I had heard that Gecko Trails was a great and reliable company so I went directly to their office to book, and pay in full, for the snorkeling trip in Cahuita. his was an activity that my family had been really excited about prior to even arriving in Puerto Viejo. We scheduled all of our other activites around this and were happpy the we had a perfect plan for the last few days of our stay.
We were to be picked up at our lodging at 7:30 am. At 8:00am the owner of the place we were staying at finally got through to the Gecko Trail office and we were told that they would call right back to let us know what was happening with our ride. 10 minutes later they called and told us that our driver would be there for us in another 10 minutes. Relieved, we patiently waited. And waited. And waited. We called again. Again, they would call back, and when they did we were told that our tour was in fact not going to happen that day. No explanation. No apology.
Especially disappointing was the fact that, because of our schedule over the next few days, we were not even in a position to re-book. We were completely loosing out on this opportunity that we had been SO looking forward to for so long. When we sought answers about how and why this had happened the representative explained that it was simply the vendors fault, and was in no way Gecko's responsibility "We don't do the actual tours, we only arrange and coordinate them." she said. "Uh, yes." I responded. "And that's what we paid you for."
Still with no willingness to be accountable for the situation it was suggested to us that we take another tour - entirely different from the one we chose. I declined and said I would be coming into the office soon to pick up my refund, that I expected to be in the full amount. I was told that it was not possible to confirm that I would recieve a full refund and that the staff member had to first discuss the situation first with her boss. I went straight to the office and when she, the staff member, was unable to reach her boss for confirmation, she eventually refund me the full amount. And finally, she offered an apology. Not particularly heartfelt, but an apology noetheless.
We were determined to have our snorkeling trip to Cahuita and thanks to the incredibly generous owners of our lodging, we did! They personally gave us a ride to town and we found Tom, who has a little joint right across the street from the main snorkeling business. He hooked us up with a couple of his guys who, for $25pp will take you out for 3 hs (Gecko offers 2hrs) and drop you off on the way back at any point if you wish to walk the trail.
We found no need for a guide in Cahuita National Park and without one we were able to take our time enjoying all elements of the trai includig the wildlife and the great little beaches. We spent the entire day there and took a taxi back to Puerto Viejo, although we could have also taken the bus (leaving every hour on the hour) if we had wanted to save even more money. Anyone interested in spending a leisurely day snorkling and walking through Cahuita for far less than a tour company like Gecko charges can do it on their own. My suggestion is to get there as early in the morning as possible since the snorkeling guides tend to close up shop around noon.
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