Travel

Jordan and Egypt

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[OP]
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Sep 23, 2007
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Jordan and Egypt

I am thinking a trip to these places in November. The first thing I need to decide is solo or with a tour. I was considering the 15 day G Adventure package which is over $3k, with approximately 1 week in each country. Some random questions in no particular order.

Has anyone tried the G Adventure Jordan/Egypt package? Comments? They also have a package with Israel but the price spikes rather sharply if Israel is in the mix. I have 2 weeks so Jordan/Egypt seem like a good choice. Debating if I can do both solo and would I actually save money...

Is November a good time to go?

Is language a serious issue? Do people in each country know a little bit of English? What about signage? Are there any English signage at least in the main tourist areas?

How hard are these places logistically if I go solo? Let's say I budget 1 week (similar to the G-Adventure plan) for each country, is replicating that same plan feasible for a solo traveler? What method of transportation makes the most sense? I want to hit the main attractions (definitely Wadi Rum, Dead Sea and Petra for Jordan).

How is the safety? I'm a guy so I shouldn't be a prime target.

Also, is haggling normal?
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Jun 15, 2015
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Never been to Jordan but I’ve been to Egypt.

Funny you’ve posted as my husband and I were once again toying with the idea of going back recently then there was another attack near Giza that injured 14 tourists (2 weeks ago?). Pretty much every time we talk about it something else happens. The thing with Egypt that has kept me away; the situations change so dramatically there that if I had solid plans to go I never wanted to impact my trip (as in for example, if the security situation further declines in Giza and you aren’t able to see them part of a tour/there’s a Canadian Gov “avoid all travel” warning issued). Do let us know if you end up going!

In regards to English in restaurants/hotels I never found English to be an issue there. In Cairo, you experience that in some of the markets / taxi drivers / off the beaten path. As a male, I would just take normal precautions to keep valuables secure / not attract attention that you are a tourist. Haggling is normal in the markets etc. Besides obvious hotel staff and tour guides I found the locals much more hospitable in Sharm El Sheikh & Hurghada.

My family in Italy travel to the Red Sea area a lot as there’s tons of direct flights and very popular with Italians (last time I was there there were tons of Brits). You can book a really nice resort for very cheap as that area was particularly hit hard by the numerous events that have affected tourists. They claim those areas are very secure and offer secure overnight tours to other regions.

Likely, you can do it for much less by putting together your own plans but G Adventures is known for adventure travel and you don’t have to worry about any logistics. They probably have protection against travel warnings etc and you likely can cancel 45-60 days prior with just forfeiting your deposit.
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Feb 15, 2006
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We like to go there too and have been researching. My friend from Egypt told me not to go in the summer, too hot. Nov. is a good time as it's cooler and not tourist high season.

Going with a tour group would save you time and effort to find places to stay or go. My friend in the tour agency says their buying power in booking tens of thousands of hotel rooms a year, means they can get good prices and capacity over other tour agencies and certainly over the individual travelers. Of course individuals can still find specials and savings. In places like Egypt and Jordan, we'd go with a tour company.

I'd be interested to go for some scuba diving in red sea. So we may end up doing a portion with tour company and days in Sharm El Sheikh. And will watch for suggestions in this thread.
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Jan 8, 2012
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Williams Lake
I've not been to Jordan, but I've been to Cairo twice.

I was very cautious, more cautious than I normally am. I stayed at a small guest house near the pyramids, and, first visit, I arranged a tour for both Giza and the museum downtown. The first time I arranged transport from the airport with the hotel, and the second time I used Uber.

The tour was okay, but they did take me to a papyrus factory and a perfumery (designed to extract money from tourists). I would hope though that a multi-day tour would not include those sorts of things, but it's something to keep in mind when you're reading reviews.

I was there in April 2016 and last October. It was hot, but nothing unbearable. Take a hat, sunblock, no problems.

