Today we wake up early for our Jeep ride to Ad Deir, or the Petra monastery. The monastery hike is actually the highlight of my Petra visit. The hike is along a scenic back trail with rock formations out in the distance. There are two main ways to get to the monastery: one is the most used route from the main Petra site and there is the one we took from the back roads.
Those of us who chose to do this hike are divided into two jeeps. We then start our ride to the back road of Petra.
When we arrive at the monastery we are well rewarded. There are barely any visitors and the lighting is satisfactory for pictures. We explored and snapped some photos for a while. Soon we sat back and enjoyed some refreshments at the tea shop.
Once we made our way toward Petra proper after our monastery visit I knew we made the right choice; crowds start to thicken, souvenir stands appear and aggressive vendors are upon us. We fortunately missed all that on our journey there. Our journey consisted of a peaceful, quiet and impressive hike with a beautiful monastery at the end.
After our descent we decided to go do the hike to the high place of sacrifice which I reluctantly did. That was a journey of its own so more on that later.
Breakfast is at 7:30 AM and we leave at 8:30 AM for our 14km walk.
Hopefully it doesn’t prove to be too warm today. The schedule today is a half day walk with optional afternoon activities.
Most of the walk is not too bad. It is sunny but a nice breeze helps us along while we occasionally hike through the deep red sand. We walk by spectacular rock formations carved by the wind for a long time. Wadi Rum used to be covered by ocean during pangea but now it is all desert.
Our tour guide accompanies us with a Jeep to hold our bags and water which proves to be an excellent idea since it is much better to walk in the desert with a lighter load. The Jeep moves forward 1k or so ahead at a time to give us a chance for a water break if we desire.
We stop and climb rocks a time or two for some great photo opportunities.
Also we stop for tea time, not being a tea drinker I am loving the herbal tea, but also we rest on a mat and the tour guide attempts to teach us a local dance. As I am getting up a tour mate sees a large white spider hanging on my pants behind my knee. I start freaking out and shake my leg. I do not see where it falls so I dont trust It is gone. I go around the corner to lower my pants to make sure no spiders have climbed up. None can be seen so I guess I am in the clear.
The rest of the hike is mostly very nice. We see animal prints and try to guess what made them, find holes in the ground, see white desert flowers, and even a goat leg randomly on rock (don’t want to know how it got there).
Everything is great until we hit the last 1.5km. It gets pretty hot, I am tired and it is uphill in loose red sand that I later rename to devil sand. I stop a few times back to camp but I eventually make it.
It is time for lunch which includes some very tasty meatballs in a curry yougurt sauce. They are amazing over rice.
I try relaxing in my tent but it is too hot. I decide it is a good time to shower and head into the dining area to relax since there is a nice cross breeze.
I read a little and chat with my tour mates. It is a nice and relaxing afternoon.
It is a 5 hour drive to wadi rum from Amman. We stop for drinks and food for the journey. I pick up a couple of the cheese and meat breads and some snacks.
As we leave town the landscape turns more dessert like.
First we stop to gain admission to the site, since it is a protected area.
We gather our things and move to jeeps that will take us around in the sand.
First stop is at a natural spring and place to get tea. I skip the climb to the spring due to the heat. The temperatures are not as hot as Egypt but I am still weary of getting overheated. The tea is good, it is a black tea with sage and other spices as well as sugar. The tour guide talks me into getting a scarf which is common in the region. He helps me tie to my head. We see camels and goats.
When everyone gets down from the hill we go to our next location. It is a hike up a sandy mountain to a lookout point.
The guide advises us no shoes for part one and shoes on for part two of hike up.
I take off my shoes and have a very calf intensive hike up in deep sand. I cannot say that part is fun but it is a relief when it was time to put shoes on for the rocky part. At that point there is a light climb (but it could have been higher and more challenging if I wanted) to some beautiful views of the region. I took copious photos then started to head down.
When I arrive at the sandy area once more I start to sort of jog down. It is quite fun. I am in the shade and the sand softened each step. I can’t run anymore because of my bad feet but this is the closest I have had to it in a while. Plus it was a heck more fun than going up.
The third stop is a natural bridge. I loved Arches National Park in Utah so I would normally say I am not as impressed but at this arch you are allowed to stand on top. I don’t remember being able to do this in Utah.
We snapped our photos and went on to our camp site.
I paid for the single supplement so I have my own tent.
We throw our stuff in our tents and head off to watch the sunset which is beautiful.
Dinner is lamb, cucumber salad, rice, vegetables. Very good.
After dinner it is time for campfire. Dining area lights are turned off and we lie down and look at the sky. It is amazing. So many stars. I never get to see the sky this way because of all the city lights.
I arrive in Jordan and things are already going well. A fancy town car picks us up and our hotel seems pretty nice.
Hotel is nicer than any we had in Egypt. It is a welcome change.
Amman is peaceful but lively. People talk to you because they are interested in you. It is refreshing to have people not trying to sell you something or to ask you on a date.
We decide to walk up to the citadel because I read somewhere that the Dead Sea scrolls were on display (we later learn those were moved to the Jordan museum). Very disappointed about that mistake but the museum did have a couple of cool things.
Roman Temple of Hercules
Also on the hill is a temple built during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
We also see other ruins at the top.
Soon it is time to meet with our tour leader. After a brief meeting he takes us on a quick food tour of the area.
We stop first at Habibah Sweets and try some kunafa (one of my favorites) and something else similar.
Soon we are taken to the fruit market. We pick up some snacks for our journeys the next couple days.
Have I said how much I love visiting local food markets?
Soon we say goodnight to our guide the group splits up to grab dinner. I decide to join the girls who are going to get falafel. It is a good choice because it is probably the best falafel I’ve ever had.
Hashem Restaurant Down Town
Then it is off to bed. We head to the desert tomorrow.