Off the beaten track – the best walking trails in Petra

by Carmen Scholten
Walk the best trails in Petra

There are multiple roads that lead to Rome, and just as many that lead towards Petra! For those who are looking to find out more about the best walking trails in Petra, here’s our selection of those walks we enjoyed the most! Some of the routes are up to high mountains, others are part of the countries’ famous Jordan Trail. Over the years we’ve walked our way through Petra.  We hiked up mountains, climbed Nabatean steps and through canyons. Here is our selection of some of the possible hikes you can make in Petra.  

The Siq in Petra, one of the many walking trails you can take inside Petra

The Siq in Petra, one of the many walking trails in Petra

The backroad – an all time favorite walking trail in Petra

One of our all time favorite walking trails in Petra. It starts with either a jeep-ride to the starting place in the area of Little Petra (Beidha) or a walk to the starting point of this hike. This route is part of the Jordan Trail and not without a reason. From this spectacular trail you have fantastic views over the Wadi Araba area.  This hike will take you towards the biggest and best preserved monument of Petra: The Monastery.

Here you can enjoy a cup of tea, coffee or other refreshment from a small restaurant inside a cave with views of the Monastery. Depending on how fast you walk, the hike will take you about 1.5 – 2 hours. Once at the Monastery you will need to head down the 800 Nabatean steps down to the main area of Petra Park. Sounds easy but it can be very heavy on the knees!

Walking trail in Petra: The tip of the Monastery during the backroad to Petra. Photo by Trent Kanemaki

Walking trail in Petra: The tip of the Monastery during the backroad to Petra. Photo by Trent Kanemaki

Jabal al Khubta and Wadi Mataha – Lesser known walking trails in Petra

During this tour, you’ll see the Treasury from your own perspective. First, you will walk along the beautiful royal tombs, where an array of immense and colorful tombs, will be displayed. You follow the road-signs to Jabal Khubta, a big climb high up. But it’s worth it. At the top of this mountain you’ll be able to see the Treasury from above.

When you head back out, you’ll not go towards the Siq but in the other direction via Wadi Mataha. Literally translated from the Bedouin Slang this means the ‘valley where you get lost’. A strange sensation; from the colorful red rock-formations you end up in a completely white cloud-like landscape. Here you hike your way up to the remains of an old fortress, that dates back from the time of the crusaders, another remarkable monument you wouldn’t expect in Petra. From here it’s only a short walk towards the visitors center of Petra.

A stop on the way, photo taken inside the toilets at the main trail in Petra Park

A stop on the way, photo taken inside the toilets at the main trail in Petra Park

Wadi As Sharkiyye – Nabatean Water basins

Another walking trail in Petra. A great way to spend an extra day in Petra is to hike through one of the valleys that lead towards Petra park, starting from the Little Petra area. Wadi As Sharkiyye is a little known trail that actually is a fantastic display of the Nabatean waterworks of the area. After a short hike, you’ll immediately see huge Nabatean Basins filled up with rainwater. During this walk you are able to enjoy incredible colored rock-formations before eventually ending up at the Basin Restaurant. From here you can further explore the main trail and monuments of Petra, for example the Roman street or the recently restored Temple of the Winged Lions. And if you really want to close off your day with something special, then head to the Bdoul village where one of the local ladies has prepared a traditional Bedouin meal for you.

Bedouin meal on the go, photo by Trent Kanemaki

Bedouin meal on the go, photo by Trent Kanemaki

Wadi Abu Ullayqa – riverbed walking trails

There are three big valleys that lead to Petra and Wadi Abu Alluyqa is one of them. This hike starts with a riverbed and depending on the rainfall of last winter the boulders of this hike might be challenging. Throughout the hike you’ll scramble and climb your way through the valley. In spring time you’ll find blooming oleanders as a decor for your hike. One the way you’ll pass one of few Nabatean tombs in Jordan where you can find petroglyphs. This outer valley, another walking trail in Petra that leads to the Petra park will bring you towards the Basin Restaurant or to the service entrance of Petra, where you can head out to Bdoul village.

Wadi Muaysra al Gharbiyye – trail along many tombs!

The Wadi with the difficult name, yet one of the beautiful ones. This route will take you from the Little Petra area to the main area of Petra Park. This one really takes you in the footsteps of the Nabateans. At the start of the hike you will find your way in between big boulders until the canyon narrows. After it opens up again, you’ll be able to find different Nabatean tombs, some are smaller, some are enormous.

At the end of the hike you’ll find yourself walking parallel to the steps up to the Monastery. On top of that exact mountain, look at what you’re walking on. Every year when it rains, Nabatean Pottery appears from the sand! You’re now close to the Petra main trail, you can see it from the mountain you’re standing on. You can either head out via the Siq to the visitors center. Or, you can walk your way back into one of the other valleys and end in Little Petra.

The Royal tombs in Petra, valleys just before, after and on the other side of the mountain are ready to be explored!

The Royal tombs in Petra, valleys just before, after and on the other side of the mountain are ready to be explored! Photo by Trent Kanemaki


Challenge yourself on this walking trail in Petra:

There are many more roads to walk towards Petra. For example, you can walk part of the Jordan trail but start where they normally end. This walking trail will lead you from the Taybeh area towards the main Petra area. A great hike for the real good hikers as you’ll walk through a wonderful yet difficult hiking landscape. On the way you’ll be amazed by the rough landscape, where you most likely find more animals than human kind. Or climb up to one of the high mountains of Petra to get a incredible views over the area.

We at In2Jordan have hiked most of these routes ourselves. This allows us not only to give you advise on how you can have a fantastic time in Petra, we also know how to combine the one with the other canyon in order for you to get the most out of your trip. From local guides to permissions to stay the night in Petra Park, we make it happen. Get in touch with one of our experts! 

Please note that the Petra Park Authority keeps changing the rules and regulations. This is, for example, because of increasing number of tourists to the area and to preserve the monuments. Also, be sure not to hike through these canyons during wintertime or whenever it rains. Flash-floods in Petra are not unknown and make sure you are up to date on weather forecasts. To get the latest updates, please get in touch with one of our experts.  

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