Explore Jordan and the Wonders of Petra

When I took the Overseas Adventure Travels Israel trip, The Holy Land and Timeless Cultures, I also took the pre-trip to Jordan. Of particular interest was the two nights and one full day we spent at Petra. It was a fascinating set of Nabataean tombs, possibly established in 9,000 B.C. as a capital city. Of course, hiking to the Treasury thru the Siq was spectacular, and some in our group made it to the Monastery. I was happy with going to the Treasury, having lunch after just a little bit down the road but still inside the complex of tombs, and walking back. All of that was a seven-mile walk in the sun, even in early April. An early departure and return are highly recommended to avoid the effects of the heat and the inevitable swarms of people.

Over time, Petra passed from Syrian to Roman rule by AD 106, and it declined rapidly after that when sea routes were established in favor of land routes for trading. It passed into the hands of the Crusaders in the 12th Century who built a fortress there, then ultimately abandoned it. The ancient city was again found in the 1800s by explorers. What seems clear however, was that Petra was at times ruled by Muslims, later by Christians, and local folklore states that it was divined by the wand of Moses, in an attempt to bring water to the Israelites.  He never made it to Israel of course, and is buried in nearby Mt. Nebo.

The canyon walls of the Siq on the way to the Treasury reminded me so much of the Slot canyons in Page, Arizona. But seeing the tombs everywhere and understanding too that the Treasury was just one of many and even a tomb itself was quite something. All of the houses of the time were destroyed during an earthquake or were in some other form of disrepair.

If traveling solo, as we met others who were doing, the Jordan Pass includes one full day of sightseeing in Petra.  Cruise ship passengers also take a day trip there from Aquaba and purchase their tickets at the entrance of the archaeological site. The OAT tour seemed to follow the inclusions of the Jordan Pass. There is also an option for two and three days there, but that further exploration still means its necessary to walk into and out of the site via the Siq. There are at least 60 hotels and youth hostels in the immediate vicinity around the main entrance.  Since Moses has a connection to Petra and certainly Jordan itself, the closest town with hotels that is at the entrance of the ancient site itself is Wadi Musa, or Valley of Moses.

While there. aside from the experience of walking thru the Siq to the Treasury (and possibly even the Monastery), many photographic opportunities abound in the form of all the tombs, remnants of the civilization that was once there, and certainly the camels! Walking there for the day and back isn’t difficult, but requires a fair amount of physical fitness and endurance in sunny conditions.

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