DAY 12 – SATURDAY, JULY 2:
This morning we got an early start into Petra. Very quickly, we realized why this unbelievable site is one of the seven wonders of the world! The temps this morning were actually perfect, with full sun with afternoon temps in the 80s.
We arrived at the entrance of this red-rose city at about 6:45. Petra represents the heart of the Seir Mountains, Land of Edomites, as mentioned in the Bible. Off to the distance we could see the traditional tomb of Aaron (Numbers 20), the highest in Petra.
We first walked through the Siq (canyon), the main entrance into Petra. We were the very first people into the site too, claiming Petra “all to ourselves.” With high cliffs on both sides, the Siq winds down to the first monument “The Treasury” or “Al-Khazneh.” This well-preserved monumental tomb appears in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” It served as the tomb of Aretas III, a Nabataean king (2 Cor. 11 mentions Aretas IV). We were all amazed at how well preserved it is even after more than 2,000 years.
From here the site really begins. We walked further down through the site with all of its tombs and burial chamber to one of the largest theaters in Jordan. It was a 3000-seat theater from the 1st century carved in the sandstone mountains at the bottom of the High Place. Past the theater high on the cliff was also the Urn Tomb as well as many others. There are a total of about 4,500 tombs here.
When the Romans took over this city in 106 AD, they added their own structures to the site. This included a well-preserved Roman street. We walked down this street in order to access the trail that leads to the Monastery Tomb of Petra. While the climb was uphill, the view of this famous tomb was worth it. Five in the group hiked here. For a viewpoint higher above this tomb, looking west we could look back into the Aravah and Negev of Israel.
Walking back to the Roman street, three in the group took an optional hike up to the High Place. The trails that winds around from the back side is picturesque. The view from the top is even more spectacular. Others in the group who didn’t make this climb enjoyed exploring on their own some of the other royal tombs. Some even rode camels. It was a lot of fun for everyone.
We all walked back out of the site and returned to our hotel by 2 p.m. From here we drove a little over two hours to our deluxe hotel in Aqaba. It was hot here (over 100), but we still enjoyed swimming in the Red Sea and relaxing by one of their three pools. This evening we enjoyed a fabulous buffet dinner located down by the shoreline.
What a great day here in Jordan. We cross back over to Israel tomorrow morning!
DAY 13: SUNDAY, JULY 3: BORDER CROSSING, TIMNAH, BEERSHEBA, AIRPORT, FLIGHT HOME