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After 2 nights in the Wadi Rum Desert I got the 9:00am bus to Petra from the Village of Wadi Rum and by 11:00am I was in the town of Wadi Musa, the town closest to Petra and checked into my hotel- Saba Hotel.
I decided that I wanted to visit Petrafirst thing in the morning when it was still quiet so I pretty much used the rest of my day to nap, blog and read up on the History of Petra and I found the following information from the brochure quite interesting:
‘It is not known precisely when Petra was built, but the city began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean Empire from the 1st century BC, which grew rich through trade in frankincense, myrrh and spices. Petra was later annexed to the Roman Empire and continued to thrive until a large earthquake in 363 AD. The earthquake along with the changes in trade route, eventually led to the downfall of the city which was ultimately abandoned.
In 1812 a Swiss explorer set out to ‘rediscover’ Petra, he dressed up as an Arab and convinced his Bedouin guide to take him to the lost city. After this Petra became increasingly known in the West as a fascinating and ancient city and it began attracting visitors and continues to do so today.
In addition to the magnificent remains of the Nabataean city, human settlement and land use for over 10,000 years can be traced in Petra’.
The best time to visit Petra is first thing in the morning so I got up at 6:20am, went for breakfast and was out the door by 7:00am. It’s a good 20 minute walk downhill from the town Wadi Musa to the entrance gates of Petra (some hotels offer shuttle buses so look out for this when you book).
I bought my ticket. A 1 day pass is 50 JD/ £50.00 and a 2 day ticket is 55 JD/£55.00 so I opted for the 2 day ticket incase I needed more time although in the end I only went to Petra for one day.
After buying the ticket you walk down a track which is a good kilometre or so with not much going on and then you arrive at the entrance to the Siq which is what I was really looking forward to!
As I had got there early there weren’t many other people around and I made sure I quickly overtook the people I had seen who were in front so I had no-one in front of me (the perks of being a solo traveller and a fast walker)!
The Siq felt really special, this was after all the main entrance into Petra thousands of years ago and I can only imagine what people must have felt back then entering the narrow gorge into the unknown.
I knew the end of the Siq would open up with the Treasury in view but I must say I got tricked a couple of times thinking ‘ooh this looks like the pictures’ and then I would turn the corner and the Siq would just be carrying on, but again after a kilometre or so I finally reached the Treasury and what a sight it was! The Treasury is 40 metres high and intricately decorated and is believed to have been constructed in the 1st Century BC!
This was another moment when I was pleased with how early I went as there was only 1 other tourist there (and he offered to take a photo of me so it was good he was there!), a few camels out the front and a couple of vendors but they were busy setting up and didn’t pay much attention to me. It was not like this later on in the day when I returned!
After taking some photos I continued on down the path, a few tourists were in front of me but not that many and it was still quite cool and shaded as the sun hadn’t completely risen yet.
My next stop was the Monastery! This is the furthest point in the park but I thought I might as well do it while it’s still not too hot or busy and it was a great idea!
It took me a good 60-90 minutes to get from the Treasury to the Monastery (and I walk fast!) and it isn’t an easy walk. The walk up to the Monastery starts from Basin Restaurant and is 800 steps from there which wind around the rocks. The gradient isn’t that steep its more of a long slug, I would say about 2km. A long the way ladies were setting up stalls and asking me to join for tea so there are plenty of rest stops but I had my mind fixed on the finishing point!
Just as I was thinking ‘it can’t be too much further??’ I saw the sign which said it was just around the corner, I turned and there it was! There is a cafe/restaurant in front but it still gave a huge empty space in front of the structure and when I arrived there was no one else there which was the perfect chance take some uninterrupted photos.
There is a view-point which is clearly marked up on the hill in front that you can visit, I heard the view is great but I really couldn’t be bothered to walk up anymore. Instead I sat up on a huge rock that was in front to get my breath back and admire the very impressive structure which dates back to the early 2nd century AD, it was used for meetings and religious events to start with and later re-used as a Christian chapel.
On my way down there were a lot more people starting the walk up and I had great pleasure in saying to people ‘I promise it’s not that much further!’ as I could see they were just has tired as I had been. This time I did stop for a chai tea with a lady in one of the stalls who told me she had 9 children (!!) and where they lived etc so that was nice.
