Having used trip advisor to plan our recent holiday in Jordan (18-27 March), we felt it appropriate to comment on our Wadi Rum experience so others can make equally informed choices.
May I preface my comments in saying that our Wadi Rum experience was fabulous albeit different than what we expected, but there were some draw backs that need to be considered.
We chose Sunset Tours and booked with Mohammed prior to departing home. The website is enticing and Mohammed returns your emails etc.
Sunset Tours definately offer a budget no frills tour...not necessairly what we were looking for. We were there for the whole experience. Our Driver/Guide was Saleem, and he spoke little english although could be understood and could understand at a basic level. Our Jeep was open top in extremely average condition( compared to others we saw) however lasted the distance and it wasnt too hot so we coped.
Saleem seemed to know the spots to take us, but simply stopped on most occasions and pointed through the back window that this was a stop of interest....we assumed at those points that we get out and look....whilst all the places we stopped were both interesting and fabuously scenic, he generally didnt offer or couldnt explain what we were meant to be looking at. For example, we stopped at a huge sand dune, so based on what others were doing, we aslo climbed it and rolled back down...fun fun fun. We read about several 'hot' spots to see, but can only assume that we saw them!!
For lunch, we stopped at a scenic location. We prepared our lunch whilst Saleem wandered off, then came back and waited in the jeep. One other group was at the location and we joined them, Their guide had prepared tea and offered us some. Was enjoyable.
When we arrived at camp after 5 hours touring, Saleem disappeared and we were greeted by the Sudanese Cook who showed us to our tent and indicated that dinner would be 7pm and then pointed that the toilets were in a particular direction. This was at 4pm. Fortunately there were 2 other guests that arrived shortly before us with a similar welcome. At the time, 2 workers were doing building activities at the camp with a jack hammer and generator which continued till around 5.30pm. Kinda took away from the tranquil experience of being in the desert.
The camp is set in a great location to view the sunset, but in comparison to many other camps we saw, is in a very exposed location not sheltered by many of the mountains around. Most others were in a more sheltered location that we saw. Once the evening wind came up, other than being inside a tent, there wasnt anywhere to sit and enjoy the views that was sheltered.
The Sudanese Cook whose name now escapes me ulitmately became our host and served dinner. He and Saleem joined us for dinner and Saleem play music during dinner for 30 min or so. For the remainder of the evening till we eventually turned in, the Cook slept by the fire and Saleem looked totally bored.
When we decided to turn in around 9pm, we asked for some details about what happens in the morning...ie breakfast etc. The cook said 7am fro breckie and Saleem said we leave at 8am. We asked about our camel booking to return back to the village and Saleem did not appear to know anything about it. This information was not forthcoming and had we not asked, then it would have been assumed we knew. They were not rude in any way, but if you didnt ask, they would not offer information.
We return to our tent in the dark only to be startled by a cat that ran from inside....the mind boggles. Luckily we bought some old sheets and pillow cases that made the night comfortable.The tents seemed clean enough and were weather proof, so no problems there really, but your own linen would be a must...unless you like sharing with the people from the night and weeks before you.
The next morning again we were greeted for breckie by the Cook but no Saleem. He was sleeping in. The Cook tried unsuccessfully to wake him prior to our departure, so he never did get up before we left. We were not sure what to do regarding our bags etc so the cook told us to leave our bags in the jeep and they would be back at the village before we got back. Our camels arrived and we thouroughly enjoyed our 2 hour return to town. Our bags were there although we never saw Saleem again, so figured whilst we felt it appropriate on moral ground to tip Saleem, due to not seeing him again since the previous night, we didnt.
We are reasonably self catering travelling adults and we enjoyed our experience for what it was worth, however, we were looking for a Bedoiun experience at the camp and had a Sudanese one instead....only paid for the Bedouin one, so guess it was good value.
I dont know what other tours offer, and nor wouild i discourage people from using Sunset Tours, but we feel we got about or a little less than what we paid for. The rest is your choice and dont forget, this is a statement of fact rather than a bagging of Sunset Tours, and if you are reasonably capable of enjoying your time wherever you are, then you will almost certainly enjoy the experience.
PS; Jordan is just amazing and definately a go back to place for us.
Craig & Di....Melbourne Australia.