World's Best Hikes: Petra Through the Back Door, Jordan
By Peter Potterfield
Today's Featured Hike: Dana Reserve to Petra
Round-Trip: 50 miles, 7 days
When to Go: October through April, when desert temperatures relent—a little. Go with Adventure Jordan, the local company that discovered this 50-mile route through the deserts, mountains, and peaks of Jordan.
At the top of an ancient stairway carved into the red rock, the narrow defile leads around a sharp bend, and suddenly you are stopped cold. There stands the exquisite carved façade of Al Deir, better known as the Monastery, perhaps Petra’s grandest monument. And you have it to yourself. To enter the Nabataean city of Petra in a small party at the conclusion of almost a week in the rugged wilds of the Kingdom of Jordan is a far more satisfying arrival than pulling into the parking lot with its idling tour buses ten miles away. That’s what makes the weeklong trek unique.
From the ancient city of Dana, the route leads down to the Feynan Eco-Lodge before crossing the vast arid expanse of Wadi Araba before climbing into the Sharah Mountains past iconic oasis and Bedouin camps toward Petra itself. The off-trail travel through the deserts and mountains can be grueling, exacerbated by the heat, but the hike sets you up to enter Petra in a receptive frame of mind, ready to absorb the mystical qualities of the Rose Red City.
Insider Tip: Do your research before you arrive. Time in the canyon system of Petra is precious, so it’s best to know what you want to see before you arrive. Besides the iconic sites of the Siq, the Treasury and the Monastery are mystical venues, as are the Place of High Sacrifice and the Great Temple.
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Photograph by Heeb, laif/Redux