The Al-Khazneh or Treasury at Petra is most popular and magnificent building of the ancient Nabatean city. First glimpse of the rose-gold Treasury through the Siq is most revered and thoroughly instagrammed view of this elaborately carved mausoleum. However there is a more dramatic view of the Treasury from above, popular to those in the know and accessed only by hiking the moderately strenuous Treasury Overlook trail inside Petra. I read about this trail in Lonely Planet Jordan which describes it as ‘magnificent eagle-eye view of the treasury’ seen by very few visitors to Petra. It was a unique opportunity and I decided to prioritize this hike over others in Petra since I was 5 months pregnant with S and getting easily tired.
The trail starts from the Royal tombs inside Petra and is clearly signposted early on. The official sign post reads Al-Khubtha trail while ‘Treasury overlook/view’ has been scratched on it by hand and is often covered with dust and illegible. C and I hiked up to the Royal Tombs and after enjoying marvelous views from the ledge continued our way past the Palace tombs towards the sign-posted staircase before the Sextius Florentinus tomb. The stairs start wide and rise gently but get short and steep towards the top. The staircase takes about 20 min to climb. After reaching top of the cliff, the trail is flat and continues around the cliffs almost parallel to the main Petra road down below. It offers excellent views of the Roman amphitheatre and sweeping views of the ancient city. There are almost no signposts past the stairs and the trail can be located by following trampled paths and cairns. (The pile of rocks stacked together to mark a trail, that’s a cairn!)
C and I got slightly lost on the hilltop. My guide-book said ‘continue south from the cistern (currently occupied by a helpful Bedouin tea-shop owner) along a less obvious dirt path.’ We looked around a lot but there was no cistern, no Bedouin and no dirt path. It was 8 in the morning and there was no soul in sight except a bluish lizard beadily staring at us. C asked, ‘now what’, and I adamantly said, ‘there has to be a tea-shop somewhere’ and kept looking for it. Fortunately C went a bit ahead where the hilltop sloped down and finally saw a cairn in the distance. We followed it and soon found us in a shallow gorge piled with boulders. I resumed reading while we hiked on; ‘descend into the dry wadi and then pass into a small ravine; suddenly you will reach a dramatic lookout point about 200 m above the Treasury’ said my trusty guide. ‘This is the ravine, the Treasury should be about there, and oh there it is!’ I exclaimed just as C shouted ‘look out, it’s right there!’ We both were speechless and just stared at the marvelous façade directly opposite us. A minute passed before either of us moved, and then we simply looked at each other and smiled.
We reached the end of the ravine, followed some narrow stairs and directly descended into an empty Bedouin shop full of colorful rugs and trinkets. Tired, we happily sat down on the rugs and munched on some protein bars, crackers and cheese, chocolates, and dry fruits while drinking lots of water. It was an incredible place to have a picnic. The Treasury façade basked in the morning sun and we gazed at the wonder before us in awe. A soothing breeze cooled us down just as a finch started his melodious song nearby. Tourists were steadily arriving and the wind carried up the laughter and chatter from below while here we were, all alone and lost to the world. It was beyond perfect, and remains among my favorite travel moments. I cannot think of the illuminated Treasury without feeling the breeze in my hair and hearing the finch’s song.
I visited Petra, Jordan in April 2015.