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Petra

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Southern Desert : Petra
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The Treasury (al-Khazneh)

Petra, the fabled "rose red city, half as old as time", is a well known ancient Nabataean city in the south of Jordan. Due to its breathtaking grandeur and fabulous ruins, Petra was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.

Understand

Petra was the impressive capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC. The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire in AD 106 and the Romans continued to expand the city. An important center for trade and commerce, Petra continued to flourish until a catastrophic earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled vital water management systems around AD 663. After Saladin's conquest of the Middle East in 1189, Petra was abandoned and the memory of it was lost to the West.

The ruins remained hidden to most of the world until the Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab scholar, infiltrated the Bedouin-occupied city in 1812. Burckhardt's accounts of his travels inspired other Western explorers and historians to discover the ancient city further. The most famous of these was David Roberts, a Scottish artist who created a number of accurate and detailed illustrations of the city in 1839.

The first real excavations of the site were in 1929 after the forming of Trans-Jordan. Since that time, Petra has become by far Jordan's largest tourist attraction, partially due to the exposure by the Steven Spielberg movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in 1989. Due to the fantastic engineering accomplishments and well-preserved dimension of Petra, the archaeological site was chosen in July 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World [1].

Get in

By bus

JETT buses, both ordinary and all-inclusive guided tour, connect to Amman and Aqaba via the fast (but boring) Desert Highway. Other tourists come with organized groups, including daily trips from Eilat. Tours to Petra from Taba, Sinai and Sharm el Sheikh are also gaining popularity with charter tourism.

It would cost 24 JD for two persons to travel by JETT bus, and allow you to see almost the entire site in an (exhausting) day trip.

By minibus

The minibus from Wadi Rum costs 3 Jordanian Dinars (JD) each. It takes 1.5 hours to get to Petra. Have the Rum Guesthouse or your tour operator call the bus owner the day before to arrange an exact time for pick up. The bus usually leaves from Wadi Rum at 8:30 in the morning, but may be delayed due to weather or tour groups coming the other way.

There are also minibuses from Amman departing from the Wihdat bus station - these leave when full, and tourists are charged 5 JD to get on. Do not allow the drivers to charge you for your luggage, as they might sometimes try to do. The ride is about three hours.

There is a daily bus to Wadi Musa from Madaba that travels via the scenic (but slow) King's Highway. This minibus leaves from outside the Mariam Hotel in Madaba.

There is a minibus going from Aqaba, for those that cross from Eilat and don't want to pay the outrageous taxi fare. The problem is, there's no timetable - it leaves early in the morning (6:45) from Wadi Musa towards Aqaba, then returns from Aqaba when it fills up etc. The trip was 5 JD in November 2010.

By taxi

Two years ago we met a wonderful friend, a taxi driver in Aqaba, and I do not write about my friends a lot, but a good driver Mohammed Mohammad taxi driver in Aqaba, he can offer you good service in the form of your arrival to Jordan, then travel around Petra, Wadi Rum.&dead sea etc.... Mohammad drive very safely. He is very friendly and helpful.. His car is comfortable, air conditioned a lot of tourists and is highly recommended to travel with him and complete confidence in him, he has opinions and preferences of tourists from all over the world like UK, USA, Canada and Italy, the Netherlands, France, etc. To communicate with the taxi driver from Aqaba and agree with him at a reasonable price that are connected because the price of vehicles from the Jordanian side are expensive and ask prices do not believe this I recommend to travel with Mohamed driver courteous and aware of all places, restaurants and hotels best for you and he can show you the places diving etc. .. Certainly is much cheaper than tour operators provide a lot of money



Mohammad  tourist driver in Aqaba

For more information we can communicate E _MAIL (touristdriver.aqaba@gmail.com) phone 00962779834745

Get around

Camels are a common form of transportation in Petra

The only modes of transport allowed within Petra are on two feet or four (camel, donkey, or horse). When entering Petra, there is a brief hike down towards the Siq. Horses will be available for travel to the entrance of the Siq, or you can choose to take a horse-drawn buggy through the Siq (a distance of about 0.9 kilometers) and down to the Treasury. The prices for such rides are not set and are extremely negotiable, depending on one's bargaining abilities.

