Visiting the World Heritage site of Petra has been on my bucket list since I fell in love with the adventures of Indiana Jones. Once my travel plans to Israel were confirmed, I knew I had to visit Jordan to behold the ancient city of Petra. Fortunately, a weekend trip is very do-able although I would advise a longer stay if possible.
To start, a one-way business ticket from New York City to Amman, Jordan on The Royal Jordanian is relatively affordable compared to other airlines. So for those who want to splurge or who have an awesome SO who splurges on your behalf, it’s a pretty comfy ride (here I am gleefully watching a scene of Leo getting mauled by a bear in The Revenant – Note, this scene is awful and I’m only smiling for the photo).
Once we arrived in the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan we quickly purchased a tourist Visa for 40 JOD (one Jordanian Dinar is roughly equivalent to 1.41 USD) and we were on our way to our resort: The Kempinsky Hotel Ishtar on the Dead Sea.
As you can see, the resort grounds are absolutely breathtaking and you can see Israel across the way. Upon our arrival, we quickly changed into our swim suits and headed for the beach to float in the famous healing waters of the Dead Sea.
(David exhibits his impressive floating skills while reading The New Yorker :). Did you know that the Dead Sea is a whopping 400m below sea level? It’s high salinity allows for this famous float and its mineral-rich mud is used for cosmetic and healing purposes.)
The following day we headed off to visit the famous, UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra. Along the way we stopped along King’s Highway to view the spectacular Moab Valley (see picture below). According to biblical account, Moab and Ammon were born to Lot (whose wife was turned into a pillar of salt after she looked back on Sodom – ignoring God’s command). This valley is also where Moses is said to have died/buried after leading the Israelite people towards the promised land. Cool!
The Ancient City of Petra or the Rose City! The ancient city of Petra is estimated to have been established in 312 BC by the Arab people called The Nabataeans. According to our Tour guide from ViaJordan.com and recapped from handy-dandy Wikipedia, Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans and the center of various trade routes (Gaza in the west, to Bosra and Damascus in the north, to Aqaba and Leuce Come on the Red Sea, across the desert to the Persian Gulf, and the Silk Road to the east). Pretty amazing for ancient times!
The time spent from the beginning of the Siq (the narrow pathway that leads to The Treasury within Petra), to The Treasury, to the 850 step hike up to the Monastery, and back to the entrance of the Siq was about 4-5 hours. Make sure to bring comfortable shoes!
Though we didn’t have much time to explore beyond Petra, it warrants another trip if only for the biblical history! Although approximately 95 percent of Jordanians claim Islam as their religion, the country is immersed with Christian history. For example:
- Mount Nebo where Moses looked upon the Dead Sea, the Jordan River Valley and the distant hills of Jerusalem; what God told him was the “Promise Land.”
- Jericho City which is considered the oldest inhabited city in the world, where Herod the King ruled and later where Jesus passed through performing miracles, healing and gathering followers
- Madaba where John the Baptist baptized Jesus of Nazareth in the Jordan River
Quick tip on safety. While I felt relatively safe the entire trip, my party did make sure to have private transport to and from the airport as well as to the historic sites. Additionally, once we arrived at our hotel, there was a quick undercarriage scan of our vehicle as well as a required walk through a metal detector. Although these precautions are taken by the resort staff for the safety of their guests, it did make me more aware of my surroundings throughout the trip. At the historic site of Petra and with any other major tourist location, there are peddlers who sell trinkets and offer various services such as donkey and camel rides. Our Jordanian tour guide was quick to note that most were Bedouin youth, and while purchasing souvenirs was fine, to be aware that it encouraged them to sell to tourists instead of going to school.