PETRA….The mythical name immediately make people dream of Indiana Jones, hidden cities, hectic battles, mysterious stories … Can you imagine the surprise of young Swiss explorer Burkhard, when he discovered the city in 1812 ? At the time, Bedouins wanted this place to be kept secret, so Burckhardt was probably the first modern European man to lay eyes on ancient city for almost 700 years. Since then, things have rather changed. More than a million tourists visited Petra in 2019, and the place is becoming congested and is sometimes more crowded than Time Square on a New Year’s eve night. So, here’s a suggestion of a quiet and yet beautiful path : the High Place of Sacrifices and Wadi Farasah.
If you can’t wait to hike on your own in a safe and remote place, without hordes of tourists , if you want to discover unknown tombs and to set foot on secret paths…Then consider to hike wadi Farasah !
What is the High Place of Sacrifices ?
As its name suggests, it was one of the sacred places of Petra where sacrifices of animals were made (no human sacrifices, we promise ! ). The place was guarded by the monks and dominated the whole city. On its top were carved many channels. It appears that they were intended to channel the water , and not the blood of the human sacrifices. Pay a visit to the northern end of the platform to reach the nicest coffeeshop of Petra. Sit down on a bedouin carpet… Now you can chill out and have a tea or a cold drink, just enjoying the scenic view of the valley (and the hordes of tourists) 200 meters below your feet.
How to get there ?
The easiest way to reach the High Place of Petra’s sacrifices is to enter through the main entrance and descend the Siq towards the Khazneh (or Treasury), then continue on the main road and climb the stairs that go left (south) before the Great Roman Theatre of Petra.
The path is well maintained and pleasant : most of the steps are plainly carved into the sandstone cliff. Once at the top, you will stand in front of large obelisks that have the particularity of having been carved in the rock.
Take a right in front of the obelisks, and just climb the final staircase to reach the High Place of Sacrifice : you are almost done ! 🙂
You will also notice a massive stone ruin near the High Place: it is a vestige of an old Crusader castle. To learn more about this episode , read our « Word of the Month » article on the Crusades in Jordan.
So…What about Wadi Farasah then ?
Retrace your steps to the obelisks, and take the path straight to the obelisks and then to the right . Wadi Farasah is indicated many times on the signs, so you can feel confident, even if the spot will be likely be deserted at your arrival .
The path is easy to follow and will enable you to discover amazing viewpoints and beautiful tombs. You will also encounter water retention systems. Thanks to the mastery of water management techniques, the Nabataeans dominated the region for more than 500 years.
Amongst the numerous marvels of the valley, one can mention the tomb in the Garden , located shortly after the fountain in the form of a lion. You will notice the cistern just before the tomb in the garden. Further down, you can admire the tomb of the Nabataean soldier, recognizable by his statues on the façade. Then, on the right, you will discover the 14 tombs of the Renaissance tomb. Walk down the path and aim for the isolated column also called « pharaoh’s column ».
From then , return to the main road (colonnaded street ), by passing to the left of the great temple. Then, walk down to end of the trail ( Qasr Al Bint ). From here, you can end your visit , walking a loop that will lead you in front of the royal tombs . It is even nicer during the afternoon . because they are exposed to the rays of the sun.
Once again, the colors of the rocks of Petra will dazzle your senses..
Take aways ?
- You wish to continue the discovery of Petra? Then disciver with us another nice itinerary : Petra by the back way…or how toreach the Monastery, by avoiding hordes of tourists ! 🙂
- And more info for your visit to Petra on the new official website of Petra visitpetra.jo . This site is interesting and user-friendly, However , it is rather incomplete when it comes to provide information on the itineraries.