BTW, I also went to Israel last fall. I had no trouble getting around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. A tour group would help with the history, but in terms of logistics, safety etc I don't think it would be necessary.
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Apr 26, 2004
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I went to Egypt solo ten years ago, before the Revolution, and had a really amazing time. The hostel I stayed at organized my tours while I was there. I visited Cairo, the White Desert, Aswan and Luxor. Camping in the White Desert is one of the greatest things I have ever done in my life, so I'd highly recommend going there. The security situation in that part of the country is fluid, so check things out. I had plenty of time to wander the cities on my own or with a friend and found it fine. English is spoken reasonably well by anyone in the service industry. I was there in mid-late October and it was mid 30s the whole time, so November would probably be similar or a bit cooler. Anything remotely touristy will be signed in English as well as Arabic. They write numbers differently than us, which you'll notice in the shops.

As a wealthy foreign tourist, you'll likely be marked for attention by the vendors. Keep your wits about you, be aware of the many scams and you should be fine. Tourism numbers have been affected by the Revolution and various terrorist attacks, some of them targeted towards tourists, so people working in that industry have gotten increasingly desperate to make money.
[OP]
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Sep 23, 2007
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Damn....G-Adventure sold out for the time period I wanted. I think I will do some research and post my plan for you guys to comment. Then compare my plan to perhaps another tour operator.
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I've been to both during the Arab Spring, so my info is a bit out of date.

Due to the time I went, I wouldn't recommend going solo and and winging it. The extra you pay is for the local knowledge of what's going on, where to go and where not to go. Some of our plans, such as the trip to a Coptic church, were completely scrubbed. We also took the night train from Cairo to Luxor, something that isn't offered today due to security concerns. We also flew from Luxor to Abu Simble at a cost of US$200 or so. Taking the overnight bus costs around $50 but when I went, some of the buses left the police escorted caravan and were subsequently diverted to Sudan where they were promptly relieved of all valuables.

As Talamasca said, be aware of your surroundings and plan escape routes. Every kid knows an uncle who has an amazing restaurant or store with amazing cheap products located in a back alley. Don't follow unless you want to be robbed. This is similar to the Saskatchewan beating incident. You're no Jackie Chan, so don't think you can beat up a few dozen kids who sees you as nothing but an ATM.

Egypt is one of the few places where I felt my personal security was at risk.

I did Jordan by myself and another random American I met on the Egypt tour. The vendors definitely know English. Unlike Egypt, Jordan seems much safer. I stayed at a hostel near Petra where the owner shuttled people to/from the bus station and to the entrance. For around $20-30, you can ride away from The Treasury down the Siq, just like Indiana Jones. There's no need to go to Little Petra unless you want to do some hiking.

After visiting Jordan and Petra, don't watch Transformers. You'll be disappointed after seeing all the places in person.
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rf134a wrote: I've been to both during the Arab Spring, so my info is a bit out of date.

Due to the time I went, I wouldn't recommend going solo and and winging it. The extra you pay is for the local knowledge of what's going on, where to go and where not to go. Some of our plans, such as the trip to a Coptic church, were completely scrubbed. We also took the night train from Cairo to Luxor, something that isn't offered today due to security concerns. We also flew from Luxor to Abu Simble at a cost of US$200 or so. Taking the overnight bus costs around $50 but when I went, some of the buses left the police escorted caravan and were subsequently diverted to Sudan where they were promptly relieved of all valuables.

As Talamasca said, be aware of your surroundings and plan escape routes. Every kid knows an uncle who has an amazing restaurant or store with amazing cheap products located in a back alley. Don't follow unless you want to be robbed. This is similar to the Saskatchewan beating incident. You're no Jackie Chan, so don't think you can beat up a few dozen kids who sees you as nothing but an ATM.

Egypt is one of the few places where I felt my personal security was at risk.

I did Jordan by myself and another random American I met on the Egypt tour. The vendors definitely know English. Unlike Egypt, Jordan seems much safer. I stayed at a hostel near Petra where the owner shuttled people to/from the bus station and to the entrance. For around $20-30, you can ride away from The Treasury down the Siq, just like Indiana Jones. There's no need to go to Little Petra unless you want to do some hiking.

