Wadi Sabra Trail, Petra

Wadi Sabra Trail, Petra, Petra - Wadi Musa: Address, Phone Number, Wadi Sabra Trail, Petra Reviews: 5/5

Wadi Sabra Trail, Petra
5
Historic Sites • Ancient Ruins • Points of Interest & Landmarks
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LegalRover
By LegalRover
Hiking and horseback riding Wadi Sabra, Petra
Jun 2020
If you are looking to do a hike that is more than the traditional touristic route (Petra Visitors Center – Siq – Treasury – Monastery – and back) and definitely off the beaten path, then Wadi Sabra is a must. This is a great hike and you will see a lot of wild mountain scenery. I am going to write about both of my experiences with a guide; hiking and horseback. (I went a third time to camp overnight and hike further down to Araba but won’t write about it here.) If you are not familiar with the Petra trails or you do not have a REALLY good hikers’ guidebook or UTM coordinates then I would suggest hiring a guide. The trek can take you anywhere from 4-7 hours roundtrip, depending on how fast you trek and what you stop to see along the way. However, there are some tricky spots and the trail is not well-posted (saw only 2 signs the entire trail and both were toppled over on the ground so sneeze and you miss it). Take lots of water, sunscreen, and a hat. You will not find any Bedouins with a table selling water/drinks like you do along the Colonnaded Street or the Little Petra to Monastery trail. You are not likely to see anyone on this Wadi Sabra hike. There are several starting points but the most popular and the one preferred by the Petra Development Tourism and Region Authority (PDTRA), the folks who operate Petra, is the one at the Petra Visitors Center entrance so that they can check your Petra day ticket. An alternative starting point is the small town of Taybeh (just past the Petra Marriott up on the mountain). I am attaching a map that includes several starting points. When my guide and I trekked to Wadi Sabra, we started from the service road entrance at Petra (past the Colonnaded Street and near the Basin at the base of the steps to the Monastery). The trail is about 11 km (~ 7 miles). When we rode horses, we started at the Petra Visitors Center at 6 AM, rode the horses through the Siq (allowed only before 7 AM according to my guide), and then headed to the Basin area where we previously started the trek. You will see several unexcavated tombs and houses, Roman theater ruins, a Nabatean sanctuary, and petroglyphs along walls. About 30 minutes in, the trail took us past the base for the trek to Jebel Haroun on the right side. During your trek, you will see rainbow-red rocks followed by bright white flat rocks as well as flora. Along the way, you will have several winding paths until you come to a rocky descent. If you are trekking, be careful as there are lots of loose rocks and it is easy to misstep and tumble down. If you are riding horses, I suggest you dismount and walk the horse down. My guide told me it would be ok to ride her down but I did not feel comfortable as she was young and not familiar with this trail. Also, she was losing her footing the first few steps and the last thing I wanted was to end up in a Jordanian hospital (again). My guide dismounted too. On the return, we rode the horses up the steep rocky ascent with no problems. Once you are at the bottom, it’s pretty flat from there – you are basically in the wadi. In the spring, there is water but it tends to dry up by summer time. We rode the horses straight to the small Roman theater. To manage expectations, this is not akin to the Roman Theater in Petra on Colonnaded Street or the Roman Theater in downtown Amman. This Roman theater is very small (see photos). We settled at the Roman theater for photos, lunch, and to wander a little to see the unexcavated tombs and petroglyphs on the walls. After that, we rode the horses (we actually raced a short way since it was flat and sandy instead of rocky) further down the wadi to see more sites. To stop at the Roman theater is really not seeing everything the Sabra area has to offer. I suggest you trek a little farther. If you start early in the morning, you can hike or ride horses down to Jebel Nuqai and the Waters of Tibn for a full day experience (we did this with the horses – I was too tired to trek this far on my first trek to Wadi Sabra from Petra). If you head to Wadi Tibn, be sure to ask your guide to take you through the M’zayla Siq which connects Wadi Sabra with Wadi Tibn. On the return trip to Petra, we went a different route once we ascended the steep rocky hill. We went the backway past the Snake Monument to the High Place of Sacrifice route and passed more tombs along the way – tombs everywhere and lots of different colored rock. Keep in mind that a guide will take you overnight camping at any point along this trail if this is something you are interested in. Petra Visitors Center states there is no camping “in Petra” but that hasn’t really been defined since Petra is porous. I think they mean the areas around the Treasury and the Monastery which are the touristy areas and uninhabited (you will see locals’ abodes along the Wadi Sabra trail to the wadi). My guides have taken me in Petra from several access points to hike and camp overnight in different areas (towards Wadi Araba, at Jebel Haroun, etc.). Be sure to hire a licensed guide for your safety and CYA. If you have a couple or several days in Petra, I highly recommend this trail if you are looking for a longer hike deeper into Petra. Remember that Petra is about 102 square miles. There is lots to do if you have the time. It truly is a hikers’ paradise. The Wadi Sabra Trail will take you most of the day. I recommend you go anytime other than June – September when it gets very hot. I have hiked during all 4 seasons and prefer fall (October/November) and spring (April/May). Some people have asked me if you can hike Wadi Sabra and Jebel Haroun in the same day. I would not recommend it unless you are Superman or a triathlete. Jebel Haroun is a steep vertical climb and can take about 4-6 hours roundtrip (depending on your fitness level). A note about guides. You can hire a guide from the Visitors Center for 50 JD for 2 hours. That pretty much covers the trek from the Visitors Center to the Treasury and to the Roman Theater. I have asked the guides’ manager at the Visitors Center how much a hike to Wadi Sabra and back would cost and he said about 200 JD (more if you want horses) and he would need 1 day’s notice (that’s because he will need to find a guide who is willing to do the trek). I spoke to a few guides who hang out outside the Visitors Center and they said they do not like doing the longer treks like Sabra and Haroun because it takes too long and it is easier to have a couple of short 2-hour guided tours (around the Treasury) in a day instead of going deeper into Petra that requires a lot more hiking. Also, not all the Visitors Center guides are familiar with the longer trails. My suggestion is to ask around. Get referrals from locals. One resource is the TripAdvisor Jordan forum. I have been hiking in Petra for over a year (over a dozen hikes) and have hired about 8-9 guides. Some are really really good and I would highly recommend. One of the great guides I found on the forum. The other great guides I found through referrals at the Jordan Tourism Board and the RSCN in Ajloun and Dana. Keep in mind that the guides’ fees will range across the board so it is best to shop around so that you get what you want. My guides for this trail came from RSCN and Wadi Musa and charged me less than 150 JD (with horses) prior to tipping. Lastly, the coordinates for Wadi Sabra: 30°14'00.0"N 35°18'00.0"E 30.233333, 35.300000 68M2+82 Ar-Rishah [Note: For copyright purposes, the attached map is from the “Jordan Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs & Canyons” guidebook by Di Taylor and Tony Howard (the best detailed and concise hiking guide I have seen for all of Jordan).]

