About half an hour West of Jerash lies Aljoun castle, and just North is Aljoun Forest Reserve. Both are worthy of a visit while you explore the North of the country. Aljoun castle dates back to the twelfth century, and while it might look a lot like a Crusader castle, and is indeed from the Crusader period, it was actually built by the other side – one of Saladin’s Islamic generals who used it to fight against the European forces and local Bedouin who had allied themselves with the invaders. The castle was later expanded and improved by the Mamluks in the thirteenth century. The castle is well preserved and invites exploration of its many chambers, staircases and view points.
In order to stretch your legs and submerge yourself in nature, we recommend continuing to the Aljoun Forest Reserve. This wooded area is a rarity in Jordan, it has a Mediterranean climate and is home to a great variety of flora and fauna including the reintroduced roe deer and a large number of bird species. We especially like the Soap Trail which is a gentle forest walk of about two or three hours and seven kilometers through evergreen forest trails, pistachio trees, oaks, and fruit trees, which gives way to wonderful view points onto the wider landscape and local villages providing a glimpse into how many people still live in this region. Focusing on the local aspect, the trail brings us out into the little village of Orjan where the village ladies make their own soap out of local ingredients and pure olive oil. These exotic smelling soaps are a great gift to take home which also support local communities.
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