After visiting Jordan and Petra, don't watch Transformers. You'll be disappointed after seeing all the places in person.
Darn I really want to go back! When did you go? I think I’m pretty adventurous too but your post is exactly why I haven’t.

I was there in 2007 for 10 days with a big group of family but we stayed in Sharm El Sheikh. We went to Giza but had so many other things we didn’t get to see but did some side trips in the Red Sea area. Second time we booked it the day before and flew with my cousins who were working for an airline at the time from Italy (believe we stayed in Hurghada and it was only an extended long weekend). My family who continues to go to the Red Sea area treats it like a AI beach vacation since it’s relatively inexpensive (resorts are EMPTY these days) and a short hop from Italy but they don’t leave the resort anymore.
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BananaHunter wrote: Damn....G-Adventure sold out for the time period I wanted. I think I will do some research and post my plan for you guys to comment. Then compare my plan to perhaps another tour operator.
There's a fantastic Youtuber named Karl Watson, who posts TV episode-like videos of his trips. He recently posted his Egypt trip, which he did solo, so I'd recommend you watch it. Very interesting insights from him on what Egypt is like nowadays. I was there 10 years ago pre-revolution, so I'm sure certain aspects of travelling there have changed significantly.

ETA: found it! He also went to Jordan on this trip and will be uploading the Jordan episode soon.

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Talamasca wrote: There's a fantastic Youtuber named Karl Watson, who posts TV episode-like videos of his trips. He recently posted his Egypt trip, which he did solo, so I'd recommend you watch it. Very interesting insights from him on what Egypt is like nowadays. I was there 10 years ago pre-revolution, so I'm sure certain aspects of travelling there have changed significantly.

ETA: found it! He also went to Jordan on this trip and will be uploading the Jordan episode soon.

Been waiting and waiting and waiting for the Jordan episode!!!

We are planning a trip to Jordan and Eygpt for this fall. Based on everything I've been reading over the past few months (forums, FB groups) will be planning everything on our own. We will use tours only when going somewhere unaccompanied isn't allowed (i.e. Parts of Wadi Mujib beyond a certain point you have to go with a guide). Planning on renting a car in Jordan and self driving as it is easy to do so. We are also planning on getting PADI certified while we in Hurghada.
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amz155 wrote: We are also planning on getting PADI certified while we in Hurghada.
You can do the course work beforehand, at home or anywhere, parts of it online. Then do the 4 OW dives elsewhere. That way you don't need to spend your vacation time doing the studies. May also save money because in some places they can charge high prices for the certification.
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Arrgh wrote: You can do the course work beforehand, at home or anywhere, parts of it online. Then do the 4 OW dives elsewhere. That way you don't need to spend your vacation time doing the studies. May also save money because in some places they can charge high prices for the certification.
I've compared prices with several dive schools here and abroad and it's cheaper to do the entire course there. Probably by about $200 pp.
[OP]
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Sep 23, 2007
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Thanks for sharing the Karl Watson vid. I watched it in full. I'm going to do substantially the same thing minus the scuba stuff. Dahab and the resort seems a bit too touristy for my taste. Here is my first draft of a plan. It looks like a lot of stuff is actually better done with a tour. Seems both more economical and it comes with explanations.

Day 1: Looked at some flights. Seems I will get to my hotel at night. Check into accommodation.

Day 2: Book a full day (full as in 8-10 hours) pyramid tour. The evening/night I try to scout for some food.

Been debating to add a day here for an Alexandria day trip with a tour. Would also be a full day tour returning in the evening or late afternoon. I can decide this depending on the Jordan portion. I don't see Alexandria getting the same degree of enthusiasm and my trips are always tight on time.

Day 3: Egyptian Museum and city exploration on my own. Catch the overnight train to Aswan. The day I take the overnight train must be the day I do city exploration so I can ensure I don't miss the train.

Day 4: I should arrive in the morning. I'm trying to see if a tour operator can pick me up from the train station and take me to Abu Simel. Can I trust them to carry my luggage on their van all day?

