The High Place of Sacrifice

O. M. G. What a day we had. We had been told there was a nice easy hike to The High Place of Sacrifice. We were told it was only about 5km long and quite easy. We were told that we’d get back to the Visitors Centre easily in time for lunch. And we were told it would be a gentle 18c today and perfect hiking weather. Well… that never happened!

It was our second day at Petra and we had already decided that we would hike. I’d read a few blogs about the hike to the High Place of Sacrifice and it seems perfect for us. We wandered down to the entrance and back through the gauntlet of donkeys, camels and horses. The Bedouins desperately tried to sell us their services but we’d been told in advance to say no. No thank you, we don’t want a guide… no thank you, we don’t want a donkey ride… no thank you, we don’t want postcards. Jolanda in the hotel had told us to never say maybe or later… because they will remember 😁 So on we walked with many many firm but polite no thank yous. I want to stress though that this is never high pressured, it’s more of a game and very light hearted. But we made it to the start of the trail.

I’d downloaded a wikiloc map of the trail we wanted to follow so that we could determine where the start was and also ensure we stayed on the right path. We met a young guy going the same way and we started talking and walking together. As we walked off the main Siq trail several of the Bedouin ran after us saying we must have a guide and that it was too dangerous alone but we’d been told it was easy and we’d been assured we did not need a guide… so there were more no thank yous.

At first the trail was sandy and easy but after a while it started to climb upwards. Nothing terrible. Just sandy and up. We’d read that there was perhaps 100m of elevation so we knew it wouldn’t be too strenuous. At the top we were amazed to discover a plant nursery complete with 2 polytunnels and an array of potted shrubs. Our trail continued on and we followed the sandy path up and down. It was a great walk with big views.

In the distance we saw a few Bedouin riders and one came along side us and asked if we wanted a ride… more no thank yous but again he was happy and wished us a nice walk. Keep going onwards he shouted back to us as he galloped away. Ahead we spotted a Bedouin tent and small house. Outside there were the usual touristy items for sale and a few tourists mingling and drinking tea. We didn’t need anything so they pointed in the direction of the trail and we said our goodbyes.

It’s at this point that I think we switched trails. Instead of continuing on to our destination we diverted off to the right. Maybe because we were talking, or maybe because we were not focusing on the path, or maybe because we were looking at the goats on the hills opposite but whatever the reason we missed our turn. But at this point we didn’t know that we’d missed it.

Onwards we went and our path started going down. Then more sharply down. Then scrambling down on your bum trying to get over huge rocks. Then we had to go up.  And there was a walk across a narrow ledge, high above what we later discovered was the Treasury.  There was no way in the world I was going to cross that ledge and yet there was nothing else I could do… so I crossed and and never looked down.

The trail was rough, really rough with lots of broken stone, and sand and scree that moved under foot. We couldn’t risk putting a foot wrong as we were very high up and the paths were narrow with very little room for error.

We stopped for a drink.  It was really hot.  We heard voices from afar and we realised that we were high above the Treasury. Not at the lookouts where the Bedouin take tourists but much higher. So much higher that we were looking down at those high Bedouin lookouts. The tourists below looked like ants.  We were really unsure about where to go next. Everywhere looked a bit precarious but we knew 100% that we weren’t able to go backwards.

Crikey it was hot. Baking hot. It didn’t help that we were both wearing a thermal vest (in case it got chilly).  If we hadn’t have been with our walking friend, Yusuf, we might well have removed the thermals but we felt that stripping off might not have been appropriate… even on this hot day!

Yusuf was from Canada but originally from Morocco.  I had thought he was in his 20’s but he was actually 40.  He was very tall and reminded me a great deal of one of Matt’s school friends.  I felt a bit guilty that he was stuck with a couple of old folks and told him he didn’t need to stay but he insisted that he was enjoying the company and wanted to walk with his.  I have to say we were very grateful.

As we drank our water a young chap from Leeds came strolling down from behind us.  He was as cool as a cucumber and he told us the way that he’d come and that we could follow his tracks up and onwards and out of these ledges.  He continued  on scrambling over the boulders and more ledges like a mountain goat!!  I honestly believe this was some of the hardest terrain that I’ve walked. Modesty and politeness went out the window and Yusuf at first hauled me up the big rocks by offering a hand but later also pushed me up from my bum too, this was just not a time to care.  All we wanted to was to get out safely and find some shade.  Oh my we scrambled and we climbed and we pushed and we shoved and finally and unbelievably we spotted a little Bedouin café yeah! we were back on the trail. Happy happy days.

We sat on a bench in the shade and drank cold cokes and lemon and mint juice and rested. The chap from Leeds wandered back and came and joined us . Oh a cold drink never tasted so good. We all talked about life and work and I had this bizarre conversation with Mr Leeds about managing gluten free in Jordan and he shared with me his girlfriends favourite GF blogs. Jusuf talked about his work in Canada and how he missed his family in Morocco during lockdown. Really it was like meeting pilgrims along the Camino and in just a few hours we know so much about each other and our lives.

However there was still a while to go. We’d walked our way out of trouble but the High Place of Sacrifice was across on the other side of gorge. Thankfully this time though it was an easy walk in comparison… but I use the term easy in a fairly loose sense, especially with our tired legs!

Down we walked… then up… and then some flat stuff before we reached steps taking us up a lot. A final push to the top. Wow! That was a hike! It had taken us nearly 4 hours to walk what was meant to be a simple 5km hike but gosh we felt quite chuffed.

We found the spot where animals had been sacrificed, shown where the blood moved down in channels carved in stone and then we walked on a little further to look across at Aaron’s (the brother of Moses) Tomb on the mountain opposite. Below us, like more ants, we could see today’s tourists walking where we walked yesterday. We could see the Royal Tombs and the Monastery in the distance. And once we’d looked enough we knew it was time to go down.

Yusuf suggesting going off trail again for more adventures but we decided that our bodies might break if we tried more so we took ​the steps down, the easy way that 99% of tourist take… apparently only us, a French-Canadian and a guy from Leeds were crazy enough to attempt the other route.

At the bottom we hugged Yusuf goodbye. We were heading home and he was going to explore some more. A few hours ago we’d been strangers and now it felt like we were old friends. If you ever get to read this blog Yusuf I want you to know how much we appreciated your company on that glorious walk!

We walked back along the route of the Facades, back in front of the Treasury and onwards along the Siq to the entrance and visitors centre. We met the Bedouins who this morning thought we were crazy and they were impressed that we’d made it out but still tried to sell us a donkey ride. We waved them goodbye and headed back to Tourism Street. It was 17.30 and we’d still not had lunch. We stopped in the same restaurant as yesterday. They greeted us like old friends and showed us to ‘our’ table. We ate a feast of hummus and aubergine and chicken and rice, washed down with Arabic tea.

Oh my it had been a glorious day. How amazing are we for a couple of oldies? We’re meant to do a more challenging hike tomorrow… I hope we sleep well!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s