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best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

New York, New York...
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best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

Hi,

I found at least five companies online doing English-speaking, non-athletic tours in the area (YourWay, GuidedToursIsrael, Egged Tours, Beinharim, Artzeinu Tours). The prices and times are mainly the same.

Does anyone have any recommendations for best tour guides (including ones I haven't found)?

Thank you!

Yelena

Tel Aviv, Israel
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1. Re: best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

Licensed tour guides in Israel are generally freelance professionals. If they work for one tour operator today, they'll work for another tomorrow.

Are you seeking a bus tour or a private tour experience?

Edited: 22 February 2012, 14:12
NYC/Israel
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for Israel
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2. Re: best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

There have been a number of negative reports on this forum about Ben Harim. I would take that into consideration. Artzeinu Tours gives things from an Orthodox ( not Chareidi point of view) My friends ( modern Orthodox) went to Masada with them two days ago and had a great time. They have a few guides who work for them full time--so you can be assured a good guide, BUT if you are not happy on an Orthodox tour--it isn't for you.

New York, New York...
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3. Re: best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

Very helpful, thank you! We're looking for a bus tour (aka cheap). Any other inside info like you provided about Ben Harim and Artzeinu would be great!

NYC/Israel
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4. Re: best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

In terms of the other companies you mentioned--Dave has pretty well summed it up. They are much larger than Artzeinu and use a variety of guides, so you have no way of knowing who you will get! ( luck of the draw)

Israel
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5. Re: best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

The downside of Bein Harim is that they pick up passengers in Tel Aviv and meet with other vehicles at a meeting point. From there the vehicles drive to Jerusalem and once again you may find yourself switching vehicles. This can add up to 2 hours on your trip and this is the reason of complaint here on the TA. Their guides are all excellent and speak fluent English.

Artzeinu uses the same size vehicles and stops at the same location, but does not mention anything that has no Jewish connotations. For some this is satisfactory, especially for a trip to the Dead Sea where there is very little that happened in the New Testament. Their guides are also excellent and and native English speakers. They are based in Jerusalem and therefore you are picked up at your hotel and driven directly to the Dead Sea (perhaps via a few other hotels).

Chana

Israel

New York, New York...
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6. Re: best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

Thank you! Any thoughts/opinions on guided tours israel?

Brisbane, Australia
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7. Re: best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

I will be visiting Israel in June 2012 and after much research I must say that I definitely won’t be using any tour company even though their charges are quiet cheap. My sister-in-law visited Israel in November 2011 and she said she had a wonderful time and is the best country in the WORLD.

The worst experience she had was in the bus tour and that too with Ben Harim tours. She said half of the time they spend in bus with most of the time tour guide in the bus giving them wrong information. For example, being a religious Christian she said so many information they gave was not found in the bible and neither had she found any historical facts about it which she found to be very offensive. If she asked any questions they ignored her questions.

It is much better going with a private tour guide which we will be doing when we visit in June 2012. It is worth every dollar because they take to you places where you want to go and visit places based on your itinerary. No hurry and rush and is based on your time. Tour guides with raving reviews that I found in no particular order include:

Chana Koren

Madeleine Lavine

David Wexler

Oreet Segal

I personally will be hiring one of them during our tours. Their reviews on different forums tell all about them. Rest assured you will have an excellent time with them. Hope this helps.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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8. Re: best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

Vinesho, you've listed excellent choices, and I am confident that whomever you choose from that list will give you an excellent experience.

Many people cannot afford a private guide, particularly for more than a day or so. So for some, the group experience may be the way they have to go.

I'll add another option. I think you can see the Dead Sea and Masada on your own, without a guide, using a rental car and a good guidebook that you are willing to read and do some planning with.

But choose what option is right for you -- no one answer fits all.

Douglas Duckett

Israel
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9. Re: best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

I'm sorry to hear that your sister-in-law had an unpleasant experience on an organized tour when she was here - but this is exactly the case we mention here - when you take one of the bus tours the success of the tour depends greatly on the guide. The guide you have for the day (or longer) is a matter of luck - who was scheduled to guide that tour that day.

I would love to say that all guides are great - but as we know in any profession, there are always some who are better than others.

As Douglas says, not everyone can afford a private guide - if you can it allows you to have a tour that is exactly what you want - but if your budget won't allow it - there are other options.

Ottawa, Canada
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for Jerusalem, Galilee, Tel Aviv
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10. Re: best tour guide for masada/dead sea/ein gedi?

If you are looking for a 'cheap' bus tour, a private guide is probably not in the budget.

Egged Tours is a huge company at competitive rates. I have used them in the past and they were good.