Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Visiting Petra in Jordan

I never expected Petra in Jordan to be so stunning until I visited last week. Sure I had seen pictures of the famous treasury and vaguely remember what it looked like from some scenes of the Indiana Jones movie I'd watched when I was a child. Even though it had been on my bucket list for ages, I  never expected it to be so mind blowing.

Some guidebooks recommend to take at least two or three days to visit everything, but me not being the world's number 1 ruin buff, I convinced travel buddy that one full day would be much more than enough. Well, it wasn't. My travel buddy and I had booked a taxi from Wadi Rum to Petra and found ourselves at the ticket booth at 11 am. And we staggered out of the park just before it closed at 5pm.

We started our visit down the meandering path that leads to the entrance of the Siq, dodging horses and buggies that take lazy visitors down to the same route. The Siq is basically a narrow 80m deep canyon that served as the main entrance point into Petra in Nabatean time. The canyon floor is paved and with the sound of the hooves of the horses echoing through, you can imagine what the atmosphere must have been like back then.

There are some eroded reliefs on the walls of the Siq, votive niches and and water channels, but the best part of it, is the end. Nearing the end of the 1200m long canyon you can see fragments of the treasury, the famous structure that we all associate with Petra. But what you never see and read in brochures and guidebooks of Jordan is how tiny you feel when you stand at the foot of this giant tomb.

But there was a lot more.

We walked down the Street of Facades where, as the name suggests it, tomb after tomb are carved out of the mountain walls on either side, all the way down towards the Amphitheatre.

Petra being Petra it does pull the crowds, but after receiving a golden tip from a fellow traveller we decided to take a steep path up that led to the High Place of sacrifice. Most visitors opt to follow the colonnaded street, which meant that we practically had the whole path aka the processional route to ourselves. Including the impressive tomb of the Roman Soldier, the Garden Temple Complex and amazing views down the valley.

The Processional Route ends at the Qasr Al Bint which also happens to be the spot of two restaurants where we attacked the lunch buffet. After a very tasty albeit very expensive lunch we got ready for our list item our stuff-to-do-in-Petra-list ; The monastery which sits high up a mountain top. The windy path up is very steep. There are steps and there are some small shops and tea stops if you need to take a breather.

After about 30 minutes with our tongues hanging on our shoes, a wide open space suddenly appeared with the monastery majestically hovering over us.

Clouds started closing in, which was our cue to start down the path back again, back to where we started our tour. Exhausted from all the hiking and sightseeing, we gladly accepted a horse back ride back to the ticket booth. In all it took us about 6 hours and we still hadn't seen it all.

A very good reason to go back some day!


  1. You've brought back so many wonderful memories for me. Petra truly is a wonderful place. It is massive though and very tiring. I remember the donkey owners walking around trying to get people to pay for a ride on a donkey. "Free air conditioning" they would say which always made us laugh. It was roasting hot that day.

  2. Ha, Jordanians do have a sense of humour!!