The flight from Cairo landed in Amman around 1.30 pm. Since we had bought Jordan pass online, we did not have to pay any extra visa fees. We bought a SIM card, took our rental car and started towards Petra or Wadi Musa. Apart from Petra, our itinerary included a night in Wadi Rum and a day visiting Aqaba and the Dead sea.
I was fascinated by Petra from the time I had seen the pictures of its tombs and temples carved in the pink mountain cliffs, especially the picture of the Treasury or Al khazneh. That was also the time I realised that it was the same location used in the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I found Petra and the Nabatean civilization very intriguing, especially their practice of sculpting exquisite tombs in the mountains. Nabateans built Petra and made it a flourishing trade centre. Later it was occupied by the Romans till finally a series of earthquakes destroyed the city.
I has planned 3 night stay in Wadi Musa to be able to devote 2 full days to explore Petra. Apart from the regular sites such as the Treasury, the Monastery, the Place of High Sacrifice, Great Temple, Theatre and the Royal tombs, I was also interested in exploring the non-touristic spots, which were not out of bounds. The most challenging hikes are to the Monastery and the Place of high sacrifice which one should do one on each day. The mystique begins right after you cross the Djinn blocks and enter the Siq, the dark narrow gorge.
- Welcome centre to Treasury ~ 2 km ~ 20 min – 30 min
- Treasury to Start of Climb for Monastery ~ 2 km ~ 30 min
- Climb to Monastery from base ~ 45 min – 60 min (with break at juice centre) – Challenging hike
- Base to High Place of Sacrifice ~ 45 min ~ 800 steps – Challenging hike
The walk through the siq is not only mesmerizing for its sheer beauty but also for the various sculptures and engineering feats (water management) of the ancient Nabateans. As you look up to see the cliffs rising very very high in a zig zag shape you feel a sense of gratitude for mother nature for giving us such unique creations to enjoy.
The archaeological site of Petra falls under the town of Wadi Musa which means the Valley of Moses. This is where it is believed that when Moses was passing through this area with his followers, he struck a rock with his shaft and water came forth. The Nabateans built water transport cahnnels to carry the water to the city of Petra. This is also the place Moses’ brother Aaron is buried on nearby Mt. Hor (seen in the picture above)
Warning : Jordan Police enforces speed limits very strictly and gives tickets instantly which have to be paid to the rental car company. There are many patrols with radar guns on the highways so please stick to the speed limits. There were also a lot of security check points during our visit where they check your travel documents.
We left early morning for Wadi Rum which is about 1.5 hours by Car. Wadi Rum is a protected site where you have to leave your car at the parking at the entrance and take a tour to see the various spots in Wadi rum. We had booked a half day tour with 1 night stay with Beyond Wadi Rum Camp. I highly recommend this camp for its professional service right from booking to the drop off. They have very nice tents with heating (required in winter), excellent food which is cooked in traditional underground ovens and also entertain you with dance and music where they encourage participation from all visitors.
Not to miss in Wadi Rum
- Lawrence’s spring – a good 20 min moderate to difficult climb but you are rewarded with beautiful panoramic view from the top
- Burdah Rock Bridge which you can climb up to the bridge part, great spot for pictures
- Khazali canyon – ancient petroglyphs and inscriptions on the rock walls, very impressive even from the outside
- House of T E Lawrence of the Lawrence of Arabia fame
- Sunrise and sunset
The next morning we were escorted to the parking lot by our host Mohammad from where it took us slightly more than an hour to drive to Aqaba, the resort city on the Red Sea.
- from this point in Aqaba (in picture above) you can see 3 countries – Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
- We took a 2 hour glass bottom boat tour (highly recommended) to see the corals, exotic fish, the city of Eilat, Israel (from the boat), some resorts on the beach.
After spending a few hours in Aqaba, we started back towards Amman stopping at various spots along the Dead Sea. If you want to swim in the Dead Sea, there are a couple of places which charge around USD 25 – 40 per person and offer a shower and other facilities. Unless you want to spend a good amount of time here it may not be worth the money. It was quite cold when we visited in December so we decided to skip the Dead sea swim.
Back in Amman, we had an early dinner and retired to bed early as we had an early flight to Istanbul the next day.
Hope you find this travelogue useful. I do not receive any commission from any of the persons or places that I mentioned in this article. I am only sharing my experiences and wrote what I felt would be useful to you in planning your trip to Jordan. I would love to get feedback from you, please write to me at RealtorShail@gmail.com