When people think about Petra, the image of a rose-colored rock-cut temple tucked away in the mountains of the desert of Jordan often comes to mind but what they may not know is that Petra is so much more than the Treasury. Petra is an archaeological city that covers vast space of a barren desert. The city consists of a Roman theater, tombs carved on a side of a mountain, temples cut from a cliff face and in order to see all the beautiful architecture the place has to offer, we must go on foot and start hiking.
Due to the size of the ancient city, it can be quite overwhelming for newcomers to choose which route to explore first. Petra has several trails where hikers and outdoor lovers can explore on foot and within this guide, I will recommend you a combination of trails that will allow you to see the most the rose city has to offer, all in one full epic hiking day.
Petra Hiking Map
When to Go
The best time to hike in Petra is from March to May where the temperature, though quite warm, is not as bad as in the summer which the temperature can go up as high as 40˚C and if you are planning to go hiking all day, you will need all the cool desert breeze you can get.
How to Get There
If you are looking to fly into Jordan, you will have to go through the Amman international airport. Emirates Airline, one of the most comfortable flight experience you can get, provides a pretty good connecting flight to Amman through Dubai or you can browse for deals before booking your flight here.
From Amman, you can get a JETT bus from their office in the city which should take you no more than 4 hours before you arrive at the gate of Petra.
Where to Stay in Petra
Hostel - Saba'a Hostel - 9.87 USD/Night (Dorm)
Bedouin Camp Experience - Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp - 56.42 USD/Night (Double Bed)
Or you can find more affordable hotels on Wego.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to Jordan, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need a travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
Things to Prepare
With any hiking trail, a good preparation is required for an amazing experience and since Petra is a desert with rugged terrain, uneven ground, and many trails to choose from, it is essential that you prepare the items listed below before you start the hike:
- Hiking Maps:Get a hiking map at the visitor center and study the trails you are taking, carefully. The trail map I have here is a good guideline but by no means, official or super detail, so do carry the official map with you at all times.
- Water and Food Supply:Prepare lots and lots of water. It is a desert after all. I would suggest at least 4 liters of water if you are planning to combine all the trail into one day like I did. In my map, you can find a rest stop where you can buy more water in case you run out but it is very expensive (5 USD for a bottle) so it is better for you to come prepared.
- Dress for the Desert:Make sure you dress for the weather. The desert climate can be extreme. It can get scorching hot in the summer and surprisingly chilly in winter.
- Sturdy Hiking Shoes: Sturdy shoes is a must as there are lots of uneven ground in Petra and some surfaces are sandy and are prone to be slippery.
1. The Main Trail
Length: 30 mins
Every trail begins at the Visitor Center where you can buy an entry ticket for Petra. Depending on how many days you want to explore Petra, you will have to pay 50 JD, 55 JD or 60 JD for 1, 2 or 3 days pass respectively. For this guide, you only need 1-day pass but I would recommend you get more if you have more days there.
Since you are combining several trails into one, it will be a long day for you so I would recommend you waking up as early as 8 AM and begin the hike at 8:30 AM. The sun in the desert is no joke, so by starting early, you are saving yourself from extreme heat, severe dehydration and leave you enough energy to complete the hike in good shape.
The Main Trail is the first trail you will take which begins from the Visitor Center all the way to the rest stop, but you will only be hiking half way of the Main Trail in which you will branch out to a different trail. The Main trail consists of a simple flat path that will take you through the Siq, a narrow slot canyon that serves as a passageway to the Treasury. This trail involves almost no climbing and can be done in less than an hour.
No matter how early you are, the Treasury will always be crowded so spend a few minutes there before heading to our second trail, that will take us to the Treasury Viewpoint, the best view you can get of the Treasury away from the crowds.
2. The Treasury Viewpoint Trail
Length: 1.5 hrs (round trip)
After the Treasury, you will have to walk a little further right toward an opening but stick to the right side of the mountain and follow the path. On your way to your second trailhead, you will pass a few tombs before you find steps going up the mountain. That is the beginning of the Treasury Viewpoint trail which will take you up a mountain before arriving at the viewing point where you can see the Treasury from above.
