The Complete One Day Petra Guide (+FREE Trail Map)

One-day Petra guide with map

Is one day in Petra enough?

Absolutely!

One day is enough time to see all of the main attractions of the Lost City of Petra. This complete one-day Petra guide will help you to make the most of your visit.

As a bonus, you will find a map of Petra with trails and all of the mentioned places at the end of this post.

You will also find tips for the best time to visit Petra, how to not get scammed in Petra, what are your eating and drinking options in Petra, or where to stay in Petra (Wadi Musa).

Petra, the ancient city carved into red cliff faces, is hidden in the rocky mountains and canyons of Jordan and its origin dates to 5th century BC. Petra is called the Lost City because it was unknown to the world for hundreds of years until its discovery in 1812 by a Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Until then, only Bedouins were inhabiting Petra.

Petra is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list and is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Today, Petra is the most visited tourist attraction in Jordan. Almost 800 000 tourists visited Petra in 2017.

What are the main attractions in Petra?

Petra offers hundreds of sites to explore, and lots of others are waiting to be discovered. But certainly, there are some highlights of Petra.

The best places in Petra to see are:

  1. Siq
  2. Treasury
  3. Theatre
  4. Royal Tombs
  5. Monastery

With this itinerary, you will visit all of the main attractions in Petra.

Siq

The 1.2 km long Siq with its high orange walls is simply breathtaking.

The orange walls of the Siq
The orange walls of the Siq

Treasury (Al-Khazneh)

The Treasury is one of the most photographed and visited places in Petra. Tourists are not allowed to go inside.

This guide will tell you how to get to the Treasury viewpoint for even better photos.

The Treasury in Petra
The Treasury in Petra

Theatre

The Theatre was carved into the side of the mountain by the Nabateans and enlarged by the Romans later.

Theatre and Petra City Centre from above
Theatre and Petra City Centre from above

Royal Tombs

The western cliff of the Khubtha mountain hides some majestic tombs. Don’t skip them, you can go inside!

The view of the Royal Tombs from the High Place of Sacrifice
The view of the Royal Tombs from the High Place of Sacrifice

Monastery (Ad-Deir)

The Monastery is located at the very end of Petra. Definitely worth the walk. It’s forbidden to go inside.

The Monastery in Petra
The Monastery in Petra

Hiking trails in Petra

There are four major trails in Petra that will take you to its main attractions:

  1. Main Trail
  2. High Place of Sacrifice Trail (Wadi al Farasa Trail)
  3. Monastery Trail (Ad-Deir Trail)
  4. Treasury Viewpoint Trail (Al-Khubtha Trail)

Except for the Main Trail, all of the other trails are officially rated as hard. I rate them as moderate since I don’t consider hiking uphill as hard. Especially when the trails are well maintained, and there are no obstacles. If you can walk without any problems, it will be moderate for you too.

Main Trail

The Main Trail is the most crowded trail with attractions such as the Siq, the Treasury, the Theatre, the Colonnaded Street, or the Great Temple. It begins at the Petra Visitor Centre and ends at the old Museum and The Basin Restaurant by Crowne Plaza. The terrain of the Main Trail is mostly flat with no steps or obstacles to climb.

With this one day Petra itinerary, you will not walk the Main Trail straight in a row, but you will take side trails.

  • Length: 4 kilometers (one way)
  • Duration: approx. 1 hour and 20 minutes (one way) without stops
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Color on the map: yellow [icon name=”square” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

High Place of Sacrifice Trail (Wadi al Farasa Trail)

The High Place of Sacrifice Trail, also known as the Wadi al Farasa Trail, begins with stairs right after the “Why Not Shop” and ends at Qasr al-Bint (Temple of Dushares). This trail will take you to the High Place of Sacrifice offering an astounding view of Petra, the Lion Monument, the Garden Temple, the Roman Soldier’s Tomb, or Qasr al-Bint.

  • Length: 3.5 kilometers (one way)
  • Duration: approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes (one way) without stops
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Color on the map: blue [icon name=”square” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Monastery Trail (Ad-Deir Trail)

The Monastery (Ad-Deir) Trail begins at the Basin Restaurant by Crowne Plaza and ends at the Monastery (Ad-Deir). Expect lots of stairs.

  • Length: 3.2 kilometers (return)
  • Duration: approx. 45 minutes to the Monastery and 25 minutes back without stops
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Color on the map: green [icon name=”square” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Treasury Viewpoint Trail (Al-Khubtha Trail)

The Treasury Viewpoint (Al-Khubtha) Trail begins shortly before the Royal Tombs and ends at the Treasury Viewpoint. Along this trail, you can visit the majestic Royal Tombs – the Urn Tomb, the Silk Tomb, the Corinthian Tomb, and the Palace Tomb. Also, there will be several viewpoints from the top of the hill. You will climb a lot of stairs again.

  • Length: 3.4 kilometers (return)
  • Duration: approx. 45 minutes there and 30 minutes back without stops
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Color on the map: red [icon name=”square” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

One day Petra itinerary

How to spend one day in Petra?

This one-day Petra itinerary will take you to all of the main attractions and the best viewpoints in Petra.

You will walk about 18 kilometers. Start as early as possible to have enough time to enjoy all of the places. You should leave Petra before dark. If you are quite fit and able to climb stairs, then you will easily make it.

In March, we did this route starting after 8 AM and finishing at 5 PM. See the route itinerary on the map at the end of this post.

The map of Petra with hiking trails
The map of Petra with hiking trails
elevation profile of the one-day Petra itinerary
Elevation profile of the one-day Petra itinerary

First part: The Siq and the Treasury

You will begin your hike at the Petra Visitor Centre in Wadi Musa. During the first part of this trail (950 m), you will walk through Bab as-Siq (Gateway to the Siq) where you can see the Obelisk tomb.

Bab as-Siq – the gateway to the Siq – and the Obelisk Tomb on the left
Bab as-Siq – the gateway to the Siq – and the Obelisk Tomb on the left

The next part will take you to the famous and stunning Siq (1.2 km). It’s a 3–12 meters wide corridor with its walls reaching up to 182 meters. Enjoy the shade if you are visiting Petra during a hot day.

Entrance to the Siq
Entrance to the Siq
The walls of the Siq
The walls of the Siq
Wide part of the Siq
Some parts of the Siq are wide

At the end of the Siq, you will see the Treasury through the narrow canyon. Take a short break and appreciate the magnificent Treasury (also known as Al-Khazneh).

The first glimpse of the Treasury from the Siq
The first glimpse of the Treasury from the Siq

There is a chance you will be approached by local guides offering you to take you to an epic view of the Treasury, but refuse their offers. The thing is there are two viewpoints. One is directly opposite the Treasury (on the left side when you get out of the Siq) – the way there is officially inaccessible for tourists and might be quite dangerous. But they will happily take you there for some money.

This Petra guide will show you how to get the Treasury Viewpoint – located on the right side when you get out of the Siq. For this viewpoint, you do not need any guide, the trail is safe, and you don’t have to pay anything.

The view of the Treasury from above
The view of the Treasury from above

After the Treasury, the Street of Facades begins. You will walk this street for 390 meters, and you can explore some tombs and houses around.

The street of Facades
The street of Facades

When you reach the open area, you will see toilets and small shops on your left. Turn left behind the “Why Not Shop” and take the stairs leading to the High Place of Sacrifice.

Why Not Shop and the beginning of the High Place of Sacrifice Trail
Why Not Shop and the beginning of the High Place of Sacrifice Trail

Second part: Hike to the High Place of Sacrifice

The first physical test of the day begins here on the stairs. You will climb a lot of them! The first part of this trail (1 km) goes up a canyon and will take you to the High Place of Sacrifice. When you reach a small stand with souvenirs, turn right.

The view of the Street of Facades and the Theatre
The view of the Street of Facades and the Theatre
The High Place of Sacrifice (Wadi al-Farasa) Trail
The High Place of Sacrifice (Wadi al-Farasa) Trail

After a while, you will find yourself at a crossroad with a signpost, and you will see a small tea/coffee house on the left and two obelisks behind you on the left. Turn right where a few other steps await you. Just before the end of the stairs, there is a fork, and it doesn’t matter which path you take. You can make a loop or walk there and back the same way, but the High Place of Sacrifice is on the west side of the ridge.

The crossroad with one of the Obelisks before the High Place of Sacrifice
The crossroad with one of the Obelisks before the High Place of Sacrifice

Continue further where a reward in the form of an epic view of Petra awaits you. Have a rest and enjoy the scenery with a tea you can buy at the Bedouin tent there.

The view of Petra from the High Place of Sacrifice viewpoint
The view of Petra from the High Place of Sacrifice viewpoint
The view of the Royal Tombs from the High Place of Sacrifice viewpoint
The view of the Royal Tombs from the High Place of Sacrifice viewpoint
Wadi Musa in the background
Wadi Musa in the background

Head back to the crossroad and continue straight. You will start descending towards Wadi al Farasa, and after 600 meters you will have the Lion Monument (the Lion Fountain) on your left. After another 200 meters, you will get to the Garden Temple followed by the Roman Soldier’s Tomb, the Garden Triclinium, and the Renaissance Tomb.

