Discovering the majesty and mystery of Petra for myself was unforgettable. Walking one mile down the ‘Siq’ passageway you will catch the first glimpse of the Treasury and it will leave you in awe. The Treasury is a two-thousand-year-old tomb and stands forty metres tall. Petra was the capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV. This ancient city was established in 312BC which makes it one of the oldest metropolises in the world.
Petra is also known as the Lost City because it was legitimately lost for five centuries until it was rediscovered by a Swiss explorer in 1812. From then on the Lost City has been shared with the world. More than five hundred thousand tourists visit each year. Today, it’s one of the new wonders of the world along with the Great Wall of China, The Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu in Peru, The Colosseum in Rome, Chichen Itza in Mexico and Christ The Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
Eight hundred hand-carved monuments, buildings, tombs, baths, funeral halls, temples and a theatre can be found within Petra. The word ‘Petra’ is derived from the Greek word ‘rock’ as this land is covered in rich red sandstone. The Nabataeans’ made impressive engineering advancements in between 9 BC and 40 AD. One of their achievements was hand-carved water tunnels and chambers along the sandstones to spread water throughout the capital creating a pseudo-oasis for the Nabataeans’.
Petra is one hundred and fifty miles south of Amman, the capital of Jordan. It is about a three-hour drive. Its covers an area of sixty square kilometres covering mountains, canyons and desert. Petra is accessible by car, coach or public buses. It’s a good idea to bring plenty of water, at least 1-litre especially on a sunny day like this one. A hat and sunscreen must be brought along also.
The TRAIL TO THE MONASTERY
The trail begins from the centre of Petra where the Basin Restaurant is located. There’s clear signage and it’s a one-way trail. The Monastery was built in the third century BC as a church. It is also larger than the Treasury as it stands at forty-five metres tall and fifty metres wide. It does take some effort to walk up eight hundred steps for this view but it’s worth the sweat. It took us about 40 minutes to reach the top. There are Bedouins’ with stalls set up along the way so you can shop for souvenirs during the trail.
Once you arrive at the Monastery, there’s a big cafe here waiting to refresh you after your efforts! After exploring around the Monastery, you can choose to walk a little higher up a mountain to the End of the World Coffee Shop you will have a three-sixty view of the entire Wadi Arabi Desert, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
AN UNEXPECTED LOVE STORY
While wondering around Petra we met a lady who had a jewellery stall set up along one of the façades. She was also selling a book based on a true story. The book was called ‘Married to a Bedouin’. Marguerite from New Zealand travelled to Petra with a friend in 1978 when she was 22. They met a local Bedouin man named Mohammed who was born and raised in the caves of Petra.
Mohammed kindly invited Marguerite and her friend to stay in his cave overnight. Strangely, they accepted his offer. They stayed the night, said their goodbyes in the morning and departed. Mohammed quickly sent a man after them in a car to invite them to a Bedouin wedding in which they accepted as well.
Very soon, Mohammed proposed to Marguerite. Marguerite’s parents were in shock about it all since Marguerite didn’t fully understand the culture, didn’t speak the language and she was to live in a cave married to a man she had recently met.
Marguerite overcame many obstacles. She started to learn the phrases, became accustomed to having no toilet or running water in her home and sleeping on the ground on a mat each night. She then had to find a hobby and she became a nurse at the local clinic and worked there for many years.
Marguerite and Mohammed had three children together and they were madly in love. The family visited Marguerite’s parents in New Zealand and vice versa. Mohammed sadly passed away six years ago due to heart failure and Marguerite made the move to Australia where she now resides.
HOW TO GET THE BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF THE TREASURY
On this day, Nicole and I left our tour group in their beds at our hotel to do the Al-Khubtha Trail to get this bird’s eye view of the two-thousand-year-old, forty metres high and twenty-five metres wide Treasury. It is named the Treasury because the Bedouins believed that hidden treasure was inside the tomb.
Petra opens at 6 am and it was still dark when we arrived. It was quiet, no one was around, we could hear the birds singing and the sun was rising on the red sandstone of Petra. It was magical compared to the previous day we visited around midday and tourists were left, right and centre.
The directions are relatively simple. Follow the mile-long Siq, turn right at the Monastery, continue straight to the Royal Tombs and make your way up, keep heading along the tombs until you see the Al-Khubtha Trail sign at the end of the cliff. It will tell you to turn right and you follow the one-way trail to the top. The climb begins behind the Royal Tombs and in the direction of the Treasury.
The ascent was gruelling but we had amazing views of the sunrise over the desert. It took about forty-five minutes from the trail sign to the overhead view of the Treasury. It was the best thing I’ve ever accomplished and witnessed.
We reached the top and no other souls were around. There’s a tent filled with cushions and blankets to get comfortable and enjoy the view. We could see professional rock climbers scaling above the Treasury at the time. The walk down the same trail is super easy and much quicker. This hike was the highlight of my entire time in Jordan. It is unmissable!
Before booking this trip I didn’t know anything about this country or what I could discover. Jordan has so much to offer from ancient cities, biblical landmarks, deserts, the Dead Sea to beaches of paradise.
