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Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

These guys are crooks. We booked bus transportation with them from Flores back to Guatemala City. They have a back room at their office in Flores where they encourage tourists to leave their luggage while touring the town and waiting for transportation. We did see that several people had left their luggage in the room so we did as well. However, we had a bad vibe about the "staff"—mostly rough-looking dudes—so we first transferred all valuables to our backpacks which we took with us while walking around town. We had one painting by a Mayan artist worth $800 Quetzales ($100 US) which we left in the room with our luggage because it would have been inconvenient to carry around town. When we returned to their office to meet our bus, the painting was gone. The "staff," rather poorly, pretended they didn't know what happened or how it disappeared. After searching around the back room more than they hoped we would, we found the tubing that held the painting ripped open and shoved under a mattress with the painting still inside. We assume they either had hoped that they would have found something more valuable within and decided to discard it to hide that they had ripped it open or that they planned to sell it later.

Lastly, prior to our leaving in one of their shuttles to the bus station, they also doctored (white out) the travel voucher they gave to us (and did the same to another couple) to put us on a cheaper, more dilapidated bus than the first-class bus for which we had paid them. All they did was change the departure time from 9PM to 8:30PM, which neither we nor the other couple noticed until we arrived at the Flores bus station, and they made a killing by putting us on a bus much cheaper (and dangerous) than that for which we paid. By the time we noticed they doctored the vouchers, it was too late for us to make a change or go back and confront the agency.

Note: these guys pick tourists off at the bus terminal at Flores in the middle of the night when people are confused and disoriented after traveling on the over-night buses from Guatemala City. They stand right outside the bus door as tourists deboard and, in perfect English, offer rides to Tikal. Advice: if you take an overnight bus to Flores from Guatemala City—slow down when you arrive, find the terminal (if one exists-we didn't see one), and do not let these guys fast-talk you into a ride. Ask around for different options or arrange with your hotel in Flores beforehand to have a shuttle pick you up and take you directly to your hotel. These guys want, more than anything, to get you into their offices, find out everything about your trip and what you might need so they can run scams on you.

The lead guy is a short, overweight, dark-complectid man, who speaks perfect English, and looks almost Hawaiian. If he approaches you, stay away from him. I didn't trust him the minute I met him at the terminal in Flores, but we were disoriented and desperate and that state is what they prey on. The arrival point at Flores is chaotic and disorganized, making it a perfect place at which to take advantage of tourists.

Book all transport through your hotel and ask your hotel who they use. Make all arrival and departure reservations before leaving for Flores. Do not wait until you are in Flores to book your return travel. Either book it in Antugua or in whatever other city you find yourself. Book as little as possible while in Flores. Get as much done as possible before you arrive.

San Juan also goes by the name Maya Expeditions. They may run the entire town and you may have few options, but if you see either of these names, do all you can to avoid them.

40 replies to this topic
Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
8,447 posts
20 reviews
50 helpful votes
1. Re: Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

San Juan has almost a monopoly in that area (and a lot of hotels work with them). They can be dishonest but often they will get you from A to B. Just make sure you have an idea of what it should cost and ask for a receipt that clearly states what you paid for. Thoroughly check any voucher they give you. Or try to avoid them: I have heard good things about (but can't vouch for) Crasborn Travel in Flores and you could also try Hostel Los Amigos.

I think your bus must have stopped at the Flores causeway. The bus goes on to the Santa Elena bus terminal and if you had gone there you would definitely have seen you were in a bus terminal. I have read other reports about the bus stopping at the Flores bridge and tourists being transferred to a shuttle to go into Flores. If that happens, you can take the shuttle, just don't listen to the guys driving the shuttle who will try to direct you to hotels and sell you transport and/or Tikal tickets at inflated prices. You can also just walk across the bridge (short walk) into Flores. Or you can stay on the large bus and it will take you to the Santa Elena bus station (which is close). In that case take a short tuk tuk ride to Flores (Q5 per person). Or do what we did and wait at the bus terminal till the market across from the terminal opens up and have breakfast there and then take a public minibus from the same bus terminal to Tikal.

