On my third day in Jordan, I was looking forward to seeing Petra by candlelight and enjoying a traditional Bedouin music performance. After admiring the Petra night photos from a number of fellow travelers like Ayngelina Brogan and Abigail King, I was looking forward to taking a few of my own.
Up to this point I hadn’t read anything about rain during anyone’s visit to Petra. Rain at the desert is rare, and I later found out that historically Petra only sees 9.3 days of rain per year and only 0.7 days of rain in the month of November.
Well, it turned out the Petra by Night experience is completely different in the unlikely event that it rains… I got to go inside the Treasury.
Thanks to my lack of practice with night photos and using flash, I’ll have to describe one of my most interesting travel experiences with some of my worse travel photos (for some “regular” Jordan photos, see my highlights of Jordan post.)
First, a romantic walk through to Petra through the canyon
My Petra-at-night experience started normally, with a quiet walk along the winding 1.5 km path through the canyon. Thousands of candles guided the way.
It started drizzling a little
There was light rain by the time we arrived at the Treasury but it was minimal and I took out my DSLR to attempt a photo of this World Wonder.
Then it started pouring
Before I had the chance to set up another photo, the rain got heavy. My DSLR already broke once when I was travelling in India so I didn’t want to risk getting my camera wet. Here’s the last photo I took outside before the rain started seriously coming down.
Being ushered inside the Treasury (yes, inside!)
In my last post about what to see in Jordan, you can vaguely see from my day photo of the Treasury that entrance is closed off by rope as visitors are forbidden to enter. But the Petra-at-night tour guide was sympathetic and instead of making us stand/sit in the rain for the Bedouin performance, he ushered all 70+ of us up the Treasury stairs.
Because of the rain, we found ourselves inside the World Wonder.
Over the next hour, we huddled at the stairs in front of the three tomb entrances and listened to the Bedouin songs and instruments while sipping small plastic cups of tea. The music was beautiful against the sound of rain, but sitting inside the Treasury was even more special.
Looking inside the Treasury
When the performance was over an hour later, it was still raining. We were supposed to start walking back, but before leaving the shelter of the Treasury, everyone’s curiosity got the better of them. We all wandered inside the tombs, pointing flashlights at the walls and ceilings to get a better look inside this normally-off-limits World Wonder.
The 1.5km, wet & dark walk back through the canyon
In my first step back into the canyon, I was shocked to find my feet in 3 inches of cold, flowing water. The candles had been extinguished by the rain and the path ahead of me was almost pitch black.
As I continued to walk, my imagination and paranoia creeped up and all I could remember was my guiding telling me earlier in the afternoon that there’s risks of flash floods in the canyon every time it rains.
I walked as fast as I could, following the footsteps of other visitors and using my iPhone as a flashlight. About 20 minutes later, when I was close to the opening of the canyon I stopped to take a video (see below). It’s not a great video, but imagine yourself walking through darkness for 20 minutes in the rain.
The sound of water you hear running are the streams flowing through the the canyon plus the 1-2 foot wide mini waterfalls coming down the walls of the canyon which were completely dry earlier in the afternoon.
Getting back safely
Considering the darkness and the amount of water we had to walk through, the atmosphere was surprisingly calm. The guides walked with the travellers and frequently asked if people were okay. A truck was brought in and stayed at the back to make sure the slower or less physically-abled visitors were taken care of.
At the end of this wet and chilly evening, it was a relief to return to the comfort of my beautiful room at the Movenpick at Petra hotel just outside the Petra visitor entrance.
I didn’t get great photos of Petra at night like other travellers, but I did have the extremely rare, and normally prohibited, privilege to sit inside.
Practical tips for Petra at Night:
- I can’t guarantee you’ll also get to go inside the Treasury if it rains :) If the rain is light, you might just have to stand/sit outside or if the rain is heavy, visitors may be evacuated for safety.
- Cost/price/admission fee for the Petra-at-night experience is 12 JD ($18).
- Tours run on Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays and tickets can be purchased from the visitor centre.
I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board during my visit to Petra, but as usual all opinions and photos are my own.
Other travel articles you might like
- Top 8 Highlights from 8 Days in Jordan
- Egypt Landscapes That Put Life in Perspective
- Reader Question: How Much Does It Cost to Travel?
External resources on Petra