It took approximately 2 hours to drive to Petra, approximately 80 miles from the port. There was a short stop for restrooms and to take advantage of the store where the restrooms were. The prices seem awfully high;it was mostly typical souvenir stuff. Once we arrived in Petra, the bus parked in the parking lot and we walked down through the gate past the Visitor’s Center along a gravel road toward some hills and finally into the Siq. a thin split in the mountain almost a mile in length but only 10 to 20 feet in width with walls on either side that rise hundreds of feet to the sky. The colors of the rocks were wonderful. There were many carvings along the path including tombs and niches with carved representation of their gods. When we exited the Siq and had our first glimpse of the Treasury. You first glimpse it through a narrow opening. It is as wonderful as photos make it seem but add in at least 300 tourists, assorted camels and donkeys plus postcard and trinket sellers into the photo if you arrive early in the day. It only adds to the magic. One interesting fact which we had not heard before is that the image of the Treasury everyone knows from the Indiana Jones’ movie is that there is actually another level to it which has been recently discovered. Although you can no longer go inside, you can walk to the area near the steps and look down into an excavation which has uncovered more doors and columns below. From reading a non-fiction book called “Married to a Bedouin”, I learned that the Siq and the areas around the Treasury were subject to frequent flash floods once the first inhabitants, the Nabateans, left the area. The sand and debris left by the floods eventually built up high enough to cover the lowest level.
After a pause for photographs of the incredible Treasury, the camels and even just the tourists, we continued walking until we reached the Royal Tombs and could see many more tombs higher up on the cliff faces in all directions. We also passed a Roman-style amphitheater which held 6,000 people. It was then time to leisurely walk back on our own to the Visitor’s Center and continue about a block farther to a Movenpick hotel nearby for a typical Egyptian buffet lunch. Total distance walked was about 6.5 miles according to a friend's GPS. While the walk to Petra was downhill to the end of the tour at the Royal Tombs, it was uphill to coming back. There were plenty of offers for camel rides back as far as the Treasury and then it was possible to take one horse carriages through the Siq but the asking prices were about $50 for the carriage ride and I had no problem walking. One caution: they tell you a 10 minute, 1 mile horse ride is included from the ticket entrance to the Siq opening but they do not mention that the horse owner expects a $5-10 tip. Not exactly free.
The Movenpick Hotel was immediately next to the gates and everyone from the ship had a nice buffet lunch of Egyptian foods including wine and beer. The tables were arranged very close together so it was warm and crowded. We finished earlier than some and enjoyed time sitting in the airy atrium adjoining the restaurant.
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