Day 5-8: 4 Day 3 night cruise from Aswan to Luxor. This includes a range of activities and includes accommodation and thus saving me the headache of booking accommodations and figuring out logistics. Plus a cruise should be nice and have all my meals and logistics covered. I see that some tours give you the option to see Abu Simel OR the Kom Ombo stuff. I want to see both and hence why I spend day 4 with Abu Simel. I believe I should be able to catch the overnight train back to Cairo where I can take a plane to Jordan which is the next leg of the trip.

So basically rather than having the ENTIRE trip planned out by a single tour operator, half the time I am on a cruise and most of the other days I am also with a tour...

Any comments or recommendations on good tour operators at good prices?
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May 14, 2009
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@BananaHunter Have you considered visiting the sights on the east bank and West Bank while you are in Luxor? Maybe one day East bank sights and one day West Bank. Or does the cruise include seeing those sites before departing from the group?

Travel Talk, Magic Egypt, Over Egypt Tours, Memphis Tours are some companies I have short listed.

If you're a female, there are LOADS of suggested companies and guides named in the Girls Love Travel FB group. Too many to list here.
[OP]
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Sep 23, 2007
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amz155 wrote: @BananaHunter Have you considered visiting the sights on the east bank and West Bank while you are in Luxor? Maybe one day East bank sights and one day West Bank. Or does the cruise include seeing those sites before departing from the group?

Travel Talk, Magic Egypt, Over Egypt Tours, Memphis Tours are some companies I have short listed.

If you're a female, there are LOADS of suggested companies and guides named in the Girls Love Travel FB group. Too many to list here.
Thanks for the short list. The 4 day cruise includes luxor west and east banks as day 3 and 4 activities.

I am working on getting some prices. There's viator and trip advisor but I am curious if direct booking (cutting the middlemen) will save money. I have a couple months until the trip so I got time to inquire.

I see that some Aswan to Luxor cruises can do Abu Simel but then it seems you'd miss the Kom Ombo (day 2) stuff. I am planning 5 days for Aswan/Cruise leg of the trip and wondering how I can see everything. I arrive in Aswan with the overnight train and have been told the arrival times are not reliable. So I can't book Abu Simel on my Aswan arrival day.
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Feb 4, 2010
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BananaHunter wrote: I am thinking a trip to these places in November. The first thing I need to decide is solo or with a tour. I was considering the 15 day G Adventure package which is over $3k, with approximately 1 week in each country. Some random questions in no particular order.

Has anyone tried the G Adventure Jordan/Egypt package? Comments? They also have a package with Israel but the price spikes rather sharply if Israel is in the mix. I have 2 weeks so Jordan/Egypt seem like a good choice. Debating if I can do both solo and would I actually save money...

Is November a good time to go?

Is language a serious issue? Do people in each country know a little bit of English? What about signage? Are there any English signage at least in the main tourist areas?

How hard are these places logistically if I go solo? Let's say I budget 1 week (similar to the G-Adventure plan) for each country, is replicating that same plan feasible for a solo traveler? What method of transportation makes the most sense? I want to hit the main attractions (definitely Wadi Rum, Dead Sea and Petra for Jordan).

How is the safety? I'm a guy so I shouldn't be a prime target.

Also, is haggling normal?
I can't comment on Egypt as I went 15 years ago but I did go to Jordan solo 2 years ago in December -highly recommend it. Absolutely LOVED it - super friendly and hospitable people. Don't waste money doing a tour - it's safe and easy to travel (I rented a car). English is limited but shoulnd't be a problem especially in the travel industry (hotel, restaurants). Feel free to ask me specific questions about Jordan. Weather that time year isn't the greatest but it also means less tourists.
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BrunetteGirl wrote: Darn I really want to go back! When did you go? I think I’m pretty adventurous too but your post is exactly why I haven’t.

