Travel Spotlight: Petra, Jordan In The Footsteps Of Indiana Jones

(RTTNews) – When travel addicts get together, talk inevitably turns to the ‘bucket list’ of places we need to go before we die.

For the truly intrepid, far-flung places like Antarctica or the steppes of Mongolia beckon. Foodies might spend their final night in an obscure village in Provence for the perfect brioche, and thrill-seekers have the Matterhorn or the Congo River rapids on their radar.

But there is one destination that seems to draw a wistful sigh from all types of travelers.

We were with Harrison Ford when Indian Jones finally found the Holy Grail inside the Khaznat al-Faron at the ancient city of Petra, and we want to go back.

The archaeological city in Jordan, famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system, is no Hollywood sound stage. Once-forgotten Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage sight, attracts up to 6,000 visitors a day.

Its an adventure just getting to Petra, but well worth any expense to wander around in awe of the city’s otherworldly colors and crevices.

While other historical sites have been sullied by often well-intentioned developers, Petra remains, as poet Dean Burgen wrote, “a rose-red city half as old as time.”

Carved into sheer rock face by the Nabataeans more than two thousand years ago, Petra was a important stop on the silk and spice routes that linked China and India with Greece and Rome.

Al-Khazneh, the ancient city’s treasury, provides a breathtaking first glimpse when trekkers emerge from the narrow Siq gorge. The Nabataeans also built a 3,000-seat Roman-style theatre, obelisks, temples, and tombs.

Two museums help tell the story of the industrious Arab people that settled Petra, and of Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, the Swiss traveler who tricked his way into the fiercely guarded site in 1812.

Most of the foreign visitors to Petra arrive in Amman, Jordan’s cosmopolitan capital city three hours to the north. Day trips with an English-speaking guide can be arranged through Alpha Daily Tours (www.alphadt.com).

Another tour operator, JETT, operates of fleet of air-conditioned coaches that leave at 6:30 am ET each morning from Abdali Station.

Some will find that one day is not nearly enough time to explore Petra. For those hoping to tool around at a slower pace, the best bet is to rent a car in Amman and follow the well-posted tourist road to one of the hotels in the town of Wadi Musa, just outside the Peta site.

Budget travelers will drool over the Petra Sella Hotel (rates start at around US$50 a night). Reviewers rave about the hotel’s quiet location and outstanding service.

For those with more to spend, splurge for a few nights at the superb Moevenpick Resort, just minutes from the entrance to Petra. This gem, operated by a Swiss hotel chain, has an oriental flair with an exciting combination of natural stone, handcrafted wood and luxurious Middle Eastern fabrics and textures.

Jordanians are world renowned for their hospitality, and visitors from the U.S. will find practically none of the hostility that might be felt in other parts of the Middle East.

Turkish Airlines offers one-stop service from New York’s JFK Airport to Amman for $920 r/t, all taxes included. Royal Jordanian Air has non-stop flights from Chicago, about 12 hours, for just over $1000 r/t, including tax.

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Category: Travel Tip @ Petra