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LegalRover
2,775 contributions
Jun 2020
If you are looking to do a hike that is more than the traditional touristic route (Petra Visitors Center – Siq – Treasury – Monastery – and back) and definitely off the beaten path, then Wadi Sabra is a must. This is a great hike and you will see a lot of wild mountain scenery. I am going to write about both of my experiences with a guide; hiking and horseback. (I went a third time to camp overnight and hike further down to Araba but won’t write about it here.) If you are not familiar with the Petra trails or you do not have a REALLY good hikers’ guidebook or UTM coordinates then I would suggest hiring a guide. The trek can take you anywhere from 4-7 hours roundtrip, depending on how fast you trek and what you stop to see along the way. However, there are some tricky spots and the trail is not well-posted (saw only 2 signs the entire trail and both were toppled over on the ground so sneeze and you miss it). Take lots of water, sunscreen, and a hat. You will not find any Bedouins with a table selling water/drinks like you do along the Colonnaded Street or the Little Petra to Monastery trail. You are not likely to see anyone on this Wadi Sabra hike.

There are several starting points but the most popular and the one preferred by the Petra Development Tourism and Region Authority (PDTRA), the folks who operate Petra, is the one at the Petra Visitors Center entrance so that they can check your Petra day ticket. An alternative starting point is the small town of Taybeh (just past the Petra Marriott up on the mountain). I am attaching a map that includes several starting points.

When my guide and I trekked to Wadi Sabra, we started from the service road entrance at Petra (past the Colonnaded Street and near the Basin at the base of the steps to the Monastery). The trail is about 11 km (~ 7 miles). When we rode horses, we started at the Petra Visitors Center at 6 AM, rode the horses through the Siq (allowed only before 7 AM according to my guide), and then headed to the Basin area where we previously started the trek.