Once you arrive at the Treasury and throughout Peta, there will be many camel and donkey owners jockeying for your business. Be prepared to do some bargaining and don't pay more than 10 JD, a more reasonable price is around 3 JD a person. Often times the owner will drop his price in half simply by hearing a few phrases in Arabic.

Camel or donkey transport should be seriously considered. Riding a camel is a unique experience on more level ground, but a donkey is recommended for more ambitious climbs, such as the ones to the High Place or the Monastery. However if you are reasonably fit and the weather is good, the walk is quite nice.

Between your hotel and Petra entrance, you can either walk or take a taxi for 1-2jd. Most hotels have free shuttle to the entrance on fixed schedules.

See

the Siq
The urn atop the Treasury


Petra is an archaeological park, so the entrance fees are considered fairly steep compared to other Jordanian attractions. Visitors can purchase tickets at the Visitor's Center for 50 JD/person for a one day pass, 55 JD for a two day pass, 60 JD for 3 days (as of Nov 2010). Note, however, that one-day visitors are charged an impressive 90 JD (March 2011), so even if you want a one day pass, it will only be 55 JD (March 2011) if you can prove that you're staying in Jordan overnight. A valid student ID card used to allow cheaper entrance, however this offer has been discontinued, it is not sure if it will become available again. Do not attempt to purchase tickets from dubious scalpers around town! Time permitting, the two-day pass is recommended, as there is much to see and do in Petra. For more than one day, the ticket office can ask for your passport as the ticket has your first name on it.

Guides can be hired from about 10 JD and up (depending on what you want to see) at the Visitors Center. You may want to take advantage of the knowledge of the Bedouins who work in Petra. Many of them were born and raised in Petra, and will gladly share their knowledge with you for the price of a camel or donkey ride. Alternatively, major hotels can rent you a portable Easyguide [2] audio guide (JD 10/day) for commentary in English, Arabic, French and Spanish. Easyguide is also available as a mobile phone service on all Jordanian mobile phone networks, a map [3] is needed to use this service.

  • The entrance to Petra is a long, winding sandstone canyon known as the Siq. There are minor carvings spotted here and there throughout the Siq, but the most impressive sights are the colorful and unusual sandstone patterns in the rock walls. There are also remains of terracotta pipes built into the sides of the canyon that were used in Roman times to carry water.
  • Upon exiting the Siq, visitors can view the jaw-dropping grandeur of the Treasury (al-Khazneh in Arabic). Be sure to note the urn atop the Treasury structure. It has been rumored that the urn contained a Pharaoh's hidden treasure, and the urn bears the bullet pock marks where Bedouin travellers throughout the years have tested the theory. Get there when the park opens at 6AM or 6:30AM (depending on the season) and you may have the Treasury all to yourself or with less than 5-10 people around.
  • Past the next bend is the outer Siq or Street of Facades, a large canyon lined with the facades of various tombs.
  • At the end of the Street of Facades is the 7000-seat Roman Theater. The theater was created by the Nabateans but later enlarged by the Romans. It is still used for occasional performances.
  • On the side of the valley opposite the Roman Theater and a short walk up the hill, are the Royal Tombs. The name was given because they are quite grand in scale compared to the others in the area, but it is unclear for whom the tombs were originally constructed.
  • The Monastery (ad-Deir), the largest carved monument in Petra, dates back to the 1st century AD. The interior, like that of the Treasury, is puny in comparison to the facade. The more than 800 steps up to the Monastery can take over an hour; many visitors choose to ride donkeys up to the top.
  • Petra by night happens on monday, wednesday and tuesday. Entrance fee is 12jd. It is only made of candle, include a march (better to stay far from the crowd), and some beduin music at the Treasury. There are really mixed feedback on this, see for example, TripAdvisor Reviews on Petra by Night
  • Princess Alia Clinic, Brooke Hospital for Animals [4] located just inside the entrance to the park. As you can witness inside Petra, not all donkeys, horses and camels are treated right. A few are overworked, carrying overweight tourist or being excessively whipped. The Brooke charity educates owners about the treatment of equestrian working animals and treats the animals for free. The clinic is happy to tell you about conditions for working animals in Jordan. You can give a donation to the clinic.
  • Wadi Musa which is the city next to Petra doesn't have any big touristic attraction

Do

For the terminally energetic, there are a number of popular hikes around Petra.

