Hiking and riding tours in the Petra area

Most of these photos are "thumbnail" photos - click on them for a larger version. Many of the places named here are also illustrated in the
Photo Gallery page on Baida

The country around Petra and Wadi Mousa, although little frequented by the hundreds (thousands) of tourists who come to Petra, is well worth a visit in its own right. I am on record as saying Wadi Rum is more beautiful, but it's a near thing!

I asked a couple of friends of mine, both tourist guides in Petra and both highly qualified in guiding hiking and trekking, to put together a few possible hiking routes and here is the result.

A NIGHT SLEEPING OUT NEAR
TO LITTLE PETRA

Many people would like to sleep out overnight, and here is a way to do it easily.

Transport to Little Petra and visit of the valley at sunset. Supper by candlelight and sleep overnight in tents (sleeping equipment and tents provided). Return the next morning to Wadi Mousa at whatever time suits your plans.

Price : for one person 40JD, for 2 people 25JD/person, for 3-4 people 20JD/person. The price includes sleeping equipment, meals, the guided visit and the transport both ways.

"Little Petra" about 15kms from the main site of Petra could almost be considered as a suburb (see the photos above). It is hidden away in a tiny valley, and entered by a miniature Siq ("canyon)" which is named the "Siq Barid" ("the cold canyon"). Comparatively few tourists find their way there. Until very recently it was used by the Bedouin for winter shelter, and you can see the ancient water systems still in use - including the cisterns used by the Nabateans to water the whole area, which was like a garden at that time. See my comments on the page on Petra (Baida). There is also a page of photos of Baida in the Photo Gallery.

HIKING

These are all one day hikes which can be continued on successive days if required.

Programme No 1 : from El Hai to Little Petra

We set out from El Hai, a village in a beautiful site, high in the mountains above Petra. This village was the former home of the Hasanat tribe now living in Wadi Mousa and many of them still own land there. The village is deserted now, but by no means abandoned. There is still a good spring and crops are cultivated nearby.

Downhill from El Hai we come to Um Losa, where there are magnificent views over Baida and Petra. We follow the track to the spring of Bir Bidda, which is the only spring lower down the hills, and is surrounded by fig trees and grape arbours.

We shall stop here for lunch. It is also a favourite resting place for the local shepherds, and we may meet some of them there.

After lunch, another half hour walk brings us to the Amarin village, and from there to Little Petra which we can visit. From here we can be picked up by a jeep or (if we are feeling energetic) we can walk back to Wadi Mousa.

Total length of walk to Little Petra : about 5 or 6 hours.

Programme no 2 : from Little Petra to the Monastery (El Deir) and back to Petra

After visiting the hidden valley of Little Petra we cross the Baida region towards the Petra gorges to arrive at the Monastery, high above the main site. We shall see some splendid views of the Rift Valley of Wadi Araba as we walk. This part of the walk takes about 4 hours, including a stop for tea and a short rest.

Down the steps from the Monastery to the Museum and we return via Wadi El Muasireh where there are a number of tombs largely unknown and unvisited by the tourists. We return to Wadi Mousa by jeep from the main road.

Total length of walk : about 8 hours excluding stops

Programme no 3 : Jebel Madrass and Wadi Sabra to the Snake Monument

After the Obelisk Tomb we leave the usual track and climb into the back hills around Petra. Through a jumble of rocks and unexpected views we pass above the Khazneh to reach the High Place of Sacrifice.

Down to Wadi Thugra and we find the Snake Monument, a worn block with a large coiled serpent overlooking the tombs below.

Wadi Sabra, incidentally, was the main entrance to Petra at the time of the Nabateans and there are many largely unexcavated ruins here.

Back via the Qasr el Bint to the main Paved Street in central Petra.

This is a long and fairly strenuous day's walking which takes you to some of the older and less well known parts of the archaeological site.

Programme no 4 : Jebel Haroun

Through Petra past the Qasr el Bint and out into the mountains, passing the mountain of Um el Biyara and the Snake Monument on our way to "Aaron's Mountain". This is the traditional burial place of the brother of Moses and is a sacred place for the Bedouin.

Topped by a small white mosque, it is often visited by pilgrims who decorate the shrine with rags, thread and shells, the Moslem equivalent of lighting a candle to the saint.

Recent excavations have shown a very large Byzantine monastery just below the summit, surrounded by extensive gardens and outbuildings.

We return by a slightly different route, still in the "back country".

This is another strenuous day but very rewarding.

Programme no 5 : Um el Biyara

Jebel Um el Biyara from Petra The hidden tombs at the foot of Um el Biyara

This mountain overlooking the entire site of Petra was settled by the Edomites, and there are numerous ruins still to be seen there. Most of them have been excavated, and the seal of the King of Edom was found in the rubble, dating from 670BC.

"Biyara" means "cisterns" and there are a number of them on the top of the mountain, mainly dating from Nabatean times. The Nabateans were masters in the science of water conservation

The views from the top are magnificent but the climb although largely on steps, is still a hard one, and anybody in doubt of their ability to make it should take advice from the guide before setting out.

 

The price of each day hike is 70JD for the group of not more than 10 people.

Clients should be sure to bring plenty of water with them as well their own provisions, since food is not included in these trips. Normally your hotel can supply a packed lunch or picnic food can be bought in Wadi Mousa. If there is any problem about this, the guide can organise it for you.

You should also bring along at least a light sweater, since these walks all take in high ground, and don't forget sunscreen and lip salve.

It is possible for an overnight camp to be organised between two day treks. The price of the camp is 20JD per person (but check this with the guide if you are a number of people). You can also sleep in the Amarin Bedouin camp if you wish (see the Photo Gallery on Baida)

HORSE RIDING

The terrain around Petra is not really suitable for treks of several days, but one or two day treks can be arranged in the Baida area. The price for one or two people is 100JD/day per person, or 85JD/day per person for 3 people, 70JD/day/person for 4 or 5 people.

An overnight camp can be organised if wanted, the price is 70JD for the camp, whether for one or 5 people - the main expense would be the vehicle carrying food and water for the horses and its driver and the groom for the horses, and this of course would be much the same however many people are involved.

CONTACT INFORMATION

These programmes have been drawn up by Mohammed Ibrahim Hasanat who is a licensed tour guide. He is mainly based in Petra, but is qualified and highly experienced in leading tours all over Jordan. As well as being another of my "fun people", he is also an incomparable trekking and desert guide !

His contact numbers are phone/fax +962.3.215.6567, mobile phone +962.795.603.114 and his email explorerone69@yahoo.com

He works closely with Sami Hasanat, a cousin, who is the owner of the travel agency Jordan Inspiration Tours (www.jitours.com) and who can organise any details of your visit to Jordan that you wish.

During the tourist seasons, Mohammed is much in demand, and if he should be unable to lead your hike himself he will make sure that you have somebody else as competent and knowledgeable as he is himself.

Acknowledgements

I should like to thank Todd Bolen of Moshav Yad HaShmonah, D.N. Harei Yehuda, Israel for the use of his photo of Um al Biyara steps from www.bibleplaces.com. Many thanks for this, Todd!

 

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Links to pages and information about Petra

Petra, Wadi Mousa and Baida - A walk around Petra - Map of the site of Petra - Photo map of Petra - Visiting Jordan Section - Map of the region around Wadi Mousa - Meet the People section -
Villagers of Wadi Mousa - Petra Horse Guides' annual outing - Jordan out of doors - Hiking in the Petra area - Photo Gallery Petra - Photo Gallery : Petra rocks - Photo Gallery : the Baida area

June 2003