Resting Bedouins with a donkey in Petra
You will meet Bedouins also out of the Main Trail
Roman Soldier’s Tomb from above
Roman Soldier’s Tomb from above
The Lion Monument
The Lion Monument (Lion Fountain) used to be a fountain
A grazing donkey in Petra
Be nice to animals in Petra and report any mistreatment
The Garden Temple in Petra
The Garden Temple in Petra

Shortly after the Renaissance Tomb and after leaving the canyon, more trails will be available. It doesn’t matter which one you choose as far as you keep walking northwest – they will lead you to Qasr al-Bint and the Main Trail.

A small tea/coffee shop in Petra
Have a tea or a coffee on your way to the Main Trail

When you arrive back to the Main Trail, it will be probably around noon. If you didn’t bring your own food, you can eat at one of two restaurants – Nabataean Tent Restaurant (packed lunch for 7 JOD, lunch buffet for 10 JOD) or The Basin Restaurant by Crowne Plaza (lunch buffet for 17 JOD). If you are not hungry, you will have a chance to get a sandwich at the Monastery for 3 JOD.

Third part: Hike to the Monastery

Another stair challenge of the day. Head north of the restaurants (there was no signpost) – you will get to a canyon and first stairs after 270 meters. After another 120 meters, you can take a short detour to the Lion Triclinium. Just walk in the small canyon behind the signpost.

When you reach the Monastery, you can take a rest at a nearby café with a view of the fabulous monument and have some tea, coffee, snacks, or fresh juice for reasonable prices (3 JOD for sandwich, 3 JOD for fresh juice, 2 JOD for tea/coffe).

The Monastery in Petra
The Monastery in Petra

After the rest, walk towards the west to visit epic viewpoints of the Monastery and surrounding mountains. It will take you 5 to 10 minutes to hike to the first one with a view of the Monastery. This viewpoint is located on a rock and is marked with a “The Best View” sign.

The next viewpoint with a view of a canyon is located more to the west on the edge of the canyon and is marked with signs such as “Wadi Araba View,” “Grand Canyon view,” or “Do Not Miss This Spectacular View.

You will be able to see Israel and Palestine from both of the viewpoints and enjoy tea from local Bedouins.

The view of the Monastery from the nearby lookout
The view of the Monastery from the nearby lookout
A viewpoint in Petra located on a rock
The “Grand Canyon” viewpoint is located on the edge of this rock

It’s time to head back. Prepare for traders saying you promised them to buy something on your return.

Fourth part: Walk through the Petra City Centre

You will pass the restaurants and will walk the Colonnaded Street. Visit the Great Temple and the Nymphaeum on the way to the Royal Tombs and the Al-Khubtha Trail. You can also make a short detour to the Temple of Winged Lions and the Byzantine Church, which are located on the hill to your left.

It is less than 1 kilometer to get to the beginning of the Al-Khubtha Trail and the Royal Tombs area.

Fifth part: Hike to the Treasury Viewpoint

After your walk through the city center of Petra, you will have the Royal Tombs in front of you. Visit the tombs now or after the hike to the Treasury Viewpoint.

Regardless, follow the path along the Royal Tombs to the north, where you will find the stairs leading to the top and to the viewpoint. It is around 500 meters from the Main Trail to the beginning of the stairs. You don’t need any guide for this trail or to pay an entrance fee. This is your last stair mission of the day!

The section with the stairs (around 600 meters) is most exhausting and will take you 20–30 minutes to reach the top. Various viewpoints are accessible during this hike, and you will be able to see the whole city center of Petra and the Theatre.

The Theatre and the city centre of Petra from above
The Theatre and the city centre of Petra from above

A few signposts will help you to navigate there, but the trail is pretty straightforward with almost no chance to get off the path. The last part of the trail is slightly downhill so don’t get confused by this. There will also be several lookouts of the Treasury, but from the angle.

Al-Khubtha Trail in Petra
The Al-Khubtha Trail will take you to the Treasury viewpoint
A sneak peak of the Treasury
A sneak peak of the Treasury

When you reach the end of the ridge, there will be a Bedouin tent with the “The Most Beautiful View In The World” sign. The Bedouins will be happy to have you there, chill and take photos, but in return they want you to buy a cup of tea, coffee, or a cold soft drink for 2 JOD. This is the best place to take photos of the Treasury from above. You can also ask them to use their back door to get to a lower platform below the tent.

If you want to take photos of the sunlit Treasury, head to this viewpoint in the morning and do this itinerary in reverse order.

The Treasury viewpoint
The Treasury viewpoint

Now you need to return back to the Main Trail the same way you came here.

The northern part of Petra and the Bedouin village of Uum Sayhoun in the background
The northern part of Petra and the Bedouin village of Uum Sayhoun in the background

Sixth part: Back to Wadi Musa

Pass the Royal Tombs again and head to the last sight of this itinerary – the Theatre.

Sunset at the Urn Tomb
Sunset at the Urn Tomb

From there, you will walk the Main Trail back to Wadi Musa. It is 2.8 kilometers long walk from the Theatre to the Visitor Centre, and it will take you around 1 hour.

When is the best time to visit Petra

The best time to visit Petra is early morning to avoid the crowds. And you want to enjoy the Siq and the Treasury without people, especially if you want to take beautiful photos. Petra opens at 6 AM, so begin your walk as early as possible. We started our hike after 8 AM, and it was already crowded, mainly in the front of the Treasury.

During hot summer months, the early start will help you to avoid the heat for a while.

The best months to visit Petra are March to May and October to November, so you escape the coldest and hottest months. Moreover, during winter, raining may cause some parts of Petra inaccessible or flash floods. But if you don’t mind cold and want to enjoy less crowded Petra, head there in winter.

We visited Petra in the middle of March, and the weather was sunny and quite hot.

Opening hours of Petra

Petra is open to tourists daily throughout the year.

Petra has opening hours for two seasons:

  • summer: 6 AM to 6 PM, leave before 7 PM
  • winter: 6 AM to 4 PM, leave before 5 PM

Petra by night

Petra by night runs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. You start at 8:30 PM at the Petra Visitor Centre and get back at 10:30 PM.

A goat enjoying dinner at sunset in Petra
A goat enjoying dinner at sunset in Petra

Petra entrance fees

How much is the entrance fee to Petra? It depends on how long you will be in Jordan and on how many days you want to spend by exploring Petra.

Jordan Pass (at least 4 days in Jordan)

If you are visiting Jordan for at least 4 days (3 nights) and planning to visit Petra, the Jordan Pass is a must. It waives the tourist visa fee and includes entrance to Petra and to over 40 other attractions in Jordan such as Jerash, Wadi Rum, or the Karak castle.

The tourist visa fee for Jordan is 40 JOD and the price for one day ticket to Petra is 50 JOD (if you stay for at least one night in Jordan). You will save 20 JOD with the Jordan Pass. Buy you Jordan Pass online prior your arrival to Jordan!

The price of Jordan Pass varies depending on how many days you want to spend in Petra:

  • 70 JOD1 day visit to Petra (Jordan Wanderer)
  • 75 JOD2 consecutive days visit to Petra (Jordan Explorer)
  • 80 JOD3 consecutive days visit to Petra (Jordan Expert)

Less than 4 days in Jordan

If you are staying for 3 days (2 nights) and less in Jordan, the entrance fees to Petra are as follows:

  • 50 JOD1 day entry to Petra
  • 55 JOD2 consecutive days entry to Petra
  • 60 JOD3 consecutive days entry to Petra

Buy the tickets to Petra at the Petra Visitor Centre, online booking is not possible nor necessary.

Entering Jordan via the South Wadi Araba Crossing Border (Eilat – Aqaba)

Already too confusing? Well, the Jordanian officials prepared even more complicated solution for those crossing the Eilat – Aqaba border.

If you travel to Jordan from Israel, enter via the South Wadi Araba Crossing Border (Eilat – Aqaba) and stay in Jordan for 2 consecutive nights, you will get free visa and pay 50 JOD entrance fee to Petra. You might end up paying 10 JOD departure tax when leaving Jordan via South Wadi Araba Crossing border, but the information on this differs (you might not pay anything). For more information, read about crossing the border from Eilat to Aqaba via South Wadi Araba Crossing Border and this discussion on TripAdvisor.

One day visit to Jordan

If you are taking a short one day trip to Jordan without an overnight stay, for example, a one day tour to Petra from Israel, you will pay 90 JOD to enter Petra.

Petra by night

The entrance fee for Petra by night is 17 JOD. It’s not included in your day ticket or Jordan Pass.

Buy the ticket at the Petra Visitor Centre or at your hotel. There is no daily limit (March 2019).

You also have to show your day ticket or Jordan Pass to get in for Petra by night.

Sunset in Petra
Sunset in Petra

How to get to Petra

The closest airport to Petra is in Aqaba. It is 125km away, and it takes about 2 hours by car. Lowcost airlines providing flights to Aqaba are Ryanair, easyJet, and seasonally also Norwegian. Flights to Amman are cheaper and more lowcost airlines are available – Fly Dubai, Laudamotion, Norwegian, Pegasus Airlines or Ryanair. Amman airport is 205km far from Petra, and it takes about 3 hours by car.