  • In order to understand what in reality Petra is, it is better to spend there two days. The first day: Siq - Treasury - City - Monastery. The second day: another way to Petra through Wadi Muthlim - see the Treasury from above on Jebel Al -Khubtha - High Place of Sacrifice. If you enter Petra through Wadi Muthlim do not turn left immediately after the small Siq, first go right to see Aqueduct, Tunnel and Al-Wu'eira Fort and only after that return to Petra center.
  • The High Place of Sacrifice is a popular destination in Petra. The site at the top of the mountain contains elaborate rock altars used for sacrifices. From the High Place, one can view much of Petra from above. The trek down the back side of the mountain reveals many interesting tombs and carvings that might be missed by average tourist. The round trip generally takes 1.5-2.5 hours.
The Monastery is one of Petra's most impressive structures
* The Mountain of Aaron (Jabal Haroun) is the highest peak in the area. At the top you will find a small church and the tomb of Aaron, brother of Moses. The route to the top and back will take you past the Monastery and will take 4-8 hours depending on your chosen path.

Most hikes last about 2-3 hours both way.

Buy

Ancient coin, mister?
The Bedouin tradesmen around the area will display artificial "ancient" Roman or Nabatean coins which are rather large in size. If pressed further, they will generally have a hidden stash of small, authentic coins from various periods. However buying these coins encourages the illegal looting of archaeological sites. To supply you with a souvenir the local inhabitants destroy graves, tombs and buildings in searches for coins and other antiquities. The Antiquities Law of 1988 states that individuals who engage in illicit excavations and/or trading in antiquities are criminals.


Throughout Petra, vendors will offer bottles of decorative sand art. While they may appear similar to other such souvenirs found in other Jordanian locations, these are unique in that the sand used to create the art is naturally colored sand scraped from the rock walls of various Petra canyons and not artificially colored.

Eat & Drink

  • Wrangler Bar, (at Petra Palace Hotel). cosy bar with alcoholic drinks and oldies but goodies music JD 4 for beer and wine.

There is only one restaurant in all Petra at the far end of the Roman Highway, which does a roaring trade despite steep pricing. It also has the valley's monopoly on beer.

For just snacks and hot & cold drinks however, there are a number of small stores and vendors scattered throughout the area.

Shade is sparse in Petra, and on a hot summer day you can expect to go through at least 4 liters of water (and more if you can afford to carry it). The need for water in the winter months is much less.

In Wadi Musa, there are many more eating options.

  • Of particular note, is Al-Wadi Restaurant on Shaheed roundabout/Circle in the center of town. Reasonably priced, and the servers are extremely friendly. Also great food that you will be unlikely to finish. Expect to pay JD2-JD4 for a main dish.
  • Also, Cleapatra restaurant below Circle/Al Wadhi restaurant. About 1JD for a falafel or a tea.

