p e t r a

IMG_1423to top off our holy land trip, we crossed the border from israel into jordan and spent two days at petra, one of the true wonders of the world.

petra is just dang cool. i loved exploring there nine years ago and i loved exploring there with ian. it is just incredible to think of the civilization that thrived in this beautiful, unique place so many, many years ago and to take in the (mostly amazingly well-preserved) ruins, carved right out of the technicolor earth. we had fantastic weather, enjoyed several spectacular hikes, were mesmerized by the magic of the hundreds of candles at “petra by night,” stayed overnight at the most fantastic bedouin camp, scrambled among ancient history, met new friends from all over the world, and were amused by the ubiquitous camels :)

some (okay, a lot of) photos from our petra adventures after the jump…

^^ we caught a taxi from the israel/jordan border to wadi musa, the town in the hills above petra. our taxi driver insisted we pull over at this lookout point before we headed down through those rock formations to see a wonder of the world. ^^
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^^ after buying tickets at the entrance to petra, visitors walk down the narrow canyon (the “siq”) for a couple of kilometers until the red rock walls open up to reveal the most famous of petra’s facades, the iconic treasury. there are ancient buildings hewn out of rock and gorgeous sights of desert nature (so similar to the landscape of southern utah that is familiar to us!) along the way. there’s also an ancient pipeline carved out of the rock with a gentle slope, which brought water to petra’s inhabitants way back in the day (you can see it on the left side of the picture on the right above.) ^^
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^^ when the canyon gives way to views of the treasury, it’s pretty breathtaking. and yes, the indiana jones theme song really starts playing in one’s mind! ^^
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^^ clearly i couldn’t get enough of photographing the camels at the treasury. such funny (and photogenic!) creatures! ^^
^^ a little thousands-of-years-old neighborhood carved out of the mountainside! and me and baby boy. ^^
^^ i think when most people think of petra, they think of the treasury facade and that’s about it. but petra is huge and there are amazing ancient structures that go on forever! when i came to petra as a student, we only had about six hours to explore and i remember running around like crazy trying to see as much as possible. i knew ian would love this place, so we made sure we had most of two whole days to spend there. and we still did not get to everything, or even almost everything! it’s amazing – a whole world nestled into that desert. ^^
^^ the amphitheater. isn’t it so cool with the waves of colour in the rock? ^^
^^ the more prominent/fancy facades are tombs. ^^
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^^ once a main street, bustling with life and activity…and camels and donkeys. now filled with curious tourists…and camels and donkeys! ^^
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^^ on the hike to the monastery, rivaled only by the treasury in grandeur and preservation. it was a good workout and we were lucky that the weather was mild. don’t know what i was thinking wearing my new jerusalem sandals – they certainly got broken in well! ^^
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^^ the monastery. so so cool. ^^
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^^ the detail on this carving is absolutely incredible. so sad that it got graffitied up over the years! ^^
^^ on the way back down from the monastery. ^^
^^ remains of the grand palace. ^^
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^^ there are so, so many local people selling all kinds of things in petra. there are some common phrases that all the sellers use, like “no charge for looking!” “one dinar!” “you want scarf?” “big sale, half off today!” so many keepers of little shops unabashedly pointed out my baby bump and asked if i wanted to buy something for our little one! several also insisted that i would certainly love the boy more if he bought me something – haha! ^^
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^^ i just adore the colourful patterns on these facades! ^^
^^ striking contrast of the old and new, yes?! ^^
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^^ ^^ back at the treasury on our way out after our first day. ^^
^^ where we stayed overnight! the seven wonders bedouin camp. we got there while it was still light (we were picked up at the petra entrance in a big suv and got tousled on the bumpy ride sitting on benches in the back!) and when i came out of our tent right before dinner to see this ^^ i totally gasped. maaaaaagic – lit up pockets of the red rock hill under the glimmering stars! ian picked this place out for where we would stay because he knew it was right up my alley. ^^
^^ we had a yummy traditional meal in a colourful tent at the bedouin camp before we headed back to petra to experience “petra by night.” ^^
^^ three times a week, the siq is lined with candles leading to the treasury. we were a little behind the crowd so we strolled along the enchantingly lit canyon mostly completely on our own. it was maaaaaaaagical. ^^
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^^ especially as we approached the treasury … ^^
^^ … and saw this! musicians played traditional bedouin music and stories of the ancient world were told. i had seen picture of “petra by night” before we left and was so happy we happened to be there on a night of the week when it happens – and it was even more bewitching than i expected! ^^
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^^ day number two in the siq and at the treasury…^^ … and then continuing our exploring…
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^^ we decided to hike to a lookout point where you can see the treasury from above. can you spot the boy in this photo among all the neat nature? ^^
^^ such a cool vantage point!! ^^
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^^ we also hiked up to the “high place of sacrifice,” which afforded more fabulous views over the ancient city…. ^^
^^ and leads to this altar, used for sacrifices so many, many years ago. ^^
^^ the city of wadi musa perched above petra. ^^
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^^ and some last shots at the treasury. because camels! and we had to do our dipping pose (getting a little harder with baby boy involved!) ^^

we crossed back over the border into israel that evening and spent the last night of our trip back in eilat. the next morning we relaxed at the beach and swam in the red sea for a few hours, which was heeeeavenly – it was a perfect, hot day. and then we drove back north to tel aviv to get on our flight home.

it was a really, really, really awesome trip. full of fun and faith, learning and loving – an epic-in-many-different-ways charian adventure.

coming up next/soon: tips for traveling to the holy land!


  1. I didn't know you could go to from Israel to Jordan. I thought you had to do it in reverse because of not being in allowed in because of the passport stamps. Must be a myth.

    1. Israel and Jordan made a peace treaty in 1994, so no problem there. But as far as I know there are a few Arab countries that will deny entry with an Israeli stamp.

  2. Oh my stars! So beautiful and enchanting!

  3. Absolutely incredible. I love the shot of the bedouin musician in the midst of all the lights at night, just beautiful (along with all the other photos).

  4. Okay we need to talk more about Jordan and how kid friendly you think it is...I am talking with a friend about going there now! Not until much later in the year, but this post makes me want to make it happen SO BAD. It looks unbelievable.

  5. Charity,
    Loved the photos of Petra particularly the photos from Petra at night. Looks so magical. If you can get your hands on the book by Marguerite van Geldermalsen titled: Married to a Bedouin you will love it. Marguerite married in the 1970s to a Bedouin who lived in Petra. Her experience of birthing and raising a family in this culture so different from her Dutch background was fascinating! Maybe a great read while you nurse your new baby? So excited for you and Ian. Love from HMB, CA.