Being Irish, falling in love with another country’s landscape is next to impossible. However, I must say, Jordan is a fair contender! Although a profusion of Jordan’s landscape is deserted and dilapidated, it is home to one of the most mesmerising worldwide historical and archaeological cities, Petra. I spent a day in Petra during the month of
March this year, to avoid the high heat in the summer months. Saying that, I still managed to resemble Rudolf with my sunburnt nose and I also increased my freckle count by about 200% by the end of the day.
I will tell you in advance that my pictures don’t do the ancient Nabatean city of Petra justice, which gives you even more incentive to visit. The nomadic people who built this fascinating city are known as the Nabateans, who carved it out of a sandstone rock face. The main entrance of
Petra is called the Siq which leads you on to the Treasury, or Al-Khazneh in Arabic, the native language. This was the busiest monument during my time in Petra and it is clearly one of the most extravagant temples to witness here.
The real challenge starts when you begin your expedition to the Monastery, which is between 800-1000 steps. The suggested time it should take is about 45 minutes but honestly it took me a lot longer. I had numerous amount of water breaks which resulted in me greeting the local Bedouins (the Jordanians who live in Petra) who had either set up souvenir stands or were attending to their donkeys and camels.
On reaching the Monastery I was dehydrated, wrecked and famished but at that moment it was apparent to me why Petra is one of the new seven wonders of the world. I was in awe of my surroundings; the area was nearly deserted as only a few tourists along with some donkeys had made the trek up at the same time as I had. I was so grateful to have borne witness to this impressive ancient landscape.
Here’s a few of my top tips for Petra before you decide to set off on the captivating journey. First up – keep drinking a tonne of water. No matter what time of year you decide to visit Petra, water is a necessity. Even if you don’t feel dehydrated, it will hit you at some stage! Secondly, you’ll notice that there are souvenir stands throughout Petra run by the local Bedouins, chanting “Cheap as chips” and other American or British slang. However, don’t spend all your money at the beginning of your exploration, the souvenir stands are scattered throughout Petra, even all the way up to the Monastery.
The further up you go, the cheaper the souvenirs tend to be. You may even find some rare trinkets nearer to the top! You’ll notice the Bedouins offering tourists a donkey ride to help you reach to the top of the steps. I would highly discourage this as the donkeys look feeble and drained. Of course, it will be an exhausting walk to the top but it’s unfair to put the donkeys under this distress. On route to the top of the monastery, make sure you witness the beauty of the other magnificent sites like the Dam, the Theatre, the Street of Facades and so on. Trust me, you’ll need a guide map, which is available for free where at the location where you buy the entrance tickets! So, be prepared for a tiring, adventurous, fun-filled, action-packed day out!
I was taken aback to see so few visitors at Petra, despite me visiting during the peak time of year. I was expecting the same number of tourists as Niagara Falls or the Burj Khalifa. I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise though as The Foreign Office travel advice states that there is “a high threat from terrorism” in Jordan. It’s important to note that this shouldn’t be a deterring factor to visit Jordan as these same warnings are also announced for countries like Egypt, Germany and France.
The beauty of Petra is breath-taking and I was of the assumption that it too would have the same tourist level as similar tourist attractions. But I can’t complain, fewer visitors resulted in me having a lot more time to explore Petra without the hustle and bustle of other tourists. I also had the chance to meet the local Jordanians living in Petra, Bedouins. They are charming, welcoming and even their children are born charismatics. One child even announced that his Dad wanted a picture with me, obviously eager to have a picture with someone so pale-skinned and sweaty after a long day of walking!! Which is evident from this terribly blurry picture!