Exploring Petra by Donkey

I extended my leg and twirled my toes with a clockwise motion in a lame attempt to put some clear perspective between my foot and the distant ground below.

It was useless. I had no idea how high up I was, I only knew that my legs were dangling over the edge of a cliff and I had nothing to keep me there but the clumsy old donkey that I was sitting on.

I took a deep breath, gripped the small tuft of blankets in front of me and convinced myself that my trusty donkey knew exactly what he was doing. After all, he wouldn’t throw himself off a cliff… would he?

The walk through Petra‘s Siq was just as thrilling as the donkey ride, though it was a thoroughly incomparable type of excitement. It didn’t provide the same sort of heart-pumping adrenaline rush, yet I could hardly contain myself with the aspect of finally laying my eyes on the highly anticipated Treasury itself.

I literally ran ahead of the group I was with, occasionally trying to pause myself to allow them to catch up, but once again hurriedly charging forward like a crazed fan.

The walls of the Siq curved in mesmerizing waves of colour and texture, rising from the narrow dusty floor, opening upward and revealing the vast blue sky in the rocky shapes of abstract trees and birds.

Sky openings reminiscent of a soaring hawk.

Then I saw it.

As my body moved forward, the rocks seemingly opened up like some sort of sandstone vortex, revealing the rosy-hued façade. The opening grew wider with each step until I was standing directly in front of it, with nothing between us but a couple of grumbling camels.

I was finally standing in front of Petra’s Treasury and couldn’t imagine being any happier in that exact moment.

The treasury was worth the trip in itself, but Petra is an immense site that is rich in historical significance and incredible rock-cut architecture.

With only the day to explore, I wanted to see everything, but there was no way I would be able to do it all on foot.

Solution? Hire a donkey.

The first ride took us up to the Monastery. It was a little bumpy and took some getting used to, although compared to the day’s later events, it was a breeze. We nearly bowled over a few pedestrians on the way up, but eventually made it to the top in once piece.

The Monastery was no less than enchanting and totally unexpected. Although I had seen photos of both, I had never managed to pick up on the fact that the Monastery and the Treasury were in fact two separate and very different sites.

I ordered a fresh limonana, leaned back on my chair and admired the colossal monument before descending the mountain on foot.

There were plenty of sites to explore in between, including tombs, temples and amphitheatres.

Along the way we met up with a new troop of donkeys and began the journey to the top of yet another mountain. We had seen photos of the Treasury from above and asked our guides if they could get us to that spot in the quickest way possible. They decided on a route and we were off.

Getting up the mountain was the easy part. We arrived unscathed, embarked on the final hike by foot and marvelled over the sites of Petra from above.

The view was monumentally breathtaking–probably the best of the trip and most certainly one of the most rewarding in my life. However, it is not what made the experience for me. It was the trip back down the mountain that will forever remain in my memories.

Going Down

A voice pulled my wandering thoughts back to reality as I continued twirling my toes above the great nothingness beneath my dangling feet.

“What was that?” I asked.

“I said, this is the most dangerous part”, my guide repeated with a straight face.

I looked down and my eyes grew three sizes.

Before I had a moment to protest, my donkey teetered over the first step and began sliding down the worn sandstone slope, abruptly placing its hooves in impossible succession over each other as it ostensibly plummeted to the open space below.

I was convinced that we weren’t going to stop—surely we would slip on the smooth surface and take the fatal plunge over the ledge. We were moving so quickly that I didn’t really have time to think more about it. I held on tight, leaned back and looked toward the level ground at the bottom.

It was unstable, rough, bumpy and jagged. It was fast, rapid, snappy and rigid. It was uncomfortable, grievous, distressing and dangerous. But—it was ultimately epic in the best way possible.

As we reached the bottom I couldn’t help but smile. I smiled from the rush of adrenaline. I smiled about the inspiring views I had just witnessed first hand  And, I smiled at the fact that I knew I would readily do it all over again in a second.

I also smiled knowing that Liz & Nate were just about to experience that same slippery hill that I had just come down.

Riding a donkey down from the upper viewing ridges of Petra’s Treasury is a slightly terrifying yet fundamentally satisfying journey that absolutely needs to be experienced first hand.

Hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

This trip was made possible by My Jordan Journey.
All thoughts & opinions are my own. 

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9 Responses to “Exploring Petra by Donkey”

  1. Cam @ Traveling Canucks
    May 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Great pics! We hiked up to the lookout point and that was dizzying enough. Can’t imagine it on the back of a donkey!
    We had a similar experience recently on Molokai… I’m not big on donkeys or mules… I found myself hanging on for dear life instead of soaking up the landscapes.
    Cam @ Traveling Canucks recently posted..15 Awesome Miniature Photos from Around the World

    • Seattle
      May 13, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      Haha I tried my best to keep an eye on the view, but you’re right.. it’s pretty difficult. And, as scary as the Molokai ride sounds, I still secretly want to do that one too 😀

  2. Jessa @ Shalom Sweet Home
    May 13, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    This is great! My own particular Petra adventure was on a camel, with a camel driver urging behind and no possible way to steer the thing. The camel was literally stepping over children and seated Bedouins and all but mowing over other tourists. I was yelling, “On your left! Excuse me! Sorry!” the whole time. 🙂 The donkey might be a little closer to the ground, but it sounds just as stressful.
    Jessa @ Shalom Sweet Home recently posted..In the Home the Homemaker Made

    • Seattle
      May 13, 2013 at 11:25 am #

      Oh my god, I couldn’t imagine doing those trails on a camel.. how do they even walk up those steps? haha. I was also yelling at people to get out of the way 😀

  3. Amanda
    May 14, 2013 at 12:55 am #

    It looks and sounds incredible, even with the slightly terrifying donkey ride. I would totally do it, too – what an experience!
    Amanda recently posted..Did You Know? 10 Fun Facts About Pittsburgh

  4. Leah
    June 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Stunning photos, Seattle. You brought back a lot of great memories and showed me some things I missed.
    Leah recently posted..Getting Down & Dirty in Jordan’s Wadi Rum

    • Seattle
      June 17, 2013 at 12:08 am #

      Thanks, Leah! You may have missed the view from above, but I totally envy the shower you got to have that night before dinner, haha.

  5. jack
    August 4, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

    L travel is the best way to relax.


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