Tour operator and dive shop for Jordan
Planning a trip to any foreign country is what you have to do well. Choosing a reputable tour operator is also one of the most time consuming and frustrating parts of the whole traveling experience. There are so many operators in the market that it becomes a nightmare finding one that will be right for you. In the past, I relied heavily on reviews from previous travelers and most have just fallen short of being really helpful.
In September of this year (2009) my boyfriend and I took a much anticipated trip to Jordan. It was the first time traveling to the Middle East for both of us and among the various sites Jordan has to offer we were sure we wanted to go to Petra, the Dead Sea and scuba dive in the Red Sea. Through the recommendation of our diving friend, I began my email correspondence with the dive shop Seastar and its sister tour operator Above and Below.
Seastar (http://www.aqabadivingseastar.com/) is a locally managed dive shop in Aqaba Jordan and was Jordan’s first 5-star PADI Instructor Development Center since 2002 and has over 20 years of experience. Above and Below (http://www.aboveandbelow.info/), also located in Aqaba, is Seastar’s sister company that specializes in excursions in the Jordan area such as Petra, Wadi Rum, Jerash, the Dead Sea, etc. To my surprise, I got a response to my initial email in less than 15 hours (please note the time difference as I live in the United States) that answered fully all of my questions and concerns and laid out all of the costs per dive and some recommendations on how we could plan our dives in the allotted time.
Gill, the owner of this tour operator patiently answered ALL of my non-stop questions regarding diving in he Red Sea in detail over the course of a month. I could tell she took my questions seriously and answered each with effort. As our correspondence continued and we finalized our dive schedule I began to ask her about the other activities we wanted to do while we were in Jordan. I mapped out our preferred itinerary and sent it off to her and, as always, she responded promptly with her recommendations and our options. Due to our busy schedules and work, my bf and I were unable to finalize our itinerary until a month after our first correspondence with Gill. However, Gill waited patiently and responded swiftly every time. When the itin was finalized, she even gave us the option of keeping the credit/debit card details as a guarantee of payment and we could make the final payment in Aqaba.
Upon arrival in Amman, the car and driver arranged for us, Sameh, met us at our hotel the following morning to start us on our week long trek through all of Jordan. Sameh was a perfect gentleman and a very knowledgeable guide. He patiently waited in the car until we finished our site-seeing and always offered to buy us refreshments. Not only did he take us to all the places we wanted to see if time permitted, he even offered to take us to a personal favorite of his, Little Petra; we took him up on his offer and it was worth it! I truly believe that our trip was as enjoyable as it was because of our professional and fun driver who was with us the entire trip.
In short, Seastar + Above and Below did not disappoint. The chosen hotels were excellent and the itinerary was organized spotlessly to allow us to see the sites of our interest. Gill is a swift and knowledgeable communicator and I only have praise for their services. As this will not be our last time in the Middle East, we will surely continue to use Gill and her expertise for future trips.
Above and Below + Seastar contact information:
Above and Below Adventure http://www.aboveandbelow.info
Seastar Watersports http://www.aqabadivingseastar.com
Save Car Rental http://www.jordanrentalcar.com
Tel: 00962 3 2013735
Fax: 00962 3 2033735
Mob: 00962 795285072/ 00962 788074828
Our final itinerary was as follow:
CAR+ DRIVER for the entire trip
07/09 JERASH in the morning and AMMAN in the afternoon and evening
08/09 Morning in AMMAN, afternoon in AJLOUN, arrive at PETRA in the evening
Hotel: Marriot Petra (Mountain View room)
09/09 PETRA for the whole day and arrive in WADI RUM in the evening
Accomodation: Bedouin Camp Beit Ali (inc Dinner)
10/09 Full day WADI RUM tour and arrive in AQABA in the evening
Hotel: 6 star Kempinski Aqaba (deluxe room)
11/09 Diving in the Red Sea in AQABA (insurance included)
12/09 Leave for the Dead Sea and arrive early evening
Hotel: Kempinski Dead Sea (Ishtar Superior room)
13/09 Drop off at the Amman Airport
All entrance fees to sites, guides etc. paid for directly by ourselves:
Petra 2 day ticket JD 26 each
Jerash JD 05 each
Ajloun JD 01 each
Total cost: JD 1,596 (USD$2,250) (tip not included)
Note: we requested for the best available rooms at all our hotels and therefore our total cost is on the higher end.