Petra Trekking Guide: Which Route is Right for You?

A journey into the ancient Nabataean city of Petra is every traveler's dream. While it’s possible to go the “easy way” through the front gate, there's another, more ancient option for serious adventurists to enter: via the remote desert canyons of the Dana Nature Reserve.


Photo © Jase Wilson

About Petra

Petra was unknown to the western world until Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt was guided into the Rose City by Bedouins in 1812. You can only imagine his astonishment as he emerged from desert canyons into the city. His first sight: the elaborate and towering treasury, one of Petra´s most striking structures.

Today, nearly half a million tourists visit Petra every year via the standard method: the front gate. For those who want a deeper experience a memory to cherish for a lifetime there are better ways to enter the city.

Deep in the canyons of Wadi es Siyyagh, near Petra. Photo credit: Jase Wilson

Petra trekking routes

Multi-day Trek Through Dana Nature Reserve

The biggest and most dramatic trek into Petra takes a 5-7-day itinerary from the north via the Dana Nature Reserve, on ancient pathways, and through remote canyons and valleys.

Tour providers like Experience Jordan or KE adventures offer all-inclusive trips starting around US $1,500. Expect to cover around 11mi/day (18km/day) on rugged trails, for a total over 49mi (80km). Two or three-day variations are possible if jeeps are used.

The Wadi Al Ghuweir canyon is a lush, jaw dropping part of this trail, which can also be trekked alone as a day tour ending at the Feynan camp (

Emerging from Wadi es Siyyagh, near Petra. Photo credit: Jase Wilson

Wadi al Mudhlim: The easy alternative

Wadi al Mudhlim is an easy alternative which follows a 2.5mi (4km) canyon. This route can be dangerous if heavy rains are prevalent – Classic Wadi Rum Tours provides more information.

Wadi es Siyyagh: A demanding one-day, 20km trek

Another option exists to trek for one day, roughly 12.5mi (20km), into Petra through an approach from the west, starting at Wadi Arava and walking through Wadi es Siyyagh.

This trek is extremely demanding, and requires talent at complex wilderness route finding, up to grade 3 or 4 rock climbing, and high levels of fitness. It is recommended to seek out a guide. Nonetheless, it is a fantastic adventure, remote and thrilling.

When to go and what to bring

The spring (March–May) and fall (October–November) are best seasons for trekking.

Apart from normal travel items, a GPS, water filtration system, good hiking shoes, long hiking pants, a long-sleeve shirt, high-SPF sun cream, a sun hat, and a basic first-aid kit are essential items to pack.

Wading through rivers in Jordan – be prepared to get wet. Photo credit: Jase Wilson

Gate fees

While it’s possible to avoid paying gate fees by trekking via alternative routes, this is highly discouraged. It’s best to arrange the 50 dinar/day (US $70/day) gate fees in advance – Visit Petra has info on gate prices.

The beginning of the Wadi es Siyyagh trek. Photo credit: Jase Wilson

Getting to Wadi Musa

Wadi Musa is the main staging city near Petra. A taxi is the best and most comfortable way to get there, which will cost around 60 dinar (US $84) one way, while a bus will run at less than 20 dinar (US $28) for a return trip. Jett is one company which offers services.

All of the above treks are covered in Toni Howard and Di Taylor's guidebook Jordan—Walks, Treks, Caves, Canyons, and Climbs. It’s possible to purchase e-book versions of this guide. It's an irreplaceable resource for trip planning – especially if you intend on guiding yourself. The guidebook extensively covers the best Jordan has to offer.

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  • eager traveller said

    Given the political situation in Jordan, is this a safe trip? What about attacks from the various ethnic/religious groups in Jordan--what do they think of white European/Americans?

  • RnLuv2Travel said

    Hello we pk an to be there sept 2018 with G adventure. Is this the leak season? What's the weather like? And is it similar to eygpt with the mosquitos? I just got back in May from there. Thanks.

  • Simona said

    About the situation in Jordan, if it is safe or not... let me tell you that you will find a great country, openminded and very kind with the foreigner. They know what tourist bring to their country... and besides Jordan has always been nice with strangers...

    Since Sirian war started of course things have become more difficult. They recieve thousands of refugees (Palestinian and Sirian ) which means a lot of money, and also live their own internal crisis with many young people unemployed, fight against extremists... But still, they expect people to visit them because Tourism is one of their first incomes.

    Go without fear and you will find nice people and wonderful places.

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