If you do not want to rent a car, your best options are JETT buses. Cheaper minibuses are available, but the schedule is not fixed. Lastly, you can use a taxi, which can be convenient when traveling in a group.

In the case of minibuses, you should always ask locals or your hotel to confirm the departure time and to book your seat.

Rent a car in Jordan

Renting a car in Jordan is your best option since Jordan does not have good and frequent public transportation.

We rented our car with Sixt via Rentalcars (2 drivers included in the price). We were not pushed into any additional insurance or upgrades, and they also didn’t try to charge us for any already existing scratches after the drop-off.

Free parking is available at different parking lots near the Petra Visitor Centre. Find them on the map at the end of this post.

From Amman to Petra by bus

JETT bus from Amman to Petra departs daily at 6:30 AM from the JETT bus station in the Al-Abdali district and arrives in Petra at 11 AM. The price is 11 JOD. It seems you can buy the one way ticket only in their mobile app (Android, iOS) or at JETT offices in Amman.

Alternatively, you can take a minibus from the South bus station (Wihdat bus station) in Amman for 7 JOD. They should operate the route Amman – Petra every hour between 6 AM and 4 PM, and depart when full. So it might happen you will need to wait for more passengers, pay for the empty seats, or the minibus will not leave at all.

From Amman to Petra by taxi

You may try to get Uber to Petra (get 5 EUR off your first ride) the price should be about 70 JOD. Otherwise, there will be taxi drivers willing to drive you to Petra. It should cost around 80 JOD, but the price depends on your haggling skills.

From Aqaba to Petra by bus

JETT bus from Aqaba to Petra is also available. It departs daily at 8:00 AM from the JETT office in Aqaba and the price is 12 JOD. You can book this bus ticket online, or at their office.

Minibusses to Petra departs from Aqaba bus station between 6:30 AM and 12 PM. As in the case of Amman, they leave when full too. The price should be 1.85 JOD.

From Aqaba to Petra by taxi

The price for a taxi from Aqaba to Petra should be around 40–50 JOD, but again, it depends on your haggling skills.

From Wadi Rum to Petra by bus

JETT provides a bus connection between Wadi Rum and Petra for 12 JOD, and you can buy the ticket online. The bus departs at 10 AM from the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre.

A minibus is also available, it should depart at around 9 AM from Wadi Rum Village, and the price is 10 JOD.

From Wadi Rum to Petra by taxi

Taxi from Wadi Rum to Petra should cost you around 30–40 JOD.

Organized tours to Petra

Tours to Petra are the best option if you do not want to drive in Jordan or deal with public transportation. You will easily find tours to Petra from Amman, Aqaba, or Israel.

The company JETT also provides tour (return) trips to Petra, and you can book it online. From Amman and Aqaba for 18 JOD, Wadi Rum – Petra – Aqaba for 18 JOD and many more.

Where to eat and drink in Petra

There is many small shops and stalls selling drinks and snacks inside Petra. The price for a bottle of water is usually 1 JOD and for other soft drinks and snacks 2–3 JOD.

There are two restaurants in Petra. Both are located in the Basin area at the end of the Main Trail.

  • Nabataean Tent Restaurant – smaller and cheaper restaurant offers a lunch buffet for the price of 10 JOD or packed lunch for 7 JOD.
  • The Basin Restaurant by Crowne Plaza – the price for lunch buffet is 17 JOD, drinks not included.

Save money and prepare your lunch and snacks before visiting Petra.

Tea and coffee are available at almost every Bedouin tent or stall. The price is usually 2 JOD. If the Bedouins invite you, a tip may be expected.

Scams in Petra

Petra is a safe place to visit. You may run into several scams and con artists in Petra. Don’t let this stop you from visiting this ancient city. If you are unsure about any situation, contact the tourist police in Petra (find the locations on the map).

Al-Khubtha Trail (Treasury Viewpoint) scam

There have been reports Bedouins will block your way and ask you to pay them (tens of dinars) so you can hike the Al-Khubtha Trail – the trail that leads to the Treasury overlook. Don’t pay them anything, they have no right to ask money for this hike, and the trail is accessible free of charge to anybody. We didn’t encounter this scam.

In case this happens to you, the nearest tourist police office is located opposite the “Why Not Shop.

Bedouin romance scam

Some girls might become a target of Bedouins trying to seduce them to take advantage of them later. That includes sex, marriage and asking them for money. But remember that not every Bedouin has bad intentions.

Free horse ride in Petra

You will be approached by horse handlers telling you the horse ride is included in your ticket. What they won’t tell you is a tip is more than expected after the ride (even 10 JOD). If you refuse to pay, they won’t be happy at all.

Vendors’ scams

Happy hours, big discounts and the best prices – typical lies to attract less experienced tourists. Don’t forget to bargain.

On your return from the Monastery, vendors will be telling you that you promised them to buy something on your way back. They won’t forget to add they are honest and truthful so you should keep your word.

Where to stay in Petra (Wadi Musa)

Before or after one day in Petra, it is convenient to stay for one night in Wadi Musa – the city next to Petra. There are many options for accommodation in Wadi Musa – hostels, guest houses, hotels, or luxurious hotel resorts like Petra Marriott Hotel or Mövenpick Resort Petra.

We stayed at the Petra Capsule Hostel, which is probably not the type of hostel you are used to. Your bunk bed is actually a capsule, and it is pretty cozy. Each of the capsules is for one or two persons, has its own light, power outlets, and if you are lucky, a big window overlooking the city. But don’t worry, you will not share a capsule with a stranger. Private rooms are also available.

If you are looking for some unique accommodation in Petra, go for Petra Bubble Luxotel, which is located 7 kilometers north of Petra. Each bubble has air conditioning which is a must for such a type of accommodation.

Another often recommended place to stay in Petra is Rafiki Hostel with very good reviews. They offer dorm rooms and private rooms.

Petra Capsule Hostel

Petra Capsule HostelInteresting concept of a hostel located in the city center.

Petra Bubble Luxotel

Luxurious and unique accommodation with the scenery of Mars.

Rafiki Hostel

Rafiki Hostel PetraOne of the cheapest accommodations with very good reviews.

Mövenpick Resort Petra

5-star resort located next to the entrance to the ancient city of Petra.

The rules prohibit overnight stays in Petra. Yet, Bedouins offer overnight stays in their caves in Petra. You can find their offers on Couchsurfing and Airbnb (get 37 EUR off your first Airbnb stay). But this might not be the best decision for solo traveling girls.

Camping is not permitted in Petra.

Movies shot in Petra

Several movies were shot in the ancient city of Petra. The most famous films are:

Now you can get 30-day free trial on Amazon Prime, but unfortunately, these movies are not included with Prime.

Free Petra map with trails

I created a map of sights, viewpoints and trails in Petra on Google Maps. It will help you to navigate inside Petra and follow the itinerary.

The Petra map includes:

  • trails in Petra
  • sights in Petra
  • the best viewpoints in Petra
  • toilets in Petra
  • restaurants in Petra
  • some tea/coffee spots in Petra
  • tourist police posts in Petra
  • free parking in Wadi Musa
  • hotels and hostels in Wadi Musa

View a larger map by clicking the enlarge button in the top right corner of the map.

There is also Lonely Planet Jordan travel guide that covers Petra and describes its history and sights.

How to view the Petra map in Google Maps on your phone

This free Petra map will be handy for navigation in Petra. You can view it in your Google Maps on your iPhone or Android phone.

You need to have Google Maps installed on your phone (Android, iOS).

  1. Log in to your Google account in your web browser.
  2. Return to this page and click the star [icon name=”star-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] next to the map name. It will save the map into your maps.
  3. Open the Google Maps app on your phone (you need to be logged in to your Google account).
  4. Tap the menu icon [icon name=”bars” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] [icon name=”angle-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Your places [icon name=”angle-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Maps (swipe to the left in the top menu).
  5. Select Petra map with trails.

Can I use the Petra map offline?

If you have previously loaded the map online in your Google Maps app, then yes, you will be able to use the Petra map offline.

Is Petra on your bucket list? I hope this complete one-day Petra guide will help you with your trip. Let me know in the comments if you have any question!

Lagodekhi waterfalls – Ninoskhevi & Black Grouse Waterfall

Lagodekhi Waterfalls

The town of Lagodekhi is located in Kakheti – the eastern part of Georgia – on the edge of the Lagodekhi Protected Areas and near the border with Azerbaijan. It’s easily reachable from Tbilisi by marshrutkas, and most people visit Lagodekhi for its preserved nature and hiking activities. You can easily hike to two waterfalls in Lagodekhi – Ninoskhevi and Black Grouse.

If you decide to hike to Black Rock Lake (a three-day long hike), you should be able to see some other waterfall, but I don’t know where exactly, its name, or if it’s possible to walk there since I didn’t hike this trail. You can ask about this at the Lagodekhi Protected Areas visitors center (197 Vashlovani St., Lagodekhi).

You will find all of the mentioned places on the map at the end of this post.

