Day 4 – Petra
It is recommended that you reach the Treasury before sunrise, because as the sun rises, the rays fall on the Treasury and the views are spectacular. A quick breakfast later, we started at 6:15am and trailed the 20-minute downhill hike to the entrance of Petra. Our hostel hostess, Gail, had prepared Tuna sandwich (with chips and water) for lunch and was ready at 6am.
|Almost everything in Petra is a highlight in itself, and the combined effect of the ancient city is truly astonishing. There are some specific sites like the Treasury, High Place of Sacrifice, the Street of Façades, the Roman Theater, Royal Tombs and the Monastery, that should not be missed.
It is very important to plan your trip around Petra to make efficient use of your time. Start your exploration early. The tour buses start arriving before 9am and most of Petra is best experienced in quietness. If you want to see the Treasury at sunrise, you can enter Petra early, visit a few other sites such as the High Place of Sacrifice and the Theater, and then return at around 9am. The Monastery and Royal Tombs are at their best in the late-afternoon light.
Here are a few suggested itineraries:
Official rate card (as of May 2012):
Map of Petra (as of May 2012):
Being an archaeological park, the entrance fees are fairly steep compared to other Jordanian attractions. Tickets for visitors spending at least one night in Jordan cost 50/55/60 JD for a 1/2/3-day pass. Guides can be hired from about 50 JD and up (depending on what you want to see) at the Visitors Center.
|Horses in Petra|
|Horses with guides can be rented for JOD 8 for the 800m stretch between the main entrance and the start of the Siq. The price can be negotiated down to as little as JOD 2 going back up to the entrance. But a horse ride around the surrounding hills will cost around JOD 20. Only horses and carriages with guides are allowed between the main entrance and the Treasury (2km). These are officially for the disabled and elderly, but are often rented by tired hikers. They officially cost JOD 20 for a two-person carriage; JOD 40 to the museum.
Donkeys accompanied with guides are available all around Petra for negotiable prices. They can go almost to the top of the Monastery (about JOD 5 one way), and all the way to the High Place of Sacrifice (about JOD 7 one way), and can be rented for trips as far as the Snake Monument and to Jebel Haroun. Although riding donkeys is a genuine occupation for local Bedouins, animal lovers must think twice about hiring one to climb the incredibly steep and narrow paths, especially because there has been numerous complaints about whacking the animals and unfair treatment.
Camel rides are more for the novelty value, and are available for short rides and photographs near the Theatre and Qasr al-Bint. A trip between Qasr al-Bint and the Treasury, for example, costs about JOD 7.
The walk from the entrance of the old city to the Treasury takes about less than an hour (with multiple stops to click shots). Passing through the canyon of high and colorful sandstone, the first stop was the dam on either side of the canyon.
About 2 kilometers from the entrance is the Siq. Throughout the Siq, you can see minor carvings, but the most impressive sights are the colorful and unusual sandstone patterns in the rock walls. There are also remains of terracotta pipes built into the sides of the canyon that were used in Roman times to carry water.
A few minutes of walk ahead and you will see the jaw-dropping grandeur of the Treasury (Al-Khazneh). It’s rumored that the urn at the top contained a Pharaoh’s hidden treasure, and the urn bears the bullet pock marks where Bedouin travelers throughout the years have tested the theory. The best part about being at the treasury was we were all by ourselves with some local Bedouins. So getting there early when the park opens at 6am or 6:30am (depending on the season) will pay off the early rise because you may have the Treasury all to yourself or with less than 5-10 people around.
For gorgeous views of the Treasury, far from the madding crowds, make the 1.5-hour return hike from the Palace Tomb, with the option of returning via the Urn Tomb. Start this hike in the early morning to get the Treasury in good light, or in mid-afternoon when some parts are in the shade.
Walking past the next bend is the Street of Facades, a large canyon lined with the facades of various tombs. At the end of the Street of Facades is the 7000-seat Roman Theater. The theater was created by the Nabateans but later enlarged by the Romans. It is still used for occasional performances.
On the side of the valley opposite the Roman Theater and a short walk up the hill, are the Royal Tombs. The name was given because they are quite grand in scale compared to the others in the area, but it is unclear for whom the tombs were originally constructed.
And on the left, before reaching the Roman Theater is a 45-minute hike up to the High Place of Sacrifice. The view of the Theater and the tombs around is spectacular from above. As you near the top of the mountain, you will come to what is known as Attuf Ridge. On this ridge are two obelisks, such as are found in India. They are carved out of solid rock and are over 6 meters high. They have the typical Nabataean style of haching (etching) on the side that is protected from the prevailing winds.
Walking further down the Colonnaded Street will bring you to the end of the low-land trail at the Great Temple. Fallen columns still represent the grandeur of the temple. And at the end of the road is Qasr Al-Bint.
This is where we took a break, had lunch and were prepared to hike up the 1.5-hour trail to the Monastery.
Over 800 steps lead up to the Monastery, and can take about an hour and half. Few visitors choose to ride donkeys up to the top. The donkeys are treated very badly, and it’s quite depressing seeing this along the way. The Monastery (ad-Deir), the largest carved monument in Petra, dates back to the 1st century AD. There’s nothing to see inside so avoid walking up to the gates.
We relaxed here for a while before heading down to the entrance.
|Everything inside the realm of Petra is very expensive as compared to Wadi Musa. So make sure to carry plenty of water bottles that will cost JOD 0.70 per bottle in Wadi Musa and JOD 2 inside Petra. Even food, refreshments and souvenirs are three times the price.
Petra by Night happens on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 20:30. Entrance fee is JOD 12 (May 2012) and you do not need a day pass. Order your tickets at your hotel. It is only made of candles, you’ll hear a short play of Bedouin music and be served some tea in plastic cups while you sit on mats at the Treasury. It’s best to see this before you see Petra by day, as it becomes far less impressive if you already walked up to the Treasury during daytime. It’s not amazing, but it’s something nice to do during nighttime.
Wadi Musa doesn’t have any big touristic attraction, but the hotels are cheap and just a down-hill walk away from Petra. A tiring day, some quick dinner at Al-Wadi restaurant (Hummus, bread, Gallagh with chicken and Magloubah) and hookah after, we were ready to hit the sack early.
Next stop will be Wadi Rum and buses from Petra to Wadi Rum leave at 6:30am. Contact you hotel desk well in advance to reserve a place on this bus as it gets full in no time.
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = JOD 0.75. Each cost is for one adult.
|Petra Entry||JOD 100 or $141.20||For 2 persons|
|Water & Refreshments||JOD 4 or $5.60||For 2 persons|
|Dinner at Al-Wadi||JOD 15 or $21.10||For 2 persons|
|Juice & Hookah||JOD 12 or $16.90||For 2 persons|
|Total Costs||$92.45||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$2,034.85||Per person|