The ancient Red Rose city of Petra!
10.11.2014 - 10.11.2014 35 °C
All who travel to Jordan end up in Petra. And it is for good reason ... its incredible! To be fully honest, I didn't even realize Petra was a real place until 3yrs ago. I had been planning a trip to Egypt and had googled 'day trips near Sinai', and Petra came up (you can take a ferry across the Red Sea to Jordan from Egypt, and then a bus to Petra). I had never heard of Petra, so I clicked on the link. What I saw made my jaw drop! This is where Indiana Jones was filmed! I recognized it immediately!! But all these years I had thought it was fake; a movie set. But it dawned on me then that this was a real place ... and now I just HAD to go! Unfortunately that trip to Egypt was canceled, as that was the same year of the Revolution. Fast forward 3yrs later, and now I'm there!!
If you read my previous post on Jordan, you will know that I was on a week-long tour. Entrance to Petra was included in this tour. Petra is hidden in the sandstone mountains. From the viewpoint over the town of Wadi Musa (below) you would never guess what lay hidden ...
After you pass the entrance gates, follow the path. If you have a guide, he/she will point out various tombs and carvings along the way, as well as troughs that were part of the irrigation system that brought water into the city.
A natural shape in the sandstone that looks like an elephant.
You will eventually come to, and walk through, the Siq, which is a long, narrow gorge that links the outside world to the hidden city of Petra. It is 1.2km long.
At its narrowest it is 2m, at its widest 6m, and the walls tower up to 200m overhead!
The Siq seems to go on forever, and at every bend my heart started to beat a little faster in hopes the Treasury would be around the corner! And finally, BAM, there it was in all its glory!!
Just look at it!!!
So many intricate details all carved by hand!!
Those little 'holes' along the side are ancient scaffolding for the Nabataeans who carved Petra into the sandstone 1000s of years ago.
This is the Treasury guard ... he doesn't seem to be taking his job too seriously, lol!
Camels were everywhere awaiting riders.
The morning was spent with the tour group getting a history lesson, and then we were given the afternoon free to explore on our own.
The entire group chose to make the long hike up to the monastery and back which took them the whole day ... except me. No thanks. In photos the Treasury & Monastery look the same. I wanted to see other things, like the Royal Tombs, and climb up to some viewpoints.
Tombs carved into the sandstone. These are not the Royal Tombs, these are the tombs of middle class people.
Look at the incredible natural patterns in the rock!! Suhaib (our guide) told us that the pink is iron, yellow is sulphur, and blue is copper. But the colors mix together creating new colors, my favorite being purple.
Check out the purple sand!
The amphitheater was cut into the rock, and could hold 3000 spectators.
And now for the Royal Tombs ...
Hadrian's Arch - where I had a little picnic
One thing I really wanted to do was figure out how to get to a lookout point over the Treasury. I had seen on a blog a photo of a girl sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Treasury down below, and I wanted the same photo of myself. I asked my guide if he knew where the trail was. He pointed off to the south, but then said it takes 3hrs each way ... which I wouldn't have enough time for. But I could've sworn the blog I read had said it was only a 30min hike. So as I wandered through the ancient city I asked a few Bedouins if they knew of a shortcut. Their had to be one! This guy came to my rescue! He knew exactly where I was talking about, and that there was a shortcut north of the Royal Tombs (the opposite direction my guide had pointed me)! Woohoo!
He was one of the Bedouins who live within Petra. He said he and his donkey, Shakira, were headed that way and I could follow him. So off we went.
Stairs, stairs and more stairs!
Some lookout points over the ancient city as I climbed higher.
View over the amphitheater.
Many Bedouins live within Petra, and work selling cold drinks and souvenirs to tourists. They live in caves and small huts, and herd goats & camels. We passed some of their homes along the way.
It took about 30-40min to reach the viewpoint, and it was worth the climb!
My Johnny-Depp-from-Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-look-alike Bedouin friend had a hut built atop the cliff overlooking the Treasury. He offered me mint tea and to sit in the shade and listen to stories of life in Petra.
After about 20min hanging with 'Johnny' I sadly had to leave. I had to meet the rest of the group and catch the bus to our hotel in Wadi Musa. On the walk back down towards the Siq I stopped and checked a few of the souvenirs stands the Bedouins had set up.
Included in the admission to Petra is a 'free' ride on a horse & carriage either from the entrance, down the Siq, and to the Treasury, or in the reverse direction. I advise you to save it for the end of the day when you are exhausted and don't want to walk 1.2km down the Siq again. I say 'free' cuz theres a $5USD mandatory tip required.
The Bedouins will ask if you want an air conditioned Ferrari ride ... and then escort you to one of these, lol! I loved listening to the galloping hooves of on-coming 'Ferraris' echoing throughout the Siq
It was a long day, but WOW was it a good one! If you are traveling on your own without a group/tour, I recommend 2 days here. There were so many hikes/trails to go on, and caves/tombs to explore. And also there was no way I would've had time to hike to the Monastery if I had wanted too. You can also visit Petra at night when the Siq and area around the Treasury are lit by candles. I wanted to return at night for this but my feet did not agree, I was completely exhausted! If ever I find myself in Jordan again I will definitely visit Petra by night!
Have I convinced you to visit the Middle East yet? I sure hope I have