Guadalajara, Mexico
1 post
2 reviews
2. Re: Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

These guys are the monopole in Flores, they fast-talk and take advantage of the foreigners non spanish speaking. Me as mexican I realized their trick so please be careful.

I booked with them the way from Cd Guatemala to Antigua, the pick up was at 8am initially, they just changed to 10.30 am without notice. You cannot ask or have the way to ask your money back! And when we got to Cd Guatemala we realized the taxis charged you same price !!! The lied and they are non trusty at all. Do not book with them.

Arco, Italy
1 post
3. Re: Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

Don't go to Maya expeditions in flores Guatemala!!!The guys from this agency are Worth than mafia in Italy..they first appears like friendly people,but talking really fast whithout looking at you in the eyes and when you already paid,they are not disponible anymore or don't have any informations left!!They charges us so Much to do the Tikal's ruins..!And we had to go to Belize and wait for more than45min till we see someone from the Maya expédition agency so we ask about our bus Who supposé to pick us from the hotel and tell us we have to walk carry on our luggage till the bus station ..where we wait again till going at 9.45am instead of 8am!!!They only want your money and don't care about the services!!Go to anyone else toutism agency but defenitely NOT IN MAYA EXPEDITIONS IN FLORES!!And be carefull they got two agencies in town!!We didn't enjoy Guatemala about the mentality of guatemaltecans..so sad..

Guatemala
Level Contributor
140 posts
26 reviews
4 helpful votes
4. Re: Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

I suggest that you denounce them to INGUAT (the Guatemalan tourism commission) emails: nvillatoro@inguat.gob.gt, info@inguat.gob.gt and morellana@inguat.gob.gt

If you report them they will certainly do something about it, because it can not be that these "small travel agencies" put in bad the work of those who do things right.

Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
5. Re: Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

Will do. Thank you for your suggestion.

1 post
6. Re: Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

Me, my brother and cousin unfortunatelly happened to cross path with the crooked scarface guy from san juan travel agency/mayan expeditions. We bought tickets to caye caulker and were chraged more than twice as much as regular agencies.

We were coming from Guatemala City with the Linea Dorada bus and the driver stopped in front of the airport and asked all the tourists to leave and get the "shuttle" to Flores. The shuttle was where met the scarface guy (his name is Enrique Natividad Pop Chub as we later discovered). I think the drivers from the bus company are involved in the scheme and get money from Enrique to drop the tourists.

When we found out we were overcharged and read many posts online, we asked for our money back and they denied, so we went to INGUAT in Flores and filed a complaint. There, we met Francisco who works for INGUAT and he took us to the 'Ministerio Publico' to file an official complaint and start a criminal procedure against Enrique. There, we learned that he is involved in a series of schemes and has been fooling tourists for a very long time (10+ years) and nothing has been done against him.

We had a hearing with the judge and Enrique and the money was returned to us the next day, but we were coerced to receive the money back and do not go ahead with the criminal procedure (we were told it would keep us stuck in Flores, etc).

When we thought about it later, it felt like the authorities in Flores (INGUAT and even the judge) knew exactly the scheme Enrique was running but didn't do anything to stop him. It has been running for over a decade and fooling tourists and they were not shut down yet. So I think they are also involved and get something from it as well.

So here is my advice:

DO NOT GET DOWN FROM THE BUS FROM GUATEMALA CITY TO FLORES/SANTA ELENA UNTIL IT ARRIVES AT THE TERMINAL

DO NOT ENTER THE SHUTTLE TO FLORES WITH ENRIQUE (guy with a scar on his left cheek, brown skin, chubby, who speaks good english)

DO NOT BOOK ANYTHING AT SAN JUAN TRAVEL, MAYAN EXPEDITIONS OR ANY OTHER TRAVEL AGENCY RUN BY THESE GUYS

It is a real shame that the most touristic place in Guatemala allows these kind of garbage to go around unpunished while fooling tourists...

