trail begins at the Ajloun Forest Reserve’s Visitor Center and takes you to the Soap House in the neighbouring village of Orjan.

At the beginning of the trail, you will walk through green meadows full of wild, colourful flowers. Later, you will hike through thick, healthy woodlands and can spot Evergreen Oak, Pine, Carob, Wild Pistachio and Wild Strawberry trees on the way. Eventually, you will hike up 1100 meters above sea level at Eagle’s viewpoint. You can take a couple of nice pictures here and enjoy the view. The tour then descends to the Soap House, where local women make Orjan pure olive oil soap following a traditional process with olive oil, herbs, honey, and pomegranate. You can buy some soup from the gift shop across the hallway.

You can extend the hike by going down the road to Biscuit House. It employs local women to produce all-natural biscuits, energy bars and crisps under the RSCN’s Tasali brand for national distribution. The building has a lovely cafe where you can try locally produced biscuits.

A meadow dotted with rocks and yellow and red wildflowers - part of the Ajloun Soap House Trail (Jordan)

Getting to Ajloun from Amman

The easiest way to get to Ajloun from Amman is by car. You can either rent a car or take a taxi. The ride will take about 1.5 hours. This option is the most convenient and flexible one. Driving in Jordan is relatively easy, and you are not bound to the timetables. There is free parking in Ajloun Forest Reserve for the guests.

The least convenient option to get to Ajloun is by taking the JETT bus. The JETT bus operates on the Amman — Ajloun — Jerash route and costs 15 JOD for a roundtrip. The bus usually starts at 08:30 AM from the Tabardour North Bus Station, but it only leaves when it’s full, so you might need to wait a bit. Plus it only stops at the Ajloun Castle, from there you would need to take a taxi to Ajloun Forest Reserve.

The best time to hike the Ajloun Soap House Trail

The best time to go hiking in Ajloun is in Jordanian Spring, between February and March. The trees blossom during this period of the year, and hiking trails full of wild forest flowers. It rarely rains in Jordan in spring, and temperatures are ideal for hiking.
A view of the surrounding hills from Ajloun Soap House Trail (Jordan)

Other things to do in Ajloun

Ajloun has excellent hiking trails and beautiful, untouched nature, but it also offers plenty for adventure seekers and history enthusiasts. Some of the top attractions in Ajloun, apart from the forest reserve, are the zipline and the 12th-century castle. You should include Ajloun in your Jordanian itinerary and spend at least a couple of days here.

Ajlound Forest Reserve Zipline

Also in Ajloun Forest Reserve, thrill-seekers will love the exhilarating zipline with incredible views. The zipline’s registration and pickup point is at the Ajloun Forest Reserve Visitor Center.

The zipline is a relatively easy and short ride, so if you’ve never tried a zipline before, this is ideal for beginners. If you’re a seasoned adventurer, you might decide it’s a bit boring for you.

Ajloun Castle

This 12th-century fortress, standing 1250 meters above sea level, is located on top of Mount ‘Auf, also known as Jabal Auf, overlooking the town of Ajloun and the Jordan Valley. The Ajloun castle was built under the rule of the sultan and military leader Saladin. He fought against the Christian military during the Crusades in the 12th Century. The castle’s strategic location enabled Saladin’s army to look out across the Jordan Valley for invaders. The castle contains many chambers, carvings, and towers, making it a great place to visit as a day trip from Amman.

Have you visited the Ajloun? Hiked the Ajloun Soap House Trail? Or got it on your bucket list? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.