Family Vacation Petra =Wow!

June 09, 2011

family vacation Petra Wow

Family friendly? Fun for kids? Petra, Jordan has long been on my "bucket list", but little did I know that it is a perfect family vacation destination. Out of all the amazing and diverse places that we saw in Jordan, Petra was my personal favorite.

It is THE breathtaking iconic site in Jordan and more than lives up to it's mystical and magical reputation. Kids and parents alike will love magnificent Petra. No fears either, Jordan is a very safe, welcoming  and peaceful place.

"...match me such a marvel, save in Eastern clime, A rose-red city, half as old as time" Petra by Dean Burgen

Petra rocks! And sometimes in Jordan family travel, that means literally.... like when riding a camel around the stunning landscape of ancient Petra or taking the colorful  horse cart in. This really added to the excitement and our ten year old adored both and came up with the great idea to play her violin on top of the camel in front of the Treasury. Wow!

Our girl playing violin on camel at Petra

Talk about making history come alive, experiential, hands on learning  and immersing in the culture. Could there be a better educational or unschooling assignment than this, which was both a blast and informative? Petra was a unique and enriching experience that our 10 year old  daughter will never forget because there is no other place like it on earth.

Jordan musician at Petra

horse and buggies in Petra

Our bedouin dressed girl roaming Petra

Petra - note the size of the person in this photo

Our wonderful guide Saleh was a Bedouin nomad who lived his first eight years in that nomadic lifestyle and also has a degree in archaeology, so was the perfect person to add insightful richness to this experience. I will be writing more about him soon.

family and guide exploring Petra on foot

happy kid riding camel in Petra

Mozart wore a  traditional Bedouin outfit called a thobe ( with her peace pants leggings underneath) and several people helped her with the head gear as it was put on three different ways by three different Jordanians. The young Bedouin kids she met there seemed to really like the fact that she was dressed traditionally  and it's a fun way for a child to immerse in Jordan's culture as well as a perfect hand-made souvenir to keep forever.

traveling girl with Petra souvenirs

To save money, we bought it at a small store in a Madaba called The Map Bazaar and I told her I would mention it here because of the great price. We haggled a bit and bought the 3 hand-stitched pieces for about 20 dollars. Bedouin artisans had a few simple stalls in Petra which sold pottery, jewelry, handicrafts and small bottles of colored sand made into patterns, so of course my little shopper had to check those out and bought one with a camel.

family travel means American girl meets Jordan kids

Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and on almost every one's  list for good reason. The BBC has listed it in the "Top 40 places you have to see before you die" and it was picked as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

We're certainly glad that we got to see it, because nothing really prepares you for the mind-boggling experience no matter how many photos, videos or books you have seen and read about Petra. It's a magnificent  place  in the Middle East, full of grandeur and impressive history to share with a child.

Petra view from horse cart

I think it's  better to walk in like DaVinci and our guide did, but due to my mobility problems, Mozart and I took a horse-drawn buggy which was more thrilling and bumpier than any theme park ride I have ever been on. She giggled all the way. I was totally stunned by the sheer size and outstanding beauty of the Siq which is the long entry to the historic Treasury. That said, it was too jarring  for photos on the move.

meeting guards and kid at Petra

The Siq is a majestic, narrow, flat gorge, a one meter walk of sand and stone into Petra, bordered on both sides by soaring 300 foot cliffs in a myriad of colors and formations that are simply dazzling and awe-inspiring, ending at the heart-stopping  red sandstone Treasury that was carved by the Nabataieans over 2000 years ago. Our guide explained how they were experts at using water even for carving into the stone.

family vacation in Petra Jordan

The morning sun was shining on the astonishing AL-Khazneh (Treasury) as we arrived and very few people were there at first, so we had it almost to ourselves. We had stayed at the luxurious Petra Movenpick which is located at the entrance so a very close walk away. But soon more people began to gather as you can see in this shot that we took after her camel ride violin playing,  so it's a good idea to arrive early. The weather was perfect in May, sunny but cool and even at their worst, the crowds were not bad as the space is very, very large.

Petra and flowers, serene beauty

I wish I could have stayed a month in Petra as there is way too much to see in just one day. We did enjoy exploring the grounds, hundreds of elaborate tombs, intricate carvings, alters and the huge Roman-style theater. There are also two museums: the Petra Nabataen Museum and the Petra Archaeologcal Museum and the Ad-Deir Monastery. I think Petra is especially good for a little older child who can appreciate the history, read up on this topic and will remember the experience.

Here are a few websites to help entice and prepare your child for a trip to Petra:

Ancient board games found in Petra

Ancient Camel Caravan Experience

Brown University's Petra Excavation

Have you seen Petra yet? If so, what was your favorite part?

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I hope to see it someday but until I do, your photos are stunning... I'm glad you had such a good trip!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Aw, thanks so much Anne, that is great to hear! Don't forget to watch the video, it is one of my faves.

We did have a great time there...such a diverse place and wonderful people...scrumptious food. ;) Hard not to, eh?


these are brilliant Jeanne so enjoyed sharing in them ~ little motzarts playing on the camel made me smile ~ such a wonderful place ~ what memories you are storing for you all and motzart will never forget ~ with all you are pouring into your little bright spark one wonders ~ when grown ~what mark she will make on the world ~ think it will be huge ~ have a wonderful time you three ~ and thankyou for allowing us into the window of your world ~ lovely that you do ~ thankyou for sharing so much of interest and beauty ~ Lib ~ @Libithina

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Aw, thanks so much dear Lib for your very sweet and kind words! She got such a kick out of playing on top of the camel. It's not her best playing, but she thought it was nifty..happy it made you smile!


Awesome pics!!! That looks really amazing! I thought it wouldn't be that safe traveling in Jordan, but from the looks of it, it seems pretty safe! We really like to visit the Treasury, any tips and suggestions you have on how to get there would really help!

jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks MT! Oh yeah, Jordan is extremely safe and peaceful. There is a reason why it is called the peaceful oasis in the Middle East...but sadly most people don't realize it and miss this treasure.

How to get there? Not sure how to answer that question as I am sure there are many ways. Royal Jordanian has flights in from almost every where, the US, London, we even flew in from Bangkok.

Some folks take a cruise that stops at Aquaba, or I suppose one could even drive there or take a combination of things like train, boat, car.

Jordan is a small but very diverse country and one of the great things about it is one can see all of it very easily as the infrastructure is excellent.


Wow, awesome trip. I'm arriving Petra in 4 days. I'm looking forward to it. Could u perhaps give me the name of your guide and how much it costs u? Thanks!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Lillie, It really was an awesome trip!

The guide we used was Saleh and we liked him because he was both a Bedouin ( lived as a nomad his first 8 years) and he had a degree in Archaeology from the University.

His full name is Saleh Ahmad Arfou and his email is:

saleharfou (at) yahoo ( dot) com

We found him via Jordan's Tourism Bureau :

Thus I don't know the price as this was a working vacation for us sponsored by Jordan.

He was provided for our whole trip, not just Petra and I am sure would be glad to give you a quote for whatever you had in mind.

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