When I first visited Petra in 1982 there was no official entrance. You could hire a horse and go straight through the gorge on horseback. Today the area is under official controll. It is no longer allowed to ride a horse through the gorge. It is said, that the horses caused accidents and also a lot of smelly dirt. With the entrance fee in any case you pay a bit for the beduins, who still wait with their horses. You can ride it to beginning of the gorge.
All the enterprising businessmen are here to offer which and what might get some tourist dollar - so you can pay to ride a horse or donkey, or take a buggy or carriage from just inside the entrance down through the path and journey through the rocks that is called the Siq to the opening at the first building one comes to, the Treasury.
From there you can take camels and also again donkeys on through the site.
Our ticket was supposed to include the choice of a horse or carriage but the members in our group got so offended by those supplying the horses and carriages trying to initiate a haggle for a price that they stomped off and we all followed with the leader and tour guide making no attempt to restitute the situation. So we walked. Which is fine and as usual provides the best way to see the surroundings.
We went riding part of the way from Wadi Musa to Petra. This picture was taken before arriving to the Siqh, where the ride would finish.
I think this is a way to make the tourist more excited about the idea of being an Indiana Jones.
It's a long walk down from the Visitor Centre to the entrance to the Siq, around 800m (half a mile or so).
On the way you'll pass carvings, tombs and 'god-blocks' but maybe you're not very interested in those. Or maybe on the way back your legs will be very tired (it's all uphill from the 'monastery' to the Visitor Centre. So you might consider riding a horse on that last section.
The cost of the horse ride (20JD) is theoretically included in your ticket but it's important to realise that the lads who work with the horses (and who will walk or ride with you) are not the owners. They make their money from your tips and they will be pretty insistent that you provide those tips.
So don't expect a free ride. You won't get one.
The horses have their own separate sandy track which runs parallel with the pedestrian access.
All the horses I saw were in reasonable condition and seemed to be treated well-enough. Bedouin usually ride without saddles (using a thick payer of fabric pads and cloths), sometimes without stirrups and often without bits, using rope around the muzzle plus neck-reining to control the horse. The tourist horses I saw did have stirrups and it was rather odd to see a passing visitor 'rising to the trot' in true English style, though i know I'd have done exactly the same if I'd chosen to ride there.
Most of the horses I saw were being ridden by Bedouin/B'dul, basically just being exercised, and business did not seem good at all. That may account for the several heated arguments I and others saw amongst the horse-lads, to the extent that the Bedouin police had to be involved at one point.
It's up to you whether you take a horse or not. My Jordanian guide counselled against it, because he said the horses were worked to exhaustion. Even without that aspect I'd probably counsel against it because these are Arab horses, innately high-spirited, very flighty and with an immense turn of speed. If you're not an experienced rider it probably isn't a good idea....I certainly saw no 'reliable plodders' on offer.
I had a dream about what I would do when I was finally in Petra, much like my hero Indiana Jones I planned on riding a horse through the Siq and into the Treasury and then later ride off into the sunset. However much like many of my childhood dreams it died hard. While there are horses in Petra you can only ride them from the entrance of Petra to the entrance of the Siq. They don't allow single horses into the Siq, however you can arrange for a very expensive carriage ride through the Siq to the Treasury. There are also horses, donkeys, and camels available for hire throughout the park and also up the trails to the High Places and the Monastery. Be prepared to negotiate hard for a reasonable rate as they are always different depending on the person.
As I mentioned earlier, you will pass through the main gate and you are faced with a very long 1600 meter walk that simply takes you to the start of the Siq. (The Siq itself is another 1200 meters long!)
As soon as you walk through the gate you will be met by people that are attempting to get you on a horse! They will advise you that it is US$10 for a ride! It is not!!! It is US$3 maximum.
Most people believe that they are riding the horse all the way to the end of the siq, but if you pay more than US$3 you have been ripped off twice because the horse owners only have a permit to take you to the start of the siq. (Horses are not allowed in the siq, only horse drawn carriages!)
Anne and I walked all the way back to the front gate from the lower city of Petra.
As we walked along we were met by all sorts of local people that were attempting to get us to ride a donkey, camel, horse drawn cart or horse. The prices vary, but so do the lengths of the ride.
The donkeys are only allowed in the lower city and your ride will only be for approx. 400 meters. They want US$5
From the donkey area you then cross into the camel area. Once again, the camels are only allowed to go as far as the treasury, approx 1800 meters. They want US$15
At the Treasury you will be met by the horse drawn cart people! They will attempt to get you to pay for a ride through the Siq, approx 1200 meters. They want US$30
At the end of the Siq you will be met by the horse owners who will encourage you to ride a horse for the remaining 1600 meters back to the main gate! They want US$5
It is free to walk!!!!!