Over and over I read blogs talking about how difficult this trail was, how infrequently traveled it is, how hard it is to find/follow…
Not only is the Al-Khubtha Trail marked on the visitor’s maps, there are signs like this one posted along the way:
Just follow the arrow, that’s all it takes. We found this sign over near the tombs, because the trail curves around them to the right and then goes up a series of staircases.
Now the stairs are what some might find tricky. Fellow travelers have counted and estimated the stairs to number 600. I’m amazed they knew what to count as a “stair”!
They begin obviously enough:
But about a quarter of the way up, it’s easy to see why those with less sure steps prefer donkeys. The stairs start to slide together and while the climb wasn’t particularly strenuous (with some well-placed stops), you do have to watch your steps.
A few tips: Don’t take a donkey ride by someone who quotes you in dollars. It’s always a rip-off if they don’t say the number in their own currency. That said – the Jordanian dinar is worth more than the US dollar, so keep that in mind.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend a donkey ride. I thought the hike up was beautiful and I only saw Bedouins using donkeys on this trail. The foreigners I saw on donkeys later on almost always looked like they regretted their choice as they hung on for dear life.
We made it to the top of the stairs about 45 minutes later, with all those bloggers ringing in my ear: it’s so difficult, no one travels it, it’s hard to follow. Well, the worst part was over. We had encountered two other groups of two-to-three. And, waiting at the top was this sign:
Pretty specific instructions if you ask me.
We went to the panoramic view of the amphitheater first. At ground level it didn’t look like much, but from up above it is much more impressive. So is the view of the surrounding countryside.
Then we turned back to the path and continued on to “the best view of the treasury.”
Again, bloggers said, “Now this is where it gets tricky.” But there really is only one way to go: down. And while some of the “paths” are easier to follow than others, they all take you to the same place: the panoramic view of the treasury.
I’ve been putting “best view” in quotations this whole post, because while I thought the view was breathtaking, Chandler actually preferred the first view at the structure’s base – saying that was the way it was intended to be seen.
Luckily, he was no Grinch, because he had enjoyed the hike up just as much as I had. And anyway, I had found a new viewing partner:
This cat lives a good life and has a great view every day. I was a little envious. But as I sipped on my fresh pomegranate juice (so thirst-quenching) and thought about everything I had already seen and everything we had yet to see, I couldn’t find anything to complain about.
While we were up at the lookout (that no one ever goes to haha) we encountered four other traveling groups of duos or trios. All surprised that others had embarked on this “little known trail” and laughing at the idea that a site that receives 600,000 tourists a year, wouldn’t have more than one person find this viewpoint at a time.
To make room for our fellow tourists, we took one final shot and then made our way back down.
Along the way we passed a few more hikers resting on their way up. We also passed some pretty snoozy animals, as well as a helpful, albeit rustic sign that reminded us to return the way we came:
The closer to the main trail we got, the more stalls and shops started popping up again. We had ignored them on our way up, knowing that we didn’t want to carry anything on our hike. Our day was far from finished, so all we did was “window” browse. It turned out to be a useful thing to have done. The closer to the main trail meant the trinkets were double, triple, sometimes even quadruple the price of items found on the trails that branched off it.
Not even noon yet, we felt like we’d had a productive morning and were looking forward to the Roman Colonnaded Street and our packed lunches. As well as another hike – this time to the Monastery.