For me, Petra was my favourite destination while travelling through Jordan. It has so much to offer. So much to learn. So much to discover. I could have easily spent 2 or 3 days exploring Petra. A day and a half just wasn’t enough. It is a magical moment that will last a lifetime when you’re walking through the Siq and you catch that first glimpse of The Treasury.
PETRA ENTRANCE FEES
One day 50JOD / 71USD / 58GBP / 93CAD / 104AUD*
Two days 55JOD / 78USD / 64GBP / 103CAD / 114AUD*
Three days 60JOD / 85USD / 70GBP / 112CAD / 125AUD*
Bring your passport for a security check on your Jordanian Tourist Visa.
Tickets can be purchased by cash or credit card.
Children under 12 are permitted free of charge.
21 SITES IN PETRA YOU MUST SEE
1. Vistors Center and Museum – Discover the history and archaeological facts and artifacts
2. Siq – The mile-long natural passageway to Petra
3. The Treasury – Two-thousand-year-old historical landmark
4. Tomb of Unayshu – A well-preserved tomb of a minister who served the Kings
5. Petra Theatre – Seats four thousand and built in the first century AD
6. The Royal Tombs – The Urn Tomb, Silk Tomb, Corinthian Tomb and Palace Tomb
7. Al-Khubtha Trail – Bird’s Eye View of the Treasury. It begins at the Royal Tombs
8. The Street of Façades – A row of Nabataean tombs on the cliff face
9. Nymphaeum – The ruins of a grand fountain
10. The Grand Temple – Ruins of a parliamentary building
11. Byzantine Church & Blue Chapel – See the original floor mosaics
12. Temple of Winged Lions – A large temple that became ruins after an earthquake
13. Collonaded Street and Basin Restaurant – The centre of Petra
14. The Monastery – Eight hundred step trail with panoramic views
15. End of The World Coffee Shop – A 360 view over Petra and the Monastery
16. Colambarium – A mysterious structure and its purpose remains unknown
17. The Renaissance Tomb – An elegant tomb that dates back to the 2nd centruy AD
18. Tomb of the Soldier – A Roman military commander lays to rest here
19. Garden Temple – Showcases stunning columns and located next to a water reservoir
20. Lion Fountain – Water cascades down falling onto a hard-carved lion in the cliff
21. Altar of Sacrifice – 170 metres above Petra is a stone altar where ceremonies and sacrifices were made
WHERE TO EAT WITHIN THE PETRA HISTORICAL SITE
Within Petra, you can eat at the Basin Restaurant where the Collonaded Street is in the centre of Petra. They are open from 11 am-4 pm daily. The restaurant serves a buffet of BBQ, pasta, hot dishes, salads and dessert. It’s the only place to purchase an alcoholic beverage too!
You can find a large cafe at the Monastery with refreshments and great food choices. They are the two best places to purchase food at Petra.
There are souvenir and food shops at the entrance of Petra before walking down the Siq. I would recommend to bring your own food and snacks so you can sit and enjoy the views of Petra whenever you like. Don’t forget to bring a litre or more of water!
PETRA BY NIGHT
If you’re staying in Petra overnight this should be on your list. Over 1500 candles are lit and a light and sound show will commence. You will learn even more about the rich history of Petra in a completely different form. The duration is 2 hours. It runs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8.30 to 10.30 pm. Its costs 17JOD / 24USD / 20GBP / 32CAD / 25AUD* and children under 10 years are permitted free of charge. You must make a reservation in advance and bring your passport.
WHERE TO STAY IN WADI MUSA
Mövenpick Resort Petra 5 Star Hotel – 165USD / 137GBP / 218CAD / 243AUD* per night. 2-minute walk to the Petra entrance, facilities such as restaurants, rooftop bar and outdoor pool. 1300+ reviews.
Petra Moon Hotel 4 Star Hotel – 70USD / 58GBP / 93CAD / 104AUD* per night. 5-minute walk to the Petra entrance, complimentary breakfast, restaurant and rooftop pool. 400+ reviews.
Airbnb 150+ options – 45-105USD / 38-88GBP / 60-140CAD / 67-156AUD* per night.
WHERE TO EAT IN WADI MUSA
1. Beit Al-Barakah Restaurant – 1300+ reviews on Trip Advisor
2. Zawaya Restaurant – 700+ reviews on Trip Advisor
3. Al Wadi Restaurant
4. My Mom’s Recipe Restaurant
5. Yummy Bites (fast food)
6. Rainbow Snacks (fast food)
Hire car: Petra is a 3 hour drive South from Amman. There are many car hire companies to choose from. 30JOD / 42USD / 35GBP / 56CAD / 62AUD* for a new car model with air conditioning and insurance.
Bus: The Jett Bus is air-conditioned and departs Amman at 6.30 am. It arrives in Petra at 10.30 am giving you 6.5 hours to explore. The bus will depart Petra at 5 pm unless you choose to stay overnight in Wadi Musa.
There are public buses that run regularly to and from Petra.
*Based on exchange rate at the time of being published.