Petra and Jerash – A Trip from Israel to Jordan
Petra is one of the Seven World Wonders and is located in the south of Jordan. On my first visit to Israel, I already wanted to make a quick trip to its neighbor Jordan. However, it did not work out due to my scheduling. In the following year, I had more luck. With Abraham Hostel, I now made a trip to Jordan with an overnight stay in a Bedouin Camp.
A little advice before I start… should you decide to begin this trip from Jerusalem, be prepared for a totally different climate and temperature. Keep in mind to bring sunscreen, a hat and clothes that protect you from the sun even if you feel cold in Jerusalem.
Departure from Jerusalem and Crossing the Border to Jordan
Precisely at 7am, the tour starts from Jerusalem to Jordan. The highlight of the tour is one of the Seven World Wonders, Petra. Two more stops are on our list – Jerash and Amman. We drive for around two hours until we reach the Jordan River Border Crossing. Here you will have to pay, as the border crossing fees are not included in the tour.
Exit fee for Israel: 107 ILS (around 25 Euro) and you can pay in ILS, USD or EUR
Entry fee to Jordan: 40 JOD (around 50 EUR) and you can only pay in JOD
The process at the border is rather non-transparent and no one exactly knows where to go. Even though there are only a few travelers, every process takes forever and you have to wait a long time at the check points. It takes us more than an hour until we are finally back in the van and heading to Jerash.
Jerash is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the country. This antique city, named Gerasa in ancient times, is located on a plane, surrounded by hilly wood areas. In 63 AD, it was conquered by General Pompejus, came under Roman rule and was one of the 10 big roman cities of the Dekapolis – a union of 10 cities that were built according to Greek model in the time after Alexander the Great. Getting conquered by the Roman Empire ushered in a golden age. This excavation site is one of the best preserved provincial Roman cities in the world.
We enter the excavation site through the pompous Hadrian Arc. This arc was meant to be the new city gate, but after a couple of years the project was dismissed due to a lack of financing. Nowadays, it impresses with a height of 21 meters. At the end of the 2000’s, it was rebuilt with original rocks from the surrounding area.
The paved main road, Cardo Maximus, is 800 meters long and connects the market and the northern city gates. Even today, 500 of the pillars that lined the street are still intact and in good condition.
While I was freezing in Jerusalem, the heat here is overwhelming. I’m glad the tour goes on.
Next stop – the Jordan capital.
Our next destination is the citadel of Jordan’s capital Amman. It is only a short stop, however, and it is not included in every tour. Depending on when the group leaves from Jerash, the citadel might be skipped.
We are late, since we took so long at the border. But it is enough for a short visit.
At sundown we walk through the elevated temple complex and enjoy our view overlooking the city.
The hill had already been inhabited during the early Bronze Age. The fortifications in the south east are the oldest and have been built around 1500 AD. In the fourth century before Christ, the Greeks held dominion over this area for about 100 years. During this period, the city was called Philadelphia. Afterwards, it was taken over by the Romans and later by the Arabs in 661 AD.
Next to the excavation site, the archaeological museum is waiting. Everyone who likes to get lost in details and loves vases and ancient sculptures will feel right at home. We can’t spend a lot of time here, as the museum closes shortly after our arrival. But we are able to get a short glimpse.
Soon after the sun sets, we make our way back to the mini van, as there are still three hours of driving ahead of us.
One Night in a Bedouin Camp
We made our way to the Bedouin camp Seven Wonders close to Petra. Tired and hungry we are welcomed by a traditional meal and sit down at a bonfire until midnight. The atmosphere is breathtaking and especially the surrounding hills, illuminated by uncountable candles, are an absolute highlight. An unforgettable evening.
In the morning, we have a local-style breakfast buffet and then continue our trip. There is not a lot of time to explore the Wadi surrounding the camp, as our next destination awaits us.
Even though we arrive early in the morning, the sun is already burning mercilessly. Our tour guide picks up the tickets that are included in the tour price, and we begin our excursion.
If you want to explore Petra by yourself, be prepared to pay around 65 EUR entry for one day and 5 EUR more for every following day. Therefore, a prolonged trip is definitely worth it, not only from a financial perspective. Actually, one day in Petra is far too short.
From the entrance to the actual red rock city, you have to cross the Siq. The Siq is a deep rock valley created by a natural geological split and smoothed out by water over hundreds of years. The Nabataeans that built Petra redirected the water from the river in order to create a safe passage and to avoid getting flooded.
The gorge is 70 meters deep and 1.5 kilometers long. I choose to walk the distance. Theoretically, there are carriages. However, I cannot recommend them as the horses are not treated decently and I do not condone this kind of practice. But this is my personal opinion and in the end it is up to you, your conscience, and of course the situation.
And after countless curves in this winding valley I arrived to Petra. The treasury is the first thing you see when you arrive at the rock city.
It feels a bit like time traveling. Sadly, this day trip leaves little time for extensive exploring. I had to make a quick decision – I could either climb the hill in front of the treasury and take pictures from above. Or traverse the valley, climb the other side and explore the second highlight – the monastery. I choose quantity over quality, as I wanted to see more of the red city.
The following pictures show the highlights of the ascend – the holy graves, the grand boulevard with its numerous pillars and the theater.
Soon we start to go uphill and an exhausting ascend begins. After a while, we are not alone anymore. The Bedouins that still seem to live in the rock city open their stalls. They sell cheap souvenirs, but also actual treasures such as old coins or ceramics. Sadly, non-professionals have a hard time telling the difference. Of course, you can also buy beverages so you don’t need to worry about getting dehydrated.
Once you reach the top, a bar selling snacks and drinks awaits you. If you have more time to spend than me, you should take in the phenomenal view for a little while!
I really have to hurry back though, as we have to make our way back to Jerusalem in the afternoon already. Or at least, the rest of the group goes back. I talked to the tour guide beforehand and they will let me out in Amman. I spend another night in the Jordan capital and go to the airport the next morning, from where I go on to Dubai for my first House Sit.
Petra is really a magical place. Looking back, I only regret not staying longer. At least two full days at Petra and one more at the Wadi Rum should be a good start to explore the area a little. I’d also love to visit Little Petra, another Nabataean city close to Petra, entry-free (!) and an “off-the-beaten-path” secret with less tourists. And also my heart is bleeding because I missed the light show at Petra. On several evenings a week, the main building – the treasury – gets surrounded by candles and the resulting play of light is said do cause goosebumps.
So – I was there, but Petra still remains on my list. On my second visit I will take more time!
Have you been to Petra? How many of the Seven World Wonders have you visited already? Leave a comment!
The Tel Aviv Guide for Digital Nomads
Subscribe to my newsletter so I can keep you posted about my life of travels and as a digital nomad! You will never miss a new blog post, a new ebook or where my next adventure is going to bring us. Because it’s never going to be boring!