When it comes to monuments and epic scenery, Jordan plays with the big boys. A sea where you can’t sink—check. Sprawling Roman ruins—check. Moonscape desert—check. The soaring cliff-cut masterpiece of Petra—double check. Everyone from Moses to TE Lawrence marched through here, leaving a liberal scattering of riches across the land. Combine that with a landscape that swoops from Wadi Rum’s rock outcrops and pink-tinged sand to the undulating ridge of the Great Rift Valley, and you have proof that great things really do come in small packages.

The desert isn’t the only spectacular setting for adventures in Jordan.Dana Biosphere Reserve, an oasis at the intersection of three distinct climate zones that, together, support more than 600 varieties of plants. Wildlife lovers can look forward to 180-plus species of birds and 45 species of mammals; if you’re really lucky, you might spot ibex, wolves, or the rare (and adorable) Blanford’s fox. So pack those binoculars, strap on your hiking boots, and explore the canyons and trails by foot. Along the way, you’ll also be treated to up-close encounters with Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches, and ancient copper mines.