2 days in Petra, Jordan’s most famous archaeological site. Visiting Al Khazneh, Al-Deir, the Al Kubtha trail, High Place of Sacrifice and more.
After having spent a fab few days in Amman, our next stop was Petra.
Located in the southwestern desert of Jordan, Petra is the country’s most famous archaeological site, dating back to around 300 B.C. Accessed via Al Siq, a narrow canyon, it was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom. The many temples and tombs carved into the surrounding pink sandstone cliffs, gave Petra the nickname the ‘Rose City’. Being one of the 7 wonders of the world, we desperately wanted to visit Petra.
So, we left Amman early in the morning. We were on a 6am Skybus to Wadi Musa, the town that’s popped up around Petra. The Skybus was very comfy and we arrived at our hotel just after 11am. After checking in, we dumped our bags, grabbed a tasty Shwarma for lunch and headed straight down to Petra. We had purchased a Jordan pass before entering Jordan, a ticket which gave entry into tourist sites across the country. We had a choice of spending 1 or 2 days in Petra and decided that the two day pass was the perfect amount of time.
The first glimpse of Al Khazneh – aka The Treasury
From the entrance gate, we walked about 20 minutes down a track before reaching Al Siq. We could already see carvings in the stones as we wandered along Al Siq for a further 15 minutes.
Walking through the canyon was a surreal experience. But not as surreal as reaching the end and getting our first glimpse of Petra’s most famous structure – Al Khazneh. The 45m high temple, also known as The Treasury, was an incredible sight as it appeared in front of us. It was a definite ‘pinch me’ moment, but one we could only soak in for seconds. As we’d arrived at one of the worlds biggest tourist attractions mid-afternoon, it was absolutely hectic! The vast majority of people were international tour groups, along with local school groups charging through by the coach load! As beautiful as the Treasury was, it was incredibly crowded, so we moved on.
Al-Dier – aka The Monastery
Our aim for our afternoon was to head to the monastery (Al-Deir). Getting up to Petra’s largest building took around 30-40 minutes to walk from the Nabataean Museum. We were offered countless donkey rides to get us there and politely declined them all. The flat path was dusty and sandy at first, before leading to 850 reasonably uneven and slippery steps. But the hike to get there was totally worth it and we were not disappointed.
In our opinion, Al-Deir was equally as impressive as Al Khazneh. And due to its positioning, far fewer tourists made the trek there. We hiked a bit further uphill for some beautiful views over Jordan and its neighbouring countries. From there, we also had a nice view down to Al-Deir.
The great thing about reaching Al-Deir later in the afternoon, was that the lighting was perfect. By 3-4 pm, we were able to get some pictures with no one else in them and without shadows.
The last admission to Petra during October-May was 4 pm and the site closed at 5 pm. As we walked back down towards the entrance, we were surprised at how few people were still around. By the time we reached Al Khazneh, we along with a handful of other people, practically had the site to ourselves!
The funny thing we found in Jordan, was that we kept bumping into the same people at the various places. We ran into a bunch of travellers who we had met in our hostel in Amman as we were leaving. So we all walked back up to Wadi Musa and had dinner together.
Day two at Petra
Having seen how busy Petra was that day, we were determined to get there first thing the following morning. We arrived at the entrance just before 6am and raced down the Siq to Al Khazneh. It really was worth the early start! Only one other couple had the same idea and we took endless un-spoilt photos in front of the Al Khazneh.
Hiking the Al Kubtha trail
Before the hoards arrived, we set off on a hiking trail to a viewpoint looking over Al Khazneh. There was an alternative viewpoint, but from a different angle which we initially wanted to hike to. However, accessing that particular path was impossible without locals pouncing on us, demanding pretty exuberant fees to guide us up. We were told this was an unofficial path and quite dangerous.
Eventually, we were pointed in the direction of Al Kubtha trail. Although being a much longer hike, it rewarded us with spectacular views down to Al Khazneh. And no guide was required! Getting up there early guaranteed a great position for some amazing photo’s of Al Khazneh. It also allowed us to pass by the Royal Tombs before they too became too busy.
At the viewpoint, we clambered down to a great spot and enjoy our packed breakfast with a view!
En-route down, we enjoyed more great views. From above the Royal Tombs, we could see across to the Street of Facades and the Theatre. This was another spot we just sat, staring in wonder.
The High Place of Sacrifice
After a second visit to the Royal Tombs, we headed up to the High Place of Sacrifice. The steepish climb offered more spectacular views over Petra and the Royal Tombs. This was one of the highest, easily accessible points within the complex. And well worth the the visit.
Coincidentally, we met up with the same group of travellers that we had
We left mid-afternoon after thoroughly exploring and enjoying our 2 days in Petra, which is arguably our favourite ancient site.
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