Ninoskhevi Waterfall (Gurgeniani Waterfall)

Ninoskhevi Waterfall is 40 meters high waterfall that pours down into a watering hole and its power offers a refreshing shower. You can take a dip in the main pool under the waterfall, but it’s better to use one of the smaller pools below.

The waterfall is named after the Ninoskhevi river on which is located, and it’s also called Gurgeniani Waterfall after the nearest village. Locals also call it Great or Big Waterfall.

40 meters high Ninoskhevi Waterfall is a true gem of Lagodekhi
40 meters high Ninoskhevi Waterfall is a true gem of Lagodekhi

How to get to Ninoskhevi Waterfall

  • Duration: 4–6 hours
  • Distance: 10 km in total
  • Min. elevation: 605 m
  • Max. elevation: 1 055 m

To get to Ninoskhevi Waterfall, you need to get to the village of Khizabavra (right after Gurgeniani village), where the trail to Ninoskhevi waterfall starts. The best way to get there is in a rented car or by taxi from Lagodekhi. A taxi shouldn’t be expensive, I’d say around 10 or 15 GEL one way. If you are coming by car, there is a free parking lot next to the starting point of the trail. You can of course also walk from Lagodekhi, but it’s more than 10 km just to the village.

There is no entrance fee or opening time, so you can go whenever you want to.

Info boards about Ninoskhevi waterfall at the start of the trail
Info boards about Ninoskhevi waterfall at the start of the trail

The whole hike to the waterfall and back takes 4 to 6 hours, and it depends on the conditions of the trail. It took us around 3 hours to get to Ninoskhevi waterfall because the trail wasn’t in perfect conditions after heavy rains. There was only one wooden bridge across the river at the beginning and later we had to cross the river on our own several times – nothing dangerous or challenging though.

You can’t get lost on the way since you follow the river in its riverbed or the trail in the forest, but often you have to choose your own path.

You willYou will walk through an untouched greeny forest full of brackens and climbing plants walk through greeny forest full of bracken
You will walk through an untouched greeny forest full of brackens and climbing plants
Sometimes you will cross the Ninoskhevi river over a bridge
Sometimes you will cross the Ninoskhevi river over a bridge
This was a real obstacle for me
This was a real obstacle for me
And sometimes you will have to cross it on your own
And sometimes you will have to cross it on your own
In some parts of the trail to Ninoskhevi Waterfall, you will have to climb a little bit
In some parts of the trail to Ninoskhevi Waterfall, you will have to climb a little bit
Or to deal with fallen trees
Or to deal with fallen trees

If you are using Google Maps, be aware that there are three spots for this waterfall and two of them are wrong. The one closest to the village is just the start of the trail, the middle one is the correct one, and the farthest one is also misplaced. Use my map below to get the exact location of the waterfall.

Camping at Ninoskhevi Waterfall

If you want to camp at Ninoskhevi Waterfall, you can. One spot is below the waterfall on the right side of the river (I hope you know how to determine the side of a river). If you continue upstream, there should be another place for camping on the left side of the river. Unfortunately, the first spot was full of trash – plastic bags, bottles, rotten food, or a tarp. You can also camp near the parking lot.

Bring some snack and enjoy a picnic next to the waterfall

Black Grouse Waterfall (Rocho Waterfall)

  • Duration: 3–5 hours
  • Distance: 9 km in total
  • Min. elevation: 560 m
  • Max. elevation: 946 m

Black Grouse Waterfall is a much smaller waterfall with a height of 6 meters, but still a very beautiful one with nice surroundings. You can easily take a dip in the pool because the waterfall is not so powerful here.

Black Grouse means Rocho in Georgian, that’s why you can find two names for this waterfall.

Black Grouse Waterfall is only 6 meters high but still a spectacular one.
Black Grouse Waterfall is only 6 meters high but still a spectacular one.

How to get to Black Grouse Waterfall

The hike to Black Grouse Waterfall starts in the town of Lagodekhi, right next to the Lagodekhi Protected Areas visitors center. This trail is well marked, and it took me less than 2 hours to reach the waterfall. You will cross the Shromiskhevi River a few times even though there are some bridges. Most of the time you walk through the forest next to the river, so the terrain is easier than the one to Ninoskhevi Waterfall. The final part of the trail is quite steep and narrow in some places, but easily doable with a little caution.

There is also no entrance fee neither opening time.

Info board about Black Grouse waterfall at the start of the trail
Info board about Black Grouse waterfall at the start of the trail
The first part of the trail goes mostly through the riverbed of the Shromiskhevi River
The first part of the trail goes mostly through the riverbed of the Shromiskhevi River
There are some bridges, but sometimes you will still have to cross the river by foot
There are some bridges, but sometimes you will still have to cross the river by foot
Jungle vibes in Georgia?
Jungle vibes in Georgia?
You can take a dip at the pool of Black Grouse Waterfall
You can take a dip at the pool of Black Grouse Waterfall

Camping at Black Grouse Waterfall

At the waterfall, there is no suitable spot for camping because there are only stones and rocks. But in the last part of the trail, you will pass a place with a sign that should do the job. In Lagodekhi, you can camp in Ocho camp.

How to get from Tbilisi to Lagodekhi

The cheapest way to get from Tbilisi to Lagodekhi is by marshrutka. Marshrutkas depart from the Isani metro station in Tbilisi every one or two hours between 7:40 and 18:15. It costs 7 GEL, and the journey takes two and a half hours.

We passed through Signagi, so if you are looking for transportation from Signagi to Lagodekhi, you can easily do it.

For the journey from Tbilisi, I paid straight to the driver and on the way back I bought a ticket at the bus station in Lagodekhi.

Where to stay in Lagodekhi

I stayed at Lagodekhi Woods Guest House, and I can’t recommend this place highly enough! It’s very close to the Lagodekhi Protected Areas visitors center and approximately 20 minutes by walking from the bus station. The accommodation is a private room with a bathroom and a kitchen, and you can also relax in their green garden. The family lives in the house next to your place, is super hospitable, and I had one of my best times in Georgia with them.

Because Lagodekhi is a popular area for travelers, you will find lots of accommodations in Lagodekhi.

From restaurants in Lagodekhi, I can recommend Dzveli Sakhli, Wald Hotel Lagodekhi, or Royal Palace. There is also Nikora Supermarket on the main road.

Lagodekhi Woods Guesthouse

Lagodekhi Woods GuesthousePERSONAL TIP. Private room with bathroom and kitchen, close to the national reserve.

Map of places in Lagodekhi

P.S. Keep it clean! There are no trash bins along the trail so keep your trash! Trash bins are located at the start of both trails. Sadly, there is a lot of garbage around the trail. You can do something good for your only planet and bring a part of it back with you. Thanks!

The sad part of the Lagodekhi Protected Areas – trash everywhere
The sad part of the Lagodekhi Protected Areas – trash everywhere

Cliff jumping in Sarpi, Georgia

Cliff jumping Sarpi

Bored with swimming and sunbathing at Georgian beaches? Get a free dose of adrenaline and try cliff jumping in Sarpi! Sarpi is 18 km south of Batumi, and it’s not only a border crossing town between Georgia and Turkey. It also offers some cliffs to jump off into the Black Sea.

Cliff jumping in Sarpi
Cliff jumping in Sarpi

Cliff jumping spots in Sarpi

The cliff jumping spots in Sarpi are located at the northern tip of Sarpi beach, and you can easily walk there from the main parking lot next to the border crossing.

There are two cliff diving spots next to each other. The lower one can be about 2 meters high while the higher one can be about 6 or 7 meters high. From both of the spots, you jump into the same deep and safe area.

It’s pretty straightforward to get back to the lower rock after jumping. To get back to the higher one, you either swim to the beach or swim to the left and climb the rock from there. Some parts are slippery so be careful.

During sunny summer days, it can get a little bit crowded, but not everybody is willing to jump immediately so feel free to skip the line up there.

The lower cliff jumping spot is on the left, the higher one on the right
The lower cliff jumping spot is on the left, the higher one on the right
Jumping off the higher cliff
Jumping off the higher cliff
Crowded cliff jumping spots in Sarpi
Crowded cliff jumping spots in Sarpi

How to get to Sarpi from Batumi

Before going to Sarpi, you will be probably staying or transferring in Batumi. The cheapest way to get from Batumi to Sarpi is by marshrutka. Because there is a border crossing to Turkey in Sarpi, marshrutkas frequently depart from Tbilisi square – a parking lot next to the main road between Holy Mother Virgin Nativity Cathedral and Argo Cable Car station. The price for a marshrutka is 1 GEL, and you pay when you get off.

If you are staying far away from Tbilisi sq., you can get to the square by taxi, it should cost you around 3–6 GEL depending on the distance. For example, the price for a route from McDonald’s next to the Batumi Mall to Tbilisi sq. was less than 4 GEL. The second option to catch a marshrutka to Sarpi is to stop it on the way. Marshrutkas follow the main road E70 to Sarpi so you can stop them anywhere and if there is some free place, the driver will take you.

You can also take a taxi from Batumi to Sarpi. It should cost you around 15 GEL one way.

