The steps were of varying shapes and sizes, and often there were tens
of metres of slightly uphill walking between each step.
The guide books
said the climb could be achieved in about an hour, and this is correct
although an experienced walker could do it in less. You don't have to
be very fit or very experienced, though some degree or agility and stamina
The ability to say "la shukran" ("no thank
you") is also useful as there are many small souvenir stalls on the
Above: Some choose to make the climb by donkey
Right: Well worth the effort is the sight of
the Monastery - this 50m-square facade carved out of the rock of
The Monastery is even bigger than the Treasury at 50m square, and just
as well preserved. It is a stunning site, particularly in the afternoon
sun. A very welcome sight after climbing this far is a cafe built into
a rock cave; you can sit and rest, rehydrate and take on calories whilst
admiring the fantastic edifice of the Treasury opposite. This is not the top, however,
and a walk of another few hundred metres up a comparatively gentle slope
takes you the the edge of the mountainside which rewards you with a distant
view East towards the River Jordan.
The view East from the mountain top . . .
. . . and the view back down towards the Monastery
The climb down, surprisingly, takes about as long as the upward journey,
perhaps because of fatigue, perhaps because each step has to be taken
more carefully and perhaps because of stops to admire the fantastic views
down into the main part of Petra.
Arriving back at the restaurant, feeling rather smug at being one of
the few members of our party who attempted the climb, I rejoined Julie
who had been practising her Arabic on the waiters. It was now time to
make our way back to the Siq, a distance of about a kilometre uphill.
Julie took a donkey, led by an interesting and well-educated arab whose
English was excellent. I walked. Before leaving Petra, there was enough
time to take some mint tea just opposite the Treasury, and to buy more
Julie returns by donkey to . . .
. . . the entrance to the Siq out of Petra
The return journey through the Siq was even more interesting than the one
early in the day. It was, of course, just as bumpy, but our horse seemed
reluctant to make the whole trip, especially when upward slopes were encountered,
and the buggy slipped backwards several times in an alarming manner. Eventually,
we were delivered back to 'the outside world', a world so different from
the self-contained surreal landscape we had just left. Even one day in Petra leaves an indelible mark on you and we found ourselves
telling our friends that they must go there. And so must you.