A 1000 Steps from Al Khazneh to Ad Deir

by - 6:00 PM

"You want to go ahead?" our Jordanian guide shouted down the path to my friends and me early in the morning.
"Yes!" we shouted back. We were already thirty meters ahead of the group and, with all due respect, we did not want to walk to Petra with these slow people. Sticking with them would definitely ruin our chances of taking any good pictures of Al Khazneh, the legendary Treasury. The place would be crawling with tourists by the time our group would get there. Besides, my friends and I wanted to hike to Ad Deir, the Monastery, and had been told we'd need our time for that.
"Okay, go ahead!" Our guide gave us the green light and we bolted off.

Even though all three of us had been to Petra the night before, when the Treasury was lit up by countless candles just like it is in all the pictures in travel brochures for Jordan, the walk to the rose-red city was every bit as fascinating by day as it had been by night. Now we were able to see all the Nabatean ruins on both sides of the path that led us to the Siq. We discovered something new around every corner. Once inside the Siq, the small gorge that leads to Al Khazneh, our eyes started playing tricks on us. Every weird and odd shape along the walls of the gorge could have been part of a Nabatean structure. We noticed carvings and water basins we'd walked straight past the night before. I took dozens of pictures; every pebble there was interesting by daylight.

After 2 kilometers, we emerged from the Siq and found ourselves in front of the Treasury. It was still quite peaceful; very few tourists had made it to Petra before us. Still, taking a decent picture proved to be a challenge. The sunlight and shadows in the gorge made it difficult to capture the image as beautifully as our eyes did. Since we couldn't get the pictures we wanted, we decided to start walking to Ad Deir right away. That was the moment I discovered Petra was way different from the way I'd imagined it. For the longest time I, like many other people, had thought that the Treasury was Petra. All of it. Even though I knew that to be false at the time of my visit, I still thought the entire city was situated inside small canyons and gorges. This turned out to be false too. Soon after we left the Treasury behind, we entered a huge open plain full of Nabatean ruins. While it was very beautiful, it was also very hot and I burned to a crisp in no time; I hadn't even taken sunscreen with me, as I'd expected to be in shadowy canyons all day...

Though we all agreed that the ruins were gorgeous, we walked briskly past them. Our destination was still far away: first we had to find the right path (quite the challenge with no signs or markers along the route), then climb anywhere between 700 to 1000 steps. Up until the restaurants at the start of the climb, everything went great. The path to the climb was more or less hidden behind a building, so we first doubtingly followed another trail until we saw more tourists and a camel disappear behind the building. We followed them, accompanied by a mule called Erdogan.

The first couple of hundred meters didn't pose any real problem. There were some steps, but most of the trail was level. We strayed from the path once, when we spotted the Lion Triclinium. I still have no idea if we were allowed to leave the path and almost climb up to this ruin, but we did it anyway.
After this slight detour, we continued our way to Ad Deir. Temperatures were rising quickly now. My drinking water disappeared faster than I'd expected. Then we were confronted with the steps. All 700 - or 1000, depending on whom you ask - of them.

We walked mostly in silence as breathing became more difficult. Looking back on it now, it's almost scary: Temperatures rising up to 40 degrees Celsius and no drinking water. Luckily we soon saw little stalls by the side of the track, where we could buy souvenirs and, way more important, water. We took breaks to drink whenever we could find a place that offered some shade. We also used those moments to look around in awe and say: "It sure is beautiful though." I think we said those words a hundred times that day, but they're true: the rock desert around Petra will kill you if you're careless, but it sure is beautiful.

After what felt like hours, hundreds of steps and a few false alarms when we mistook souvenir stalls for our destination, the path finally flattened out. We'd made it to Ad Deir. The climb had been breath-taking, both literally and figuratively, and when we finally made it to the Monastery, we knew it had all been worth it. We found ourselves standing in front of another gorgeous facade. All we said was: "It sure is beautiful though." I enjoyed those moments immensely. Ad Deir isn't as well-known as Al Khazneh, but at least as amazing. There are also way less tourists that visit this monumental ruin, so I could take my time to take it all in. The facade mesmerized me, its far-off and hard to reach location made it even more special.

Eventually we sat down for a cup of tea at the small restaurant opposite Ad Deir. My brain couldn't quite process the beauty of the desert, the ruins, everything. It was still early in the morning. Little did I know that this was still only the beginning of my Nabatean adventures.

To be continued...

x Envy

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12 Fellow Ramblers

  1. Beautiful photographs - that seems like quite a journey! It really makes me want to travel now!

  2. Wow, I'd love to go to Jordan and see Petra, it sounds like something I'd find hard to believe exists even when I'm looking at it. Your journey up those steps sounds incredible but not something I'd be looking forward to! Lucky that the views were worth it. Your photos are beautiful. But next time take lots of water and sunscreen haha!
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

  3. The pictures are amazing! Makes me want to hop on a plane now and get back to my own travel adventures. Thanks for sharing your beautiful journey with us.

  4. I wish I’d done this trek but as by the time we got to Petra on a day trip from Egypt there just wasn’t tome - beautiful photos

  5. Wow, this sounded like an amazing adventure Envy! Your photography is stunning. I've been in a similar situation where I didn't have enough water and it was boiling hot, I'm glad you found some in the end! Thanks for sharing your trip and your amazing photos too <3 xx

    Bexa | www.hellobexa.com

  6. As a fan of new adventures, cultures etc your blogpost has opened my eyes to somewhere I’d never even imagined. Such great pics too, it sounds truly amazing. Happy adventures!

  7. What an adventure! Great description and photos. Have always been interested in going here. I may have to put it on my list...... thank you so much for sharing this!

  8. The above was from me!

  9. The only thing I sort of know about Petra is that it appeared in the Indiana Jones film (I'm sorry, don't hate me!) but I've wanted to go ever since. Your photos are so beautiful, and that must have been the most incredible experience, especially at night time when it was all lit up. Thank you for sharing, Envy :) x

    Lisa | www.lisasnotebook.com

  10. So cool! I've always wanted to go but have stayed away from that side of the world. Thank you for sharing this! More inspiration for me.

    S .x https://samsramblings91.blogspot.com/2018/10/4-email-fails.html

  11. Goodness it looks AMAZING. Your photos are stunning, that view in the 4th picture is breathtaking.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

  12. that is beautiful! wow! that has to be such an incredible experience. thank you for sharing these!


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