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The tour consisted of a driver with in a small car taking two of us about two hours from the port of Aqaba to Petra a stop at a gift shop along the way a three hour tour with a local guide of Petra ruins a buffet lunch a stop at a gift shop, a 1 1/2 hour tour of Wadi Rum with local guide in a covered toyota 4x4, and drive back to the port.
1. Driver was excellent -- he grew up in Petra and had personal knowledge of the area and culture. Could not have been more accommodating and attentive.
2. Petra -- The local guide provided at the Petra site was awful. He was overweight and had trouble walking. He said he had given 3000 tours of Petra and had little interest in making it interesting for us except to steer us into friends shops to buy souvenirs at 2X the price. With about 1/4 the distance left in the path downhill into the Petra carvings, he tries to talk us into taking a donkey and pick up tour of his own for an additional 100. When we declined, he suggested coffee which we paid for and he said the tour was now over and he left us sitting there. Another couple with a guide happened to be sitting near and offered to have us join them for the remainder of their tour which was far more informative that anything our guide had told us.
3. ViaTor must have deals with certain gift shops because our driver picked two along the way that he said he needed to stop at. They expected us and were very forward in putting on scarves and pushing rugs, carvings, etc. I do not appreciated paying 687 for a private tour and being hussled by set up tour companies.
5. Buffet Lunch was at a large restaurant serving about 3-4 large tour busses at the same time. The BBQ of lamb and vegetables going on out front was beautiful and the food was very good.
4. Wadi Rum site where Lawence of Arabia was filmed - The experience of having local guides drive us around the desert to the sandstone carvings and sand dunes in the late afternoon was great. The vehicle was very old and the young guides were authentic listening to local music on the radio.
5. The drive back to the Ship was uneventful. I will say these private tours do put cruise ship travelers at some risk of missing the departure if any incident happens to delay the return. We made our way back on with 10 minutes to spare.
I rated this tour with ViaTor a Two because of the quality of the guide at Petra and their including forced stops at targeted shopping sites in their tours this happened to us on their Hong Kong tour as well -- a fake jewlery factory. The cost is way over the top in my opinion for what was delivered. The high point was learning about the present day culture of Jordon from the young driver and his attitude toward giving us a good tour. He said tourism, which is the lifeblood of their region, is down 50 with the tourmoil in the Middle East. They are struggling and Petra all they hang on. Wadi Rum, in my opinion is not unlike Monument Valley in Arizona and our National parks out west. But Petra is truly a place unlike any other.
Hindsight -- The road to Petra is a primary highway. Viator uses guides from the Petra Guide Pool at the site. There are taxis and drivers all around the port and airport for hire. One could probably save hundreds by just hiring a prepaid driver and buying a ticket at Petra with a guide --- Skip the horses and horse carts they will rattle your teeth out on the stone road.
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