Petra

Raiders of the lost ark was one of my favourite movies when I was a kid. Harrison Ford with his bullwhip on his side riding through the canyon that opened up to display the resting place of the holy grail was akin to any marvel superhero movie for me.  Of course, this was long before Marvel movies were as common as sliced bread. When I found out this red desert city actually existed I have to be honest it became one of my bucket list items. No trip to Jordan can be complete without that walk through the narrow canyon and that first glimpse of the “treasury”. But there were a few lessons learned along the way of how to best see this ancient city, because city it is, it’s not just that iconic front carved into the rock but a massive city with trails that go on for days and enough ruins to make any historian weary. However, let’s start with the beginning. Getting there. If travelling from Amman and if you want aircon and a fairly straight shot there is one Jett bus that goes a day at 06:30 am (however, we found it left late), it’s airconditioned and you can catch it from the main office in the city centre. Link the schedule is here.  The price is 11 JOD which is around 14 euros. The trip takes a little over 4 hours which leaves you plenty of time to visit Petra the first day. We bought a three-day pass and stayed in Wadi Musa which is walking distance from the gates of the park. If you intend to stay more than one or two days in Jordan than I highly recommend buying the Jordan pass. There are a few different options you can buy starting at 70 JOD and it is available to buy here it includes free entry to over 40 of Jordan’s tourist attractions including Petra, Jerash, Wadi Rum and much more. But even more amazing it offers a free tourist visa if you buy the Jordan Pass before arrival to Jordan. This is an amazing saving as just the price of the three-day pass to Petra is 60 JOD and a Visa is 40 JOD. Lonely Planet does a really good write up exploring the pros and cons that you can see here. 

 

Petra

So you have arrived in Wadi Musa the modern-day city at the foot of Petra! You step off the bus in front of the visitors centre and all the day-trippers flock to the gates and queue up in the dusty heat. BIG mistake, don’t go to Petra when you first arrive, by the time the bus pulls in its a little past 11 Petra is not going anywhere and depending on the time of year (we went in May) you could get some serious heatstroke if you don’t plan your trip wisely. So we decided to go to our hotel drop off our bags and get changed and fed before heading back out when it was cooler. Our first mistake, however, was asking for a taxi at the foot of the hill. Wadi Musa is a bit of a climb up from the gates of Petra and in the heat, this is an awful prospect with heavy backpacks. The first taxi we asked quoted us 25 euros for a 2km ride. I actually laughed in his face. We had just come from Amman where the same distance would cost 1.50 euro. But Amman this is not, we found everything to be a lot more expensive here. As we walked sweating up the hill a local man pulled over and gestured, after some haggling, we agreed on 3 JOD (4 euros) to drive us the 5 minutes up. Once settled we waited for things to get cooler and then walked down to the gates. Once you enter there is a 2km walk where you enter a canyon that widens and narrows before you are greeted with that site you came all that way for… The treasury

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The treasury

What you don’t get told is that you will be attacked by flies and people trying to sell you a donkey ride, a camel ride a horse ride any ride! Also, there will be groups of children and young adults posing as guides trying to convince you that even though you paid a small Jordanian fortune to enter you have to pay extra to go down a certain path or trail as its “local guide” only. This is honestly shocking behaviour as the trials are included in the price so please don’t fall for this hustle. We took the trails as we pleased and ignored the cries of outrage that we were not paying them to walk in front of us. Honestly as great as it looks in the photos we hated this part of Petra and almost fled after the mandatory shot. We came back in the late evening and found it to be a lot more bearable and thankfully there are so many other amazing discoveries on the miles of trails to make up for this barrage of mercenary hassling.

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Our personal highlight was the hike to the Monastery, its about 6 km one way but the 1000s of steps carved into the mountain that you have to climb make it feel more like 12 km. We finished in the afternoon and my God was it stunning, the views along the way, the breeze high on the mountain the absence of the crowds it just felt like going back in time and it took my breath away. Please don’t miss it!

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The Monastary

 

The other hikes we did were to the high place of sacrifice and the royal tombs. If you have the perseverance to finish the royal tomb hike you get to the “secret best view of Petra” overlooking the treasury. This is the hike that you will get 100s of people trying to get you to pay to see, so please ignore and just follow the trail. All the hikes have amazing hidden finds and plenty of spots to sit in silence, just don’t forget to bring LOTS of water. We had about 5 litres with us and it only lasted a few hours, there are stretches on some of the hikes where there are no vendors except for an enterprising old man his donkey and a cooler of coke. Trust me you will pay 5 euro for a small can and be kissing his feet for it.

The three days flew by and we left with more sand and sunburns then imaginable but it is worth every penny and minute you will not regret it.

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