What to do in Sarpi

Not into cliff jumping? Well, except for swimming and sunbathing, there is hardly anything else to do. You can visit St. Andrew the Apostle church, do some hiking in the surrounding mountains, or go for a trip to visit an ancient Roman fortress in Gonio.

The beach in Sarpi. The church is on the left, the border crossing building in the middle.
The beach in Sarpi. The church is on the left, the border crossing building in the middle.

Where to stay in Sarpi

Even though Sarpi is just a small town, you will find many guesthouses there with prices starting at 30 GEL per night.

Guesthouse Lazika

Guest House Lazika in Sarpi

Guest house Lazika in Sarpi has the best reviews and offers a view of Black Sea.

Guesthouse Emily

Guest House Emily in Sarpi

Guest house Emily offers the cheapest accommodation in Sarpi with a view of Black Sea.

Renting a car in Georgia and my experience with CARS 4 RENT

Rent a car in Georgia with CARS 4 RENT

Renting a car can often become a nightmare full of hidden fees and other unpleasant practices by car rental companies. When I wanted to rent a car in Georgia, I did a survey in advance, and CARS 4 RENT car rental seemed to be the best one regarding the reviews and prices. Also, the rental price includes full car insurance and additional drivers.

With my friends who came to Georgia for the first time, we wanted to save time and have the opportunity to stop wherever and whenever we want to. We rented Subaru Forester, a 4WD car suitable for easier off-road (which you will encounter even on the main roads in Georgia), avoiding waiting for marshrutkas and bargaining with taxi drivers.

Subaru Forester rented with CARS 4 RENT

Choosing a car with CARS 4 RENT

When renting a car with CARS4 RENT, you will get exactly the type of car you choose. There is no “or similar car” here.

After selecting the date and the place of return/lease, the available cars will be categorized according to their year of production, you will find any additional info, and each car is labeled with its category (city/highway, easy off-road and any off-road). CARS 4 RENT has the cheapest rental cars in the Discounted Vehicles group that were manufactured between 2001 and 2006. There is a reason for the discount for each vehicle, for example, right-hand drive car.

Once you make your booking, you will receive an email containing a confirmation link.


TourRadar

Most of the cars have an automatic transmission and among the cheapest cars are Toyota Prius, Ford Fiesta, or Mitsubishi Pajero.

If you want to learn about car insurance, payment, changing and canceling rental and many more, read their terms and conditions.

Cows on the road while driving in Georgia

Collecting your car

When we arrived to collect our car, we were already awaited by an English speaking employee in front of CARS 4 RENT office in Tbilisi. He took us straight to the car where we signed the contract (which is both in English and Georgian), we got the keys, and that was it. Quick and simple.

Because you have 100% insurance, you don’t have to deal with inspecting your car for any scratches.

Returning your car

We chose a one-way rental and returned our car in Kutaisi. They just checked if the fuel tank is full and within a minute the car was returned.

The car rented with CARS 4 RENTAL at the Paravani Lake

What you might be interested in when renting a car in Georgia with CARS 4 RENT

When I rent a car, I am always interested in the following information. For other frequent questions, visit the car rental’s website.

Do I need a credit card?

No, with CARS 4 RENT, you can rent a car without a credit card. You can pay for the rental in cash or by card.

Mileage and return with the full or empty fuel tank?

The mileage is unlimited. You will get the car with a full tank, and you will also be returning the vehicle with the full tank.

Is it necessary to wash the car before returning?

We were advised to return it clean. Anyway, we drove our car in the rain and off-road, so it was needed. You will find a lot of smaller garage car washers everywhere. We paid 5 GEL for washing the car’s exterior.

Do I need international driving license?

No, you are OK with your national driving license (in Latin or Cyrillic) if you are staying in Georgia for no more than one year.

Minimum age of the driver and additional drivers

Anybody over 21 who holds a driving license for at least 1 year can drive the rental car. The lessor of the vehicle must be present.

Car insurance

The price of the rental vehicle with CARS 4 RENT includes full car insurance with no excess.*

Damage caused to third parties – anything outside of the vehicle – is insured up to 50,000 USD.

*The insurance does not apply only to tire damage during off-road driving, the excess here varies between 39 and 95 EUR.

Assistance in case of problems

In case of any problem or accident, 24/7 support is available on the phone.

Off-road driving in Georgia with the car rented with CARS 4 RENT

Renting a car in Georgia with CARS 4 RENT was a positive experience, and I can recommend this car rental company for everyone, whether you decide to rent a car in Tbilisi, Kutaisi or Batumi. They also have great reviews on Facebook (4.9 out of 5) and on Google Maps (4.8 out of 5), and their helpful and English speaking staff will always be available to you.

CARS 4 RENT car rental

[icon name=”globe” class=”” unprefixed_class=””][icon name=”facebook-square” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]
[icon name=”map-marker” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] CARS 4 RENT, 24a Shalva Dadiani, Tbilisi, 0105
[icon name=”phone” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] +995 557 17 11 44 (24/7, Viber, WhatsApp)
[icon name=”envelope-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] info@world4you.travel

Branch offices of CARS 4 RENT

CARS 4 RENT has branches in the three largest cities of Georgia – Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Batumi. However, you can collect your car at an airport or any different address.

Tbilisi

24a Shalva dadiani, Tbilisi

Kutaisi

65 Baratashvili, Kutaisi

Batumi

80 Giorgi Tsereteli, Batumi

20 steps to become a true Georgian driver

Driving in Georgia

Driving in Georgia is… Specific. It seems many Georgian drivers have been gifted with immortality. Well, at least they drive as if they were. Even though I have spent there three months, traveling in Georgia by car can always surprise me and give me a heart attack.

1. Buy a CNG car with the steering wheel on the right side because it’s cheaper. The less you see when passing, the better.

2. You should buy BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

3. You have the CNG car so don’t forget to ask passengers to leave the car when refueling. Safety is safety. But, for God’s sake, don’t forget to smoke during refueling!

4. Reverse on a highway.

5. Don’t keep garbage inside your car but throw it out of the window immediately.

6. Pass in bends.

7. Pass when there is a solid line. Twice more points if it’s a double solid line.

8. Pass when there is oncoming traffic.

9. Pass inside a tunnel. With lights off.

10. Pass when a car from oncoming traffic is also passing.

11. Make your own variants of dangerous passing.

12. Have a crack in the windscreen. The more, the better hierarchical position.

13. In bends, show off that you can use two lanes at once.

14. Listen to a crappy, cheap and loud Russian and Georgian music.

15. Don’t slow down when there are cows or pigs chilling on the road. They might moooove.

16. Only use the safety belt in the presence of the police, but only the chest part. Freedom is freedom.

17. Take more passengers in the car than what it is intended for, so the one in the middle seat doesn’t have to use the seatbelt. On behalf of Georgian drivers, we wish you a pleasant flight.

18. Turn on the lights when it’s really dark. Until then no one needs to see you.

19. Ignore the pedestrians who want to use the crosswalk.

20. If you need to cross yourself when spotting a cross, but you have one hand out of the window holding a cigarette, use the hand you are holding the steering wheel with. True masters can do this in bends.

Anyway, I can recommend visiting this beautiful and hospitable country to everyone. You can always use a train or a plane for traveling around Georgia. Have you been to Georgia? Do you have more tips how to become a true Georgian driver? Or some scary stories from Georgian roads? Let me know in the comments below.

Mountain village of Masuleh

Mountain village of Masuleh

The previous part: Desert, camels and salt lake at Kashan

Soundtrack for this article:

After returning to Tehran, we went for couchsurfing. Another great Iranian host took care of us and offered all his hospitality. This time, however, he was not a Muslim, but a Bahá’í. And so we could first learn about the “peacefulness” of the Iranian regime to religious minorities. But about how our host was tortured in the next post.

We had a dinner, played games with friends, and began to figure out what to do in the remaining days. After our arrival in Iran, we have thoroughly enjoyed the Tehran smog, so we were for some nature, and I was curious about the Caspian Sea. So we chose to visit Chalus, where many Tehran holidaymakers go on weekends and holidays.

Double disappointment in Chalus

The next morning we went to the nearby Western Bus Terminal and looked for savari – a shared taxi – to Chalus. The departure was right after filling the car, as we used to be for it in Georgia.

The journey to two hundred miles away Chalus leads through epic scenery through the Alborz Mountains and lasts for about four hours.

In Chalus, we found ourselves somewhere in the middle of the city and tried to find a wi-fi to check if someone from the local couchsurfers replied, even we contacted them last minute. However, no public wi-fi was anywhere, and hard-won hacking skills like typing password 12345678 were useless. We went to a local pizzeria where they did not have a wi-fi but had a menu in Persian. With gestures, I explained that I want any pizza, but without mushrooms. Mushrooms and raisins are my greatest enemies in the food kingdom. Succeeded. And after a while comes the first disappointment of the day – pizza with mushrooms. Mamnoon.

We managed to get the internet in a cafe where we went only to ask them if they have wi-fi. None of the couchsurfers replied, and we couldn’t find a hostel mentioned by Lonely Planet. So we decided to check out the coast in the hope that we might choose some hotel there. We couldn’t get rid of a taxi driver who brought us there as we couldn’t get rid of the disappointment number two – a dirty and boring beach. We quickly pulled out from the original plan to spend there the two days and started looking for another savari to Rasht.

