Holiday: Jordan – Day 4 (19th April)

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We’re in Jordan for 10 days with great mates, Ralph & Karen. It’s Day 4 and our second (and final) visit to the World Heritage site – Petra. If you missed my ‘Petra – Part 1’ yesterday, click HERE. πŸ‘

Slightly cooler today!

Our Cunning 10-Day Plan!

What you may have missed…

Day 3 – Petra (Part 1)
Day 2 – Kerak Castle
Day 1 – Arrival in Amman
Day 0 – Travel Day

An Early Start

6.40am: Just like yesterday, we planned to arrive at Petra before the crowds – and before the temperature makes it more uncomfortable to walk. Being a Friday, it’s the start of the weekend here in Jordan, and so we expected it, perhaps, to be busier than yesterday. So, first thing’s first, an early breakfast was top of the list. Again, breakfast was deserted (yes, I know we were early!) but we later learned that tourism in Jordan (their main export) is 90% down compared with pre Covid days) ☹️.

Petra – Part 2

7.40am: With breakfast sorted, we took the short walk to the Visitor Centre. Having seen most of the ‘big stuff’ yesterday – the Caves, the Treasury etc and today, Eddie (our Guide for this trip) as planned, took us seriously ‘off-map’ and we headed for The High Place of Sacrifice – another iconic part of the whole Petra experience. We may also visit the Museum that is located just outside (literally) the main Tourist Centre, depending on how we feel afterwards.

The High Place of Sacrifice

Not surprisingly, given the name, the sacrificial area is perched on top of a mountain – the Jebel Madbah Mountain to be precise. Also known as al-Madhbah in Arabic, it was mainly used for the sacrifice of animals to the Nabatean God, Dushara. At 170 metres high, and around 800 metres above sea level, the High Place of Sacrifice is one of the tallest locations in Petra. Good walking shoes were the order of the day – and as we were to find out, additionally, some skills in mountaineering too! Well, maybe not quite, but it was to be a toughy, especially for us two! More about that later.

Take the next left!

7.45am: We passed through the usual entrance to Petra just as we’d done yesterday, but after about 10 minutes, instead of carrying straight on, we took a hard left. Initially, it followed the Al Madras Trail (see the map, earlier), but then went a bit ‘experimental’ πŸ€”. That was the last we’d see of civilisation for some time today!

On the way up!

7.54am: OK, it was official! After leaving the ‘main’ route, we were now heading in the direction of the top of a mountain. That’s a first for us two. At this stage, wide-eyed and enthusiastic about the journey ahead easily displaced any apprehension and information such as ‘How far is it?’ and ‘How long will it take?’ (Answers at the end!). Ahh, the gift of hindsight! 😳

8.02am: It was only just after 8am, but the Sun was up and the views were as stunning as ever.

8.05am: We were now ascending at some pace and I think it was at that point, we began to notice how ‘varied’ the ground beneath us was! There was soft rock, hard rock, coloured rock, slippery rock and plenty of pebbles doing their best to make the walking even more difficult. On the plus-side you’ll find the pathways mostly edged in brick to ensure tourists don’t walk off the edge of a cliff – as it’s not good for business! I say ‘mostly’ as on (just) a few occasions, our faithful Guide, Eddie, led us to a dead end or an area blocked by a recent landslide. Oh, what fun! πŸ˜ƒ

It made sense not to look down too often, but we couldn’t resist it. It was a long way down – and we’d only been walking for less than 30 minutes! Pass the oxygen! πŸ₯΄

I think our nervousness about how high up we were, gave way to enjoying the beautiful views above and around us! Just like yesterday, the sandstone didn’t disappoint in terms of appearance, where the rising Sun just added to the overall impact!

