The rains are virtually over this month as spring sunshine spreads warming rays over Petra. The temperature averages 64°F (18°C) for the month, rising to a delightful average high of 75°F (24°C). But some days can still be quite chilly—the average low for the month is a brisk 50°F (10°C)—especially in the early part of April, when at night temperatures can fall close to zero Fahrenheit.
Rain is a minor consideration and falls on only two days as an average in April. But following the four-month “rainy” season, the desert is carpeted in gorgeous kaleidoscopic displays of wildflowers, providing shutterbugs with ever greater opportunities to capture spectacular photos.
Although rain is rare in April, it typically occurs in sudden and torrential downpours. Utmost caution is required to avoid the narrow defiles and even broad canyons because of the threat of potentially deadly flash-floods. Those channels were formed over eons by such torrents! The Siq becomes a riverbed during heavy rains, while the stones become dangerously slippery. Be prepared for the entire site to close during heavy rains.
You’ll definitely want to pack light summer clothing, plus a shade hat and sunscreen. But pack a warm jacket for evenings and the possibility that your visit coincides with a rare cold snap. And sturdy, comfortable walking shoes are a must.
For more on weather this month, see Jordan in April: Travel Tips, Weather, and More.
Crowds & Costs
April is by far the most popular month to visit Petra and it’s elbow-room only at the Treasury and other easily-reached sites when tour groups descend. This is definitely a month to begin your visit as early as possible (ie, when the site opens) and to explore the more remote sites away from the tour group hordes. Hotels and tourist packages are at their most expensive, and bargains are as rare as rain in the desert at this time of year. It’s wise to book flights and reserve accommodations well in advance.
Ramadan—the holy month of fasting—falls in April in 2020. Many businesses change their hours (for example, many restaurants and shops close 6.30-8.30 pm so that owners and workers can eat), and the ticket office at Petra usually closes one hour early. Otherwise it’s business as usual.
What to Do
Spanning about 100 sq ml (264 sq km), Petra Archaeological Park (PAP) has many attractions beyond the ancient ruins. Once you’ve visited the Treasury, the Colonnaded Street, and Great Temple, be sure to clamber up to the High Places for sensational panoramic vistas that put the scale and majesty into perspective.
The easiest is the steep trail (allow 40 minutes) to the High Place of Sacrifice, atop Jebel Madbah. Here you can also admire the Obelisks (giant totems carved into the rock-face) before descending to Wadi Farasa and the Roman Soldier’s Tomb—a two-hour hike with breathtaking views. Plus, in April the desert will be ablaze with wildflowers.
By late May, the idea of a full day of hiking can seem daunting. There are always touts trying to interest you in taking a camel or donkey ride. Your entrance ticket includes a horseback ride from the visitor’s center to the entrance of the Siq; save this for your return, as the route back to the visitor center is.
There are plenty of other sites of interest not too far from Petra. If you love history, call in at Shobak Castle (it’s best visited before Petra, 25 miles/42 km to the south). Perched dramatically atop a hill, this imposing Crusader castle was built in 1115 and in 1189 withstood an 18-month siege before succumbing to Saladin’s army. In the 14th Century, it was taken over and rebuilt by the Mamluks. Staff dressed in traditional Mamluk costumes still greet visitors. Non-claustrophobics will thrill to the once-secret passageway where 375-step descend to a subterranean spring.
Ramadan: The dates move change backward by 11 days every year according to the lunar calendar, and in 2020 last from April 24 until sundown on May 23. The entire Muslim community prays, fasts from sunrise to sunset, indulges in charity and self-evaluation, and supposedly resists all temptation.
On Uraza Bayram (Eid Al Fitr)—the end of Ramadan and fasting—people celebrate with joyous festivities lasting several days. Most businesses stay open in Petra, not least because this is high season. But expect some restaurants to close at sundown so that owners and workers can eat.