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“Ruined our trip!”

Almiza Tours by My friend Mario
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Discover the Panama culture with local guides and the best you will pay our local price (Half price than our competitors!!!) We have the best friendly guides with 10+ years experience with tons of information and history details. We are in the business since 1994.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children
Reviewed August 18, 2012 via mobile

After booking our trip 3 months out and getting my family excited about fishing and taking a boat ride to see monkeys and sloths it all ended in disappointment. We were on a red eye flight and had a 12 hour layover in Panama. We knew we had no intention of ever visiting again and this would be our first trip. Time was going to be priceless. After sending our flight info and reconfirming he assured us a driver would be waiting with a sign for us. We landed at 6:30 am and made it to the pick up area by 7:15. Thinking the driver might have not been anticipating us so early we waited. By 7:45 we tried calling Mario at the tour desk. His number was disconnected. They could not dial his listed cell and advised us to use the pay phone to do so. I finally reached him a little after 8. My call woke him up. He had no idea who I was and told me to call him back in 15 minutes. When I got back hold of him our driver apparentlly had car trouble but did not find it important to notify his boss Mario so that we could have another driver. Mario said he would come get us and do the tour himself. He wouldn't be there for another 45 mins to an hour. After waiting an hour and a half he sent me an email that he had a minor car accident and would need to cancel. He gave us no other reccomendation, instead he just said "murphys law".

Now that it was past 10 we had no option to do what we intended. We bought specific clothes and items for our ecotour. Now we were standing in the airport looking like fools with 2 young kids for over 3 hours. We found one tour company that had space but only a group Spanish tour was available for the city and canal. The other option was a taxi for the day. That meant no fishing, no boat ride in the jungle, no monkeys, no sloths, none of the things I had my kids learn about before we came. We ended up having someone drive us to the canal at least.

I can understand bad luck and car problems. But my theory is this is overbooking, cherry picking and absolute poor business ethics. Looking at the amount of times Mario sites car problems, car accidents, and even boat problems in other reviews online should at least make you wonder. If he is not just overbooking and screwing the least expensive bookings over, than at best he is irresponsible, a poor planer, and an unsafe driver with unreliable transportation. In either case he is a failure to me.

6  Thank cmoglesby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
wapanda10, Manager at Almiza Tours by My friend Mario, responded to this reviewResponded June 1, 2013

Our deep appologies for ruin your day in Panama, we are humans working daily with car/machines and in some cases we have inconveniences, in your case we tried to accommodate your family with 2 differents guides without successful, and at the end the situation forced us to cancel the tour at the last minutes.

Sorry again,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (280)
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185 - 189 of 280 reviews

Reviewed August 10, 2012

We traveled to Panama worried about jungle bugs and bad water and instead found ancient history, incredibly beautiful islands, modern pharmacies and grocery stores, delicious drinking water, and THE BEST GUIDES ON THE PLANET. Mario W. is your man if you want to see Panama and learn not only the history, but the economics, politics, warfare, agriculture, finances, international relations, trade, and future of this amazing little country! The excellent service, respectful manner, great stories, knowledge, personal attention, promptness, extra comfort, and native insights were beyond what we expected and far above and beyond the amount we paid. He pointed out alligators, lizards, found us a fingernail-sized frog, a plate-sized tarantula, vultures, cranes, and even a sloth bear! myfriendmario,com is the only way to truly experience Panama from the Embera village to the city ... from the Pacific to the Caribbean. We loved it!

3  Thank SeattleGin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 15, 2012

We had a fabulous tour of Panama City with Mario. He was waiting for us just beyond security, even though it took us an extra long time to get through passport control. He took us to see the Canal (staying only as long as we wanted to), through neighborhoods, to the colonial and historic centers, and to a local cafeteria (where he helped us order and dinner for three was under $15). He was extremely knowledgeable about the history and answered all of our questions along the way. He used the three and a half hours that we had with him to the fullest and we were taken back to the airport with just the right amount of time to catch our next flight.

3  Thank Mary P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 11, 2012

Mario Sr. picked us up for a 5 hour lay-over tour. He was waiting for us when we arrived, and showed us out to his luxury SUV. Mario's English is perfect, and he really knows his history. It was a fascinating tour, and we hit all of the points of interest and had a real nice lunch in town prior to returning to the airport. I would reccomend highly!

2  Thank bouldercolorado45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 4, 2012

My best friends and I recently took a tour from Panama City to the Embera Village, waterfall and Panama Canal. Our Mario arrived earlier than our 8am pickup and waited patiently for us (miscommunication with the bellboys at our hotel who told us he had not arrived).

Mario was super funny and engaged us in Panamanian history we would not have learned from another. Hiking to the waterfall was a great adventure and Mario saved the day on several of occasions when our flip flops began to flow away with the stream. He waited patiently with us at the Canal while we toured the museum, all and all a PERFECT guide.
He treated us like queens and was the perfect gentlemen. We definitely recommend OUR Friend Mario!

2  Thank Messie18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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