A Farewell Tour of Jordan: Petra

Not only had it been 5 years since our last trip to Wadi Rum – it’s also been 5 years since we visited Petra. A lot of our colleagues went during the Pandemic and talked about having the place to themselves, but honestly, that’s how we felt in December 2017.

This time around, tourism had definitely picked up. But, there are two reasons why that wasn’t a problem: First, after literally being locked in our house during the pandemic, we swore we’d never complain about crowd sizes again and second, Petra is HUGE and there are plenty of places to escape the crowds.

Last time we went to Petra, I did my research. I scoured blogs and websites looking for the best trails and planning every minute of our hikes. This time? I figured we’d just do everything again.

We started on a Sunday morning and had to buy our tickets on arrival – last time we had a 3-day pass (that cost us 60 JD each) that we purchased in advance (the site opens before the ticket office). With our residence cards, tickets are only 1 JD/day – but you have to buy them the morning of. So, we got off to a later start than planned (I hate waiting in line!), but it also meant that we got to walk through the Siq with the sun higher in the sky. I definitely prefer this because the Siq is actually one of my favorite areas of Petra and going through it before, or even as, the sun rises doesn’t do it justice.

But, while I love the walk through the Siq, I always forget how long it takes to actually get there! After you show your ticket, you have a 10 minute walk in the open sun – this was just fine on our way into Petra, but I have to say, it sucked a lot in the afternoon on our way out of Petra.

However, I’m jumping ahead of myself! It took us about 30 minutes to get from the entrance to the most photographed scene in Petra: The Treasury (followed by a close second: Camels).

The Treasury is officially my favorite place to people watch. People show up in all sorts of outfits ranging from hardcore adventure gear (i.e. everything purchased from REI) to straight-up ball gowns and everything in between. There’s a lot of posing and jumping and, honestly, it can be difficult to simply get a photo of the Treasury itself.

Soon, however, we were moving on. Last time around, we had gone from the Treasury straight up to the look-out point. That hike probably took close to two hours, and we were debating if we wanted to do that or start with the longest walk of the day: The Monastery. As we looked around, we noticed something that I’m pretty sure (95%) wasn’t there last time we came to Petra: a mini-overlook. It appeared to require a lot more scrambling, but people were literally lining up to make their way up for a photo shoot.

We decided to keep it in mind and start with the Monastery. Soon, however, we were quickly derailed. I can’t tell you why, but when we were buying our tickets that morning, I snagged a map of Petra. Even more random, this was the time that I chose to pull it out. And I saw something I ALSO don’t remember seeing (but only about 50%) – a shortcut to the High Place of Sacrifice.

We had decided to skip the High Place of Sacrifice on our last visit because bloggers said the trail took about three hours and the photos we saw didn’t make it look more impressive than shorter hikes that would let us see more. But looking at the trail now, it looked like an hour or two max. We immediately deviated.

The views along the way quickly made the trail worthwhile and there were some beautiful patterns and colors as well.

The “site” itself wasn’t anything too special, but we enjoyed soaking in the views from the vantage point. We took it all in, reapplied our sunscreen, and made the trek back down.

Next up really was the Monastery, but you walk through the Colonnaded Street on the way and since I’m a sucker for all things Roman, I couldn’t help but stop for some photos.

As you can see from the photo, most of the dust from the previous day’s sandstorm had cleared, but we could still see it lurking in the distance.

The hike to the Monastery isn’t particularly difficult, but damn if it isn’t a lot hotter in May (2022) than it had been in December (2017)! We took a lot of water breaks and enjoyed meeting two white kittens. If you’re new to the blog, you might not know that I’m a bit obsessed with the cats in Jordan. There are countless strays and so during the last two years, my husband and I ran an unofficial cat shelter out of our gardens and guest bedroom.

Luckily, these two kittens weren’t strays – we could see they had a bed, food, and water, all protected from the sun, and they seemed quite content playing with each other and racing under the vendor tables (yes, consumerism is everywhere).

Eventually, however, we made it to our destination:

It really doesn’t get any less impressive the second time. The Siq may be my favorite stroll in Petra, but this is hands down my favorite view.

I even had my sister take a dozen photos of me in the framed lookout rock, but noontime sun be damned, not one of them turned out. We stayed up there for probably an hour, hiking out as far as the End of the World Coffee Shop run by the one and only Jack Sparrow (look alike). And I FINALLY bought little hanging camels – I’ve literally been considering this for five years – I don’t care how touristy they look!

The hike back down from the Monastery takes considerably less time and in (what felt like) no time at all, we had made it back through the Colonnaded Street and were at the Royal Tombs.

These tombs are another site that will never cease to impress me. They may not individually be as stunning as the Monastery or the Treasury, but there are just so many of them! And, here’s my final, “new thing” of the day: The Unayshu Tomb. This is another one of those things I SWEAR wasn’t at Petra last time (back up to around 80% sure). There was a new bridge to reach it and easily an additional hour of hiking. We opted to explore this area instead of making our way to the Treasury lookout.

I don’t know what was more impressive – the tomb’s facade or the views from the lookout.

At this point, we were ready to call it a day. We had a mediocre meal to look forward to (if you’ve ever had a GOOD meal in Wadi Musa, please share) and the next day we had plans to visit Little Petra and Petra by Night.

We said goodbye to the Siq (and those final ten brutal minutes in the sun), loving every second back in Petra.

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