You will see several unexcavated tombs and houses, Roman theater ruins, a Nabatean sanctuary, and petroglyphs along walls. About 30 minutes in, the trail took us past the base for the trek to Jebel Haroun on the right side. During your trek, you will see rainbow-red rocks followed by bright white flat rocks as well as flora. Along the way, you will have several winding paths until you come to a rocky descent. If you are trekking, be careful as there are lots of loose rocks and it is easy to misstep and tumble down. If you are riding horses, I suggest you dismount and walk the horse down. My guide told me it would be ok to ride her down but I did not feel comfortable as she was young and not familiar with this trail. Also, she was losing her footing the first few steps and the last thing I wanted was to end up in a Jordanian hospital (again). My guide dismounted too. On the return, we rode the horses up the steep rocky ascent with no problems. Once you are at the bottom, it’s pretty flat from there – you are basically in the wadi. In the spring, there is water but it tends to dry up by summer time. We rode the horses straight to the small Roman theater. To manage expectations, this is not akin to the Roman Theater in Petra on Colonnaded Street or the Roman Theater in downtown Amman. This Roman theater is very small (see photos). We settled at the Roman theater for photos, lunch, and to wander a little to see the unexcavated tombs and petroglyphs on the walls. After that, we rode the horses (we actually raced a short way since it was flat and sandy instead of rocky) further down the wadi to see more sites.

To stop at the Roman theater is really not seeing everything the Sabra area has to offer. I suggest you trek a little farther. If you start early in the morning, you can hike or ride horses down to Jebel Nuqai and the Waters of Tibn for a full day experience (we did this with the horses – I was too tired to trek this far on my first trek to Wadi Sabra from Petra). If you head to Wadi Tibn, be sure to ask your guide to take you through the M’zayla Siq which connects Wadi Sabra with Wadi Tibn.

On the return trip to Petra, we went a different route once we ascended the steep rocky hill. We went the backway past the Snake Monument to the High Place of Sacrifice route and passed more tombs along the way – tombs everywhere and lots of different colored rock.

Keep in mind that a guide will take you overnight camping at any point along this trail if this is something you are interested in. Petra Visitors Center states there is no camping “in Petra” but that hasn’t really been defined since Petra is porous. I think they mean the areas around the Treasury and the Monastery which are the touristy areas and uninhabited (you will see locals’ abodes along the Wadi Sabra trail to the wadi). My guides have taken me in Petra from several access points to hike and camp overnight in different areas (towards Wadi Araba, at Jebel Haroun, etc.). Be sure to hire a licensed guide for your safety and CYA.

If you have a couple or several days in Petra, I highly recommend this trail if you are looking for a longer hike deeper into Petra. Remember that Petra is about 102 square miles. There is lots to do if you have the time. It truly is a hikers’ paradise. The Wadi Sabra Trail will take you most of the day. I recommend you go anytime other than June – September when it gets very hot. I have hiked during all 4 seasons and prefer fall (October/November) and spring (April/May). Some people have asked me if you can hike Wadi Sabra and Jebel Haroun in the same day. I would not recommend it unless you are Superman or a triathlete. Jebel Haroun is a steep vertical climb and can take about 4-6 hours roundtrip (depending on your fitness level).

A note about guides. You can hire a guide from the Visitors Center for 50 JD for 2 hours. That pretty much covers the trek from the Visitors Center to the Treasury and to the Roman Theater. I have asked the guides’ manager at the Visitors Center how much a hike to Wadi Sabra and back would cost and he said about 200 JD (more if you want horses) and he would need 1 day’s notice (that’s because he will need to find a guide who is willing to do the trek). I spoke to a few guides who hang out outside the Visitors Center and they said they do not like doing the longer treks like Sabra and Haroun because it takes too long and it is easier to have a couple of short 2-hour guided tours (around the Treasury) in a day instead of going deeper into Petra that requires a lot more hiking. Also, not all the Visitors Center guides are familiar with the longer trails.

My suggestion is to ask around. Get referrals from locals. One resource is the TripAdvisor Jordan forum. I have been hiking in Petra for over a year (over a dozen hikes) and have hired about 8-9 guides. Some are really really good and I would highly recommend. One of the great guides I found on the forum. The other great guides I found through referrals at the Jordan Tourism Board and the RSCN in Ajloun and Dana. Keep in mind that the guides’ fees will range across the board so it is best to shop around so that you get what you want. My guides for this trail came from RSCN and Wadi Musa and charged me less than 150 JD (with horses) prior to tipping.

Lastly, the coordinates for Wadi Sabra:
30°14'00.0"N 35°18'00.0"E
30.233333, 35.300000
68M2+82 Ar-Rishah

[Note: For copyright purposes, the attached map is from the “Jordan Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs & Canyons” guidebook by Di Taylor and Tony Howard (the best detailed and concise hiking guide I have seen for all of Jordan).]
Written 3 August 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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