Don’t go to Iran without cash

Finding accommodation in Rasht was easier than in Chalus. We could have even chosen. In the first one, they didn’t have internet and shower wasn’t included in the price. And that would be a disaster to pay a few extra cents for the shower! In the second one, a sign was saying “wifa”, which was promising. From sleeping on the floor, we got to sleeping in beds whose mattresses were hard as the floor. We had our own shower, but one had to almost stand by his foot in the toilet to fit into that room.

Two days before the end of our stay, we started to run out of rials, so we had to exchange more. During the evening walk through the city, we tried to find an exchange, but they were already closed. And the next day was a holiday. As a foreigner you won’t withdraw from ATM, so you have to bring all the cash with you and hope it’ll be enough. On the street, somebody advised us to try some hotel reception. We were able to find one after a while, a gentleman at the reception called someone and told us to wait. But of course, we didn’t have the money with us, so we had to rush back to the hostel across the square where the Ashura celebrations were happening, the terrible “Husayn music” was torturing your ears and its only purpose had to be to break windows within a radius of ten kilometers. Eventually, we managed to exchange the money for a normal exchange rate.

What a pity we killed a lot of time in Chalus, Rasht is a nice city and worth a visit.

Masuleh – a village with rooftops instead of sidewalks

For the journey to Masuleh, we chose savari. The transfer was supposed to be in Fuman, but the driver asked us where we were going and that he will take us to Masuleh. A surprise came when paying for the ride. At first for us, then for him. Savari suddenly became a taxi with a tourist surcharge, even though we asked him about the price in Fuman. Eventually, he wanted to charge us ten times more than we would have paid for a full savari. And still much more than if we have paid for empty places. Beeing pissed, we gave him about the half – still a win-lose situation for him.

Masuleh is a photogenic mountain village with two waterfalls where the roofs of lots of houses serve as sidewalks. And we appeared here just when one of the Ashura processions took place. The vast majority of people were in black, and we could see how they were preparing for it from the roofs. As a bonus, women were walking through the aisles and were giving out biscuits. Even to us. And it was the best cookie I ever had.

After visiting the village, we moved to Fuman, the city famous for biscuits. But I didn’t find them so awesome like the one in Masuleh. Locals helped us how to get to the bus station and even escorted us and paid the tickets for us to get there. Then we spent another few hours on the bus to Tehran.

A dinner with a teacher from an underground university and the departure from Iran

From the Argentina terminal in Tehran, no taxi driver wanted to take us back to our couchsurfing host at a normal price. Suddenly a soldier helped us, stopped a passing taxi and set the price for fifteen thousand tomans, ten thousand less than the others drivers wanted. Eventually, he tried to give us five thousand, but we refused. We just wanted to pay the normal price. So the soldier gave the money to the driver and told us to not to pay him more than ten thousand. Deal. And so we met the first taxi driver in Iran who turned on a taximeter. Which, in the end, showed much more than we had agreed. But we kept our part of the deal.

I don’t remember much about our last day in Tehran. Which is strange because they sell no alcohol there. Legally. We’ve visited the Saei Park, and in the evening we went for a dinner to a professor of an underground university. Some people are denied access to higher education, mainly because of their different religion. So the solution is these forbidden “underground universities” when students meet with teachers at home.

Later, we just packed our bags, welcomed new couchsurfers, gave them some tips, and got a taxi at a normal price to the Imam Khomeini Airport to enjoy a night flight to Istanbul and some to drop the scarf off the head.

Desert, camels and salt lake at Kashan

Desert, camels and salt lake at Kashan

The previous part: Is Yazd the most beautiful city in Iran?

Play the music for better atmosphere:

To Kashan around anti-aircraft guns

Departure to the Isfahan Bus Station was according to the classic scenario. Stop a taxi, negotiate a reasonable price and then find someone to show us where to buy a ticket and from which platform the bus departs. Almost every car can be your taxi, and it’s easier to haggle the price down than with a regular taxi driver. At the bus station, you just look confused and lost, and someone will take care of you immediately. Not sure if those people are employees destined for lost souls, or they just hound people around to fill the buses, but we have never paid more we were supposed to. Of course only if they don’t state that there is just one bus (the more expensive one) in a few hours, which happened to us in Shiraz. Then you have to ask someone else for a cheaper or an earlier one.

I was looking forward to the journey to Kashan because the road runs around the Natanz Nuclear Power Plant, where they also enrich uranium and the facility is surrounded by anti-aircraft guns. But in the end, it was nothing spectacular. At many places, there was a “wall” from piles of clay so some disobedient tourists could not take a photo and give it to the US or Israel. Or not to end at a long and unpleasant interrogation (in the better case).

The king of couchsurfing in Kashan

At the bus station in Kashan, we raised false hopes of earnings in one taxi driver, but we only needed to call to our next couchsurfer to pick up us. That couchsurfer was a local couchsurfing guru Mohammad with 500 references. He took us to his home, accommodated in their bedroom with a giant bed and fed with a great pasta. While we were drinking a few cups of tea, a driver with his little son (let’s call him Mowgli) was already waiting for us to go to the desert and the salt lake.

For the first time in our lives, we were greeted by camels in the desert, and by other dunes. Those in the Varzaneh desert were more interesting, though there should be bigger dunes behind the Maranjab caravanserai, which we also went to visit. Not that we knew why, but the driver brought us there enthusiastically. It should serve as an accommodation, but it was all unfinished and the only people there were workers. For just a short visit and tea, we were punished by paying about 10,000 tomans.

In particular, I wanted to make it to the Namak salt lake for the sunset, which is not far, but the sun was already damn low. Luckily, we made it and did not forget to taste the ground to check if it is salty. Although we had the opportunity to spend as much time as we wanted to in the desert, Mowgli was already tired, so we did not wait for the starry sky and headed back to Kashan.

The journey from the salt lake lasted well over an hour. The last stop was at Mohammed Helal mosque in the nearby town of Aran va Bigdol, where we ate a melon and saw graves next to the mosque for the first time. They consisted only of tiles with the name of the person, and everybody could walk on them.

Back at home we had a dinner (maybe I should have written the names of meals because I do not remember any except for kebab) and watched news that informed about the events in the world in the same way like western media inform about the Middle East.

Over the roofs of a bazaar

We spent only one night in Kashan and the next day Mohammad took us to the Underground City of Nushabad. It was not opened yet so we went to a nearby 800 years old fort where you can climb to its walls and towers.

We entered the underground city without a guide, so Mohammad told us about the giant well we could step in, and then we could get lost in the tunnels and chambers on our own. But actually, there are not so many options to get lost since only a small part is open to the public. After a while, other tourists with a guide appeared, so we followed them and learned how this city worked and why. It served to the inhabitants to hide in the time of being attacked, and because of many shelters, they could easily ambush and kill the intruders. It was possible to live underground for many days.

The last stop was the Agha Bozorg mosque, which serves as a theological school with a library.

After that, we said goodbye with Mohammad and left to the local bazaar, where we were advised to climb on its roof. After a while of crawling, we arrived at a fountain and asked the nearby merchants if they would give us directions to the roof. They asked about 10,000 tomans for that, but we managed to haggle it down to 4,000. But if you can find your way up there, you probably do not have to pay to anyone. The view and the mud roof absolutely worth it. You can climb wherever you want, like to the very top of the dome under which the fountain is located. Besides, there are steps, so why not. After a while at the top of the dome, a man, probably a guide because he was with tourists, called on Kačka to go down and something about the police. I guess he was just envious because he was with his tourists just on the boring roof of some house.

Our visit to Kashan came to an end and we were waiting for a bus back to Tehran, where we arranged couchsurfing near the Azadi Tower this time.

Adrenaline canyoning in Bali

Canyoneering Bali

After spending a few months in Bali, I wanted to try something more unique than snorkeling or hiking a volcano. Last year’s canyoning on Filipino island of Cebu didn’t cure my fear of heights, but that didn’t stop me from doing something “worse” in Bali. This time the difficulty increased due to abseiling. Adventure and Spirit offers several canyoning (or canyoneering) tours of various difficulty in the northern part of Bali. I chose Double K Discovery in the Kerenkali canyon, which consists of two separately available parts of Kalimudah and Kali Kecil.

PREPARATION FOR GETTING WET

The meeting in their base camp at the Gitgit Falls was at eight o’clock in the morning. You can choose breakfast from several meals such as scrambled eggs, nasi goreng, or pancake and tea or coffee. Meanwhile, we met an incredibly friendly and entertaining, three-member team of instructors – two of them will take care of your survival and one will document your survival efforts by taking photos and filming. After filling in the personal information document, we were introduced to the canyon profile and the necessary equipment. There was a theoretical and practical briefing on how to handle the equipment and how to move safely in the canyon. We put on our neoprenes, get on a pickup truck, and headed to the start of the canyon.