Sleep

Budget

  • Al-Anbat 1, +962 (06) 215 6888 (, fax: +962 (03) 215 6888), [5]. Clean rooms with satellite TV (including BBC & CNN). All upstairs rooms have baths and the occasional balcony. Poorly located some 4 km from Wadi Musa, but breakfast and transport to Petra is included in the price. Internet cafe, restaurant and Turkish bath. In January 2009 the hot air from the air-conditioning system was being switched off at night and during the day ("when all the tourists are in Petra"), that caused extremely cold temperature inside the rooms, where you could stay only having your coat on or under two covers. From 45JD (January 2009).
  • Al-Anbat 2, +962 (06) 215 6888. All rooms have air-con and satellite TV. Single 5JD; double 10JD.
  • Cleopetra Hotel, +962 (03) 215 7090, [6]. mid range hotel with common area with TV and couches. Recently refurbished (December 2010), all rooms have bathroom included. Located up the hill (near the bus station) but free transport is provided to Petra. Great reception with lots of advice and can organise trips to Wadi Rum. Mosleh will take care of you - he seems to know everyone in town. Breakfast is also included in the price which makes this hotel great value! Single: 25JD; Double: 30JD.
  • Petra Gate Hotel, +962 (03)215 6908 (). Warm, welcoming, and friendly atmosphere; the rooms all with bath and toilet , offers free transportation to the site; free luggage storage; international telephone call service; laundry; wireless internet services; satellite TV; movies; tickets to Petra by Night; and a big buffet-style restaurant. English speaking, super friendly and helpful staff is there to answer all your questions, and they can organise trips to Wadi Rum and to the kings highway and Dead Sea and they will help you during your stay. Clean and quite cheap, breakfast included. 11 JD per person.
  • Saba'a Hotel, Wadi Musa, Petra, Jordan (From the bus station, turn left and walk along the main road to the roundabout, cross over and walk 100yards up the hill on the left.), + 962 776250574 (Ibrahim)and +962 779730533 (Gail) (), [7]. This hotel opened late 2009 and the couple running it are really welcoming - he's from Jordan and she's from the UK and they really make you feel at home. The rooms are simple and clean, they are all ensuite. Wireless internet; packed lunches; laundry service, luggage storage; satellite tv; book swap;local information; trips to Wadi Rum are all available. Prices per person from: single ensuite 14JD, double ensuite 10JD, twin ensuite 10JD, triple ensuite 9JD, breakfast. is included.
  • Valley Stars Inn, ''+962'' 3 2155733 (), [8]. Family owned and operated, and the manager's devotion to service and direct attention to details makes this two star hotel like a five star international quality experience. Bright and sociable living room/ eating areas with warm and homey atmosphere and unlimited free high speed wireless internet access. Clean and comfortable guest rooms. Manager speaks and writes (emails/ texts) English, graciously responds to all questions about your complete Petra vacation, and can arrange for local guided tours. Upon request, Manager will assist with travel plans to and from other points within Jordan, organize trips, and provide travel advice for Wadi Rum, Wadi Dana, Aqaba, Amman and other destinations, all for a fair and honest price (no need to haggle). Free shuttle service provided to and from Petra main gate. Free luggage storage upon check-out. Boxed lunches can be arranged for day trips with a local restaurant and delivered to hotel. JD 35 for double, includes international breakfast buffet, complete with eggs cooked to order. Half board for JD10 extra adds a superb dinner.
  • Valentine Inn, Wadi Mousa, Jabal Alzohour Str, Jordan. (At the main roundabout, head up the (steep) hill about 200mt, entrance on the right.), + 962 (03)215 6423, [9]. checkin: anytime; checkout: 11am. The place where every taxi driver will attempt to take you, the Valentine Inn has become very popular with budget travelers and backpackers. They offer a generous and tasty breakfast and dinner buffet (2.5 and 5JD, feb 2011), clean and cool dorm rooms, and sociable dining area with great views of the town. Depending on which staff or owners, you can easily have help with directions or get tea. Like all places they can arrange everything, and offer a free minibus to the park entrance at 7 & 8am and returning at 5 & 6pm. The dorms may be cramped, but there is free Wi-Fi and pickup from the bus stand. Laundry is available at 2.5jd Dorm 3JD (14 beds) 5.5JD (9 beds); Single 15JD, feb 2011; double 18JD; Triple 20JD.
  • Nawaf Bedouin Camp, +962 795 537 109 (), [10]. Very good way of getting to know the real Bedouin lifestyle. Nawaf is a warm and respectful person, and the way he manages his camp has very little to do with a hotel - he likes to work with small groups of tourists, so he can use all his energies to make you feel comfortable and spend time talking with you around the campfire. At night, in the magic atmosphere of the Bedouin tent, he will prepare on the fire (just in front of you) a very tasty dinner, following the old Bedouin traditions. The price also includes transportation to and from the Bedouin village next to Petra and to the desert camp in Wadi Araba. 95JD/night, including dinner and breakfast.
  • Peace Way Hotel, (, fax: +962 3 2156963). free wifi in the lobby, free transport to Petra in the morning (1-way only) 18JD/night, single room including breakfast, feb 2011.
  • Amra Palace Hotel, P.O.Box 124 Wadi Mousa 71810 - Petra - Jordan, +962 3 2157070 (, fax: +962 3 2157071), [11]. wifi in lobby and bedroom (7jd for 1 day but often special unlimited offer mix with other things) 24JD/night, single room including breakfast, feb 2011.
  • Cleopatra Hotel, P.O. Box 125 - Wadi Mousa - Petra, (, fax: +962 3 2156963), [12]. wifi (2jd for all your stay) 25JD/night, single room including breakfast, feb 2011.

