Here at Road Warrior, we often have the opportunity to take whirlwind tours while we are traveling overseas. Part of the problem that we often encounter is that we want to see everything we possibly can, but with very limited time! We have seen the very historic city of Beijing, China, in just under 24 hours http://rwarrior.com/beijing-in-24-hours-why-not/ and we have even toured beautiful Buenos Aires, Argentina in just over a day! http://rwarrior.com/ba-in-a-day-our-top-picks-for-a-day-in-buenos-aires/
So with only 24 hours and the opportunity to travel through the Kingdom of Jordan…we figured, why not!
First, a little bit of background on the Kingdom of Jordan. Jordan is a small country of about 6.5 million people located between Saudi Arabia (to the southeast), Iraq (to the northeast), Syria (to the north) and Israel/Palestine to the west. The (very, very salty!) Dead Sea is shared between Israel and Jordan. It is an emerging market, considered a free economy that has a relatively strong infrastructure, although according to some estimates, around 13 percent of the population lives on less than the equivalent of US$3 per day.
When we decided to travel through Jordan in 24 hours, we realized that this would be a difficult task, as there were more than a couple of things that we really wanted to see. Without question, the historic archaeological city of Petra was tops on our list. Who could visit Jordan and not see Petra? After all, it is one of the most amazing and precious UNESCO World Heritage sites! But we also wanted to tour Amman and see some of the attractions of the capital city, including the Roman Theater ruins which look amazing! Unfortunately, we realized that this would be impossible if we wanted to make a trip to Petra.
To get to Petra, it takes around 4 hours to drive from the capital of Amman in the northern part of Jordan (or more, depending on the route you take — the scenic route is longer) and around 2.5 hours from Aqaba in the south. We were taking the trip from Aqaba, and needed to return back to this border city, so it was impossible to see both Petra and Amman in a 24-hour period.
View of some of the excavations at Petra
Believe it or not, today Petra is under threat from many factors, including erosion due to flooding caused by improper drainage of rainwater, weathering of the architecture, and improper restoration of various sites. It has often been criticized for unsustainable tourism and some fear the deterioration of the majestic buildings.
More buildings at Petra
Mosaics at Petra
More mosaics at Petra
Description of the mosaics at Petra
Much of the landscape is composed of redish-brown sandstone in mountainous terrain. The eastern entrance of Petra is one of the most impressive as it leads down a steep passage through this limestone which sometimes becomes very narrow (and is known as the “siq” or the shaft) while the sandstone towers on either side high above. The signature photograph that represents Petra is of the “Al Khazeneh”, or the Treasury building at Petra, which can be seen between two large walls of rock. In person, this probably was one of the most spectacular things we have ever seen…just amazing, and we were blown away!
View of the Treasury building through a path that extends between the Siq (“the shaft”)