Distance: 3.5m/6k to Monastery, 4m/6km inside Petra; total 7.5m/12km;
Time: 3/4 hrs to Monastery, 5/6 hours inside Petra
Altitude: 110m (360 ft) ascent, 100m (330 ft) descent, 100m (330ft) ascent
From our campsite, our path today is a more popular trail though still far from crowded. Following along the sandstone cliffs and up ancient staircases, it only takes a few hours to reach our destination. And then suddenly it appears in all its ancient grandeur around a sharp bend - the Monastery. We have arrived in Petra, via the back door. Our six days and 50 miles of trekking are rewarded with this spectacular view of the jewel of Petra nearly devoid of other visitors. “Rediscovered” and introduced to the western world in 1812 by the Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt, Petra is one of the most important archeological sites in the Middle East. Rated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Petra is listed as one of the contemporary Seven Wonders of the World. Petra’s wealth and grandeur have been immortalized by the remarkable facades carved from the sheer rock walls of the valley. Inside the Petra valley are tombs, baths, funerary halls, temples, arched gateways and colonnaded streets carved from the kaleidoscopic-colored sandstone. Although for centuries it was militarily impenetrable, by 106 AD the city fell to the Romans who
conquered Petra’s garrison by cutting off the water supply. Petra had already fatally declined in wealth and importance, its place taken by Palmyra in Syria, whose ascendancy to the primary trade city of the Near East was rapid. After some time contemplating the Monastery we descend on a paved path into the valley, where we are guided past the Royal Tombs, Qasr el Bint, the Mountain Ridge Church, the Great Temple, Royal Tombs, Urn Tomb, the unique Theatre, Street of Facades and, of course, the famous Treasury. From here we journey out through the dramatic and much photographed slot canyon known as the Siq with the knowledge that today, unlike most other visitors who fight the morning crowds, we’ll only walk this infamous path once as we leave, our epic trek to Petra now complete. Overnight in the Petra Guesthouse. [BL]
Note: Optional evening excursion to The Petra Kitchen: For those interested in putting to use the cooking skills they learned from the Bedouin on the trail and master more secrets of the Levantine cuisine. During this informal cooking glass, we’ll prepare a full Jordanian meal, working alongside local women under the supervision of a local chef. Each evening meal includes soup, cold and hot mezza and salads, and a main course—all typical Jordanian dishes.