Petra and Wadi Rum, Jordan
Built by nomadic Nabataeans two millennia ago, rose-red Petra is a “lost” city well worth finding. The ancient commercial crossroads chiseled from bedrock cliffs is situated between the Red and Dead Seas, about a hundred miles north of King Hussein International Airport. Follow the 3,300-foot-long, serpentine entry path—the Siq—through towering sandstone walls to Al-Khazne (the Treasury). The elaborately carved, 13-story tomb served as the final resting place of the Holy Grail in the 1989 movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Explore empty caves, visit the archeological and Nabataean museums, and hike 800 steps up to the top of Al-Dier (the Monastery). From Petra, head south to Wadi Rum (“Valley of the Moon”), the desert valley setting for Lawrence of Arabia, where local Bedouin guides lead rock-climbing treks, canyon hikes, jeep tours, and horseback and camel rides. Highlights include the Red Sand Dunes and the spectacular Seven Pillars of Wisdom rock formation, the latter named for T.E. Lawrence’s autobiography. End the day sleeping under the stars at one of the area’s Bedouin-style desert tourist camps.