On location Jordan with Far Horizons
Both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Petra and Wadi Rum are among the most world’s most impressive travel experiences, albeit for different reasons. Petra, famous throughout the world, is indeed and incredible sight to behold.
After a meandering walk along a path lined with steep cliffs in a rainbow of desert colours, the first sighting of the spectacular Treasury building in the cleft between two halves of a mountain split in two is literally breathtaking as gasps of air leave the lungs upon seeing the façade, suddenly only a few paces away. Thanks to the open area immediately in front of the Treasury, it is possible to view the carved building from a variety of angles once visitors have emerged from between the cliffs. Sadly, this is as far as many visitors on rushed itineraries will go. Rather surprisingly to many people, Petra is an entire village of ancient sites, with an amphitheatre, a colonnaded street that was the shopping area, and royal tombs among the other sights to be seen. Though none are as detailed as the Treasury in architectural detail or state of preservation, they too merit time to appreciate their history.
While cruise passengers on shore excursions from the port city of Aqaba troop to the Treasury in their thousands by late morning, few of them venture past that landmark to see the rest of the site. In contrast, the small tour groups visiting Petra with Far Horizons spend three days exploring the site in great detail, bringing to life the setting, the culture, and the engineering which all played roles in the creation of Petra as it was and as we know it today. The best time to visit is in the morning about 10 o’clock when the Treasury’s entire façade is illuminated by the sun’s rays, but arrive when the gate opens at 6AM and you will have one of the world’s most amazing places almost all to yourself. At the entrance to the Petra site is a wonderful museum explaining in colourful detail the Nabatean civilisation that inhabited Petra as well as information about every aspect of the site.
Further south is Wadi Rum, whose the stunning desert rock formations provide the backdrop for a nature experience to remember. Unlike deserts where there is only sand and dunes, Wadi Rum is punctuated with inselbergs and cliffs that add dramatic visual to the overall panorama. Rather than a kitsch tourist activity, camel rides here are an almost transcendental experience as the silence of the camel’s steps matches the majestic silence of the location. In a noisy modern world where the intrusion of sirens, garbage trucks, car horns, construction sites, and leafblowers is considered totally normal, a visit to Wadi Rum is a magnificent reminder that gentle quietude is the natural state of human existence.
Petra is a two- to three-hour drive from Queen Alia International Airport, which lies south of the city of Amman and therefore allows a direct route to Petra without the need of going to (or through) Amman first. Etihad Airways‘ flight from Abu Dhabi to QAIA arrives at 12:40 in the afternoon, making it an ideal time to arrive and head straight to Petra for a superb Jordanian dinner and a good night’s rest before putting that jetlag to good use and getting an early start on visiting one of the most impressive sights in the world.
For more information about Petra and Wadi Rum, visit Jordan Tourism Board’s helpful website. To know more about Far Horizons detailed tours to Jordan, visit the Far Horizons website at farhorizons.com.