Visiting Petra: Top of the Travel Bucket List

Al Khazneh, The Treasury

Ever since I’d seen some pictures when I was younger I’ve wanted to visit Petra in Jordan and of all the places I’d like to go to or have been to, Petra was of my travel bucket list. Luckily with Jordan only a few hours flight away, Eid and a couple of days off work provided us with the perfect opportunity to go. As we we were only spending a couple of days in Jordan, we booked a  day tour so we didn’t have to worry about travel and planning the trip. Some friends had recently been to Jordan and recommended booking a tour with Petra Nights Tours, which we did. With an early start, our driver, Najjar, picked us up from our hotel at the Dead Sea, and we departed on the three and a half hour journey to Petra. The journey was largely quiet with not too much to see but desert but I slept through a lot of it. As we got nearer to Petra our first stop was at Moses’ Well in Wadi Musa. Unfortunately we didn’t take pictures, and it seems like it’s quite easy to miss! By the road side is an unremarkable old building. On the inside is just one room, with a rock which Moses supposedly struck to provide water to the people. With not much else to see here, after a few minutes we headed on down to the Visitor’s Center which is where you get the tickets for entry for Petra. There’s also a museum and some souvenir shops to browse. From the Visitor’s Center you can start the 1.2km walk through the Siq, a long, narrow, beautiful passageway with high cliffs either side.

The Siq, Petra

Tracey and our guide, Najjar

After we’d walked just over a kilometer, Najjar stopped us and asked us to close our eyes. Promising that he wasn’t about to rob us, he asked us to trust him and take his hand. For the next 20-30 seconds or so, we walked hand in hand and then Najjar asked us to stop and then open our eyes. As we opened our eyes, we were greeted with the sight of Al Khazneh, or The Treasury, through the end of the Siq. I’ve seen many pictures of the Treasury before, but words can’t explain the beauty of this building and I was stunned into silence with the sight of it. Something that amazed me was how it looked relatively untouched; Najjar explained to us how the Treasury was built in a spot in the cliffs where the wind doesn’t hit it therefore the rock faces don’t suffer from wind erosion.

Al Khazneh, The Treasury

Al Khazneh, The Treasury

We stayed here for around 15-20 minutes until we continued our walk through Petra. Now Petra is a big place, I believe around 60-70 square kilomotres but there’s a main route through the center with a number of monuments along the way, which is the route we took. From the Treasury, it was all downhill as we walked past the coloseum style theatre, various tombs and the Colonnaded Street. As we were only here for the day, we walked through this area pretty quickly and I had one goal – to get to the Monastery.

The Colonnaded Street in Petra

The Colonnaded Street in Petra

From the Treasury to the bottom of the hill, it seemed like this was around 2km in distance max and it’s a straight forward work for all levels of fitness. When we visited it was mid September though and was very hot in the mid thirties so we recommend taking a lot of water for the trip if you go at similar times! We took a break at the bottom of the hill at a restaurant where lunch was included as a part of the tour. The restaurant was a short walk from the beginning of the pathway up to the Monastery, just a mere 900 steps to the top! As we began this section and throughout this walk we would see tired looking donkeys taxiing people up and down from the Monastery. There’ll be a number of people trying to sell a donkey ride to the top. I didn’t enquire how much, but I would imagine that you can bargain down on the price. In the heat, it took us around 45 minutes to climb the stairs and as we reached the top, we came towards an open area. As we turned the corner, the Monastery towered above us. We thought the Treasury seemed pretty big but this was on another level. It was huge!

The Monastery, Petra

Rhys and The Monastery, Petra

Something we noticed immediately about this area was that it was so much quieter than the Treasury. There were maybe 100 or so people by the time we made it to the Treasury but at the Monastery it was almost empty which made way for a very quiet and peaceful time at the top. There was a shop of sorts which sold refreshments opposite the Monastery. We took a few minutes here to relax and admire the view as we gazed at the Monastery. We then headed up to a viewpoint to get a better look. It turns out that the from the viewpoint, you are looking over the Great Rift Valley, where we had recently seen in Kenya. We stopped to take a few pictures here before heading back down the 900 steps and all the way back to the Visitors Centre. Tired but extremely content with our trip, we started the long journey back to hotel for some much needed R&R!

The Monastery

The Monastery from the viewpoint

Is visiting Petra on your bucket list or have you already been? Let us know of your experiences in the comments!


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