9.02am: I think it was about now, we were seriously wondering how long our journey would be. Eddie kept us in suspense and we ploughed on. πŸ€”

But I think when he pointed down and showed us the valley (in the photo above) and that we still had to journey through that, we realised this was going to be longer than we imagined! Luckily, at this stage, I think our DNA was turning us into mountain goats, and we began to make good progress. The surface was still very uneven and sometimes slippery demonstrating that this wasn’t a terrain that welcomed flip-flops or any form of casual footwear! On a more serious note, this really is only a route for those who are pretty mobile – and we were all feeling it! 😳

9.13am: An hour(ish) into our ‘adventure’ and the ‘goat DNA’ doing its thing, we were actually beginning to almost enjoy it. We were still occasionally missing our step, slipping when we should have been striding, but mostly looking ahead, attempting to see where it was all leading. Sadly, still no sign of a sacrificial altar!

9.19am: We reached the highest point and Eddie confirmed that we were now close! πŸ‘πŸ‘. You could probably hear the sense of relief back in Kettering!! πŸ˜“πŸ˜“

9.39am: We scrambled on, meeting a few other weary travellers along the way, and all of them as eager as us to reach the destination (or at least somewhere to sit down!). After another 30 minutes or so – at last a sign! Literally! Pointing us to the Altar of High Sacrifice. Proper (ish) steps too! This was all looking very good.

9.50am: We were almost there.

9.55am: πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ We made it! The High Place of Sacrifice was before us! Perhaps, after such a challenging journey getting here, it all feel a bit underwhelming (or is that just me? Oh, OK!), but at least we’d made it! Today’s top tip? Eddie reminded us NOT to lie on the Altar. 😳

If you look closer, what WAS memorable was the view of the city of Petra from the summit. After soaking up the vista, we made our descent. Luckily, it wasn’t a case of ‘the journey in reverse’ πŸ₯΄. Eddie helpfully pointed us to a more direct way down – and a reminder of the promise of a coffee shop too!

It was a long, long (LONG!) twisty and steep descent, but that promise of a drink, spurred us on. Again, watch your step – it was treacherous! πŸ˜₯

10.37am: Finally, we could see the main route through Petra below – and that coffee shop! (just visible in front of the rocks, front right).

We settled in for drinks (but defied the request in the shop name!). What a relief – and no injuries and no-one fell over. With our thirsts quenched, we reflected on the journey just gone. Yes, as I mentioned earlier, a bit of a struggle for both of us whilst Ralph & Karen took it in their stride (literally!)

11.10am: Having walked/climbed and slipped more than 16000 steps over a distance of 12 kilometres, this was all very pleasing – and it was still only just after 11am! πŸ‘. We’d taken nearly two hours, 20 minutes to cover the distance, and I’m the first to admit that it was the toughest piece of ‘walking’ I’ve ever done. Not so much the distance covered (although that was a record in one go for me) but more the ever-changing quality of the terrain. 😬

11.50am: We jumped aboard the free shuttle bus and headed back towards the Visitor Centre. We decided that we’d take a quick look around the Petra Museum. Eddie had mentioned it was quite small, but worth a look. We liked it for its free entry and especially the air-conditioning!

Despite its diminutive size, there was plenty to see. Personally, I was so exhausted, I don’t think I did it justice, but it ticked a box.

1.03pm: We were all cultured out by now, but more importantly, all that mountain air had given us an appetite! We had Pizza in mind!

Located around halfway between the Visitor Centre and our Hotel was the Mystic Pizza Restaurant. Service was swift and the food hit the mark – job done!

1.45pm: All that was left to do now was to take our obligatory siesta in preparation for meeting Eddie tonight for our evening meal.

7.01pm: Tonight, we’re going oriental and Eddie took us to the appropriately titled ‘The Oriental’. We were expecting Chinese food, instead, we enjoyed 100% Jordanian, including the obligatory Camel Kebab – yes, really! πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

Tomorrow it’s a trip to The Darna BioSphere Reserve (where more walking is promised!) 😳. It’s Jordan’s largest Nature Reserve, founded in 1989.

10.00pm: ‘Knackered’ doesn’t begin to describe it. Sleep well… I’m pretty sure I will! πŸ‘πŸ˜΄

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