It was my first trip to the Middle-East, I had no idea what to expect, and what a way to start that adventure but by visiting Petra. Petra is a world-famous archaeological site that dates from 300 B.C. It is a large network of sandstone cliffs, tombs, and temples.
We decided to travel during low-season. This was a decision that I was unhappy with at first due to the heat that I was expecting but by suffering through the heat I had a much more authentic experience. Yes, it’s exhausting hiking in 40+ degrees Celsius weather, but it is rewarding when you have a temple to yourself.
My partner and I decided to stay at the Movenpick Petra resort which was a treat due to the close proximity to the Petra entrance. We were able to leave our rental car at the hotel and literally cross the street to access the ancient city. I would recommend you stay at this hotel. Do not stay in the hotel district, as it is up a mountain and nothing is accessible by walking. Choose this hotel if at all possible or another nearby hotel.
After you pay the entrance fee, you enter through the Siq which is a phenomenal introduction to the ancient city. The Siq is approximately a 2 km walk down a narrow gorge. This walk alone would make the trip worthwhile. The first time down this canyon we walked. When we returned the second day we took a carriage ride in order to save time. I would recommend that you walk it once, as you will want to take your time to appreciate and enjoy the scenery, as well as to take pictures.
Once you complete the Siq you arrive at the Treasury which was made famous by the Indiana Jones movie. This is a spectacular temple that is carved directly into a cliff. How majestic this is cannot be described.
Unfortunately, this is also where you are assaulted by dozens of sales people who all want to sell you something. You just have to be patient and tell them you are not interested and most of them will eventually respect your decision. Once you’ve spent at least five minutes saying no, you can then take it all in and appreciate and enjoy the views.
Later on in our journey I was shocked to learn that this is as far as most tourists go. I kept talking to tourists who explained that they never went further than the treasury. Most didn’t bother because of the heat and the amount of walking that is required. To those who only venture this far, you have missed out. These tourists miss out on at least 80% of what is to be seen including temples that are as impressive as the Treasury, if not more so. I would argue more so as the temples are much more rewarding due to the effort that it takes to access them. They have the added benefit of no salesmen to hound you…. And significantly less tourists.
Petra is huge I highly recommend that you give yourself two days to take it all-in. Otherwise you will be missing out. If you are going to cut your trip short do it anywhere else in Jordan. For example, one-day at the dead sea is more than enough. Amman can be skipped if needed.
Our first day we walked through the Siq, enjoyed the views of the treasury, we then rode camels down to the beginning of the hiking trail that leads to the Monastery. You can rent a donkey but we chose to hike this trail. I felt it would be much more rewarding once we reached the top and I was proved correct.
The reward is phenomenal. The Monastery is under rated and should be as famous as the Treasury. Best of all you can continue to hike upwards to then reach the summit of the mountain which offers panoramic views of Petra.
We hiked back down, rode our camels around for more scenic views and then we called it a day. Of course we then had to walk back through the Siq. This day took us more than 12 hours.
Since we were a bit exhausted and sore on our second day we decided to visit Little Petra. We drove there directly from our hotel. This drive is easy and takes approximately 15 minutes. We visited the temples and the caves in this area. This is a nice side trip and is well worth seeing but if you only have two days I would focus exclusively on Petra.
On our third day we returned to Petra. We decided to take a caravan through the Siq. Immediately upon arriving at the treasury we rode camels to take us to the furthest point of the Place of High Sacrifice. We did this hike in reverse so that we could exit near the Roman Theater and afterwards walk towards the Treasury at sunset. This offered us a one-way hike (much needed in the hot weather) and allowed us to take our time to fully appreciate the views and to take 100s of pictures. This is debatably the top hike in the area and best of all with the exception of a lovely cat we were the only people on this trail.
We had a cat follow us for at least 500 meters. We eventually gave the cat a lot of water as it seemed famished. After the water the cat just seemed to appreciate our company. The cat eventually said its goodbyes as we left the trail.
We ended our day with the Night at Petra tour which is where they light up the Treasury and give a speech and provide you with local tea which is the sweetest tasting tea I have ever tasted. This was an enjoyably moment but what I found even more impressive was the fact that the Siq was lit up with candles all the way back to the entrance.
After three days at Petra it was a phenomenal way to end the first and best leg of our trip in Jordan.