If you want to experience Petra more authentically with fewer crowds, you should visit Ad-Deir, also known as the “Monastery”, via the “backdoor” entrance route. The Monastery is one of the main highlights of Petra and is as impressive as the treasury itself. In my opinion, it is even more impressive than the treasury and has a much larger open area to explore it from different angles. The back door hiking trail from Little Petra to the monastery (Ad-Deir) is considered to be one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Petra. In this article, you will learn more about the monastery and how to reach it via the back door hiking route.
Monastery via Back Door Hiking Route Details
Hiking to the Monastery via the back door entrance is technically not very difficult but it is quite long, so a certain level of fitness is required to complete this hike. There will be a few descends and ascends on the way, but they are easily manageable without any special equipment.
- Total Distance: 12.6 km
- Time: 4-5 hours
- Elevation Gain: 590 m
- Hike Difficulty: Moderate
- Marked Trail: No
Monastery via Back Door Trail Map
What is Ad-Deir the Monastery Known For?
The Petra Monastery or Ad-Deir in Arabic, is one of the most iconic and remarkable monuments in the ancient city of Patra. Its remarkable façade is carved out of rock in classical Nabatean style. With 47 m (154 ft) height and 48 m (157 ft) width, it is larger than the famous treasury. In fact, it is one of the largest buildings in Petra. The archeologists believe that this monument from the 1st century AD, was initially not a monastery but a royal mausoleum. Later during the Byzantine period, it was repurposed as a monastery.
Why Visit the Monastery via the Back Door Route?
Most visitors enter Petra from the main entrance at the Visitor Center and then walk for about half an hour via a narrow canyon to the famous treasury (the Siq Trail). This part of Petra is very crowded and packed with tourists on every corner. If you choose to follow the most common trail from the visitor’s center, getting to the Monastery is roughly a three-hour round trip. One of the main benefits of visiting the Monastery via the back door trail from Little Petra is that it is a one-way route, meaning you will not have to go through the same path twice. Additionally, you can skip going 800 steps up when visiting the Monastery from the main entrance. Going down is generally much easier. Another advantage of doing the back door trail is that by starting your hike very early in the morning you have a chance to arrive at Monastery before everyone else and enjoy it all for yourself.
Note: Doing the back door trail from Little Petra to the Monastery only makes sense if you are staying in Wadi Musa for at least two nights. As it was mentioned earlier, you should start your hike early in the morning and you should plan one full day for the hike and sightseeing. If you have extra time, you should purchase the two-day pass for Petra and take your time to explore one of the seven wonders of the world.
How to Get the Back Door Entrance From Wadi Musa
The starting point of the back door trail is the Little Petra which is located about 9 kilometers away from Petra Visitor Center in Wadi Musa. You can get to Little Petra either by taking a taxi from Wadi Musa town or by taking a free shuttle bus from Petra Visitor Center. The first shuttle bus leaves in the morning around 7-7:30 AM from the back side of Petra Visitor Center and runs until around 3 PM. The bus goes 2-3 times an hour depending on demand, so you might have to wait a bit until the bus gets full before it leaves.
If you don’t want to wait for the shuttle bus, you can opt for a taxi. You can ask your hotel to arrange a taxi to Litte Petra or pick one up yourself at the Petra Visitor Center. It will take you about 15 minutes to get from Wadi Musa to Little Petra by taxi and cost around 10 JD. The back door route to the Monastery from Little Petra starts right at the entrance to Little Petra at the left of the car park. From there the track goes out into the desert following jeep tracks. The first two kilometers are tough to navigate because of the lack of any markings. That’s why it is recommended to hire a local guide to complete this hike. You can hire a local Bedouin guide directly from Little Petra. If you opt to do the hike independently, make sure to have GPS and an offline map.
Petra Entrance Fee and Opening Times
Although the entrance to Little Petra is completely free, you will need a valid ticket to enter the main site of Petra. They might or might not check your ticket when leaving Petra via the main entrance. Due to this fact, you might be tempted to try to sneak to Petra without a valid ticket, however, It is not recommended to risk it, as entering Petra’s main Site without a valid ticket is illegal. You will have to purchase your ticket in advance from the Petra Visitor Center.
The good news is if you hold a valid Jordan Pass, you can enter Petra for free.
|One Day||50 (J.D)|
|Two Days||55 (J.D)|
|Three days||60 (J.D)|
Children under 12 years old can enter Petra for free.
Petra is open daily from 6 AM to 6 PM during the summer and 6 AM to 4 PM in winter.
Hiking to the Monastery via the Back Door Hiking Route
After about 1 kilometer from the start of the hike, you will approach an ancient village called Al Beidha. It is a Neolithic village that was occupied from 7200 BC until 6500 BC. Beidha village is one of the first inhabited villages in the world and one of the oldest sites in the Middle East. Today you can only see the ruins of the ancient village so you will need to rely mostly on your imagination to visualize how it looked in the past.
After visiting the neolithic village, continue following the jeep tracks through the desert. You will pass through bedouin tents, and see a lot of goats and some camels on the way. You can stop by at one of the Beduin tents for a cap of Arabic tea for 5 JD and rest a bit. Arabic tea is usually made of strong black tea, sage, and a lot of sugar. Sometimes they add spices such as cardamom or cinnamon sticks. It is a good opportunity to get to know Bedouin culture and the people.
After resting at the Beduin tent walk until you reach the narrow path through the rocks with stairs going up. This is the base of the climb where jeep tracks stop. This part of the trail is easier to navigate and marked better.
In about 1-1.5 hours you will reach the monastery where you can buy some cold drinks or snacks and relax a bit. The views over the monastery from the top are the best and there is a great viewpoint to take some nice photos. From Monastery to Petra Visitor Center is about 3,5 kilometers. You will need to go down 800 steps and then you will have a wide straight road directly to the treasury. On the way, you can explore the Royal Tombs, Colonnaded Street, and the Great Temple.
Food and Water
Little Petra to Petra trail via the back door includes a long walk in the open desert under the strong sun. The first part of the trail is quite wild and you will not find any shops or huts. That’s why it is important to have enough water with you. Take at least 2-3 liters of water and dry snacks such as nuts to keep you hydrated and full of energy.
What to Wear
Petra via the back door trail is quite long so wearing comfortable shoes is essential for this hike. Also don’t forget sunscreen and something to cover your head to protect it from the sun. Sandy winds are quite common in a desert and hats or caps might not hold the sand and wind. The best choice is to buy an Arabic head scarf called kaffiyeh. It will protect you from wind and sand, plus it is very comfortable to wear. You can buy it in any local souvenir shop for 5-10 JD.
Best Time to Visit the Monastery in Petra
The best time to visit Ad-Deir Monastery or Petra in general is during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). Both spring and autumn in Jordan have milder temperatures and are quite dry, creating the perfect conditions for hiking in Petra. Summer in Petra can be very hot reaching 104°F (40°C) and should be avoided if possible. Winter, on the other hand, has the lowest temperatures and occasional rainfall.
Petra together with Wadi Rum offers a unique experience and attracts thousands of visitors to Jordan every year. Hiking to the Monastery via the back door trail is a unique experience full of adventure that most people miss. While the hike might be a little bit long and tiring, it is absolutely worth the extra effort. This way you will be able to fully experience Petra and its ancient history. You will not only see the ancient architecture of Petra but will have an opportunity to walk through a desert and admire its spectacular landscape, visit Little Petra, see the ancient Al Beidha village, one of the first inhabited villages in the world, learn more about Bedouin culture and have a chance to admire magnificent Monastery with fewer crowds. The most important is to stay hydrated, wear comfortable shoes, and start the hike early.