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Notes from Petra – Jordan




The largest basin area

The largest basin area has an array of spectacular structures, that you’re allowed to enter.

The walk into Petra is downhill all the way, which is easy, but it’s worth remembering that the way out of Petra is going to be entirely uphill, so leave yourself enough time and energy to get back to the entrance.

Petra Homes

Some of the older and simpler residential homes.

The smaller of the two basins

The smaller of the two basins

If you can’t be bothered to walk around there are endless offers of a donkey, horse, camel or carriage. We declined all of these in favour of walking, as the animals look to be very badly treated, with whipping and even wrestling being quite common. There’s also not much consideration given to weight. We saw pairs of generously proportioned tourists riding one tiny donkey to save a dollar or two…

Petra Donkey

A slightly melancholy looking donkey, probably hoping I don’t want to ride him up the hill.

Petra Camel

The kid on the donkey was repeatedly hitting it around the head, much to the amusement of the camel riders

As an alternative to the donkeys there are rides on highly colourful if highly irritable camels. Watch out for the endless coughing and spitting.

There are food and souvenir stalls dotted along the canyon floor. The food is filling but not particularly tasty. A small café in the middle of Petra advertises local snacks. On taking a seat this transpires to be a choice between a cheese sandwich or a cheese & tomato sandwich. Neither had much cheese. If you feel the need for a large meal there is a Crowne Plaza restaurant in an area called the Basin, at the base of the climb up to the Monastery. Even better, take a picnic.

During lunch we could hear a herd of camels further along the path, coughing and spitting out the contents of their lungs. Rounded the corner to instead find a Chinese tour group enjoying their packed lunches, coughing and spitting out the contents of their lungs.

There’s quite a lot of picnic litter everywhere. Not to blame any group in particular, but much of the litter was snack wrappers with Chinese labels.

Petra coloured rocks

Some of rocks at Petra have a huge array of coloured layers – it’s accentuated by the rain.

Petra coloured layers

More of the coloured layers

Petra Tips

We were there in January, which is the lowest season. Crowds were very sparse. The success of a trip to Petra really depends on the weather. Usually in late January the whole site is under a meter of snow and can be closed for days at a time. We were exceptionally lucky and it was slightly overcast with just a few minutes of rain.

We had a guide walking along with us, but really could have coped without. You can’t get lost and any decent guidebook will point out and explain the main sites.

Petra Amphitheatre

The huge amphitheatre





Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

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