The lost city of Petra, one of the new 7 Wonders of the World, is a magnificent ancient city, thousands of years old, that still holds hidden secrets waiting to be unveiled. Archaeological excavations in the area have shown that the area was first occupied more than 9000 years ago. It was called “Petra” (Greek word for “Rock”) because the city was carved inside red-rose sandstone rock.
Our first glimpse of Petra was from above and we immediately knew that we were going to be amazed.
We were driving along the Kings Highway, coming from Wadi Rum desert, and we stopped off at a vantage point for photos, a couple of kilometers before reaching Wadi Musa (the closest town to Petra).
We spent the night at the super conveniently located Esperanza Hotel, and the next morning we started our walk through Petra as early as 7am.
Make sure you carry some sandwiches and water in your backpack before you set off for your hike.
The entrance was just minutes away from the hotel. The tickets cost 50 JD for one day, 55 JD for 2 days and 60JD for 3 days.
When you get through the entrace in Petra you will be approached by people trying to get you to get on a horse for the ride to the entrance to the Siq. The horseback ride is apparently included in the ticket price, but the tipping of the carrier is required. I advise against it so as to discourage exploitation of the poor animals.
The access to the ancient city is through a magnificent narrow gorge (siq) about 1 km long with vibrant reddish cliffs on each side which finally give way to reveal the famous facade of Al-Khazneh (The Treasury) – the most iconic part of Petra. Like most of Petra, the Treasury was built by an Arab tribe known as the Nabataeans, who began erecting the city as early as 312 B.C.
Of course, I couldn’t resist taking a few obligatory been-here selfies:
Usually the foreground in front of The Treasury is full of people, donkeys and camels, but don’t worry, I’ll hereunder tell you how to get to a better selfie spot.
Once you get passed the Treasury you can wander around the rest of Petra’s elaborate tombs and temples. There will be many camel and donkey owners jockeying for your business. Just keep walking and tell them no thanks (“La Shukran” in Arabic),
We wandered around and took hundreds of pictures, for about 4-5 hours, before we took a break to grab some freshly squeezed pomegranate juice and make a plan for the rest of the day.
more images on Instagram…
Treasury from above
It was time to escape the crowds and get off the beaten path. The Al-Khubtha hiking trail allows you to see Petra from a bird’s eye view, culminating in the unforgettable view of the Treasury from the top.
The official brochure describes this trail as “hard” and required to hire a local guide. Not! It’s not difficult at all. You don’t have to be a mountaineer to conquer it, but what you do need though is some good hiking shoes for gripping the rocks, and you’re good to go. The trail is well-marked and maintained, and there are stunning views at every turn. It takes less than one hour to get to the top if you exclude the photo sessions on the way.
After reaching the “wow” point at the end of the trail, we sat down and served some local tea with the Bedouins in a sort of shelter built on the rocks above the Siq and enjoyed the thrilling view of the Treasury. The afternoon’s sun’s rays were perfectly shining through the rocks, making for the perfect photography lighting.
Late afternoon is the perfect time to enjoy the beautiful hike that gives you a bird’s eye view of this otherworldly landscape.
We reversed our steps down the Al-Khubtha trail and then back out through the Siq. It’s better to do the Petra tour in the afternoon rather than the morning because it is less crowded, less hustle and bustle, and the sun’s light is perfect for taking pictures.
Back at the hotel, it was time for a couple of beers which we were able to procure at a cheaper price, despite the prohibition, thanks to our amazing host Raed.