Asia, Forests & Parks, Jordan, Petra

PETRA THE CITY OF NABATEAN IN SOUTH JORDAN

The first time I saw Petra was when I watched the Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade film.

At that time I impressed with the splendor of The Siq and Treasury. I joined a pilgrimage tour that ended in Jordan. Instead of returning to Indonesia with the group, I decided to extend another nine days.

Jordan is a country with large numbers of refugees from countries in the Middle East. I was a little discouraged because of its location between Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Israel, and Egypt.

Frankly, I worried about traveling for the first time in a Middle Eastern country alone. But the more anxious and afraid, the more I wanted to do it.

It turned out that most of the information I got made me calm.

There were almost no scary stories as long as travelers use common sense. I was happier when I read deeper about Jordan. There are so many things that Jordan has to offer to travelers who love nature, culture, and people.

I specifically wanted to visit Petra and Wadi Rum. Both attractions are the top rankings of all sites around the world. 

Petra is a city in southern Jordan. Thousands of years ago, between 400 BC. and 106 A.D. was the center of trade and capital of the Nabatean kingdom.

The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who used to live in the desert. They were experts in harvesting rainwater, agriculture, and stone carving. Petra’s reputation declined when traders preferred to trade by sea and after the earthquake in 363 destroyed many buildings.

The abandoned Rose City rediscovered in 1812 by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. He disguised himself as a Bedouin and quietly entered the city. Then the mystery of the lost city revealed to the world.

Half of Petra built and a half carved from rock cliffs and mountains.

 

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Wadi Musa at Night.

 

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Morning sight from hostel’s verandah.

 

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Ready for some actions.

 

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The Siq early morning.

 

LOCATION

Located 240 km south of the capital city of Amman and 120 km north of the red sea city of Aqaba. Driving distance for consideration: 

  • Amman to Petra – 3 hours
  • Aqaba to Petra – 2 hours (from the Red Sea)
  • Petra to Wadi Rum – 1 hours 40 minutes
  • Hotels near Petra to Dead Sea North – 3 hours

The easiest way to get around in Jordan is by public transportation or car. Jordan has an extraordinary desert highway and the signs are easy to follow. The King’s Highway provides beautiful views over Al Karak Castle, Madaba, and Mount Nebo.

Travelers rent a car or car with a driver or even like me using public transportation. Public buses like the JETT Bus take visitors from Amman to Petra. The JETT bus from Abdali Station in Amman departs at 6:30 in the morning and reaches Petra around 10:30 in the morning.

Many visitors also visit Petra from Aqaba. This archeological park is only 1.5 hours drive from the coastal city. Public buses also leave from the central market in Aqaba and travel to Petra.

 

BEST TIME TO VISIT PETRA

Personally when I visit a foreign/new place is the right time. All year is the right time. I enjoy different nuances and uniqueness in every place I have never been to.

According to some sources, the best time is during spring and fall. Spring is from March to May and Autumn is from September to November. Cool temperatures during the day.

In winter, the cold weather feels to the bone at night. During summer it is hot and not pleasant to climb or linger in places that are not roofed.

I traveled when Jordan entered the summer. Luckily it was not hot during the day, even some cloudy and rainy days. One afternoon in Petra was raining heavily with strong winds. 

 

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Quiet morning.

 

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HOW TO AVOID CROWD IN PETRA

The best time to avoid the crowds at Petra is to arrive at the site as early as possible.

I woke up early and took the shuttle provided from the hostel to the Petra entrance. Although last night many guests had dinner at the hostel, this morning only one Japanese and I were on a shuttle.

We reached the entrance and stood at the counter that was still closed. Maybe it was the fasting month, the ticket booths only opened after 7 in the morning. According to Petra’s official website, counters open from 6 am to 6 pm every day in the summer. Then in winter, it is open from 6 am to 4 pm every day.

Most shops, restaurants, and cafes closed. The other good thing visiting in fasting month, I did not find any street vendors around the entrance. Also carts drivers, camels’ riders, and horses’ rider that usually stood in front of the counter. Another reason was that most large tour groups arrived around 9 am. I did not only avoid travelers but also large tour groups. We only met with less than ten tourists when climbing to the High Place of Sacrifice.

Arriving early there are also other benefits.

The weather would get hotter during the day. Although the weather was quite pleasant in the morning, the afternoon sun was hot. I was not eager to climb more than 700 steps to the Monastery while the sun over my head. Luckily the sky cloudy and windy when we went up to the Monastery. Although every five minutes I stopped, I could conquer the most tiring journey at Petra.

One more advantage of staying overnight at Wadi Musa, I arrived early and left when the park closed. 

I also avoided the crowds during holidays dan weekends. Residents usually will visit Petra during the weekend are Friday and Saturday. During Ramadan (June) was also good because there were not many travelers at that time. I traveled leisurely.

 

SPENDING TIME IN PETRA

Petra is a very large ancient city.

Ideally, travelers need several days to explore the ruins of this city. Unfortunately, many travelers do not enjoy Petra as much as possible. They prefer to hurry from one place to another.

Considering all the efforts I made to visit Petra, it would be frustrating to have only six hours or less to explore Petra. Most travelers come from Amman and then return to Amman in the afternoon. On average they only get to the Treasury.

When I saw Petra’s map for the first time, I decided to spend at least 2 days. Two full days from morning to evening or before the park closes. I walked as relaxed as possible because there were lots of stairs and I prefer to enjoy time without being in a hurry.

The first day I planned to walk from The Siq to The Treasury. Then proceed from The Treasury to The Monastery. I will sit in one of the cafes around the Monastery. Then I will walk to one of the “Best View” before walking back to the Siq. Rest and dinner at the hostel.

The second day I planned to hire a guide. Jordan is not a cheap country and Petra is more expensive than other places in Jordan. This was why I kept a tight budget because I didn’t want to miss Petra’s experience. I  determined to have splendid experiences. By hiring a guide I would learn about Nabatea’s culture and history. Not only that but also Bedouin stories and anecdotes that made my time more exciting. 

 

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Diner at one of cafe near the entrance.

 

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Stretching my legs and looked up of those beautiful tapestry.

 

 

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