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Petra Hiking and Geology

Petra geology and it’s unique nature combined with the man made rock cut facades add special taste to Petra tours and hiking trails in Petra

Petra location at the rim of Jordan rift valley the south eastern rim of the valley had big influence upon Petra geology, the ancient city spread out over more than 150 square kilometers, connected with Dana in the north and Masoudah, Arajif, Al Humaimah and Wadi Rum area in the south, the entire region   from Dana to Petra until Wadi Rum is located within sandstone mountains range at the southeastern rim of Jordan Rift Valley with around 90 km’s long from north to south and 10 – 15 km’s width from west to east,those mountains are part of Sa’eer mountains which extend further to the south in the Arabian peninsula and Saudi Arabia, they were referred as Edom mountains in the bible, they are rich with water springs and desert wildlife, at the top to the east stand Jibal Asharah a sedimentary limestone mountains with some sand stone buckets, where as igneous rocks, granite mountains and sand dunes in Wadi Arava  lay down to the west.

weathering factors added their contribution forming thousands of natural shapes and gorges among the sandstone there, the Siq (the narrow gorge leading to Petra city center) which was the official entrance to the city center during the Nabateans period is clear example of water erosion, in addition to the multi-colors layers of the sandstone, more than 10 different colors can be easily noticed and sometimes at one rock in smooth random layout those colors were formed as a result of the minerals content within the sandstone where, yellow, blue and the most common color red are the main colors formed because of the magnesium, cobalt and iron oxide content respectively in the sandstone.

The natural variation of Petra region rocks & effect of erosion beside the natural colors added unique value to the beauty of the Nabatean monuments in unique frame that might not be seen somewhere else rather Petra, there are many ancient cities and monuments everywhere on the planet, thousands of sandstone mountains too, the combination of such a colorful ridge of mountains embrace such an ancient city where most of the monuments are cut out of those mountains is unexpected.

​Some popular treks in Petra:

​the ancient city of Petra is accessible from any direction, all the mountains in Petra are accessible with out need to climber too,  it’s weather and season beside your knowledge of those routes which determines which path to go beside topography, it’s always recommended to be accompanied with a friend or guide while exploring this region, a list of some of the common mountains and hiking trails in Petra and the area around are displayed below, please remember that the description below is very rough and can’t be used for guidance

  • back road from little Petra to the Monastery overseeing Wadi Aseyag and Wadi Arava, duration is 3 hours 
  • panoramic route from Petra visitor center to the high place of sacrifice (Almadras route) & Wadi Farasa (overseeing the main highlights of Petra from high above), duration is 3 hours
  • Mount Aaron (altitude: 1440 meters ) and the southern part of Petra, from Petra ancient city center the duration is 2 hours one way to the summit
  • Mount Umm Albyarah (altitude: 1250 meters), beautiful and vertical plateau overseeing most of Petra archaeology , duration is 2 – 3 hours walking upstairs from the city center one way to the top
  • Mount Kobteh (altitude: 1150 meters), this mountain is famous with it’s overseeing viewpoint at the treasury, duration to the view point is 1 hour from the royal tombs
  • and always the regular route leading to the ancient city center from the visitors center through the narrow gorge (the siq) 45 min walking, usually people spend there more time than that since it’s unexpected entrance
  • Wadi Almedlem, or the secret way in Petra as called by the local Bedouins of Petra, it begins almost in the same area as the siq entrance turning around mount Khobteh bringing you into Wadi Almtaha, very narrow gorge an hour walking
  • from Wadi aseyag to the Monastery 1 hour walking
  • Umm baben – Baja – Qubor Alwhedat – Shkaret Msaed, and the neolithic villages, long trail almost full day walking to the north of little Petra 
  • Ras slesel – tor mday:  from little Petra 3 hours downhill walking to the west leading to Wadi Araba

Due to the mountains rough geography of Petra many canyons and gorges were formed as a result of gradual water erosion over millions of years; here is some of the beautiful canyons:

  • Wadi Aseyag (where the main water spring in Petra flows), the natural extension of the siq and wadi Mousa, it goes to wadi Arava, full day walking
  • Wadi Almedlem, or the secret way as called by the local Bedouins of Petra, very narrow gorge with some waterfalls, it begins almost in the same area as the siq entrance turning around mount Khobteh bringing you into Wadi Almtaha near the old city center of Petra, an hour walking
  • Wadi Aglat – alfarsh – Wadi abu mrerah: pleasant hiking trail begins from little Petra to the Arava meeting wadi aseyag just few kilometers before the Nabatean caravan station known as (gasr umm ratam), half day walking
  • Wadi Marwan: one of the tributaries to wadi Aseyag, begins from little Petra, short and pleasant canyon overseeing the Arava
  • Almesrah Algarbieh and Ashargieh and Wadi Alkharareb: three short canyons connecting Petra and little Petra together, the canyons are parallel to each others
  • Wadi Namalah: very long canyon extends from little Petra to Wadi Arabah parallel to the main road going to Wadi Arabah from little Petra
  • Wadi Adlaieh from mount Aaron, to the south of wadi Aseyag they almost meet together with wadi Abu Mrerah few kilometers before gasr umm ratam, few hours walking
  • Wadi Abu Khshebah, at the southwestern side of Petra ends in Wadi Arava to the west of Petra, 4 – 5 hours walking
  • Wadi Sabra: beautiful wild with some Nabatean monuments and small old Nabatean theatron in the middle, ends at Masoudeh, half day walking
  • Wadi Altiben: parallel to Wadi Sabra flow in the same direction, meeting at the end
  • Wadi Tajrah: between Wadi Sabra and Wadi Abu Orog meeting them at the end, full day walking
  • Wadi Abu Orog just below Arajif village penetrating the sandstone mountains to ., the veins like colorful stripes are the reason of it’s name, full day walking

The ancient city of Petra receives more than million tourists every year, the city is becoming more popular and desired with time, most of the visitors come from the classical ancient entrance (the Siq) it’s pleasant and beautiful visit, such a visit would not allow exploring more than the classical highlights of the site most of the times and it can be really crowded with visitors especially during busy seasons and weekends. therefore as locals of Petra who had grown up here watching the dramatic increase in visitors numbers we introduced hike Petra tours & stay with the Bedouins in Petra tours; this is part of Wander trace tours organized hiking tours involving Petra combined with one or more of the hiking trails leading to the ancient site beside stay with the Bedouins in Petra tours where you return back each night to your camp in Petra exploring different spots and trails in the ancient city each day, which allows maximum exploration day and night for the site and the ridge of mountains around combining the unique nature and Petra together in a hiking tours for 4—10 hiking days, there are more than one hiking trail from different directions around the ancient site, those hiking trails can be classified among some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, and it’s not crowded at all, the hiking tours are flexible and might be suitable for different ages or families