I read a lot before traveling to Jordan, seriously, but I feel that no one really tells you exactly what to expect from the trip to Petra. So, if my blog sounds boring to you now, check it out when you plan a trip to Petra. This blog will make your trip easier.
There are two ways to arrive in Petra: one through Amman, the capital city of Jordan, and, the other one, through Aqaba. I know that from Aqaba, the drive is shorter, but good luck finding flights with good times and prices. In my case, I flew into Aman and it took me 5 hours to arrive at Wadi Musa, but without all my mishaps, it takes 3 hours straight from the airport.
The way to get to Petra is simple: if you arrive after 5 am, get a hotel in Amman and a bus the next day at 6am. The bus does not take you to Petra directly but it takes you to Wadi Musa, the town located in Ma’an Governorate, where you check into your hotel and go to Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bus is only 20 dollars that becomes 30 dollars when the driver realizes that you are a foreigner.
If you prefer to spend 120 dollars for a private ride, catch a taxi from the airport. I am going to leave you my taxi driver’s contact information at the end of my blog because he only charged me 100 dollars and I am sure you can catch him for 90. Or share the ride with 3 other people and pay ¼ of the ride for an express ride. However, make sure to have those 3 souls before you land in Amman.
My mishaps started with a small issue. I planned to take an Uber from the airport for 65 dollars but when I arrived, the app was blocked in the airport and its environs. So, I took a bus to the North station and the ride was an hour long. I was planning to take an Uber at the North Station, but it happens that the Uber app was blocked there too. So, I had to catch a random taxi in the street to take me to City Center, from which allegedly the Uber app works. The ride was supposed to cost 3 dollars and the guy charged me 20, with a cynical smile and a “welcome to Jordan.” The worst part occurred when I complained and he took my luggage and threw it out of the taxi. Then I cursed him.
I was alone in the middle of City Center at 9pm and surrounded by men mostly. The women around me were given a look when they interacted with me. Finally the Uber app worked and I was able to get a ride. However, when I got in a car with the man, he said he could not take me to Petra but he had a cousin who could. The shadiest excuse, but it was buying that or be left in the middle of City Center with scary people starring at me.
Then my angel showed up—I still don’t know his name—and asked me if he could smoke inside of the car on the way to Wadi Musa but by that point, I did not care. Fortunately, he stopped on the way for yummy Jordanian Kebab and dropped me off in the front door of my hotel at 2am. I went to bed and woke up by 6am. By all instincts I decided to be at the doors of Petra by 7am.
Of course, I went to Petra and I thought about what to wear because I knew it was going to be hot and humid, but I wanted to have nice pics. Plus, I did not know I had to walk almost 4 miles from the entrance to the top and climb stairs equivalent to 55 floors. The worst part was that I was wearing sandals and I thought to myself “what a poor decision you made with this sandals, Salua.”
I met Ali on the way to The Treasury (the main monument). Ali is a leader of the Bedouin community who offered me a foot tour to the top for 50 dollars. I told him I had 30 and he said no way! So, I said 25 and that is what I paid.
He took me everywhere, but he did not walk. He had a donkey that went to the top with him, and a dog that followed him around like a guardian. Because he is a leader of the community, I got to make 3 tea-stops (free) and enjoy the landscape from a Bedouin tent half way to the top (and thank God for that).
He took me to see all the monuments and explained to me a few rules and wisdoms of life. He explained to me that the passage of Yousef (Joseph) in the Qu’ran should teach people not to talk about the good things they own or to brag about how smart they are, because it provokes envy in others. According to him, that was Yousef’s mistake, and his father caution him but he did not listen.
The hike to the top is long and strenuous, about 55 floors. Part of it is climbing stairs cut out of the mountain and the other portion is uphill on sandy terrain. If I ever return to Petra, I will bring a light backpack to carry a big water bottle and a small towel, sneakers, sunblock, and a huge hat. Once I got to the top, I thought the trip was so worth it, if not for the history, for the minutes of peace that I experienced up there.
The ticket to enter Petra is about 20 dinars (Jordanian currency) and they will offer you a tour guide for 50 dollars—a total rip-off... don’t take it as many offers will come along for a better price on your walk to The Treasury. The walk from the entrance to The Treasury is about a mile or mile and a half and you may choose to walk or pay 25 dollars for a horse-drawn carriage.
Now, from The Treasury to all the other monuments, including the magnificent theater, there is another mile, and the hike to the top probably 1 mile and a half.
The best season for this trip is the fall. But, if you—like me—choose to go in the summer, you will encounter the most spectacular sunsets. Just make sure to start your journey to Petra quite early in the morning, 7 am is my recommendation.
The Bedouins are very generous, but like every other touristy area, they want to take advantage of foreigners. So, bargain if you can and start at half of the price of what they offer you.
Half way to the top, there is a Beduin tent with a very young man selling tea for 1 dinar. I made a stop there, got hydrated, and recharged my energy to continue my hike. The view is powerful and the silence alone helps you meditate.
The way down is much easier—of course—and it feels really good to hear from people telling you “ahh, you made it back!” I felt so bad, however, for the people I saw starting their way up at noon under the aggressive sun rays, without hats and in flip flops. I wanted to tell them to go back to their hotels and come back geared up (the Colombian in me).
I will write a bit more in next stop about the historical content of Petra and the sites to visit while in Amman. For now, get a good pair of sneakers if you are ready to visit Wadi Musa.
Angel taxi driver from Amman to Petra: Find him on WhatsApp +962 7 9022 6875
Ali: +962 7 7914 4586
Find him on WhatsApp
Today from Petra, tomorrow from Zahle, in Bekaa Valley.