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Review of Monte Alban Tours

Monte Alban Tours
Ranked #24 of 47 Tours in Oaxaca
Attraction details
Reviewed September 9, 2012

We wanted to do a tour in English including the Tlacolula Market (only open on Sundays) and Hierve al Agua, the petrified waterfall. The ticket tout for Monte Alban tour assured us that the all day Sunday tour had a bilingual guide and included both of these attractions. Believe me, we asked for confirmation several times. But he was not telling the truth.

The tour started late; again a "cycle race was blocking the streets", although we never saw any cyclists or closed off streets, and now reading a review below mentioning the same thing, I suspect there was no race.

Our driver spoke virtually no English, which was the first sign of trouble. He assured us that a guide speaking English would meet us at El Tule. There was indeed a guide there for about five minutes, and on each subsequent stop we met up with the half day tour, which was being led by an English-speaking guide, so we tagged along with that guide at the stops, but we missed all the commentary during each drive.

To be completely balanced: the mezcal tasting and the rug-making demonstration, while clearly designed to separate us from our money, were well done and interesting, with no pressure to buy. Mitla was interesting too. The bilingual guide from the half day tour was very good - he knew a lot about each location, and was a good driver.

But the real problem started when we were leaving Mitla: the driver of the half day tour, interpreting for our driver, told us we weren't going to Tlacolula Market after all. And apparently never were - the full day tour doesn't include Tlacolula even on a Sunday. We were furious. There was no way we could now get to both places. We transferred to the half day tour so we could get to Tlacolula, thus missing out on ever going to the waterfall.

Worse was yet to come: when we returned to the tour office to complain, we were treated rudely by the owner, a middle aged lady. All she was willing to do, after a long argument, was to pay us the difference between the full day tour and the half day tour, and insist that we not contact the tourist police. And while the original ticket seller did apologise, she didn't. So, tripadvisor friends, take heed: some of the guides in this company may be fine, but the company itself is dishonest - try someone else.

6  Thank YetAnotherWorkTrip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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26 - 30 of 45 reviews

Reviewed March 26, 2012

Reading the reviews for this tour company makes it hard for me to believe they are the same company as the one we went with. The address where we signed on is different than the one listed on TA (it is Macedonio Alcala N. 206, F, on the Andador), but the phone number is the same.

Apparently we were super lucky, because we had a great experience. We toured Monte Alban, Barro Negro, Arrazola, and Cuilapam. Our guide, Eloi, gave all tour information first in Spanish then in excellent English as requested by the English speakers, so we could practice our Spanish. He was knowledgeable, friendly, funny, and considerate. The driver (Francisco) was safe and courteous, and apologized numerous times for picking us up late, but it wasn't his fault, there was a bicycle event that had closed some streets.

At the black pottery and alebrijes (intricate and colorful painted wooden animals) villages Eloi's respect for the artists was clear. As they demonstrated their crafts he pointed out how difficult the work was, though they made it look easy. When the potter was building a pot, he cued those of us who were videotaping when the neck would be built, as it only took 15 seconds to make and he didn't want us to miss it. Yes he encouraged us to buy stuff to support the artists. If you're cynical you can say it's because the company gets something for taking us to these workshops, but if that's all it was about then he's a heck of a good actor. And the works are generally high quality, so it's not like you don't want to bring some home.

The tour stopped at a large restaurant where a sumptuous traditional oaxacan buffet was served. We had no idea what we were in for, and were delighted with what we found. Maybe 7 moles, a dozen sopas, grilled meats, deep fried balls of some kind, desserts. My only complaint here is that I had no idea what everything was, but everything I tried was delicious.

Eloi created a convivial atmosphere on the van with his humor and his interest in his group. Because one couple delayed the van (twice! for 15 minutes each time!), Eloi had the driver stop at a store on the way back so they could buy us all refreshments by way of apology, all in good fun.

I won't comment on the sites themselves as you can read about them elsewhere, except to say that every one was exceptional and worth the trip. Entrance fee to Monte Alban and lunch are not included (written in super tiny font on the ticket). So perhaps if you do this trip, you should insist on Eloi and Francisco, as they were first rate people.

5  Thank Littlehand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2011

My rating is an average of the two tours with this company.

The Friday market tour with Jose to was an excellent bi-lingual tour that was informative and worth my time and money. Do all you can to take his tour becuase he is extremely good and worth 5 stars !

The Sunday tour to Mitla was horrible and recieves 0 stars. It was sold to me as a bi-lingual tour and the guide refused to speak any english. Quote, "Only Spanish on Sunday's. Ask the people around you for help." I told him that I was in Oaxaca for spanish lessons and wanted a bi-lingual tour to help learn the language. As soon as possible, he dumped me onto another guide who was bi-lingual but had a very acerbic attitiude. It was all quite embarssing.

Only speaking spanish on the weekend tours is consistent with this company. At the school I attended, a couple took this same tour on a Saturday and the guide only spoke Spanish again. Luckily, the husband was fluent and was able to translate for his wife. However, they were also not happy with the tour.

1  Thank Jeanpr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 3, 2011

We decided to extend of one day our stay in Oaxaca to visit a few places around. We had a special need: we had to finish the tour one hour in advance to catch a night bus.
Monte Alban Tours promised that it was absolutely possible, so we organised everything around that.
The morning after they took us at our hotel and then they started to move us from one van to the other as none of the driver had been informed of our special need. After one hour of mess the last driver suggested to go the tour office and see if they can arrange something for us. when we were there the same person who the day before sold us the tour guaranteeing that everything would have been sorted out said that it was no more possible to finish the tour one hour in advance, he gave us the money back and said good bye.
We asked for some alternative, and we also offered to pay the difference but they said that there was no alternative.
We were lucky as finally we didn't waste the day: we went to the main square and we found a private taxi driver who took us for the same tour, but still Monte Alban tour behaviour is unbelievable.

3  Thank Pereppo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 31, 2010

Don't ever go with this company. Totally ruined graveyard tour and the magic of day of the dead is gone forever. ZERO organisation. Too many people, not enough guides. Guides actually didn't know what they were supposed to be doing. No information. Somehow they let a guy in a wheelchair come on the tour without any proper access which made it hard for him and everyone else. People split between buses and cars. Shocking waste of money!!! Day of the dead should be special. Don't do it with these amateurs.

5  Thank Nizhaz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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