CAMEL TAXI, ANYONE?
Pinch my arm. I rode through one of the oldest metropolises in the world on a camel named Suzo. And so can you!
"Taxi lady? Taxi? Without air condition." A guy on a donkey with long black hair and black eye makeup passes me. He looks like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean; a real pirate. He is offering me his "local taxi" - a tired, old little donkey. "No thanks, I can walk!" I just entered Petra, an ancient city that was first established in 312 BC; making it one of the oldest metropolises in the world.
WHAT IS PETRA AND WHAT CAN YOU SEE THERE?
The Red Rose City Of Petra is one of the seven wonders of the world. It was unknown to the western world until 1812. Petra is a historical and archaeological city located in southern Jordan. The city has managed to 'wow' the world with its stone-cut architecture and water conduit system. The city is also referred to as the 'Rose city' due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved.
A visit to Petra begins with a walk through the Siq, a narrow gorge, over 1km in length, which is flanked on either side by soaring 80 meter high cliffs. As you reach the end of the Siq you catch your first glimpse of Al-Khazneh; the Treasury.
Maybe you have seen Indiana Jones ride down the canyon with the temple coming into view in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That canyon is actually called the Siq and that “temple” is the Treasury in the ancient city of Petra.
Among the Petra's amazing architecture, The Treasury is the most popular. It is estimated to be over 2,000 years.
Petra is home to over 800 carved tombs. The royals in the old cities were buried in large, stone rooms.
Camel or donkey rides
You can walk around the site or get a camel or donkey "taxi" if you like. Petra is a huge area. Just make sure the locals with the animals treat them right, there have been several reports about some people pushing their donkeys too hard in the heat.
Have you ever seen an angry camel before? Well this is what Suzo sounded like before I was going for a ride:
The Monastry is a monumental building carved out of rock, about half an hour walk up a mountain from the main centre in Petra. It is 50 meters wide and approximately 45 meters high. The Monastery is an example of the Nabatean Classical style. It is the second most visited building in Petra after The Treasury - but has the best views over the ancient city. Camels don´t walk up here, but donkeys do, if your legs are tired.
Petra by night
On Mondays, Wednesdays & Thursdays starting 20:30, Petra is filled with candle lights. The event is called "Petra by night" and you need to buy the tickets at the visitors centre. It was a magical experience, with music, lights and the feeling of being in a timeless place, surrounded by the old city´s history, ancient walls and past lives.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Flying in from Amman airport, it’s a four-hour drive to Wadi Musa. For a lower cost than a hire car or taxi, you can hop on a public bus direct to Petra from Amman bus station.
From Eilat or Aqaba: From Aqaba airport, it’s a 1.5 hour drive. But less number of airlines fly here. If you are crossing the border from Istrael through Eilat to Aqaba, you can hire a taxi or rent a car to Petra.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
A one-day visitor pass is 90 Jordanian Dollars. If you are staying for more than one day in Jordan in overnight accommodation, the price is 50JD. You can only enter Petra by buying tickets at the Petra visitors’ centre in Wadi Musa, the closest town.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?
Petra is a very hot place in the height of summer (36°C!). It is better to go during spring from March to May, or autumn from September to November. Temperatures then are pleasant and warm – around 18-25°C.
As for the time of day to visit, if you are determined get ahead of the crowds, then go with the sunrise at 5am.
If you really can’t face an early morning, arrive at 3pm to miss the worst of the midday rush and stick around until sunset. The quality of light makes the rocks glow an incredible ruby colour.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED?
You can comfortably see Petra in a day. You could spend five to six hours exploring, or twice that time – but a day gives you plenty of time.
WHERE TO STAY: The easiest place to stay when visiting Petra is the nearest town Wadi Musa.
FOOD INSIDE THE CITY:
There is only one restaurant inside the ancient city. It offers warm meals. I had a buffet when I was there. Apart from this, there is only little places to buy water and other drinks inside Petra.
TIPS FOR VISITING PETRA:
Petra can be really hot. After all, it is in the desert! So if you are travelling here in summer, bring lots of water, a hat, good walking shoes, sun cream and clothes to cover you from the sun.
Bye bye Suzo!
So I had to say good bye to her in the end. My Jordanian camel. Her yellow teeth and crooked camel smile will be with me forever. Say cheese Suzo!