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“Colon, Gatun Locks and Panama City” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Almiza Tours by My friend Mario - Private Tours

Almiza Tours by My friend Mario - Private Tours
Panama City, Panama
(507) 6615-2271
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Owner description: Local tour operator with local guides offering the best value tours in Colon and Panama City since 1994, if you really like to learn about Panama under the local perspective try with us!
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
23 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Colon, Gatun Locks and Panama City”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2012

We thoroughly enjoyed this tour. If you book, try to get on the bus with tour guide REY, who is extremely well informed about the history and culture of the areas toured. He made the day fun and interesting.

Visited December 2012
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202 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Hermitage, Tennessee
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Great Places”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

We booked the Canal and Emburu village tour through My Friend Mario tours. Mario was great emailing with information. The places we went were great! We got to stop by the Madden Dam on our way to the Indian village. I thought we would actaully be canoeing across the lake but we were in a long canoe that had a small motor on it. That worked out great because even with the motor it was about a 45 minute ride one way! We went to the waterfall, which was nice and but we stayed longer than I think the whole group would really have liked. Our guide, Elvis, just sat and smoked and stayed the alotted time. The Emburu Indian village was really nice, the food that they prepared for us was great and it was interesting to hear their history and see their village. I had read it would be touristy but I didn't realize that the whole village mainly functioned as a tourist attraction. It was still nice though. After we got back across the lake and into our van we headed to the locks. Most of the way our guide sat at the front and spoke spanish to the driver or listened to his ipod. I guess it wasn't a huge deal but we had been in Guatamla and Costa Rica for our previous ports and both of those guides had interesting information to tell us the entire trip and made it more enjoyable. We stopped at the lock, where we were told we could go up on the observation deck and look out. It was neat to see the locks from a different perspective. All in all I would recommend this excursion. Plus the group that took the Panama City tour with this company said their guide had been great and that they didn't see how he had a voice left because he kept them so entertained. I would recommend My Friend Mario tours as well as the excursion we took, just ask before hand who your guide is going to be and make sure they are going to provide what you want in a tour. Enjoy Panama!!

Visited December 2012
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Los Angeles, California
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Best way to see Panama in a day”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 5, 2012

Prior to booking my tickets for Colombia, I found a flight back from Medellin with a long layover in Panama. I figured this would be a good way for me to check another country off my list. After doing a bit of research on FlyerTalk, I saw multiple recommendations of My Friend Mario. I came to TripAdvisor and affirmed those recommendations.

After a short e-mail requesting a tour, I received a prompt response asking for my flight information and the type of itinerary I would like. The itinerary looked great, and all I had to do was find the guide at the airport.

As soon as I walked through customs, my guide was there and we were off. The guide (I forget his name, wonderful gentleman) was VERY informative, VERY friendly, and even customized parts of the tour when I had requested stops. In addition to the Canal and other stops, he dropped me off for lunch and was prompt to pick me back up.

The personal/solo tour was $100 for 4-5 hours, and well worth every penny. Highly recommended if you have a long layover at Panama!

Visited December 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Wildlife”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2012

We took the San Lorenzo/Gatun Locks/Rainforest tour from Colon while on a canal cruise. Contact with the company both arranging the tour and meeting the guides was simple and with another couple being "no shows", we had what amounted to a private tour.
San Lorenzo and the locks were well covered and certainly worth the time and cost, but our guide really excelled with his knowledge of wildlife.
He went to great lengths to find animals from howler monkeys and sloths to leaf cutter ants and stopped frequently to point out many of the bird species in the rainforest and wetlands.
Would highly recommend this tour, particularly for "birders" or anyone with even a passing interest in wildlife and My Friend Mario Tours more generally.

Visited November 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palm Beach, Florida
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
233 helpful votes 233 helpful votes
“My Friend Mario is superb!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2012

We booked a private transfer from Colon to Panama City for $40pp with My Friend Mario months ahead of time for a cruise ship pickup to the PTY airport across the country. I even confirmed days beforehand and he was always quick to respond back with answers and confirmations. We were a little reluctant to do this individually instead of the cruise line, but we went and booked with him anyway.

The following is one WARNING to anyone booking a transfer from Colon to Panama City using a private transfer, and this is nothing to do with My Friend Mario as his service is fantastic!

After leaving Panama Customs, we went to the general street area just outside the door and there were two people holding the red tour sign that he told me to look for amid a massive crowd of people. The first man was for the general shuttle service $20pp and we told him of the private transfer that we had, so he pointed us to the other guy holding the sign and said he was the one doing the private transfers.

The man was very nice and well dressed, he told us that the car would be pulled up and to wait where we were and he disappeared, so we waited several minutes. After a while a man walked up to us and asked us who we were waiting for and I told him that we were doing a private transfer with My Friend Mario. He then told us that he was there to get us and our driver was right over in the other area since all of the buses were parked right in front of us and they couldn't park there.

We followed him over and he brought us to a guy who he said was our driver. He then took us to a very dirty broken down van and much to our surprise; three other people were piled in our van after that. I told them that we had a private transfer for just us two, but he said that since others were going straight to the airport, they put us all together. I told him that wasn't what I booked, but since we didn't want to miss our plane, we went anyway.

After arriving home, I emailed My Friend Mario asking why it wasn't a private transfer but a shared transfer. Well, his quick response explained everything. Our "Real" driver went to get the car, this other man saw this and then approached us impersonating a My Friend Mario representative and he wasn't associated with them at all. My Friend Mario told me that the "Real" driver came back and couldn't find us and I told him what had happened since we didn't know and didn't even realize to us that these things can happen. Basically, the "Real" driver never should have left us and he should have personally escorted us to the car himself since there are such low lives trying to steal others business.

My Friend Mario is so superb and fantastic, he actually refunded a portion of our money that we paid the other impostor to us even though it came out of his own pocket since up to that point, we hadn't paid for any services. I couldn't believe we just received such excellent service from him, it truly amazed me.

This wasn't our first trip to Panama and it won't be our last, but our next private transfer or tour bookings WILL be done only thru My Friend Mario!

Don't trust anyone saying they are representing someone else unless they have the proof right in front of everyone. This was a lesson we learned and it will never happen again to us and we would do My Friend Mario over the cruise line transfers any day!

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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