Petra, Little Petra, Jordan, rock formations, canyons

Sometimes you just want to get from A to B as quickly as possible, but there are times when taking the long way, however more tiring, will provide you with some of life’s greatest adventures. Despite the exhaustion and dehydration and crawling on hands and knees to escape falling hundreds of feet down crumbling cliff faces.

Taking the back route through Petra is without doubt more satisfying that striding into the wake of other tourists via the main entrance. The lesser known entrance takes you first into Little Petra, a place where the local Bedouins claim “If you haven’t been to Little Petra, then you haven’t been to Petra at all”. And as I walked through a passage that led to stairs, monuments, tombs, water cisterns and caves carved into grand canyons surrounded by nothing but the sound of sand beneath my feet, I knew following the advice of these locals was going to be the best part of my trip to Jordan.

Tomb in Little Petra, cave, rocks, jordan
Of all the wondrous areas within Petra and Little Petra that are free for the public, there is only one area protected from the public; a fresco painted by the Nabataeans over 2000 years ago. What makes this extremely valuable is that it is the only surviving example of Nabataen intricate painting left in the world. Unfortunately it is now almost entirely destroyed by a fire and natural weathering. Little can be seen of the fresco except a few grape vines, various birds and cherubic figures, but it is a reminder of how the Nabataeans created such a culturally rich and sophisticated civilisation.

Fresco in Little Petra, Nabatean art work

Following Little Petra, my friends and I set our sights for Ad-Deir in Petra, popularly known as the Monastery and the second most popular attraction after the Treasury. The distance between the two places takes approximately 3.5 hours by foot, and a guide is needed because without, the inevitability of getting lost in this vast landscape is almost guaranteed. You’re only a speck of dust in a terrain full of craggy mountain tops and barren land that stretches as far as the eye can see, so you really don’t want to get lost, especially with limited water supply and the sun’s rays strobing down onto you

Surrounded by craggy conyons, rock formations Little Petra, desert, Jordan
After we exited Little Petra, we followed the desire lines around that led us onto a faint trail that leads through to the Bayda Neolithic Village which is supposed to be the oldest village in the world dating back 7000BC.  Archaeologists have determined that they cultivated barley and emmer wheat, and hunted goats in an early form of domestication. The latter of which is still prevalent as a source of income for the Bedouin people.
Goat herder in Petra, rock formations

Goats, goat herder in Little Petra, Petra, Jordan
As we carried on, there was not a soul in sight, and we felt privileged to have one of the world’s New Seven Wonders of the World at our feet. We danced around and shouted in exultation and heard nothing but the replies of our echoes, and knew an opportunity like this would not come around again.
Trekking though Little Petra, Monastery, trek, jordan, hiking

Petra landscape, desert, rock formations

rock formations Little Petra, trekking little petra, canyons

Trekking through Little Petra, Jordan, desert

Climbing Mountain cliffs in Petra, Little Petra, Jordan, trekking

Notice how my friends are scrambling on the ‘easier’ route, whilst our guide casually walks along the thread bare cliff!
Following our guide, we ventured down pathways that fell loose beneath our weight, and held onto jagged mountain faces as we climbed across paper narrow routes that opened onto sheer drops. But as the Monastery emerged from behind a canyon, our feet were instantly relinquished from tiredness and all our senses became completely captivated by Petra’s most colossal vision.

Monastery in Petra, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Seven World of the World

The Monastery begins to appear before us…

The Monastery in Petra, new seventh Wonder of the World, UNESCO

Would you like to trek from Little Petra to the Monastery?

A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.


  1. September 24, 2012 @ 9:25 pm sibarber

    Fascinating article. Thanks. S


    • September 27, 2012 @ 9:44 pm admin

      Thank you Si! It’s a fascinating place to explore!


  2. September 25, 2012 @ 11:50 am Engaging Cultures

    Great to see you took the back in to Petra! Isn’t amazing. For the adventurer that is our favorite way to enter Petra.

    Thanks for sharing your story.



    • September 27, 2012 @ 9:48 pm admin

      Hello Daniel! I entered the front and back entrance of Petra, and the back was definitely my favourite way to explore such an unimaginable place!


  3. November 15, 2012 @ 12:13 pm arielle

    I’ve always wanted to visit Petra but you’ve just now added an additional reason to go! I absolutely love going off the beaten path- what an adventure! You must have felt a little bit like Indiana jones, am I right? haha


    • November 16, 2012 @ 8:16 pm admin

      Haha I definitely got into the Indiana Jones spirit! The album I recreated on my facebook was called The Indiana Jones Adventures! I hope you make it to Jordan soon – so many people resist going because they think it’s embroiled in the Arab Springs conflict, but it really is a place of calmness amongst the storm.., and with fewer people going its not uncommon to feel like you have the whole of Petra completely to yourself!


  4. January 1, 2013 @ 5:42 am Sina

    Hey, thank you very much for all the information. I am a bit confused about the way you are dressed on the pictures. Is it ok to wear shorts around Petra?


    • January 4, 2013 @ 7:51 pm admin

      Hello Sina, I too had reservations about what to wear before going to somewhere like Petra, but it is fine to wear shorts – just ensure that they are loose, practical, and obviously still an appropriate length. The places where you should wear clothing beneath the knee are Madaba because its a very religious city, and Wadi Rum because it sees less tourists than Petra.

      On a whole, the ‘no no’ to dressing etiquette applies mainly to the exposure of shoulders and chest – they’ve got to be kept under wraps! But arms and a bit of leg is ok 😀

      If you want more information on what to wear in Jordan, I wrote this article that will give you a better insight:

      I hope this helps 🙂


  5. February 5, 2013 @ 9:49 am Dress Like a Bedouin (AKA What to Wear in Jordan)

    […] I was in Petra a Bedouin showed me how people created make-up from the earth’s ground; he showed us the stones […]


  6. February 5, 2013 @ 9:53 am The Perks of Living in a Cave in Petra

    […] government relocated its cave dwellers to a nearby village two kilometres away and shortly after Petra was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The people who relocated – the Bedul tribe – […]


  7. May 17, 2013 @ 6:15 am Mike | Earthdrifter

    Very nice photos and descriptions. If I ever make it there I’ll know to take the back route. I wonder if it was ridiculously hot there that time of year?


  8. November 18, 2013 @ 10:09 am Wallas

    Great article and a beautiful girl!
    Congratulations and keep sharing these wonders!



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