An Exhilarating Adventure to Petra Jordan … the Rose City
By Molly Fernow
From the first time I saw pictures of Petra Jordan, it became a top, must-see place.
Recently, I was on my fourth trip to the amazing country of Israel with one of my best friends who travels there for work. We had two days to see the Rose City.
With our time constraints and everything we wanted to see, a tour group was not an option. Fortunately, researching, planning and setting up my own trips is one of my favorite things—especially when it came to this dream destination!
Getting from Tel Aviv to Petra was no easy feat; it was quite an adventure. After a short flight from Tel Aviv to Eilat Israel, the journey really began. You cannot rent a car in Israel and drive across the border, so from the airport we caught a cab to the border, where we would cross by foot into Jordan.
We paid a fee to leave Israel and then, with exhilaration, we made the walk from one Middle Eastern country into another. We went through customs in Jordan, paid for our visas, and exchanged our Israel Shekels for Jordanian Dinar. We hopped into a cab to the city of Aquaba, Jordan to rent a car for the two-hour drive to Petra.
Driving on a highway with no lines, going by Bedouin Camps and small Jordanian towns, was fascinating, like something out of movie. Men and women dressed in traditional Bedouin attire flanked the roads herding sheep, goats, and camels. After our exciting drive, we finally arrived with an extremely warm welcome to the Seven Wonders Luxury Bedouin Camp. Why stay in a hotel when you can have an experience like the locals, sitting around a campfire drinking traditional tea and smoking lemon/mint shisha out of a hookah?
After entering the visitor center at Petra, it took about two hours on the main trail to get to the steps leading up to the Monastery, and then 850 steps to get there. You must then go back the same way you came in. So, we were looking at about six hours of walking, and that didn’t include any off-shoot trails to other ruins.
While chatting with the owners of the camp we discussed our limited time to see Petra and asked if they had any tips on how to maximize our time. I am a true believer that hotel staff know best—and their hints and advice did not disappoint.
For a small fee, we could hire someone to meet us at the entrance, where we could leave our car and buy our tickets. The guide would then take us by four-wheel-drive to the back entrance of the park, where we would walk through, one-way. This would give us more time to explore. Plus, it offered the huge bonus of going down the 850 steps rather than up.
We woke up bright and early the next morning and followed our driver to the entrance. We jumped into his four-wheel-drive Toyota and set out on a 30-minute 4×4 ride into the Jordan desert. The back entrance of Petra is literally a very small shack with one person working. Our driver gave him our passes and we went to what we thought would start us at the Monastery but ends up being a trail head. Our driver pointed and said, “Two miles—you see Monastery.” As we watch him drive off and look around it really set in that we are in the middle of nowhere in Jordan and had to trust he was sending us in the right direction.
After a beautiful hike with not a soul on the trail, at the top of the mountain we got our first glimpse of the Monastery. The first glimpse of a dream come true on the week of my forty-second birthday. The first glimpse of the one of the most magnificent places I have ever experienced.
For more information, visit www.visitpetra.jo and www.sevenwondersluxurycamp.com