The Jordan Tourism Board website (www.visitjordan.com) offers very thorough information about touring Jordan and Petra. Excellent information on Petra can also be found at www.go2petra.com.
The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature website (www.rscn.org.jo) has specific information about eco-tourism and hiking in Petra; Wadi Rum, south of Petra; the wild, mountainous Dana Reserve, north of Petra; as well as to other nature and wildlife reserves in the Kingdom of Jordan.
The visitor center at the entrance to Petra (tel. 03/215-6029; www.petrapark.com) is open daily from 6am to 4pm in wintertime; 6am to 6pm during summer time. Admission to Petra is JD 50 for 1 day; JD 55 for 2 days; and JD 60 for 3 days. A fourth day is free of charge. If your passport indicates you are only visiting Jordan for a 1-day excursion to Petra, admission to Petra National Park is JD 90. Children under 15 are half-price. The fee may seem high, but Petra is a vast area, and the money is needed to preserve and maintain the site.
Tips: Petra by Night
To the dismay of romantics and adventurers, Petra National Park closes at sunset or earlier, even though this mysterious, long-hidden site is especially evocative in the evenings. In fact, it was once a great place to camp at night, but now camping is forbidden.
At times, the park service has been offered escorted candlelight tours for an additional fee—a great way to spend the evening if you plan to be in Petra when the tours are available. Night tours are generally available when there’s a full moon. Check with the park authorities and reserve in advance. In good weather, a Bedouin camp dinner in the mountains is another evening option. Not only do you get a traditional meal, but you also get a feel for the beautiful, wild countryside at night. Check with your hotel or the visitor center. The price is approximately JD 30 for two people.
Bedouin guides can be arranged through the visitor center. The official fee 4 hours of guiding is JD 50. Or, once inside the park, if you feel you need a guide, you can easily find one to escort you to specific places. Tip: If you have hired a Jordanian guide before entering the park and the price of his admission is included in the arrangement, you should know that the admission price for Jordanian citizens is only JD 1; don’t let your guide add a JD 50 entrance fee for himself to the price of your tour. Many of the guides are colorful, and although they may not have had formal training, most know their stuff (and have picked up great multilingual skills). It’s a good idea to hire a guide, at least for your first foray into Petra, especially if you plan to do a hike to some of the more remote parts of the city. A standard 2 1/2-hour Petra city tour costs JD 15.
At the Visitor Center, you’ll also find a variety of books and maps of Petra for sale. A good guidebook and map are very useful investments, even if you hire a guide; most books make a basic self-guided tour of Petra quite easy, especially if you have a chance to read up before your visit. Officially, the park is open daily until 6pm, but in summer the guards may let visitors stay a bit later in order to take in the sunset and twilight.
Tip: To avoid dehydration, bring your own bottle of water when you enter Petra; as the day progresses you’ll need to buy more bottled water from the Bedouins who until recently inhabited the site. A number of stands inside Petra sell refreshments and food, though prices will be high. Don’t hesitate to shell out for water: It’s important to keep drinking even if you’re not especially thirsty to avoid the dangers of dehydration. In summer, you’ll need four 1.5-liter bottles of water to get through the day.
Reputable tour operators that run excursions to Petra (among other locations in Jordan) include Abercrombie and Kent Jordan (tel. 962-06/566-5465 in Amman; www.abercrombiekent.com); Desert Eco Tours (an Israeli-based company; tel. 972-52/276-5753 outside Israel, or 052/276-5753 from inside Israel; www.desertecotours.com); and Petra Moon Tourism (tel. 962-03/215-6665 in Petra; www.petramoon.com). For further options, check with the Jordan Tourism Board (www.visitjordan.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.