I was there in 2007 for 10 days with a big group of family but we stayed in Sharm El Sheikh. We went to Giza but had so many other things we didn’t get to see but did some side trips in the Red Sea area. Second time we booked it the day before and flew with my cousins who were working for an airline at the time from Italy (believe we stayed in Hurghada and it was only an extended long weekend). My family who continues to go to the Red Sea area treats it like a AI beach vacation since it’s relatively inexpensive (resorts are EMPTY these days) and a short hop from Italy but they don’t leave the resort anymore.
I think I was there at the same time you were. The security was definitely fluid in 2007.
BananaHunter wrote: Thanks for sharing the Karl Watson vid. I watched it in full. I'm going to do substantially the same thing minus the scuba stuff. Dahab and the resort seems a bit too touristy for my taste. Here is my first draft of a plan. It looks like a lot of stuff is actually better done with a tour. Seems both more economical and it comes with explanations.

Day 1: Looked at some flights. Seems I will get to my hotel at night. Check into accommodation.

Day 2: Book a full day (full as in 8-10 hours) pyramid tour. The evening/night I try to scout for some food.

Been debating to add a day here for an Alexandria day trip with a tour. Would also be a full day tour returning in the evening or late afternoon. I can decide this depending on the Jordan portion. I don't see Alexandria getting the same degree of enthusiasm and my trips are always tight on time.

Day 3: Egyptian Museum and city exploration on my own. Catch the overnight train to Aswan. The day I take the overnight train must be the day I do city exploration so I can ensure I don't miss the train.

Day 4: I should arrive in the morning. I'm trying to see if a tour operator can pick me up from the train station and take me to Abu Simel. Can I trust them to carry my luggage on their van all day?

Day 5-8: 4 Day 3 night cruise from Aswan to Luxor. This includes a range of activities and includes accommodation and thus saving me the headache of booking accommodations and figuring out logistics. Plus a cruise should be nice and have all my meals and logistics covered. I see that some tours give you the option to see Abu Simel OR the Kom Ombo stuff. I want to see both and hence why I spend day 4 with Abu Simel. I believe I should be able to catch the overnight train back to Cairo where I can take a plane to Jordan which is the next leg of the trip.

So basically rather than having the ENTIRE trip planned out by a single tour operator, half the time I am on a cruise and most of the other days I am also with a tour...

Any comments or recommendations on good tour operators at good prices?
This is almost exactly the same itinerary I had. Giza really only takes about 2 hours. We did a camel ride around the pyramids and a 1/2 day in the Egyptian Museum. We also went to Saqqara at the very last day of the tour. The tour I went on allowed for both Abu Simbel and Kom Ombo. We also did a 1 hour tour of the Aswan High Dam. During the cruise, we went to the Valley of the Kings and did a hot air balloon ride.

Consider a short flight from Luxor to Cairo.
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[OP]
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rf134a wrote: I think I was there at the same time you were. The security was definitely fluid in 2007.



This is almost exactly the same itinerary I had. Giza really only takes about 2 hours. We did a camel ride around the pyramids and a 1/2 day in the Egyptian Museum. We also went to Saqqara at the very last day of the tour. The tour I went on allowed for both Abu Simbel and Kom Ombo. We also did a 1 hour tour of the Aswan High Dam. During the cruise, we went to the Valley of the Kings and did a hot air balloon ride.

Consider a short flight from Luxor to Cairo.
I am thinking of a tour that covers both Giza and Saqqara. It's a 10 hour day trip according to the website.

For the cruise you went on, was it 4 days 3 nights? This is the only length I can find from Aswan to Luxor. Abu Simel is 3 hours south drive and kind of opposite direction so I'm wondering how your cruise package can include both. Do you remember which operator you used?

I researched the flight from Luxor to Cairo. Adds another $800 and if I consider waiting time at airport, only saves a little bit of time. Sleeper train is $110 USD or roughly $150 CAD.
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hierophant wrote: I can't comment on Egypt as I went 15 years ago but I did go to Jordan solo 2 years ago in December -highly recommend it. Absolutely LOVED it - super friendly and hospitable people. Don't waste money doing a tour - it's safe and easy to travel (I rented a car). English is limited but shoulnd't be a problem especially in the travel industry (hotel, restaurants). Feel free to ask me specific questions about Jordan. Weather that time year isn't the greatest but it also means less tourists.
Thanks! I have the bulk of my Egypt plan ready. Haven't booked anything. Asking around tour operators for a few details and comparing prices. I need to work out Egypt first as the timing affects how many days I have in Jordan. I might have to adjust something in Egypt because the cruises don't depart daily. Right now I have about 6 days in Jordan.

