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Jordan

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For the average traveler, it's Petra that puts Jordan on the map — the huge Nabatean and Roman archaeological site really does live up to the hype.

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It and the entire country at large will appeal to those who love rugged, natural beauty, hiking, and history (and unparalleled home-cooking).

Lawrence of Arabia described the mountains and orangey-pink sands of Wadi Rum as "vast, echoing and God-like"; Jerash is one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the world; and the Dead Sea one of the strangest natural wonders. Perhaps just as important, the inhabitants of the capital, Amman, claim Hashem Restaurant serves the best hummus in the Middle East. You'll find a lot of superlatives here, whether you stay a week to volunteer or hike the country in 40 days and 40 nights. But the longer, the better.

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