I went to visit the Museum which is at the bottom of the track to and from the Monastery but there wasn’t too much to it so I headed out and conveniently started talking to a British Couple who were just finishing a guided tour and heading up to the Monastery. Their guide asked what I was doing and then he told me the way to get to the view-point above the Treasury which isn’t noted on the map. This was something I really wanted to do and was glad he told me as the path wasn’t anywhere near where I thought it would be so this really helped me out and i once again was thankful for nice people!
The path to this view-point is behind the Royal Tombs so I checked them out where I also sat and had my packed lunch from the hotel and then started the walk upwards.
Of course I knew this walk would be tough as it is a great view-point and you don’t get a great view without the work but I didn’t quite expect it to be so bad!
This walk had a lot of continuous steps which wound round the rocks and just seemed to go up and up and up! Once I was finally at the top and had a great view over the surrounding mountains but I wasn’t too sure were to go, I knew I wasn’t close to the Treasury as I could see below some restaurants which I knew were further a long the path and I seemed to be the only person up there!
I wasn’t about to give up so I carried on straight, climbed down some rocks and finally found a path and although it felt like it was leading no where there were lots of rocks placed on top of each other which turns out are a guide to where you want to be going.
Some Donkeys came into sight a long with a tent structure and I knew I was there so I headed down a few steps into the makeshift cafe and had a fantastic view!
The cafe was run by 2 boys who said they live up there most of the time and seemed to also enjoy the view. I got a drink and sat people watching from above for a good 20 minutes before heading back down (and you have to go back down the way you came, apparently there’s a short cut but it’s very steep and dangerous!).
At this point the wind had really picked up and it started to spit with rain, it was nice and refreshing to start with but it then turned into quite a heavy downpour. Luckily I had already decided that I would head back after this view-point as my feet and legs needed a rest and I felt I had seen enough.
I headed back to the Treasury and back up the Siq. This is when I was really pleased that I arrived early in the morning to Petra when I did as there were lots more tourists but also lots more locals and vendors shouting at me, and lots of camels, donkeys and horses being ridden.
This is a sight that I knew happened but I didn’t like seeing and a long with the animals and the men it left quite a sour taste in my mouth.
I had planned to have a second day in Petra where I would visit the High Place of Sacrifice as the guide I met had given me a good route and someone else I had spoken to had said it was really good, however a long with looking at the next days forecast which planned rain (and it did rain all the next morning) and the bad feeling I got at the end of my visit to Petra I decided not to go back.
I also felt that walking into the Siq and seeing the Treasury for the first time was so special I didn’t want to ruin it by doing it a second time the next day where I knew what was to come.
Overall I’m definitely glad I visited Petra, it really is a Wonder of the World with an incredible amount of history and I’m glad that in my one day there I chose to do the big walks to the Monastery and to see the Treasury from above!
Useful Information for visiting Petra!
There are tours on offer but it is easy enough to visit by yourself and there’s plenty of plaques a long the way to describe what is what.
I stayed at Saba’s Hotel in Wadi Musa which was a great place to stay, its run by a British lady and Jordanian Man who have thought of everything.. packed lunch, washing, group dinners etc so I would highly recommend it!
If you choose to stay in Wadi Musa then you will have to walk or get a shuttle/taxi down and up the hill from Petra. There are a number of hotels right by the gates but I would assume these charge more for their location.
Make sure you get there as early as possible! Getting there at 7:30am was fine for me in October as when I got up an hour before it wasn’t even light however in the summer I have heard of people getting there for 5-5:30am once its light.
Take a packed lunch, food and drink is quite pricey.
Think before using a donkey, camel or horse for transport. Visiting Petra is a hike, not a walk in the park so if you don’t think you can manage it then maybe you shouldn’t be visiting.
In regards to clothing and what to wear to Petra, I saw people in jeans and a top as if they were going shopping, dresses as if they were going to the beach and hiking gear as if they were climbing a mountain. I opted for gym pants, a basic top and trainers which I felt was a good option.
**Have you been to Petra? What did you think??**