Explore mysterious Petra, the ancient Nabataean caravan-city ideally situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. Inhabited since prehistoric times, this area was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. The Nabataeans transformed the forbidding desert into a bustling metropolis with monumental tombs carved directly into the rose-hued sandstone hills, as well as hundreds of other structures including burial chambers, funerary banquet halls, residences, theaters, bath complexes, arched gates and a complex system of water channels and reservoirs. Camel caravans passed through, loaded with spices, textiles and incense from distant regions, and through such commerce, the city of Petra flourished, until a massive earthquake left the freestanding structures of Petra in ruins. The remnants of Petra were an object of curiosity during the Middle Ages, and the first European to describe them was Johann Burckhardt in 1812. Departing the pier in Aqaba, travel deep within the deserts of Jordan, to Wadi Musa, the gateway to Petra. Upon arrival at the Visitor's Center, walk to the impressive entrance to Petra, a stunning narrow gorge called the Siq (the shaft), a natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks. After walking through the Siq, experience Petra's most elaborate ruin and fabled achievement, El Khazneh, the Treasury, hewn directly out of the red sandstone cliff. Used as a backdrop in the movie, Indian Jones and the Last Crusade, the awe-inspiring Treasury stands at 131 feet tall and measures 92 feet across. Enjoy time to explore the Treasury and the Outer Siq, leading to immense tombs, and facades and doorways cut in the steep passage walls. Following your time at the ruins, retrace your steps through the Siq, past the Obelisk Tomb, to a local hotel. Following a sumptuous buffet lunch at the hotel, reboard your motorcoach for the drive to Aqaba and the ship.
Please note: This tour entails considerable walking. It's a 45 minute walk into and out of the site along a sloping path and natural surfaces; however, there is level walking in the actual site. While there are a limited number of carriages, camels and donkeys available at Petra, they are available on a first-come, first-served basis and their use is in no way encouraged or sanctioned by Oceania Cruises. The tour is not considered suitable for wheelchair guests or those with mobility concerns.Furthermore, in order to completely view the sites, you would still need to travel on foot over uneven and sloping ground. Weather appropriate clothing (it can be cool in the Spring and Fall); sun cap; sunglasses; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes with a closed-toe are recommended.