It will take around 45 minutes to hike all the way up to the top but there are several photo stops you can rest along the way. Up at the top, you will have a great view of the Treasury, which in my opinion is the best you can see, and a few small tea tents where you can take a break and enjoy the stunning view of the Treasury in front of you.
This is a one-way trail, so you will have to make your way back to the main trail before starting the third trail.
3. The High Place of Sacrifice Trail
Length: 30 mins (one way)
As you make your way back down, backtrack your way passed the Nabatean Theatre on your right, and along the street of Facades, across the Tomb of Unayshu, you will find another trail on your right going up a mountain. This is the trailhead for the third trail we are doing, the High Place of Sacrifice trail.
The trail is all up from the beginning for around 45 minutes before you arrive at the High Place of Sacrifice, where you can have a stunning vantage point of the Royal Tombs. This is the perfect place to rest, and have some snacks while you enjoy the solitude and light breeze of the desert. You will start to feel more like an explorer and less like a tourist from this trail as there will be significantly fewer tourists here.
From the High Place of Sacrifice, do not go back the way you came from. There is another path that will take you to the next trail.
The Wadi Farasa Trail
Length: 1 hour (one way)
The Wadi Farasa trail is a trail connected with the High Place of Sacrifice trail and it will take you through the Wadi Farasa valley, passing the Soldier's tomb, the Lion Fountain, the Garden Temple and several more beautiful tombs along the way.
This is an easy trail that will take you no more than an hour to arrive at the Rest Stop. You will only have to go down the mountain from the High Place of Sacrifice into the valley and once you are in the valley, it will be a simple stroll along a flat path until you arrive at the rest stop where you can buy more water if need be.
Beware that this trail is mostly exposed, so you will be in direct sunlight with no shades to hide almost the entire hour of the trail so keep yourself hydrated.
The Monastery Trail
Length: 45 mins (one way)
Last but not least, the Monastery Trail which in my opinion is the most impressive out of all the 5 trails I covered here. From the rest stop, you will have to follow a path east of the restaurant that is heading toward a valley and from there you will find a path going up the mountain.
The climb is steep but not too long as it can be done in an hour or so. Along the way, you will find several huts where the Bedouin people sell their handicrafts, so you can slowly make your way up while browsing through their catalog of items or just ask them politely to rest in their shades.
After an hour of hiking up the stone steps, you will arrive at the Monastery, one of the most beautiful architecture in Petra, only second to the Treasury. There is also a cafe right in front of the Monastery, where you can sit, relax and enjoy the architectural wonder that is in front of you. Since you will be here in the late afternoon, the crowds of people should have already subsided but if not, do not worry, there are more to this hike.
If it is too crowded still at the monastery, you can go even further up a mountain behind the cafe where there is a trail leading up to few more viewpoints from an even higher ground.
From up there, you will be able to avoid the crowd, witness the incredible view of the monastery in solitude and get to see the rolling valleys on the other side of the mountain. There is also a tea tent up at the viewpoint so you can enjoy Petra in its full glory in peace.
Taking the Main Trail Back
Length: 1.5 hours (one ways)
In order to get back from the Monastery, you will have to backtrack your way to the rest stop and instead of going back through the Wadi Farasa trail again, you can go straight back to the Visitor Center through the Main Trail west from the rest stop. It should take you around an hour and a half through a mostly flat path and you will be passing the Theater, the Treasury, the Siq and then you will arrive back at the entrance.
And there you have it, a one-day epic hiking itinerary for Petra that combines all the best trails into one, allowing you to see all the highlights in one day. What do you think? Did I miss anything from the guide? If you have done this hike, feel free to let me know in the comments below. Happy hiking!
P.S. If you want to read more about my experience in Petra, here is my Solo Traveler's Journey in Petra.
This post is created in collaboration with Wego.co.ae.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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