Petra, one of the wonders of the world, is a place we couldn’t wait to visit. Like many people, we first learned about Petra from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” How cool would it be to find an ancient crusader guarding historical treasures, save your dad’s life, and then charge down a narrow stone gorge on horseback?! We weren’t expecting any of this to happen on our visit, but there is a romantic notion about seeing a lost building hidden deep within the desert mountains of Jordan.
Petra lived up to our expectations, even without the crusader and the horseback ride. But you can meet the Bedoin people and ride a donkey. Not quite the same adventure but it can still be a lot of fun.
The first view of the Treasury is breathtaking, even though you know what it looks like from photos that plaster the internet and guidebooks. There is something about finally seeing it with your own eyes, this ancient, carved facade quietly peeking through the darkness of the Siq, that really does take your breath away.
Here’s our journey into Jordan and what it was like to see the Treasury of Petra for the first time.
Seeing Petra for the First Time
For our two day visit to Jordan, we hired Desert Eco Tours, a tour company that runs single and multi-day trips from Israel into Jordan and other neighboring countries. After our border crossing from Eilat in Israel to Aqaba in Jordan, we meet Mohammad, our guide for Petra.
From Aqaba to Petra it is a beautiful two hour drive through a hilly, desert landscape. As we approached Petra, the hills turned into rugged, craggy mountains.
The entrance into Petra is in the town Wadi Musa, a great place to stay overnight when visiting Petra.The walk from the entrance of Petra to the Treasury (the iconic facade that is the highlight on a visit to Petra), is 2km long, or just over one mile. If you walk fast, you can get to the Treasury in 20 minutes. If you slow down, enjoy the views, and take lots of photos, it can take at least 30 minutes.
The walk starts out on a wide, gravel path. Almost immediately we saw carvings of smaller tombs in the rocky landscape.
Halfway to the Treasury there is a gift shop, bathrooms, and a place to buy snacks or drinks. Mohammad, with pride, told us that President Obama visited this gift shop and he showed us the photos to prove it.
The second half of the walk is amazing. Now we were walking through the Siq, a narrow gorge formed when tectonic forces broke the mountain into two pieces. Around every bend we were waiting to see the Treasury. We were so excited!!
Mohammad distracted us, right when the Siq finally came into view. He had us look up at a random rock above our heads, and when the time was right, he told us to look to our left.And there it was. The Treasury. Just a sliver of it. Just as we imagined it would look. And even so, I gasped at the sight of it. Then Tim and I were smiling and laughing, just like two kids on Christmas morning.
It was midday, the busiest time of the day to visit Petra, but even so, crowd levels were low. We took our photos in front of the Treasury and even took the obligatory camel-in-front-of-the-Treasury photo. We were so thrilled to be here.
But our journey through Petra really just began. There is so much more to see than the Treasury and most of it is just as thrilling.
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