Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new wonders of the world. Over the next two days we get the opportunity to discover Petra and to soak up this ancient city that is carved upon distinctive pink rocks.
After a guided orientation tour highlighting the key areas of interest, we have the rest of the day to explore independently. Most of what can be seen today was built by the Nabataeans - an industrious Arab community who settled here more than 2,500 years ago, growing wealthy on tax proceeds from passing silk and spice trade.
Petra's spectacular setting deep inside a narrow desert gorge adds to it’s majesty. The site is accessed by walking through a kilometre-long chasm (known as the Siq), the walls of which soar to a height of 200m. Petra's most famous monument, the Treasury, appears dramatically at the end of the Siq, carved out of the sheer, dusky-pink rock face earning the poetic moniker ‘a rose-red city half as old as time’.
Miraculously well preserved, this massive 43-metre-high facade dwarfs everything around it and perfectly represents the engineering genius of local people. The existence of this site had been kept secret for centuries by the local Bedouins and only revealed to the West by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. After the city declined due to shifting trade routes and a series of earthquakes, the Bedouins continued to use the sophisticated water system created by the Nabataeans to capture the perennial stream and occasional flash floods, a precious oasis in the middle of an inhospitable desert.
Petra’s colonnaded streets offer historic tombs and temples, and one could easily imagine the caravans of old laden with frankincense, spices and textiles travelling through the Siq.
Petra is excellent for photography; notably in mid-morning and late afternoon when the angled sun highlights and enhances the natural red, pink and orange colours of the rocks.
Included meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Petra Moon Hotel, Petra (or similar)