Private driver for Israel touring?

Old Jan 15, 13, 5:26 pm
  #1  
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Private driver for Israel touring?

We hired a private driver for touring around Jordan through Jordan Select Tours last year and found it a really cool way to see what we wanted to see and skip the 'boring' stuff. We got to know the driver and he got us to know Jordan rather intimately.

We'd like to do the same from a trip to Israel next month, if possible. We'll be based out of the King David hotel in Jerusalem, but want to do trips to Bethlehem, maybe Haifa, etc, etc.

Does this sort of service exist in Israel? Any recommendations?
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Old Jan 16, 13, 10:00 am
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In 11/11 we used Ariel Gabay, & here is a link to his website:

http://tourwithariel.weebly.com/

We had him in Israel, with a car, for 12 days & he was phenomenal. I have since referred other people to him, most recently last month, & everyone has reported they were very pleased.

If you do contact him let him know you got his name from "Mark from Detroit" that he had in November, 2011. I don't get anything, but I want him to know the referral is from me. Every once in a while I get a "thank you" email from him.

He's a great guy, & lived in San Francisco for 5 years while his wife was a coordinator working for Birthright.
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Old Jan 18, 13, 5:08 am
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I do not know the qualifications of your driver in Jordan BUT in Israel you want a licensed tour guide who is also authorized to drive. I see Ariel above is one of those people. A driver--someone who just drives is not only NOT allowed to guide BUT they do not necessarily know what are the best places to take you. I post on other sites and I want to keep my IDs apart. For that reason I am sending you the name of a guide via private message. (it is NOT me)
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Old Jan 18, 13, 9:02 am
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Correct, Ariel is a licensed tour guide (and a licensed driver).
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Old Jan 18, 13, 9:42 am
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I also recommend Ariel. He was the guide for myself and my mother, sister and brother-in-law this past July and was absolutely fabulous. Do contact him as soon as possible and he is often booked.
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Old Jan 19, 13, 1:32 pm
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i highly recommend Gilad Suffrin. He did a 10 day tour for my wife and cousin last February. He is EXTREMELY knowledgeable, an excellent driver, and retired after 30 years in the Jerusalem PD. He gave them the total experience.

he seems to know everybody and is very safety oriented. He will take you places the tour buses can't and all the best places to eat...where the locals go.
my wife is a seasoned traveler and cannot say enough about him...all good. he will tailor make your trip and is very flexible.
http://www.celebrateisrael.com/Displ...or.asp?VID=283

You can pm me of info.

My wife highly recommends the Harmony Hotel in Jerusalem, a first class Bouique Hotel within walking distance to Old Jerusalem and not as pricey as the King David. Excellent breakfast and free happy hour with wine and snacks.
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Old Jan 21, 13, 8:03 am
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I would second the Harmony Hotel - great location. The rooms are a little small, but very modern w/ free wifi. We stayed there on our 11/11 trip & were very happy. Also, their sister hotel, Shalom Hotel, in Tel Aviv is also a great location & very nice (we also stayed there).
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Old Jan 21, 13, 9:39 am
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Thanks for the recommendations. We're looking into them this week!
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Old Jan 22, 13, 6:03 am
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The Harmony hotel is a nice hotel BUT it is getting overpriced due to its' popularity and the laws of supply and demand. For what they are charging lately, you can do much better!
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Old Jan 22, 13, 3:48 pm
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my second trip great tour guide

We are going Feb 6 for a week and using same tour guide.

He is great and drives everywhere. Last trip was just wife and son with me.

Pm me if you desire contact info.
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Old Jan 23, 13, 11:45 am
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We've frankly been a little surprised at the fee being charged by the folks we contacted so far.

Most of the quotes are $600-$700US per day for car and guide/driver or $300/day plus meals and lodging for a guide and I have to get the car and do the driving...

That does seem a bit dear...any input on whether it's worth it vs. renting a car and self-touring?!
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Old Jan 23, 13, 1:12 pm
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The rates you are seeing ($300/day guide only or $600/day guide w/car (+ meals & lodging) are about the average. You can certainly rent a car, self-tour, and hire a guide for the day in each area you want to go. However, you can miss a lot by not having the guide with you all the time. For example, Ariel would be explaining things as we drove & telling us what to look for when we got to a location.

One day we were driving in the Golan Heights & he saw an encampment of Israeli tanks in a field & he pulled off the road in to the encampment, gave them the "secret handshake" (he knew it from being in the army) & we were able to talk to the soldiers, take pictures (with the proviso that we only take close up pictures that would not show the total number of tanks in the encampment) - if you were self-touring you would never be able to do that.

However, we were two couples traveling together so we were splitting the $600/day expense. Also, he was living near Jerusalem (Nov. 2011) so when we were there for 3 days we had no lodging/meal expense for him (I know he & his family recently moved). For us, as first time visitors, it was worth the expense, but it's a personal decision.

Last edited by rubesl; Jan 24, 13 at 2:53 pm
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Old Jan 24, 13, 1:21 pm
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Just concurring that the rates quoted are average. In fact many guides are getting $350 a day. The extra for driving also depends upon how many Kilometers you are planning on doing daily. $300 a day for meals/lodging seems high. Most guides get deals at hotels so their lodging isn't as much as yours. Meals--many get comped, others don't but unless you are eating in expensive restaurants--they aren't either.
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Old Jan 24, 13, 2:49 pm
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Sorry if I wasn't clear - I did not say $300/day for meals & lodging. The average guide rates are $300/day guide only or $600/guide & car (+ meals & lodging, whatever they actually are - awayIgo is correct, the guide's meals and lodging will be less than yours).
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Old Jan 25, 13, 8:39 pm
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Originally Posted by rubesl View Post
Sorry if I wasn't clear - I did not say $300/day for meals & lodging. The average guide rates are $300/day guide only or $600/guide & car (+ meals & lodging, whatever they actually are - awayIgo is correct, the guide's meals and lodging will be less than yours).
The guide I used, and reusing on Feb 6, is a little over $400 / day. He is licensed and that includes driving, including picking us up in TLV. I would highly recommend him. He gets into all tourist things for free, seems to get his meals for free, etc.

Even if you forget the nickels and dimes he saves, he did a remarkable job.
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