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how to prepare for your visit to Petra

TIPS. It’s almost time to go to Petra! In addition to the Treasury, its emblematic monument, the ancient Nabataean city is traversed by kilometers of hiking trails leading to countless tombs and remains. Our practical guide.

Beyond the Treasury, the illustrious columned facade carved into a red sandstone cliff, Petra conceals countless marvels that an entire week would not be enough to explore. The ancient Nabataean city, 7 centuries old, occupies a vast circus concealed by high rock walls. Dark caves, sumptuous tombs or ancient remains blending eras and civilizations spread out everywhere.

Edomites, Nabataeans, Romans, Byzantines and Bedouins have succeeded each other here, marking the eternity of their imprint. Between grandiose nature and mysterious culture, Petra exudes a breath of wonder. But the flood of tourists, the heat, the long walks in the sand or on stony paths can quickly become an ordeal. Practical information, essentials and postcard photos, here are our good tips to make your visit to Petra an unforgettable experience.

SEE THE FILE – Jordan: the travel guide Figaro

When to go to Petra?

To avoid suffering from the cold or the heat, choose spring and autumn to go to Jordan. Due to Petra’s massive size and countless hiking opportunities, plan at least two days there.

Petra. Open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in April and May, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. June to October, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. November to April, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the month of Ramadan. Admission: €63 for one day, €70 for 2 days and €75 for 3 days.

To save money, the “Jordan Pass”

The “Jordan Pass” reduces the cost of visits. It includes visa fees and entry to 40 tourist sites in Jordan, including Petra. To obtain your entry ticket to the site, you must go to the ticket office on the first day with your pass. Better to arrive as soon as it opens, when clusters of tourists and street vendors have not yet invaded the premises. The crowd is much thinner on Sundays.

Jordan Pass. Tourist pass including visa fees and entry to 40 sites. To be purchased online before departure. Price: 88 € with 1 day in Petra, 95 € with 2 days and 100 € with 3 days. Valid for 15 days after activation when visiting the first site.

Should I take a guide?

You can book the services of an English-speaking guide at the Visitors’ Center the day before your visit. The explanations are given in accelerated, but allow you to become familiar with the places and their history.

Accredited guide. Count 63 € for the Main Trail (2 hours 30 approx.), 126 € for the Main Trail and the Haut lieu du Sacrifice (4 hours approx.) or the Main Trail and the Monastery (3 hours 30 approx.).

The essentials of a visit to Petra

The Siq of Petra. Visit Jordan

The Siq and the Treasury. Access to the Treasury is via a narrow enfilade flanked by 70 meter high sandstone cliffs. The one kilometer long fault is punctuated by Nabataean betyles and traversed by channels cut in the rock which were used to convey water. Its outlet on the Treasury, the emblematic monument of Petra, is spectacular. The reason for its construction, still unknown to this day, shrouds the imposing facade in an unfathomable mystery. Count between 30 minutes and 1 hour on foot from the Visitor Center.

The Main Trail. After the Treasury, the Siq widens down towards the natural circus of the ancient city. Monumental Nabataean tombs, an amphitheater dug into the cliff, a colonnaded Roman road, ancient temples line the sandy path to Qasr al-Bint, the only construction from the Nabataean period still standing. Count between 30 minutes and 2 hours on foot from the Treasury.

The monastery. The 800 steps up to the Monastery put off more than one. Being the largest monument of Petra, and one of the most beautiful, each step of ascent in the encircled gorge is however worth it. It is also possible to climb on a donkey from Qasr al-Bint (between €10 and €20). A more accessible hiking trail winds between the mountains north of the monastery. It starts at the edge of the road that leads to Al Beidah, but it is not marked. Count between 20 minutes (on a donkey) and 1 hour of climbing from Qasr al-Bint or 1 hour 30 minutes of hiking from the Al-Beidah trail.

The High Place of Sacrifice. The strenuous climb to the sacrificial site of Petra offers splendid views of the pink sandstone mountains. From the top, the Nabataean city lies at your feet. The route criss-crossing between the cliffs alternates shade and sun. The path starts behind Qasr al-Bint and it takes between 40 minutes and 1 hour 30 of hiking to cover the 2 kilometers of ascent.

The Temple of the Urn. At the mouth of the Siq, after the amphitheater, sumptuous royal tombs overlook the circus of Petra. The Temple of the Urn, easily recognizable by the jar carved on its pediment, dominates the other tombs by its majesty. From the esplanade, the view of the red mountains is simply magical. Allow 15 to 20 minutes and a few steps from the Treasury.

The best times to take your photos

The Treasury of Petra. HUBERT RAGUET / Le Figaro Magazine

The Siq. Light seeps into the depths of the canyon in the late morning, erasing shadows and revealing rosy hues. Between 11 a.m. and noon, in the direction of the exit, the alley is almost deserted and the rock softens.

The treasure. If your goal is to have no one in the picture, you’ll need to enter Petra first and walk briskly to the Treasury. In the morning light, the stone is beige. To print its pink hue, you have to come between 8:30 and 10 a.m., but this is also the time when the groups parade in whole clusters. Local guides will approach you to take photos from a high terrace, for a few euros.

The Temple of the Urn. Located to the south, you have to wait until the end of the afternoon (around 4 p.m.) for the sun to set its facade ablaze. On the other hand, in the morning, between 8 and 10 am, the light is perfect for taking panoramic photos of Petra from the terrace of the temple.

The monastery. Facing west, the Monastery is never more beautiful than when the sun goes down. But be careful to take into account the long walk back to the Visitors’ Center. There are two elevated viewpoints that can be spotted by the Jordanian flags flying atop them. They not only offer a choice angle on the Monastery, but also reveal a breathtaking panorama of the mountains. If you rode a donkey, take care to descend on foot to take some very beautiful photos of the plain of Petra.

The High Place of Sacrifice. The high, unobstructed vantage point guarantees you great photos no matter what time of day. By coming there early in the morning, you will meet only a few people and escape the pangs of the sun.

Prepare well for your hike

Petra is an immense site, with sandy or stony ground, with multiple more or less difficult hiking trails, which require good physical condition. You will have to walk for miles, most often under a generous sun. A good pair of shoes, sunglasses, a hat or a scarf and sunscreen will be your best allies.

Take a bottle of water and remember to refuel along the way. There is a restaurant and a few cafes inside the site where you can take a break or have a snack. But you can also ask your hotel to prepare a “lunch box” for your breakfast or lunch. In any case, take only the bare necessities that you will have to wear during your long hours of hiking.


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