Splurge

  • Mövenpick Resort & Petra, Wadi Mousa 71810 Petra, + 962 3 21 57 11 1 (, fax: +962 3 21 57 11 2), [13]. checkin: 14:00 hrs; checkout: 12:00 hrs. Located directly at the entrance to the historic city of Petra, the luxurious Mövenpick Resort Petra is certainly one of the most notable hotels in the Middle East. The Mövenpick Resort Petra is delighted to welcome its guests and visitors to the newly refurbished and tastefully decorated rooms and suites. The newly remodeled rooms and suites are elegantly designed and decorated with modern stylish furniture and fixtures that will satisfy the most discerning individual. All rooms and suites are equipped with the latest technological requirements such as wireless broadband internet connection and a 32/37 inch LCD flat screen television. Rates starting from JOD 99.00++. (30°19'32.48N,35°28'10.21E)
  • Grand View Resort, Queen Rania Street (Beside the Marriott overlooking Wadi Musa), +962 (3) 215 68 71 (), [14]. One of the top 5 hotels in Wadi Musa, the Grand View Resort offers excellent service with a fantastic view of Jabal Haroun (the Mountain of Aaron) and the surrounding area. Single: 75JD; Twin: 100JD; Studio: 150JD; Junior Suite: 250JD; Executive Suite: 450JD.
  • Taybet Zaman Hotel and Resort, +962 (06) 215 0111. Located in a renovated 19th-century village, this is quite possibly the best hotel and almost certainly the most stylish one in Petra, if not in all of Jordan. The 105 rooms are all located in individual houses decorated in Bedouin style. The inevitable handicraft shops are attractively camouflaged in a "souq", and there are good restaurants and even a Turkish bath on hand. The resort is a fair distance from Petra, but a courtesy shuttle bus is provided once a day: 9:30AM to Petra and 2:30PM for the return. This doesn't give enough time for exploration of Petra. If you have your own transportation, this is doable. If not, you end up paying 6JD each way for a taxi. Six percent of all profits go to the local community. Rooms start at $110.
  • Mövenpick Nabatean Castle Hotel, Wadi Mousa 71810 P.O BOX 184, +962 3 21 57 20 1 (, fax: +962 3 21 57 20 9), [15]. checkin: 14:00 hrs; checkout: 12:00 hrs. Mövenpick Nabatean Castle Hotel is a 10 minute drive from the entrance to the historic site of Petra, situated in a breathtaking secluded position on a hillside at an altitude of 1,400 metres. All the hotel's 90 rooms and suites are spacious and most have extraordinary views over the Great Rift Valley. Interconnecting rooms and non-smoking rooms are available on request. Rates starting from JOD 66.00++. (30°17'19.15N,35°27'23.70E)

Stay healthy

The most cold and rainy months to visit Petra are December and January. In this time it is warm during the day and very cold in the evenings and at nights. That's why it is necessary to take coats, hats and gloves. And it could warm up your visit there if you take a thermos with hot tea with you. Avoid going if the forecast shows a lot of rain, as the guards may need to transport tourists out if the valley starts to flood (like on Jan 18th 2010). The hot, dry air sometimes results in nosebleeds. Carry petroleum jelly (Vaseline or other brands) or petroleum jelly based products like Vicks and apply liberally to the insides of the nostrils to avoid nosebleeds. Also, carry plenty of water and Oral Rehydration products like Electral if you are traveling to Petra in the hot summer months to avoid dehydration. A good cap and sunglasses will help you avoid getting a heat stroke.

Get out

  • Little Petra is accessible by taxi or from/to Petra. A fair price would be about 15jd to go there from Wadi Musa, stay about 1h and come back with the same taxi.
  • Wadi Rum, a stunning desert valley in southern Jordan, lies about an hour south of Petra. Buses leave in the morning and generally cost 5JD.
  • Mujib nature reserve
  • Buses to Aqaba also leave in the morning for 5JD (~ 7am).
  • It is recommanded to do Kerak on your path between Petra/Amman as most hotels don't organized one day tour back to the initial place.

Most budget hotels have tours but the level of organization changes a lot and could block you to take a tour. Best to form a group yourself (at least 4 persons). Example tour could be Kings way trip: hotel, shoubak castle, dana, tafilah, karak castle, dead sea, madaba, mount nebo, churches madaba, amman for about 30jd at Valentine Inn.






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