SLIDES, JUMPING, ABSEILING, AND ZIP-LINE

After about fifteen minutes we arrived, walked another part to the start point through a jungle and suddenly we were walking through a pleasantly cool stream toward the first dose of adrenaline. To warm up, there was a first slide that did not slip very much. The next obstacle was worth it – the first abseiling. Well, my performance wasn’t perfect, but for the first time… Maybe one day I’ll do it in three seconds instead of thirty like instructors. Then the first jump follows, and instructor Rama makes it easier by counting, so if you’re at least somewhat determined to jump those four meters, then you won’t stand there forever. Make sure you propel enough, so you don’t meet the sloping rock below. When you come up to the surface and look back up, you just think it’s not that high. A zip-line was waiting for us at the end of Kalimudah. There we had to abseil a few meters and then enjoy the ride. And the answer to the question how do we stop at the end? The cliff wall will do it for us.

After about two hours, we arrived at the end of the first part where there was the longest abseiling through the waterfall that tried to take my contact lenses. Fortunately without success. Under the waterfall, there are the remains of a temple and a hot spring pond, which has come to hand. We got snacks and tea and went to the second part called Kali Kecil. Even though it is shorter, it certainly isn’t boring. Two water slides, two abseiling, and one jump. Upon completion of the second part, the car was waiting for us in the parking lot, and after a while, we were having a lunch back at the base camp.

YOU WILL BECOME PART OF THE ICOpro COMMUNITY

The whole trip took us a little over three hours, and I wouldn’t mind if it was longer. At lunch, those who survived (all of us) received an ICOpro member card of a Canyoneer Initiation (ICTC/CAI) level. So if you wish to continue with canyoning, it can bring you some benefits, and you can also go for a professional career. You can also view a map of canyons on their website.

Where to book?

At the Adventure & Spirit website, or in their office in Ubud.

Price?

From 110 to 495 USD. 15% discount for ICOpro card holders. The price includes transport, breakfast and lunch, all equipment and photos (take an USB stick or memory card). Videos are for extra 10 USD.

My rating?

I want to do it again right now!

Further information

You can keep your things at the base camp, so if it’s just your stop on the way, you don’t have to worry about luggage. There are also showers and toilets. I didn’t take my phone with me to the canyon on the instructor’s recommendation, but it shouldn’t be a problem with a waterproof case if you place it properly when jumping. So if you want to experience something else than beaches, yoga, rice fields and adrenaline while riding a motorbike, then I can highly recommend getting some adrenaline with Adventure and Spirit in one of the Bali’s canyons.

ADVENTURE & SPIRIT

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[fac_icon icon=”map-marker” color=”#ff5353″ color_hover=”#ff5353″] Headquarters: Jl. Raya Mas No.62, MAS, Ubud | Base camp Gitgit: Jl. Raya Bedugul – Singaraja, Gitgit, Sukasada
[fac_icon icon=”phone” color=”#ff5353″ color_hover=”#ff5353″] +62 853 3388 5598

Is Yazd the most beautiful city in Iran?

Je Jazd nejhezčí město v Íránu?

Previous part: To Iran without a plan

Play the music for better atmosphere:

Noodle ice cream in Shiraz

In Shiraz, we were already expected by our first Iranian couchsurfer. We weren’t able to contact him about our exact time of arrival, so he had to wait for us a little bit longer. You won’t find WiFi on board although the VIP buses have WiFi logo. It is so because they are imported from Europe and they are used. We’ve visited the Bagh-e Eram Garden, the Hafez Tomb, the Shah Cheragh Mosque and the Karim Khan Citadel. Except for the mosque, we paid the entrance fee everywhere, which is at least for one zero higher for tourists. At the Shah Cheragh Mosque, as foreigners, we were provided by a free and obligatory guide. She was very nice and told us a lot about the place and allowed us to take photos with our big cameras. The Karim Khan Citadel, which formerly served as the seat of the ruler and later as a prison, wasn’t worth the money. For us, it would be sufficient to see it just from the outside. We also tried the traditional frozen delicacy called faloodeh, which is frozen noodles with lemon syrup and rosewater. The taste didn’t get us.

We finished the day somewhere on the outskirts of Shiraz in a hidden teahouse with a hookah, kebab, and tea, and then we moved to the south for about 80 kilometers to the Zanjiran village. Our couchsurfer has his house there. We spent the evening playing cards and talking about our lives and our religion. Simplified about why we are atheists and why they believe and what it means for their lives.

The following day we went back to Shiraz for lunch where I enjoyed lamb meat probably for the first time and also for the last time in a kebab form. Our idea to spend another night with another couchsurfer, so we get to know more people, wasn’t so good. He lives in a small district in the suburbs of Shiraz, where our previous couchsurfer took us. The new one was like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. But not funny. First, he insisted that we should go on a city tour back to Shiraz, but we already saw the city and didn’t want to go back again. Another option was to visit Persepolis, but our plan was to go there the next day. The last rescue option was to go to the “mountains” next to the city, and we greatly appreciate it. The problem was that in the end, our couchsurfer didn’t welcome this idea and in the middle of the hill he said he is tired and wants to go home. We spent the rest of the day with him in his small room and tried to keep the conversation while checking his collection of coins and paper cups (in Iran they have at least nice design). Several times we were asked if we want to go to the shower (we didn’t stink), and when we will finally take a shower. The situation was saved for a while thanks to a dinner – some rice with legumes which was very good and tasty, and I would eat it all if I didn’t feel stupid for it.

On the last day in Shiraz, we originally wanted to visit the famous ruins of the ancient city of Persepolis and then head to Yazd. In the end, we weren’t so much into it, and we would have to go back to Shiraz from Persepolis to catch the bus to Yazd according to our couchsurfer. We didn’t want to spend our time by going there and back again and again, so we were just accompanied to the bus terminal in Shiraz. The farewell with the couchsurfer deserved a big high five, and before noon, we were on the bus to experience another endless journey through the Iranian desert to Yazd.

The desert city of Yazd

We arrived at the bus terminal in Yazd, located on the edge of the city, after dusk. Right after getting off the bus we were surrounded by taxi drivers offering us a ride. I immediately refused the first offer of one driver and suggested much lower and more realistic price. He accepted without any resistance. No fun with this guy. For accommodation we chose the Kooshk-e Now district near the main mosque (the name Jame Mosque means that it’s the main mosque in the city, so it’s not named after some James or jam; you will find mosques with this name in several cities), where the most tourists accommodate. The driver brought us to the Oasis hostel through old narrow streets, led us inside, and left back to his old car without asking for the money. Kačka has probably begun to enjoy the free ride, but I stopped him and paid the agreed price. Karma, right?

We found the Oasis hostel expensive, so we tried other hostels in the area and ended up at the Dalan-e behesht hotel, where they offer shared room in the basement for $10 per person. And men and women can be there together! Don’t tell the ayatollah. Besides us, only two or three Asians were accommodated in that room. The price included unlimited access to tea and breakfast with a good selection. Just the internet connection sucked. For this, we had to ask at a reception for login information. And the connection with one specific credential was restricted to a specific (and very small) amount of data, so it did not last and we were at the reception again. And again. Later we found out how the system works, so sometimes we managed to use older credentials with the reseted data limit, sometimes we guessed another credentials.

The desert city of Yazd is the city I liked the most, especially our district. Narrow alleys with walls of mud were perfect for wandering to unknown and interesting places and windcatchers, known as badgir (serving for cooling the air inside a building instead of air conditioning), create a great atmosphere. Yazd was also the first place where we encountered tourists at every step, and we didn’t feel like in country nobody wants to travel to. During the day we visited the main mosque, the Clock Tower, bazaar, Amir Chakhmaq Mosque and Square, and a tourist library where you can go on the roof for admission. Luckily we managed to get on the roof for free at the Irani Cafe next to the main mosque.

In the evening we took a taxi and went to watch the sunset to Zoroastrians’ Towers of Silence. A taxi driver wanted to wait for us and to take us back because it would be difficult to grab a taxi there. Yeah, we know these tricks. As usual, we paid the tourist fee and found ourselves in front of two hills on which the Towers of Silence – the dakhmas – are built. Below the hills, there are several ancient Zoroastrians’ buildings, an underground water tank, and their present cemetery. For the sunset, we chose the tower on the left and higher hill. These towers were used by Zoroastrians to bury dead bodies that were eaten by birds, leaving only bones. In Iran, however, this burying was banned at the beginning of the second half of the 20th century. The sun slowly drowned in a sandy cloud, and we went back. Well, the taxi driver was right, there was no free car, and we weren’t able to leave with other tourists. So our first Iranian hitchhiking took place there. It took a while, but eventually we stopped a young student girl (what a surprise, we weren’t picked up by a girl in Georgia or Armenia), and within a second a taxi stopped behind her. She was listening to Persian hip hop and didn’t care about her falling hijab. She spoke English just a little bit so that we couldn’t chat a lot, and drove us to the Amir Chakhmaq Square where the fountain is color lightened in the evening.

For the first time in a desert

We left Yazd the next morning and headed by bus to the small desert village Toodeshk. We were surprised by the police checkpoint before reaching the city Naein. Everybody had to leave the bus which was searched by dogs. Some young Iranian girl was unlucky because they had found something in her bag, but then she continued with us. The bus driver wasn’t happy about it and gave her some lesson. I guess. We arrived at Toodeshk around noon, and while walking to our place I had to take a selfie with one local. In a moment I was sitting at our guesthouse, eating lunch together with other young foreigners.

