Syria arrangements

This item appears on page 28 of the December 2008 issue.
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I’ve taken six trips to Syria, most recently in March ’08 (Oct. ’08, pg. 17), and recommend the guide Nabil Mallah, who works with the travel agency Omayad Tours & Travel in Damascus (P.O. Box 34968, Damascus, Syria; phone 00963 11 3342255 or 3316058, fax 11 2212639, e-mail omayad.trvl@net.sy or visit www.omayadtours.com.sy). The office is located on the first floor of the Mazloum Building, behind the Four Seasons Hotel on Brazil Street.

Omayad Tours has planned two of the trips my wife and I have taken, including the flight arrangements. They are very good, very reliable, very honest and easy to deal with. The director is Abdulkarim Al-Jundi.

Not many airlines fly into Damascus. We always use Air France and have been quite pleased with them.

Syria is a country that is much better with a guide, and, as in many countries, there are many guides but only a few that are good. Nabil is the very best. He speaks four languages and is continually busy — so busy, in fact, that I make sure to tell him months in advance as to our plans. On our last trip he had a new car that he used for small groups; for larger groups he rents an air-conditioned van — all first class.

Nabil has always been there when we arrived or departed, no matter what time. Upon our arrival, he would go with us to the hotel and inspect the room to make sure it was okay. He had water ready for us plus $100 in Syrian currency for tips, etc.

His company’s rate for a guide is $70 per day (10 hours) inside Damascus plus an extra $40 per day outside Damascus to pay for the guide’s accommodation. Rates for cars, vans and buses are seasonal and are highest in April and October.

I didn’t really keep much track as to the charge; I trusted Nabil and at the end of the tour just asked how much I owed. Sometimes he paid for our day’s meals and added that cost to what was owed at the end of the day, and sometimes not. Would I do this anywhere else with anyone else? No, I would not.

We’re planning to return in September ’09.

LEO BLUM

Eugene, OR

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I’ve taken six trips to Syria, most recently in March ’08 (Oct. ’08, pg. 17), and recommend the guide Nabil Mallah, who works with the travel agency Omayad Tours & Travel in Damascus (P.O. Box 34968, Damascus, Syria; phone 00963 11 3342255 or 3316058, fax 11 2212639, e-mail omayad.trvl@net.sy or visit www.omayadtours.com.sy). The office is located on the first floor of the Mazloum Building, behind the Four Seasons Hotel on Brazil Street.

Omayad Tours has planned two of the trips my wife and I have taken, including the flight arrangements. They are very good, very reliable, very honest and easy to deal with. The director is Abdulkarim Al-Jundi.

Not many airlines fly into Damascus. We always use Air France and have been quite pleased with them.

Syria is a country that is much better with a guide, and, as in many countries, there are many guides but only a few that are good. Nabil is the very best. He speaks four languages and is continually busy — so busy, in fact, that I make sure to tell him months in advance as to our plans. On our last trip he had a new car that he used for small groups; for larger groups he rents an air-conditioned van — all first class.

Nabil has always been there when we arrived or departed, no matter what time. Upon our arrival, he would go with us to the hotel and inspect the room to make sure it was okay. He had water ready for us plus $100 in Syrian currency for tips, etc.

His company’s rate for a guide is $70 per day (10 hours) inside Damascus plus an extra $40 per day outside Damascus to pay for the guide’s accommodation. Rates for cars, vans and buses are seasonal and are highest in April and October.

I didn’t really keep much track as to the charge; I trusted Nabil and at the end of the tour just asked how much I owed. Sometimes he paid for our day’s meals and added that cost to what was owed at the end of the day, and sometimes not. Would I do this anywhere else with anyone else? No, I would not.

We’re planning to return in September ’09.

LEO BLUM

Eugene, OR