PETRA BY NIGHT – Yes or No?
What Is it? Should You Go?
Visiting and exploring Petra is high on many people’s Travel Bucket List. (If you want a bit of background on Petra and information about visiting, check out our recent articles: PETRA – THE LOST CITY, PLANNING A VISIT TO PETRA, WALKING THE SIQ, HIKE TO THE TREASURY OVERLOOK. Petra is a spectacular and huge archeological site located in Southern Jordan. Visitors can spend several days exploring the monuments, streets and sites in Petra and still not see all of Petra’s nooks and crannies. But did you know that you can also visit Petra By Night? True. It’s possible. Visiting Petra By Night is a very different experience from the regular daytime exploration. Some visitors love the nighttime visit – others – not so much. It’s a personal decision. What is it and should you go?
PETRA BY NIGHT – THE TICKET – PETRA BY NIGHT is a special ticket experience. It is NOT included in the standard Petra entrance ticket. You must, however, have a valid daytime Petra ticket in order to purchase the Petra By Night ticket. The standard daytime entrance ticket price is 50 Jordanian Dinar / @ $70.00 U.S. You must leave Petra before dark at the end of your daytime visit. If you want to re-enter Petra for the Petra By Night experience you will have to buy another nighttime ticket. The Petra By Night Ticket price is 17 Jordanian Dinar / @ $25.00 U.S.
PETRA BY NIGHT – THE SCHEDULE – The Petra By Night experience is offered each week on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Entrance to the Petra by Night experience begins at 20:30 in the evening when gates open at the Visitor’s Center. The experience lasts for around 2 hours including time walking into and out of Petra.
PETRA BY NIGHT – THE EXPERIENCE – Gates open at 20:30 (8:30 pm). Visitors to the Petra By Night Experience enter the site in darkness, walking down a dark gravel and cobblestone pathway approximately 2 km / 1.25 miles, through the wide area of the Bab Al Siq and then the narrow and winding canyon pathway of the Siq. At the end of the Siq visitors emerge into the plaza area in front of Petra’s Treasury monument. The pathway is dimly lit by candles (often referred to as luminaries in the American Southwest) which are placed along the way. The walk is somewhat downhill entering Petra and uphill when exiting. The walk takes about 30 minutes depending on your pace and ability to navigate in a dark environment.
Your Petra By Night event will not be a quiet or solitary experience. The size of the crowd attending obviously varies from one night to another. But this is a very popular activity and many people take part. This is not a quiet and spiritual night under the stars in Petra. You will be walking with many others, sitting with many others, and listening to and seeing many others as they talk, laugh, take photos, etc. It’s not a loud experience but neither is it a quiet or solitary experience. It can be crowded and full of distractions.
Photographically, the Petra By Night Experience is a challenge. This is a Night Experience after all. It is very dark, it is crowded and the setting is not really conducive to working with a tripod. And again, there are lots of people. If you have visions of getting that National Geographic shot of the illuminated Treasury building without loads of tourists moving in the foreground – well – good luck. Your best chance to get something memorable is to arrive at the entrance at the visitor center early so you can be one of the first to enter. Then hustle down the path to the Treasury and get your shot. Even then you will not be alone.
Great Travel Flashlights – For Those Walks In The Dark
As visitors complete the entrance walk downward into Petra they emerge from the Siq into the plaza in front of The Treasury. It is truly a striking and impressive site. The plaza area is covered with matts / rugs and is again lit by lines of luminaries. It’s reported that 1,500 candles light the walkways and the ground level at the plaza as The Treasury towers upward into the darkness. Visitors are asked to take a seat on the rugs on the ground. Some find a place on walls at the foot of the Treasury. Slowly the plaza fills with visitors and small cups of sweet tea are served. There is not much in the way of any program or presentation. Visitors look around, gaze upward at the stars and take photos. Eventually a flute player briefly offers soft music which can be faintly heard somewhere off in the distance. A speaker recites something. Unfortunately, without any amplification, the words are essentially lost in the large open space. It’s not even clear what language is being spoken.
And then, at the very end of your time in Petra By Night, the Treasury is suddenly bathed in colored lights. It’s the first time in the night that you can actually see the upper portions of the Treasury. It is a bit breath taking. The crowd applauds. Thousands of photos are taken. The colors rotate and evolve for several minutes. And then……..everyone turns and starts the dark, 30 plus minute walk back up and out of Petra. The time – @ 22:30 (10:30 pm).
PETRA BY NIGHT – THOUGHTS & TIPS: Petra By Night is a bit expensive. It’s a long walk in the dark with not much happening once you arrive. But this is Petra! Travelers come a long way to visit – so do you really want to miss it? Why not see all that Petra has to offer? You’ll hear that some love it and others hate it. How did I feel about it? Well, I wasn’t overwhelmed. It was “interesting.” But I’m glad I went. And in all honesty – if I returned to Petra I would not do Petra By Night again. Once is enough. Let me share a few “tips” which might help improve your experience if you make the journey.
- Do Petra By Night First: I had been told, and I agree, Petra By Night is a better experience if it is your first exposure to Petra. Viewing The Treasury at night is an inspiring first impression of this World Heritage Site. If your schedule allows, see Petra By Night the evening before you actually go into Petra for your daytime visit(s). It’s a good, brief and rather shadowy and mysterious introduction to the Petra experience. When you subsequently visit during the daytime you will be able to see the path, the Siq and the Treasury in all their detail – adding to your initial candle-lit impressions. Please note – you will need to purchase your daytime Petra admission ticket in advance in order to purchase the Petra By Night ticket. The visitor center is open to sell advanced daytime tickets from 19.30-20.30.
- Wear Good, Sturdy Walking Shoes: The pathway to the Treasury is gravel and cobblestone making the footing uncertain at best. The tricky footing situation is only exacerbated by walking the candle-lit path in the dark.
- Take A Flashlight / Torch: Yes, it’s dark – more so in some places than others. When you find yourself walking through those dark places you’ll be glad you brought along a bit of light.
- Photographers – Go Early: If you want to get photos without too many people – if you want to be able to move about in the plaza to get different photographic views and angles – try to be one of the first to arrive at the Treasury.
- Take Some Water: This is always a good idea when traveling – especially in desert areas or areas where the local water is questionable.
- Consider Taking Headphones & Music: It’s not a quiet event. In general the visitors tend to be quiet and avoid overly loud sounds. But with so many people sitting in close proximity at the Treasury there are sounds and voices which range in volume and intensity but are always present. All the commotion can be a bit distracting from what could be a rather beautiful and serene experience. It might be nice to lean back, stare up at the Treasury and the Jordanian stars for a bit while listening to some of your favorite meditation tunes.
- Get More Information On-Line: Visit – www.visitpetra.jo – for more information.
So there you have it. Petra By Night – Yes or No?
It’s up to you. Enjoy!
Read more about the Fabled City of Petra in these companion articles by Travel And Photo Today.com : Petra – The Lost City, Planning A Visit To Petra, Walking The Siq – Petra and Hike To The Treasury Overlook
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