Jordan // Aqaba and the southern desert //

Wadi Rum tours from Aqaba

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Tours to Wadi Rum are advertised at one-man-band tour “companies” and budget hotels all over Aqaba – if you express interest, they’ll dig out a photo album of their adventures, plus glowing testimonials from happy customers, to try to convince you to book. If all you want is to be driven out to a campsite somewhere in the desert near Rum, have dinner and be brought back to Aqaba in the morning – often in the company of “guides” who may not be Jordanian and/or speak little or no English – then these jaunts are great value, at JD20–25 per person. But in truth they’re nothing like the real McCoy. And horror stories abound; one favourite ploy (apart from money upfront and tips, of course) is to demand more cash once you’re at the campsite. Refuse, and your “guide” may threaten to abandon you in the desert unless you cough up.

On the whole, you’re better off talking to a proper tour company (see Adventure tours and trekking). In Aqaba, reliable firms include Above and Below (t 03 201 3735, w aboveandbelow.info), located on As-Saada Street, and Captains (t 03 206 0710, w captains.jo), at the Captain’s Hotel.

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