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“fantastic” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Almiza Tours by My friend Mario - Private Tours

Almiza Tours by My friend Mario - Private Tours
Chorrera, Calle Arnoldo Cano, Colon, Panama
(507) 6615-2271
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Ranked #2 of 15 attractions in Colon
Type: Tours
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Attraction Details
Owner description: Providing the highest quality tours at an unbeatable value since 1994.Friendly guides and the best price in Panama city and Colon.Enjoy the pleasure of an amazing trip, coupled with the opportunity to discover a life-changing cultural experience.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children, Stairs / elevator
Durham, North Carolina
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“fantastic”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 26, 2012

we went to the indian village and canal locks in a downpour in a canoe for about 25 mins accross the lake . it was unbelievable. i felt almost like an indian in the canoe. these people took really great care of us. lunch with the indians and a cooler of beer,soda and water. in my opinion there was great value in this trip for what we paid and i am not a person who gives out compliments freely. i wish i was in that canoe right now feeling that rain and looking at the misty mountains. it was a moment that i wish i could revisit. i hopes it rains when you go.. by the way, the cruise people canceled thier trip because of the rain.

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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36 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Fremont, California
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Almiza Tours to the Embera Indian Village”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 19, 2012

I used this tour company on the recommendation of fellow cruise ship passengers. This particular instance was different as the cruise was a re-positioning cruise, dropping us all in Colon, Panama on the Atlantic side of the canal. We all booked via myfriendmario.com, and not only arranged for this full day tour with dockside pickup, but also transportation to Panama City on the Pacific side of the canal dropping us each at our individual hotels.
We nearly immediately found the Almiza Tour guide by his sign despite the chaos of dozens of buses at the small portside terminal all jockeying for fares. He loaded the first 5 of us on the bus where we sat while he collected up others for the tour and even a few he bartered for quick drops at local hotels (his goal to maximize his time and seats, hey, its Panama not the US).
We got underway and headed out for our tour and our guide 'Elvis' (yes, thats what he called himself), chatted easily about the area and our tour. We stopped at a small riverside encampment where we boarded motorized canoes for our ride in the rain to the Embera Indian Village on the Chagres River. It was an enjoyable experience mixing with the tribal members as they cooked us lunch over an open fire, watched and participated in native dancing, and made purchases of their handcrafts.
It was quite different from many standard tours, as it was really off the beaten path, yet always within my comfort zone of safety.
Our canoe ride back was enjoyable with the rain gone, our small tour bus was waiting for us right on schedule for our ride into Panama City. (my personal video of this tour can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyyoDTVaplI ).
He even made a brief picture stop at the canal zone which was great as it was not on the tour directly.
We wound through the old section of Panama City to drop passengers, Elvis continued on with his talks of the sights of the city.
Overall a great tour for the price, convenience and exciting. There was a bit of a wait at the beginning, but hey, we were dry and warm, and did get the tour we booked and transportation right to our individual hotels for no additional fees.
I ended up also booking their airport transfer service on my departure day and they were 15 minutes early to ensure no traffic delays, a nice assurance.

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“My Friend Mario Tour”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2012

We signed up for the Rainforest, San Lorenzo Fort, and Gatun Lock tour with My Friend Mario and had a wonderful time. Our guide was Mario (not the owner, a different Mario), and he was very knowledgeable about the country, the area, and especially the local flora and fauna.

Unfortunately there was a landslide that blocked the road to the San Lorenzo Fort, so Mario substituted a nature walk. Between that walk and the "normal" rain forest excursion, we saw 2 species of tucans, 2 of sloths, monkeys up close and personal, many birds, leafcutter ants, and many other animals. The nature walk gave us an opportunity to really experience the rain forest.

The Gatun Locks were very interesting. I had done quite a bit of research before our cruise, and we had a speaker ("Uncle Marty") on the cruise ship who gave five presentations on various aspects of the canal, and I was on deck the previous day during virtually the entire canal transit. But seeing the operation from the locks is a whole different experience, and I highly recommend it.

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
25 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Gatun Locks, Chagres River, Embera Indian Village and Waterfall”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2012

We booked this tour for November 3 for our stop in Colon during our Celebrity Cruise of the Panama Canal. We awoke early to meet the guide at the designated place by the escalator at 6:40 am, and then we had to wait about 45 min for 4 more people who never came. Since there were only two of us, they combined us with another group to go to the Gatun Locks which were very interesting and we saw a ship enter and then leave. Then our guide Ernesto went with the two of us to a lake where the Indians were to pick us up in the dugout canoe. The town was having a parade for the 100 years Independence Day so we had to park, walk thru and around the parade and then take a taxi to get to the beach. There we waited for about 45 minutes because the Indians were not there. After Ernesto made some phone calls, they finally came to get us. It was a long ride thru Lake Alajuela to the Chagres River. We went as close as we could in the canoe to the waterfall and then waded thru the rocks of the river until we got to it and were able to swim around in the natural pool that is there .One of the Indians held my hand to keep me from slipping while hiking on the wet rocks to the waterfall and he often pointed where I should step. Then we hiked back to the canoe and went on to the Indian Village. We were taken to a hut where a woman cooked our lunch of fish and plantains wrapped in a large leaf with a hibiscus on top, while one of the male natives spoke in Spanish about their village, traditions etc. and our guide interpreted for us. A woman from the village then showed us how they take palms and process and dye them for their basket weaving, and how they carve tagua nuts to make small animals etc and other wood carving that they do. We were then taken to a larger palapa where benches were set up for entertaining large groups and tables along the sides displayed all of the crafts that were for sale. Then several of the women, a couple of men, and a few children danced for us while about 6-8 men played their drums, flutes etc. We were the only two tourists there at that time. After this we had a few minutes to shop at the craft tables, and then we were taken in the canoe back to town with the beach, and then thru another parade, and back to the pier where we had about half an hour to shop on our own before boarding the ship. This was an amazing day and I recommend this tour. We paid $85 each for it and were also given bottled water to drink.

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dallas, Texas
Top Contributor
314 reviews 314 reviews
188 attraction reviews
Reviews in 102 cities Reviews in 102 cities
142 helpful votes 142 helpful votes
“Interesting”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 17, 2012

It was an interesting tour however agree with some of the other reviews the city is in such disrepair with bobwire and knifes sticking out of the tops of the fences, so there is a danger element to be aware of while in the city. The best, most interesting was the Miraflores Locks Observation Center where you will learn about the rich history and marvel at this man made wonder and view the passing ships and functioning of the locks from an on the top floor of this installation.

Visited November 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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