River Rat Expeditions was a great choice for the ATM Cave (separate review on the cave)!! At first glance all tour operators seem to offer roughly the same type of services, but RRE were the only ones who asked not to use bug spray or sun screen because ATM is environmentally sensitive area. Big points in my book!! RRE also include snack and lunch (I did not see other groups eating before or after their tours so obviously not everyone provides food). RRE was also cheaper than others by at last $10 pp. E-mail exchange with Rebecca was first class as well!!!
Our guide Rafael prefers to take groups as small as possible and we (3 people) ended up having a private tour!! He is a very smart guy, knowledgeable on many subjects, and I think he could make it through ATM with his eyes closed. He showed us the cave, not just took us through it. He timed our entry so we did not follow anyone, and nobody followed us. We passed 4 groups (same way in/out) but never heard or saw anyone otherwise. This was much appreciated because we felt like the only people there. The whole trip became longer (we happily agreed to it), which proved that RRE want people to get the best experience possible. Rafael was great at directing footing, what we can touch, and what we should keep our hands off. Also, my mother was not confident when it came to swimming across some deeper spots, so she caught a piggy back ride; Rafael asked her to hold on to his back backpack, and just hang in there.
Once out of the cave and in dry clothes, we hopped in the truck and headed “home”. On the way we stopped in a local bar and had a beer with Rafael. My husband asked him if he could also stop at any store on the way to pick up a couple of things. I was rolling my eyes thinking that Rafael probably just wants to go home, but he had no problem with my husband’s request. He even took us through downtown San Ignacio, which was not the shortest way back. In the end we finished the day almost 2,5 hrs later than predicted. The one thing I am always apprehensive about is to be shepherd around by a clock watcher, and left asking “that’s it?” RRE deliver exactly the opposite!!
TIP: Someone mentioned in their review that it would be nice to have an option to have a life jacket. You do have that option; just ask when arranging the tour. That's what I did. Let them know height and weight for proper size.
I firmly believe that a potential customer needs to take responsibility of assessing his/her (or one in their care) ability to participate in the activity, and make sure before hand that they can/will be provided with necessary assistance.
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