Little Petra

After two days exploring Petra one would think I would have had enough of Nabatean ruins, but not so! When our guide offered us a choice of an early morning trip out to Siq Al-Barid or a sleep in before heading out to Wadi Rum I obviously chose the chance to see another well preserved site by these fabulous desert peoples. A short 8km drive out from Wadi Musa will get you to the Siq Al-Barid, which translates to “cold canyon”. The name is apt – even at 8am it was super hot but as soon as you walk through the narrow slit into the canyon you can feel the coolness that the canyon walls provide. What a relief it must have been for those crossing endless deserts to come to this little cool paradise! It is said that the canyon was an agricultural centre and a hub of trade, and also a resupply post for those who were continuing on to Petra proper. While obviously not as grand as Petra, the site does have a few interesting features. For me personally I enjoyed the “painted house”, which was a small dining room that has a beautifully painted ceiling of vines and birds and flowers. True paradise in the middle of nowhere!

possible dining hall for merchants
this old fellow started early to earn a few bucks, we were the only tourists around at this time
the painted house. My photo doesn’t do the intricate painting any justice

After exploring the small site we headed back out to the small carpark. Our guide said he wanted to show us one of the oldest sites in the middle east. Just to the left of the entry to Little Petra was a rough trail, with no real signage to mention. After about 15 minutes exposed to the searing heat we came across the ruins of Al-Beidha. There are around 65 round shaped buildings that are said to be 9000 years old! The site is important as one of the earliest examples of humans going from hunter/gatherers to settling down and start ‘farming’. For me it was amazing that something so old and historic is not really pointed out for tourists at all. I would never have known we could visit this from the carpark at Little Petra without our guides knowledge!

neolithic ruins of Al-Beidha
later rectangular style
earlier rounded style
today or hundreds of years ago?

Our walk back was a bit of a slog over rocky scree in searing heat, but our grumbles were put aside when we witnessed locals herding their animals towards their camps. Being the only people around it really felt like we had stepped back in time and were witnessing how life would have been all those years ago (I am sure the herders had mobile phones in their pockets but lets pretend they don’t!). It really was a fitting end to our little visit to this oft missed section of Petra. If you do have a spare hour or two do make the short drive over from Wadi Musa – both places are free entry, are quiet, and are perfect to get a sense of the true history that this region has to offer!

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29 Responses to Little Petra

  1. leggypeggy says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your trip to Jordan and Petra in particular.

  2. Looks like you’ve had great fun! Jordan’s been on my radar for so long! Hope to make it there later this year.

  3. Bama says:

    Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to visit Little Petra — well, technically I did, but I decided to see other things in the main archaeological complex instead. Thanks for posting this!

  4. lexklein says:

    Sad to say, but I don’t even remember if we went to Little Petra! After a while, all that red rock started to look the same to me – haha. Very fun to read your post, though.

  5. iftravels says:

    Fabulous! Thanks for letting me visit Al Beidha vicarously. Missed doing so when I was there.

  6. thebeerwanderer says:

    Definitely going at a cooler time of year if I made it. If it’s hot to you, you can imagine how hot it would be for me!

    • Anna says:

      Hhaha come on toughen up mate! A bit of heat don’t hurt anyone! (Says the girl who would never holiday in the snow as it’s too cold!!) 😂

      • thebeerwanderer says:

        I’ll pay more for the flight to go in winter, should be plenty warm for me then and imagine cheaper than flying from downunder. 😉 haha

  7. awtytravels says:

    There’s no such thing as “too much Nabatean architecture!”

  8. twobrownfeet says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!It’s on our bucket list. 🙂

  9. This trip looks amazing!

  10. cbholganza says:

    great pics. great article. felt like i was there for myself.

  11. dmdm20 says:

    Lovely trip:)

  12. barbaraelart says:

    Looks like your guide showed you a really great place!

  13. Toonsarah says:

    ‘Little Petra’ looks worth the trip, but the thought of seeing somewhere as old as Al-Beidha really blows me away! Just shows the value of a good guide too 🙂

  14. Virona says:

    Wow this is incredible!

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