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Help with planning 2-day trip to Petra/Wadi Rum from Eilat

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We are aiming to take a 2-day (1-night) trip to Petra and, if possible, Wadi Rum from Eilat in late October. Desert Eco Tours sounds like a very good company. Their 2-day tour appears to spend the first day in Wadi Rum and the late morning to midday of the second day in Petra. Based on this, it’s not clear from their website that their 2-day tour would give us more time in Petra itself than their 1-day tour. Is this correct?

Based on what I have read, it seems that for us the ideal itinerary would be to go to Petra in the afternoon the first day (staying until sunset); return to Petra in the early morning of the 2nd day; and then drive back to the Arava border via a stop for perhaps a 2-hour jeep ride in Wadi Rum. Would this make sense if we place a higher priority on Petra than on the desert visit? (Or should we skip Wadi Rum if we have spent a lot of time in the Southwest U.S.?)

If you think an itinerary like this would make sense, do you know of any recommended tour companies or guides/drivers that would offer this type of trip? I realize that we could rent a car and do it independently, but we would prefer to have a tour leader or driver/guide for either the entire trip once we cross the border, or for part or all of our stay in Petra and the trip back to the Arava border via Wadi Rum. (Ideally we would like an excellent guide for at least part of the time we are in Petra, and it sounds like there is no way to predict whether a guide we find at the Petra visitors center would be excellent or not.)

One more question: we will be driving in a rental car from Masada and we might not arrive in Eilat until late in the afternoon before we go to Jordan the next morning. We would want to drop off the car before going to Jordan, as we will be flying to Haifa when we return. But the rental car offices in Eilat are only open from 8 AM to 5 PM. Do you know whether it is possible to drop off a car after the office closes, in case we don’t get to Eilat by 5 PM?

(Google Maps says it takes 2 ½ hour to drive from Masada to Eilat? Is that accurate, in which case we probably would be in Eilat prior to 5, even with a stop in Timna which closes at 4?)

Thank you very much!

Len

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