The place we were accommodated in is called Tak Taku Guesthouse, and it was founded by Mohammad Jalali, mainly because of cyclists who often rode through this village. He had been meeting cyclist there already as a child and was giving them something good to eat. He claimed that today not so many cyclists pass this route, but it seems that tourists use his guesthouse frequently. We gathered there in more than ten people. Everything is like new in his guesthouse, and it was probably the best accommodation we’ve had in Iran. There are available trips to the Varzaneh desert, where you can also sleep in tents, or farther to the Salt Lake. We chose the sunset without sleeping in the dunes of the Varzaneh desert. Probably one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

Isfahan – the city of bridges

In Toodeshk we spent only one night and the next day we continued to Isfahan, where we again arranged couchsurfing. Sometimes it’s difficult without the internet, so even we got to his address, we weren’t able to reach him through the old good doorbell. So we went to look for public wifi. Along the way, we wanted to visit the main mosque of Isfahan, but the tourist entrance stopped us. We were able to find the wifi at the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, also known as the Imam Square, which should be one of the largest squares in the world. After contacting our host, we found out that we originally chose the wrong door, because he was at home. It must also be noted that this was our first couchsurfing we paid for, which is against the rules and spirit of Couchsurfing. But we didn’t get any other offer and didn’t want to look for a hotel or guesthouse. But after more than a week we could finally wash our clothes! A valuable tip from our host was that the main mosque has free entrance during evening prayers, so we visited it that day again.

The second day we walked through a dry Zayande riverbed and admired bridges. On the banks, there are green parks and gardens, where you can hide from the sun, or to refill drinking water. Which is great about Iran – you can find drinking fountains at many places. The most impressive and most famous bridge is probably the Khajoo Bridge, which serves not only as a little “dam” but also as a place for picnics, reading of Hafez’s poems, or just for chilling. Other interesting bridges are Joubi and Si-o-seh also known as the bridge of thirty-three spans. Next stop was again the Imam Square where we wanted to go to some teahouse and smoke hookah. We also wanted to stop by at the Chehel Sotoun Palace, but somehow we missed the right entrance and headed to a government building, so soldiers didn’t let us in. Searching for a teahouse around the square was endless, and our Lonely Planet guide was outdated. On the square, we’ve visited the Ali Qapu Palace where after paying the entrance fee a miss offered us an audio guide and couldn’t understand we don’t want to pay for it another amount. Thanks to the tourist entrance fees we also skipped the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque.

We sadly said goodbye to a non-existent hookah and rather enjoyed free teas thanks to the religious feast of Ashura which accompanied us for the rest of our stay in Iran (I still don’t understand what’s the timetable because the Ashura lasts only for one day). And after returning to our couchsurfing host, we also got hookah because he was celebrating his birthday with friends. It was also our last evening in Isfahan and the next day we went to another desert town – Kashan.

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Next part: Desert, camels and salt lake at Kashan

To Iran without a plan

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During summer 2015 in Georgia, we knew that we want to visit Iran. Everywhere present road signs to Tehran were provoking, but the trip wouldn’t worth it for 4 days at max. Well, last autumn we wanted to go back to Georgia for at least a week, but Kačka said nooo because she couldn’t afford to leave university for one week. So I suggested Iran for two weeks, and suddenly we had flight tickets for the end of September in the mail.

We didn’t look forward to Iran

You want to visit Iran for several years, you’re looking forward to it and then.. Then you return after almost a month from South Africa, Thailand, Ethiopia, and Italy, you have a break at home for five days, and suddenly you’d like to rest from traveling at least twice longer. And both of you has the same problem. Well, what could we do, nobody else would do it instead of us. Moreover, we had absolutely no plan where to go and what to see. On the way to Iran, we opened a few years old Lonely Planet book and chose one of the offered itineraries. As it turned out, it was probably the most common route for first visitors. We flew from Vienna with Pegasus Airlines with a change in Istanbul. It seems that arrivals and departures in the middle of the night are popular in this region. Both in Georgia and in Iran. We touched the surface of the Islamic Republic around 2 AM and headed into the maelstrom of bureaucratic absurdities.

VIE-SAW-IKA

Iranian immigration mess

We knew that there is a possibility that we won’t be able to leave the airport and we will fly back immediately. Information about getting a visa to Iran differs not only source from source, but also person from person at the airport. Perhaps it depends on your face and the mood of officials. Some were given visas for 15 days, others for a whole month. We needed the visa for 16 days. The immigration process is also complicated not only because of the “need” to pay health insurance – regardless of whether you have travel insurance from your country – but also because everyone pays a different price for visa/insurance and by the existence of mystical reference number. Don’t try to find the system in this. It seems that they’re trying to complicate it to tourists and just get money from them. This is also probably the official motto of the Iranian tourist agency, as we experienced when paying entrance fees throughout the country.

One option is to arrange your visa at the Iranian Embassy in your country. To do this, according to the available information, you must have that mystical reference number. This is the business for its sellers. I don’t know who sell it and what it should serve for. Plenty of people went to Iran without it and passed through immigration, so why to spend extra money. We chose the second option – a visa upon arrival at the international airport of Imam Khomeini. The queue at the counter was not long, but you won’t get to the counter itself. Sophisticated officials have a different system – one of them coordinates everything with every tourist, collects your passport and eventually give it back to you with visa.

In our case, it worked quite quickly and without problems. We got the visa for 30 days automatically without asking for 70 euros, and we paid 14 euros for their health insurance. After about an hour we were able to travel to Tehran by taxi because the airport is located about 50 km away and there is no public transportation.

Bargain!

Also in Iran you have to bargain over the price otherwise you will end nicely robbed. From our host, I knew that we shouldn’t pay more than 20 euros, so I just nodded to the very first offer at the arrivals for 35 dollars without even trying to bargain. No logic here. I didn’t get rid of comments about this till the end of the trip.

Tehran didn’t catch our attention

We dedicated first three days for Tehran for the cultural acclimatization. We found our accommodation on Homestay at a young married couple in the Sadeghiyeh district. The first day we used to get familiar with the metro, local glances, marketplace, and Golestan Palace. The price for a metro ticket we knew from the internet was probably outdated so at a desk they didn’t get why we are trying to pay less, and we didn’t understand what they want from us. But we always got a ticket – seems it didn’t matter on the price. Another surprise for us was how big surprise we were for the locals. Not that we were the first foreigners who were spotted in Persia. Those glances were incomparable with the ones from Southeast Asia I already know – people here are staring at you. Without a single blink. It certainly weren’t hostile glances, but it took a few days to get used to it. They also often approached us (well, more me, but on that another time) and asked us where we are from. Some of them were satisfied with the small talk, others wanted to talk in English more, others willingly advised what to do.

Losing in the famous Grand Bazaar was interesting and photogenic, but if you don’t want to buy shoes, carpet, clothes, jewelry, shoes, and carpets you probably won’t buy anything. Oh, did I mention carpets and shoes? Each aisle offers mostly one type of goods, but we didn’t find food aisle.

It took us while to find the entrance to the Golestan Palace. Admission is paid by the exhibitions you want to see. Together with the base admission, we chose only the Mirror Hall and then we tried to get into another room, but tickets are checked carefully. Buying entrance for all exhibitions (or for boredom if you want) would be a waste of money. When walking in the park, we were stopped by the old man with the question if we are from Germany. I asked him why Germany and he said he is looking for someone to explain some things in German. And because Kačka spricht sehr gut, the Iranian gentleman got a German lesson from the Czech girl in English.

The second day we wanted to visit 3964 meters high mountain Tochal, which is located north of the city. At the same time, we wanted to get some sleep that morning. Which, as we discovered later, excluded the visit of Tochal. Traveling through the entire city by metro, then bargain a good price with a taxi driver and finally walking to the first station lasted for so long, that after our arrival we learned we came too late to get to the top of the mountain. Thanks to this the world reminded how small it is because we met Kačka’s friends who were also traveling in Iran that time.

The last day in Tehran we caught up the rest of the “must see” places – Azadi Tower and the former US Embassy. It was in reconstruction around the Azadi Tower, local grass police patrolled so nobody enters the pitch and I finally became a celebrity when locals wanted pictures with me. Then we moved by metro to the Taleghan stop which is next to the former US Embassy. To take pictures, or not? I read a recommendation to ask the security first. Luckily, no security at that time so we could photograph the graffiti without any restriction. But we also lost the opportunity to ask them if we can visit the complex because it’s impossible to take a look because of the wall.

Tehran wasn’t special for us. Millions of people, heavy traffic, and smog. We were looking forward to a trip to Shiraz in the south. We chose about 14 hours long ride by a comfortable VIP night bus for $ 20. VIP means that the bus has 2+1 seat configuration with plenty of legroom and proper reclining seats. The ticket also includes refreshments – water, juice, biscuits and some chemical cake. Take your insulin.

In the next post, we will have a look at first couchsurfing experience in Shiraz, and we will visit the desert city and the desert itself.

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