You know how you look up reviews on anything and there are a lot of positive reviews with just a few really negative ones you think that the people who are being negative must have a screw loose? Those people, in this case, are the voice of reason.
Four hours in a Jeep with many issues and in rather dubious operating condition. Three hours on a boat with no more than ten minutes at a few places where we harassed and stressed the wildlife. Only a few stops but not where we wanted to stop. A guide that did no guiding and caused delays and wouldn't listed to requests by the entire tour group. A cold meal that had been sitting out and the dirtiest beaches I've seen in the Yucatan. From pick up to drop off it was fourteen grueling hours. The upshot was meeting some very nice people who found it as miserable as we did.
The bottom line.
This tour isn't for people who actually love nature, it is for people who want to tear it apart. You will leave a huge carbon footprint by the end of the day and stress the wildlife with the insensitive behavior of the staff. The beaches are covered in trash and debris. Don't kind yourself, this isn't nature or the real Mexico, it is an expensive way to spent a long day to tear our a piece of your soul by putting your desires before the wellbeing of a nature preserve. If you really love nature don't contribute to its destruction by taking this tour; this nature preserve and UNESCO site is looking worse for wear thanks to these kinds of trips.
We were supposed to be collected at 6:00am and the driver was 20 minutes late, not a big deal, we're on vacation and my friend and I were enjoying each other's company. Then they dropped us off at a meeting point where there were less than half a dozen other people waiting. So far so good. Over an hour passed and soon there were over 30 people waiting for this expedition and most of them were smoking. Yeah, the tour companies can't control their clients and there was a smoking area so I can't hold that against them either.
Then we were divided into Jeeps. This tour company only had nine people in our group so we were a caravan to two vehicles. Ours looked rather new and appeared to be in good condition. We piled in and followed our guide down the highway. Once we left the highway we splashing through potholes so deep the door sills were wet. After a few puddles the power steering would short out and it would take a dry patch for it to kick back in. When I told the guide he asked if it came back on and I told him it did so he seemed to think it was no problem.
So we spent over two hours being jarred by holes in the road and passed more than one Jeep with a flat tire on the way. By the time we got to the docks it was noon and even though the picked us up before the crack of dawn they gave us a banana and water with a couple pieces of tortilla to tide us over.
On the boats, of which there were as many as there were Jeeps, so maybe 15 in our group, we headed out into the lagoon. When a sea turtle was spotted at least half a dozen boats surrounded it idling their engines and creating a massive cloud of exhaust fumes. We going to wait for our turn to see the turtle surface and take in a lungful of fumes before diving. When our group which included a nice couple told our guide we didn't want to stress the turtle and move on he wouldn't listen and insisted we stay.
After we traumatized the sea life they set off to show us the mangroves which were pretty but we barely slowed down so we couldn't watch any of the crabs on the roots to even take pictures despite our request. Then they sped off to show us a few dead trees with cormorants and frigates where we didn't stop, only cruised by.
Hurried past the birds they took us to a more open area of the ocean where we found three dolphins playing. Again there was a large group of boats that surrounded them and even though it was fun to see them play I felt like we were trying to corner them.
After about ten minute they took us to a reef to snorkel for another ten minutes while one of the captains kept insisting we follow him. Initially I thought he might be trying to show us fish or interesting coral formations but it quickly became apparent that all he was doing was keeping us herded so we could leave. Once back on the boat we were taken to a shallow area where were were told we could go for a swim. We just got out of the water! We didn't need to swim in chest-deep water for ten minutes, we would have rather explored the mangroves for another ten minutes at a slow pace. But no, we had a formula to follow and deviations were not to be permitted.
So that was the sum of our boat trip, ten minutes here, ten minutes there, harass the wildlife, you MUST see this. Again, our tour was two groups in two boats, why couldn't it be more tailors to our interests and desires?
Then we went to a roadside restaurant, and by this time it was about 3:00pm, seven hours after we were picked up. The food was bland and already cold, it had been sitting out on the counter covered in plastic for who knows how long. It was rather terrible but at this point we were starving and ate everything on our plates.
Once we ate we went back on the road and it took again more than two hours. There were more flat tires and our guide got a flat on his vehicle and he watched as the folks in his Jeep changed the tire for him. When we arrived back at the original meeting point our guide disappeared only to reappear and stuff us in a van to take us back to our accommodations. The driver of the van was already late for another appointment and drove like a maniac; at one point he slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting a car and we were all tossed around even with seat belts on.
The only good thing is that we met some really wonderful people who also felt tricked into take a terrible tour. By the end we were pretty close and even went out to dinner together to wash the taste of bad food out of our mouths.
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