Two full days to explore Petra, the 'Rose-red city, half as old as time'.
Petra was hidden for centuries until the Swiss explorer Burckhardt made his
great discovery in 1812. It was founded by the Nabateans, an Arab tribe that
arrived here in the sixth century BC. Building at Petra began in the third
century BC and continued through the Roman period, financed by taxes levied
on the desert caravans. Two features of Petra are unique: firstly, it is a
city made defensible by being built down a series of chasms, rather than on a
hilltop. Secondly, it is built directly into the rock - beautiful red and
yellow sandstone carved into the most impressive facades which glow in the
To enter Petra we must begin by walking down a narrow chasm, known as the
Siq, surrounded by high cliffs on either side. Unveiled at the end of the Siq
is El Khazneh, the Treasury. This is just the first breathtaking sight of a
remarkable day. Continuing to the centre of the city, we pass the houses and
tombs of the rich citizens and the remarkable scale of the site begins to
unveil itself. A long walk beyond the centre is El Deir, the monastery, with
its superb facade topped by a huge urn (the walk up is by a series of steps).
There is so much to take in and explore and some of this can be done on
horseback - your tour leader will be able to assist if required.
(Please note that due to current Jordanian group regulations the journey down
the Siq on horseback is part of the ticket price - it costs US$10 and is
included in the tour price. It is possible to walk this section for those who
would prefer but the cost of the ride is part of the entrance fee and
therefore cannot be refunded.)
On one of the days we take a walk to the High Places where few people visit.
This can be quite arduous and is not recommended for those who are unsure of
their fitness. However, those who do make it to the top are rewarded with
wonderful views over parts of the site visited on the previous day.