Your Guide to PETRA – by Night and Day !

Check out the Itinerary and all that you need to plan for your Jordan Trip !

We reached Petra by early Wednesday evening and took some rest. I made sure I planned the itinerary such a way that we could go visit Petra by night. Petra by night runs only on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday each week 😊 And that is the ONE thing I surely did not want to miss.

The hotel staff helped us get Petra by Night tickets and asked us to reach the Petra Visitor Centre by around 8 PM.  What makes Petra by night spectacular is that the entire guided excursion until the Treasury is candle lit. There are candles placed in paper bags every few meters to guide the way and other than this , it is just the natural moonlight that penetrates through the towering cliffs. Trust me, the walk was magical and it just doesn’t end at that. As you reach the treasury plaza, you can see the candles that throw their shadows on the façad. We were asked to sit down on the mats that they had laid out and maintain silence. What followed was a Bedouin musician playing on a pipe which was an out of the world experience ! The night was complete with the traditional Bedouin mint tea and a story about Petra and the Nabateans . This awe inspiring experience added an entirely new dimension to our visit to Petra and we would cherish this for the rest of our lives !

DON’T FORGET to collect the Petra Map near the visitor center or ticket office. It will help you trace your path 🙂 

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We made friends with two German travelers -Pia and Henrike during this excursion and the next morning, we decided to take a guided tour together to Petra until the Treasury and then hike to see the Treasury from the top as well as hike to the Monastery by ourselves.

The next morning , our guide picked us from the hotel at around 7:00 AM ! We knew it was gonna be a long day but had no idea how many miles we would be walking !

A little History about Petra – Petra was built by the Nabateans around 2000 years ago and was the center of trade for silk, spices to countries like India, China and other Arabian countries. The Nabataeans were masters of irrigation and water management which proved that they were brilliant engineers at those times. Petra was then invaded by the Romans in around 106 AD and later was hit by a terrible earthquake which destroyed most of its buildings. Petra was forgotten until 1812 ( hence the name “The Lost City” ), where it was “rediscovered” by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.

Walk to the Treasury – We showed the Jordan Pass at the visitor center, and then our guide retraced the path that we took the previous night and he spoke about the various monuments such as Obelisk tomb while  we walked in the large gorge until the Siq. The Siq is a narrow gorge, a 80 meter split in the rock that is the main road to the city of Petra.

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The sides of the paved path through the Siq have shallow water channels which used to bring water into the dry and unfertile valley. Above the water channel there are hints of sculptures depicting the life of the citizens of Petra, and their visitors.

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It is roughly 1.2km long and ends at the Treasury. The Treasury aka Al-Khazneh, the most famous monument in Petra has a 40 meter high facade with detailed ornaments. We relaxed by the small shop opposite to the Treasury sipping tea and enjoyed the view while our guide was citing some stories about his childhood.

We then started walking along the lower road where you can see the street of facades with many tombs lined up along the cliff, a little further down and you can see an Amphitheatre. We then stopped by a small shop where there were making these lovely souvenirs with different colors of the sand. ( these colours can be visibly seen inside one of the caves which our guide took us to after visiting this shop).

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“Treasury from the Top” Hike – We then sipped some cold grape juice to gain energy for our 2 hour return hike to view the Treasury from the top. Our guide left us to ourselves from here and gave us all the tips necessary to complete our hike. He suggested we take the donkey ride as there were steep set of steps going upward to the top of the mountain and then walk down by ourselves on our way back.

We took his advise and once we reached the top, we started walking and finding the path to the spot where you could see the Treasury from the top.

We saw a small encampment, manned by a local Bedouin for the tourists to rest and enjoy the view. Many of the tourists came here for a photo op and left. But we wanted to sit back and experience the breathtaking view. I had broken a sweat after the trek and was famished! I mentioned to the kind man in the encampment that I was hungry and even though he was fasting ( this was during Ramzan ) , he made us bread, from scratch, kneading and the works and also played the flute just to entertain us ! Etched into my mind , these memories make me realise the unselfish kindness in the world, I’m so grateful for.

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We walked back down and saw the Royal Tombs and then went back to the same shop to relax and use the rest rooms. I was super tired by this time that I was really contemplating whether or not to hike up till the Monastery.

Hike to the Monastery :  The Monastery, also called Al-Deir is located 850 steps up from the lower road. So, we finally decided to start hiking and carried water bottles to keep ourselves hydrated in the scorching heat. We just paused for couple of seconds whenever we needed break. The only time I was a bit scared was when a donkey was crossing the path alongside us. Along the way a lot of women were selling jewelry, offering you some tea and encouraging you !

Finally we reached the top and literally crashed in a cave diagonally opposite to the monastery !

We also had some noodles and fresh juice in the shop opposite to the monastery. From here, you can also view the magnificent panoramic views of the valleys and rocky landscape of the area of Wadi Araba.

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Couple of Tips:

  1. Start early as you will see less crowd and also because you have a lot to cover in a day.
  2. A horse ride from the visitor’s centre to the entrance of the Siq is included in the ticket price, though you’ll still need to pay a tip of about JD5. It’s an easy 10-minute walk downhill though so you might want to save the horse ride til the way back up as that final slog up the path after a whole day’s walking is a bit of a killer.
  3. You will see plenty of horse, camel handlers and carriage rides to help you anytime ( even near the Treasury or the Monastery )
  4. Don’t miss the experience of the Treasury changing colors as the sun goes up and illuminates it. Don’t miss this experience ! We saw the Treasury change its colors thrice – first thing in the morning,  then from the top and on our way back.
  5.  I definitely suggest a guided tour atleast until the Treasury. You can opt for group tours – make friends there and tag along. The guide does not really care if you are 2 of you or 5. We were 4 of us and paid 50JD.
  6.  To see the Treasury from the top, please do take a donkey ride one way up the hill. Else it gets too difficult if you have to visit the monastery also on the same day.
  7. Please Please Please visit Petra by Night first and then go for the day tour. You will thank me later 🙂
  8. Keep yourselves hydrated. Carry water , fruits, energy bars etc so that you don’t drain out you energy. The toilets near the shops are well maintained and you surely need not worry.
  9. Please note Jordan pass is not valid for Petra by night.

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