Edited: 06 February 2017, 16:28
Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
7. Re: Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

Yep, that was our guy too.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
1,281 posts
27 reviews
10 helpful votes
8. Re: Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

Guatemala TGTS: If you search back through the threads on this topic, you will find that many tourists have complained to INGUAT about these fraudsters without any apparent effect. Allowing them to continue to operate this way for years damages the reputation all Guatemalan tourism, including agencies such as yours. Since you should have better connections to INGUAT than the rest of us, maybe you could pressure them to take some action. Also, you and other tourist agents should warn warn purchasers about the scam when selling them a Linea Dorada ticket and should insist that Linea Dorada stop directing your clients onto these shuttles. Unless the tourism industry takes action to protect its clients, it will justifiably be seen as complicit in this fraud.

1 post
9. Re: Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

Same experience with this agency...

Did the same with me and other people arriving tired at Flores : pick up at Elena terminal of Flores to bring us to his agency in Flores. Then he will try to convince you to book tours with him (wich are expensive and not recommandable). He can also recommend you some places to stay (of course, he owns also this hostels and he has several agency in Flores, El Remate... This guy is like mafia !).

I booked from the hotel i stayed in El Remate (I discover after that he owns it too) a shuffle trip from Flores to Chetumal in Mexico. I didn't know that he would be provide by his agency too. They were supposed to pick me at my hotel a 7h30 am. At 8h30 still nobody and the lady from the hotel came to announce me that finally there is no bus to Chetumal this day, because of a bridge in wich you can not pass anymore so i should stay one more night and go the day after. I searched quickly on internet about a bridge problem but didn't find nothing about it, it suddenly looked suspicious. In fact i think they just forgot about pick me up and created a fake excuse or something like this. I wanted to speak at phone with the agency guy. He didn't want to pick me up ! I had to insist during one hour (!) and finally got him at phone. I explained to him i lost two hours of my time and want a solution to go to Chetumal. Said to him i didnt find any news about a bridge problem in Belize. He still affirm that it was impossible to go to Chetumal this day so i had to book the shuffle trip the day after. Look totally fake to me. The guy got upset and impolite, just say to me to take back my money and go away. So i did. And i've been across Belize to Chetumal by public transportation wich cost me half of the price he sells it. Of course, no bridge problem at all, it was pure invention. I just lose two hours of my time and arrived to Mexico much more late and my trip was not as confortable as it was supposed to be by a agency. But I don't care much, i felt happy to not give more money to this thief.

Don't contract anything from him.

Guatemala City...
1 post
10. Re: Avoid San Juan Tours/Maya Expeditions

Who are interested: We are extremely concerned and taking legal action as we have been informed that they are using our company name and logo.

Maya Expeditions does not have branches in the Departments of Guatemala.

Maya Expeditions is a Tour Operator duly registered at INGUAT and with Patent of Commerce and Society.

Maya Expeditions has Experience in Adventure Travel in Guatemala since 1987

Conde Nast Traveler, Dec. 1994, nominated MAYA EXPEDITIONS as one of the 20 top Eco-outfitters in the World.

MAYA EXPEDITIONS, a Guatemalan based adventure travel operator, organizing tours safely since 1987, brings you the hidden secrets of this beautiful country. We operate expeditions to all of the Mayan archaeological sites as well as exhilarating whitewater rafting through the heart of the jungle. We are piooner in Whitewater rafting and Bungee.

You can access our website: www.mayaexpeditions.com

We also appear on Facebook as Maya Expeditions Guatemala

Phones (502) 50434766 - 43297625

Unfortunately one of the people who has been cheated, has provided us with a photo of the voucher that these people used, see the attached photo.

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