Everybody knows about Petra, everyone has seen photos of the famous treasury. But not everyone knows how much is past this. So here is a list of things you must do in Petra to get the most out of your day trip.
It’s a full day of walking ahead of you, so why not take a short cut from the entrance to The Siq. Most people do not realise that included in your entrance ticket is a horse ride down to the start of The Siq – the canyon entrance to the city. Although it is already paid for – the Bedouin guides leading the horse will still expect a tip – so to save you some hassles when you get off the horse make sure you have some small notes ready around 3 JD or US $5 is enough.
2. Hire a local guide
By hiring a guide you can be sure that you will not miss out! They will point out all the interesting sites and explain to you the history behind it. Although you can wonder around the city on your own, a guide will add a richness to the experience by giving you the stories and legends that make the place even more spectacular. Those small bumps and out crops in the rock in The Siq are suddenly transformed into carvings of camels and the remains of elaborate arch ways.
The visitors centre offer guide services for 4 hour tours of the city. All the guides here will be licensed and registered with the Petra Archaeological park and are employed from the local area as part of a scheme to give back to the local community. They all speak English – other languages are not as common so you may need to pay extra for a guide from an agency or tour operator to guarantee availability.
Above and Below can arrange a guide for you – all our guides are local, registered guides through the visitors centre.
3. Meet the Bedouin
Heading through the city you will see many Bedouin men with camels/horses/donkeys offering rides to the tired tourists, the women sit at stalls selling souvenirs, handicrafts and jewellery and the children you’ll find running around trying to sell you postcards and stones. Most of them live in Petra and speak very good English (Some also Russian, French, Spanish, Dutch – picked up from talking to tourists!). Take a rest stop in one of their tents – most of them are very happy to tell stories about what life was like for their ancestors living in Petra in by gone times.
Another interesting person to meet is Marguerite van Geldermalsen, a New Zealander who was on a backpacking trip through Jordan in the 1970’s. While she was in Petra she fell in love with a Bedouin and never left! You can meet her at her jewellery stall by the museum – you can also buy her book there ‘Married to a Bedouin‘ which is a fantastic story of her leaving the modern city life behind her and learning to adapt to living in a cave with her new husband.
4. Visit the Monastery
A lot of people don’t feel up to the challenge by this point – and most guides will not go up there with you – but trust me it is worth it! At the end of the valley past the Crowne Plaza restaurant you reach the bottom of the mountain to the Monastery, with over 800 steps. If you don’t feel like climbing it there are plenty of donkeys for hire that will carry you up to the top (one way will cost around 10 JD or US $15). The climb itself is not difficult with the steps and path well defined but it is long and high – you will probably need about 45 mins – 1 hour to reach the top. Along the route there are more stalls where you can refuel with snack and water – if you are lucky you may be invited for a refreshing sweet mint tea.
Once there you will be met with a site, in my opinion, even more spectacular than the Treasury – Al Deir, The Monastery. It is huge! There are many photos of it but it does not give it justice as to how big it is. http://aboveandbelow.info/what-to-do-and-see-in-petra-jordan/You can climb in side and have a look around – sorry to say inside it is little more than a large cave – but the colours of the stones are incredible.
Staying for more than a day?
Even though it is possible to see all the highlights of the city in a 5/6 hour tour. Some may want to stay overnight and have a second day to explore. If you do, we have some more suggestions for you
1. Petra by Night
If you are lucky enough to be here on a Monday, Wednesday or a Thursday you can go back in to Petra after sunset and walk through the siq lined by candles, giving the whole canyon an eerie glow. When you reach the treasury, lit by nothing more than candle light, sit and listen to traditional Bedouin music and stories of Bedouin legend.
Additional entrance costs 18 JD per person
2. Petra Kitchen
Visit a restaurant with a difference – you are the chef! Be guided through how to prepare a traditional Jordanian meal, from dips and appetisers, to a main course and dessert. Then sit with our group and enjoy the meal you’ve made together.
3. Hike in to Petra through the ‘Back Door’
For the more adventurous who would like to do 2 days in Petra – instead of walking the same trail on your second day why not pay for a guide to take you in ‘The Back Door’. Start of in Beidah (Little Petra) and walk the trail up through the mountains and enter Petra at The Monastery. The hike will take 3 to 4 hours, so if you tart off early, you can stop for lunch at The Monastery before heading down in to the main valley of Petra and then seeing all of the tombs and sites you missed the day before.
For more information on Petra and possible tours just click on any of the links below, or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org