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“cave experts”

River Rat Expeditions - Private Day Tours
Ranked #8 of 36 Tours in San Ignacio
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed March 18, 2013

We were extremely happy with RRE and our guide Gonzo for our trip through ATM. His archealogical experience made him the best guide for our trip.He truly seemed to enjoy sharing from his vast knowledge of the Mayan culture and the cave system.We would recommend him to anyone going caving the area.

Thank Ron G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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125 - 129 of 146 reviews

Reviewed March 3, 2013

My parents and I recently visited Belize in Feb 2013 and used River Rat Expeditions for our day trips while in San Ignacio. We had John as our guide for 3 days and did everything from Mayan ruins to canoing through a cave to tubing down a jungle river. John was a great guide for each of these. He is extremely knowlegable about the history of the region as well as the local plants and animals. He was also very flexible, as I'm in my 20s and pretty active, and my parents are in their 60s. John pulled my mother down the river in her tube and helped us all navigate the rapids. I'm also a little scared of heights and he was VERY tolerant of my snail-paced descent of the Mayan ruins. The tours were always on time and well run. I would definatley recommend these guys.

Thank Heather M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2013

My girlfriend and I did two tours with River Rat. The first, with Gonzo at the Crystal Cave in St. Herman's National Park, was a fantastic caving experience. This was more of a "caver's cave" than ATM, but did include impressive Mayan artifacts and remains. Gonzo proved to us why he is a caving expert, and seemed to be much more knowledgeable and respectful of the cave than the two other guides we encountered that day. Though we paid a bit more than our friends in another group, it was worth the premium to have a more respectful guide.

The second tour we did with River Rat was with Salmo to Caracol. Salmo is an expert birder, and pointed out several different species (and stopped at nests) on our drive to the ruins. Salmo provided a great tour of Caracol, climbing all of the ruins with us instead of staying at the bottom as some other guides did. On the way back he drove through sloppy 4WD conditions to get us to Rio Frio Cave, which we enjoyed all to ourselves. We also stopped at Rio On Pools, where Salmo was a great sport; we were the last ones to leave the rapids that day.

All in all, River Rat is an expert tour company that is 100% respectful to Cayo's natural and archaeological treasures. It's worth the additional premium over its competitors.

Thank Mike R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2013

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.

1  Thank AAS619
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 12, 2013

We booked two trips with River Rat on our trip to Belize: cave tubing at Jaguar Paw and ATM--and I'll talk about each separately. I'll also review Jaguar Paw and ATM separately so as not to allow the attraction to bias the review of the tour guides and vice versa.

Jaguar Paw--Our guide was Pedro, a really nice San Ignacio native. He was a great guide and taught us a lot about the different fauna on the hike up to the start of the cave tubing. We were very comfortable in the river and he made sure we were safe and helped the kids along when they needed a little paddling boost. We also explored a section of cave where we saw no one else amongst the hordes of cruise tourists floating on the river. We had to crawl into a crevasse where there was only 2 feet of clearance ceiling to floor to see some mayan artifacts! THAT was exciting and fun. He was also very cool in letting my wife off road with his truck on the drive up to Jaguar Paw. Pedro himself gets five stars.

But there were a couple things where I have to ding River Rat. That we were driving up in Pedro's small, beaten up truck with a non-functioning speedometer in the first place is a negative. The drive from San Ignacio where we were based is nearly 2 hours all said and done and it was not a comfortable ride--especially for my wife and kids who had to squeeze in the back seat. We were envious of the other tour groups who arrived in large coaches and vans. Secondly--and more importantly--we were the ONLY tour group amongst dozens and dozens of tour groups that didn't have HELMETS. He said they were not required, but I sure would have appreciated the choice--especially for my kids. The river ride itself is not that bad but there are rocks and you can always hit your head. And the fact that we went spelunking in the cave means we REALLY should have had helmets on--despite the fact that we made it out without a scratch. When you first arrive you might get tube envy because you have a small black rubber tube while the other tour groups have these large water park quality plastic tubes with handles, netted bottoms, cup holders and bluray player with wifi. Trust me, the little black rubber tube is better--sits low to the river and easier to paddle! So that is a plus for going with River Rat.

ATM--Once again, we were very happy with our guide, Rafael, a Belizean native who is a grad student in archaeology--perfect for ATM! He was very easy going, fun to talk to, and really did a great job safely guiding us and another family with kids through a very challenging cave. He knew ATM like the back of his hand and pointed out every sharp rock and every foothold. And just when everyone was at their blood sugar/morale low point in the cave, he passed out Snickers bars which may as well have been solid gold bars in value at that moment in time.

Once again, however, I have to ding River Rat for a few things. Even though Rafael's truck was roomier than Pedro's and had a working speedometer, his AC didn't work...so made for a less pleasant drive on the way there. More importantly, between 9 people--4 of whom were kids--there was only one life jacket. We put it on the little girl in the other family. Again, we didn't end up using or needing it and we were fine, but it sure would have been nice to have that OPTION. If they were available my kids would have worn them for sure--if nothing else to stay warmer and for our peace of mind. ATM is a hazardous cave and the rivers you have to cross there and back are hazardous and your kids are safer with life jackets, period. Lastly, and most annoying was that we were the very last group into and out of ATM. By the time we got back to the first river crossing, it was starting to get dark and raining. the safety rope used to cross the bridge the first time had been removed. It was as if they all forgot about us and that was a very unpleasant, sinking feeling. The last group in ATM should NOT be a group with four kids. If something were to have happened we would have been up the creek with no help or backup. The only advantage to being the last group is having the cathedral and the return trip to yourselves, but I would have gladly done without the stress of wondering if we were going to run out of daylight. If someone had so much as sprained their ankle we would've been screwed.

I think overall River Rat was decent, and I really did like the guides, but with a few improvements they could be a lot better.

1  Thank wskungfuclub
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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