Jordan is a country filled with beauty, but not tourists. The Middle-Eastern country’s ‘noisy neighbours’ have affected drastically the scale of tourism, meaning that a road trip to Petra we took in 2015 was surreal in its lack of crowds.
I’d visited previously in 2010, and both the reduction in crowds and the increase in price were a surprise. No doubt there is some correlation, but other areas of Jordan were also quiet, and more than one local confided their worries about the future of tourism.
This made travel here all the more special, and I’d like to share with you two ways in which The Treasury, made famous by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, can be seen in an alternative to the usual view.
One of the best things to do at Petra is not actually part of the official ticketed visit. After the site was closed at night time due to the number of unauthorised campers, a regular tourist event was set up to run each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday night, in which the kilometre-long walk to the Treasury is lit up with thousands of candles.
Walking through the narrow gorge known as the Siq by candlelight, glimpsing above the starry sky was magical, especially as we dropped behind the crowd of tourists in order to enjoy the silence of the desert at night.
We heard the entertainment echoing down the crevasse towards us as we approached the opening that holds The Treasury. Traditional music played on a pipe floated through the night air, and as we took a seat to listen we were offered a warming cup of fresh tea.
In between songs on the pipe, we were told folk stories – tales that would have been passed between shepherds during their long nights spent outside.
One thing I’ll never forget was the incessant whistling of somebody’s mobile phone text message alerts. It was a distinctive noise and was really getting on my nerves until I decided that it would serve as a good reminder of the evening. It is true that every time I hear that particular text alert on a train or bus, I’m instantly transported in my imagination to that night under the stars in an ancient desert city!
Another way to see The Treasury in a new way is to change the angle from which you view it! There are several walks available within the sites and on one of the days we visited we chose to take the Al-Kubtha trail.
A couple of hours of trekking up and around the back of the Urn, Silk, and Corinthian Tombs brought us to the Al-Kubtha High Place. From there it was a further walk east, following unofficial spray painted signs, that took us to the most impressive view of the Treasury:
I do hope that if you ever visit Jordan, you’ll make the effort to climb up this trail to catch your own magnificent view of The Treasury. I recommend that you do the walk in the morning in order to catch the sunlight as it hits the carved structure.
Have you ever seen a famous place in an unusual way? Please share your experience in the comments – I’d love to hear your tips!