The Dana Nature Reserve is one of Jordan’s hidden gems. The focal point of the reserve is the charming 15th-century stone village of Dana, which dangles beneath the King’s Highway on a precipice, commanding exceptional views of the valley below. The reserve is the largest in Jordan and includes a variety of terrain, from sandstone cliffs over 1500m high near Dana to a low point of 50m below sea level in Wadi Araba. Sheltered within the red rock escarpments are protected valleys that are home to a surprisingly diverse ecosystem. About 600 species of plants (ranging from citrus trees and juniper, to desert acacias and date palms) thrive in the reserve, together with 180 species of birds. Over 45 species of mammals (25 of which are endangered) also inhabit the reserve, including ibex, mountain gazelle, sand cat, red fox and wolf. In addition to the natural wonders of Dana, there are almost 100 archaeological sites in the reserve, most still being excavated by British teams. The ruins of Khirbet Feinan, at the mouth of Wadi Feinan and Wadi Ghuweir, are particularly interesting: the copper mines here date back 6000 years, when they were the largest metal- smelting operations in the Near East (they are mentioned in the Bible). The Romans later worked the mines using Christian slaves. You can explore the ruins of three churches, a Roman tower and slag heaps where the copper was mined. The main mines of Umm al-Amad are visited on a 13km return hike in the hills surrounding Feinan Lodge.