My sister and I only had time for one excursion on our short trip to Riviera Maya. We carefully selected this tour, considering it is the #1 Sian Ka'an tour listed on TripAdvisor’s site. Had we known that we’d have to sit in a mini van for almost 8 hours of the excursion (including 4 hours jerking from side to side), that we would have no access to washrooms for 8 hours, and that we would not eat for more than 8 hours, we never would have booked this!
Following are the misrepresentations and issues we encountered that we’re bringing to your attention in the hope that other travellers do not experience the same problems.
The mini van arrived a half hour late to pick us up from our hotel. Apparently, the driver got lost.
The road to the boats was HEAVILY rutted and excruciatingly slow to travel (two hours each way). Pot hole after pot hole; massive craters in places worsened by the rain the night before; navigation at a speed of 10-20 kph. We were violently jerked side-to-side the entire ride, from the reserve’s entrance to the boats. My sister developed whiplash. It was torture.
Transportation is misrepresented. According to the booking, ‘Transfer in Truck through the reserve of Sian Ka’an’ was included. At no point in the tour were we transferred to another vehicle. Had we transferred to this ‘truck’, we would not have had to endure the torturous two hour ride each way in the manner we did! Even more angering, I saw several of these ‘trucks’ parked by the boats.
From my reading on our return, had the driver taken the Muyil entrance, this road could have been avoided altogether.
LACK OF TOILETS
We understand this is a nature reserve, but it would have been nice to know in advance that we would not have access to a toilet until lunch, almost 8 hours after pick up from our hotel.
From my reading on our return, there are toilets at the entrance to the Muyil ruins and once you exit the jungle, near the boats.
The tour is misrepresented as a ‘guided’ tour. The tour company representative provided a few facts of the area before we reached the boats. Our boat guide did not speak English and provided no facts about the area or its inhabiting animals; we simply observed all. This was very disappointing, especially since I observed a guide, with another tour group, pointing out flowers, plants, etc. while we were walking back to the boat in Punta Allen, after lunch.
Though it was a hot, sunny day, snorkeling was cancelled due to the windy conditions (22-28 kph at the time). Disappointing, as we especially selected this tour because of the opportunity to snorkel in the second largest barrier reef in the world, but understandable.
The boat ride was enjoyable. Luckily, we did observe a crocodile, many birds, dolphins, and a large sea turtle. We also stopped in an area close to a beach for a short swim.
At the time of booking, I requested vegetarian meals.
On the way to the reserve, the group was offered a packed breakfast. My sister and I were unable to partake as the sandwich contained ham. We were all offered another of the same sandwich before boarding the boat. My sister and I did not eat anything until close to 2pm, when we had lunch. Lunch was delicious: a plateful of colourful, grilled veggies and beans.
Considering the late pick up, very rough ride through the reserve, not snorkeling, limited food, and the lack of inclusions (transfer to a truck and a proper tour guide), we are requesting a full refund of this trip.