For Jordan, the thing with me is that I absolutely loathe driving. My past destinations have primarily been in destinations with good public transit (mostly in Asia). I'll never drive on a vacation and would pay to not drive lol! But private drivers are probably expensive and not sure about safety. Can anyone comment on hiring drivers? I think for Jordan I am ok to do some sections without a guide but I need a driver. I can do Jerash and Mt Nebo days without a guide. But Petra and Wadi Rum I feel like I need a guide to do the desert camp and jeep tour.

I'm still working out what I want to do in Jordan. Let me break down what I have in mind right now.
-Day 1 Amman city: This is my arrival day so I don't want to book anything. Explore city on my own. I expect to arrive around noon based on the flights I am looking at. How easy is it to navigate the city of Amman (without car rental)?
-Day 2 Jerash/Ajloun/Umm Quais Tour: This is a day trip. Returning to Amman
-Day 3 Mt Nebo/Madaba day trip. Returning to Amman (this is not a long trip. returning quite early)
-Day 4-5: Most of the Petra/Wadi Rum tours are 2-3 days. Basically first day in Petra. Sleep overnight in Bedouin camp. Wake up and explore Wadi Rum. Go back to Amman. The 3 day ones aren't really 3 days. Seems like day 1 is just an arrival day they advertise to make the trip seem longer. They throw in Dead Sea at the end.
-Day 6: Between days 1,2,3 I probably have enough time to explore Jordan. Got a full day here and not sure what to do. Suggestions? Aqaba is off season in November right? This rules out the 3 day Petra/Wadi Rum/Aqaba tours.
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BananaHunter wrote: Thanks! I have the bulk of my Egypt plan ready. Haven't booked anything. Asking around tour operators for a few details and comparing prices. I need to work out Egypt first as the timing affects how many days I have in Jordan. I might have to adjust something in Egypt because the cruises don't depart daily. Right now I have about 6 days in Jordan.

For Jordan, the thing with me is that I absolutely loathe driving. My past destinations have primarily been in destinations with good public transit (mostly in Asia). I'll never drive on a vacation and would pay to not drive lol! But private drivers are probably expensive and not sure about safety. Can anyone comment on hiring drivers? I think for Jordan I am ok to do some sections without a guide but I need a driver. I can do Jerash and Mt Nebo days without a guide. But Petra and Wadi Rum I feel like I need a guide to do the desert camp and jeep tour.

I'm still working out what I want to do in Jordan. Let me break down what I have in mind right now.
-Day 1 Amman city: This is my arrival day so I don't want to book anything. Explore city on my own. I expect to arrive around noon based on the flights I am looking at. How easy is it to navigate the city of Amman (without car rental)?
-Day 2 Jerash/Ajloun/Umm Quais Tour: This is a day trip. Returning to Amman
-Day 3 Mt Nebo/Madaba day trip. Returning to Amman (this is not a long trip. returning quite early)
-Day 4-5: Most of the Petra/Wadi Rum tours are 2-3 days. Basically first day in Petra. Sleep overnight in Bedouin camp. Wake up and explore Wadi Rum. Go back to Amman. The 3 day ones aren't really 3 days. Seems like day 1 is just an arrival day they advertise to make the trip seem longer. They throw in Dead Sea at the end.
-Day 6: Between days 1,2,3 I probably have enough time to explore Jordan. Got a full day here and not sure what to do. Suggestions? Aqaba is off season in November right? This rules out the 3 day Petra/Wadi Rum/Aqaba tours.
In that case I would recommend a tour because you'll probably pay way more to hire a private driver - Jordan is an expensive country.

I wouldn't do Jordan that way but to each their own.

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