Climbing Petra: The Scariest 15 Minutes of My Life

Climbing Petra: The Scariest 15 Minutes of My Life

Climbing Petra: The Scariest 15 Minutes of My Life

During travel, there are often moments where you must make a quick choice. You must choose between saying “yes” to something, or passing it up. My one suggestion to you? Say yes. I had the choice to say yes during my travels in Jordan, and will remember the terrifying yet exhilarating experience forever. Let me take you on a journey through the scariest 15 minutes of my life.

My travels began through my Birthright trip in Israel, which is a gift from Taglit to any Jewish young adult to visit Israel for free. I had planned to extend my trip for six days before returning home. I went on an overnight tour to see the country of Jordan. We arrived at our first destination, Petra, which is an ancient sandstone city carved into mountains, and named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Ideally, one would spend days in Petra, as it is so incredibly large. Unfortunately, we only had three hours and had to make the most of it. My tour group walked through the tall sandstone path, with the afternoon sun barely streaming through the very top of the canyon. We finally arrived at our first destination, the Treasury.

As we started our “hike”, I realized that this would definitely not be a “hike.” No, this would be a 90-degree rock climb scaling a mountain.

The rose hue, the camels walking around, the peddlers selling their wares, the thousands of photos being snapped… this was it, I had made it! But it was just so crowded. Our tour guide told us about men offering hikes to see Petra from above. He said we could do that, but that we could not go alone, and we only had 30 minutes to do it.

My eyes lit up as I glanced around my group, desperately searching to find similar excitement in someone else’s eyes. As everyone began to walk away from the Treasury, I started to panic. Finally, I saw people from my tour trying to haggle with a guide.

I decided I would walk up to them and firmly try to get a good price. If they said no, I would walk away, knowing it wasn’t meant to be. When I got one of the guides, Mohammed, to agree to take us for $10 each, I felt on top of the world. Little did I know I was about to climb on top of the world, too.

As we started our “hike”, I realized that this would definitely not be a “hike.” No, this would be a 90-degree rock climb scaling a mountain, to be completed in 15 minutes due to our time constraint. Mohammed (who I am pretty sure was a mountain goat in a past life) started effortlessly jumping and climbing across ravines.

The first few steps of our hike included launching ourselves up in between two huge rocks to climb 10 feet. I thought, “What did you get yourself into this time, Laura?!” As completely unprepared as I was, when I got to the top it was all worth it.

I may have felt completely terrified climbing up the side of a mountain, but I felt comfortable traveling around Jordan and Israel as a solo female traveler.

As we finally leveled off we approached a small tent with warm Bedouin tea for sale and a viewing bench. I walked over to the edge and saw Petra like I never believed I would. From high up above, it seemed like I was the only one seeing this wonder. Unlike the crowded tourist area below, filled with people who looked like ants, it was just me, catching my breath from both the arduous climb and the awe of my view.

It was a unique moment I knew I would remember forever with gratitude. I sat on the edge drinking my Bedouin tea, and almost as soon as we had arrived we had to leave. A few quick snaps, one last look, and we were out of there.

The climb down was just as terrifying, but at this point, I felt invincible and strong. Right before I made the first big jump I said out loud to my companions, “I hope I don’t die!” with nervous laughter and a sense of dread. After I made it across, Mohammed exclaimed, “Yay! You didn’t die!” I cracked up laughing and made it the rest of the way down with no help, except for the periodic cheer from my guide and companions after every jump or tough climb saying, “still alive!”

Climbing Petra: The Scariest 15 Minutes of My Life

We got back down to the ground, and although we had spent just 30 minutes, I felt like a completely renewed person. As I looked at my pink sand-stained hands from the climb, I smiled. We made our way out of Petra, practically running to catch up to our group. But–sweat and all–I wouldn’t change a thing. As we caught up to everyone, I felt I had this beautiful secret, this experience all my own.

When you tell people that you, a solo female traveler, are going to the Middle East, often their first reaction is to say, “Please be safe.” However, not once did I feel unsafe. If there is a place that scares you: Go. I may have felt completely terrified climbing up the side of a mountain, but I felt comfortable traveling around Jordan and Israel as a solo female traveler. Plan ahead, travel smart, and find those places that get you away from the norm. Because your eyes will open to the rest of the world.

I pull on my socks to go hiking today, I still see the red stains the desert left on them and I know that saying “yes” to adventure was completely and undeniably worth it.

Climbing Petra: The Scariest 15 Minutes of My Life

Related Reading

5 Things that Surprised Me about Living in Amman
Dinner in the Desert: A Bedouin Zarb in the Wadi Rum, Jordan
Travel Jordan: The Real Deal with Jo Brown

Have you traveled to Jordan? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you!

About Laura Ostrow

Laura OstrowNo matter where I am, I am always searching for something that sets my soul on fire. It is in the small moments, the grand new experiences, in meeting lovely people from around the world, and in connecting to something greater than myself, where I find my love for travel. I have made sure that travel is a large part of my life, whether I am working, in school, or pursuing my next passion. I love to write, and use photography, to express my love for travel and to share it with the world! I am glad to be a Foreign Correspondent, and am currently based in Israel.

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