We chose Escondido Trex because it was in the Lonely Planet book and we happened to be walking by the shop front on our way back to our apartment after supper.
The fellow who was manning the desk that evening was a school teacher who was picking up some extra income during the school break. He was very helpful and appeared quite knowledgeable.
The next day all of the people on our "Mangrove and sunset kayak tour" met at the shop. We should have figured out the quality of the outfit when they didn't have enough transport to get our party of five paddlers down to the boats.
The sit on top kayaks that we found at the beach had seen much better days but at least looked like they would float. Our guide was a local young fellow who was pleasant enough but didn't seem to have any training as a guide or group leader.
The first stop on our trip was to look at crocodiles. Somehow I hadn't imagined that we'd beach the kayaks and sneak in behind a resort to a mud hole in the jungle. We didn't see any crocodiles but that's probably a good thing because I wouldn't want them living near the hotel with the constant loud noise from the guy with the leaf blower (great atmosphere).
Eventually we were back in the kayaks and did manage to paddle through a mangrove at high tide. The paddling was at a very relaxed pace which was about right for the people in our group who had never paddled a kayak before. The guide wasn't very helpful in pointing out the things we were looking at.
Near the end of the trip we stopped at a local beach and had a chance to go for a swim and wait for the sun to set (which I imagine was quite beautiful if I had been standing on the west side of the jungle and not the eastern shore of the beach). We had some sliced fruit at the beach, delightfully arranged on a dirty old fiberglass kayak drywell cover.
We then proceeded to paddle back around the point to a point where we were told we might be able to see dolphins. There may have been dolphins but we'll never know because it was dark by then.
Eventually we reached shore and helped our guide carry the kayaks back to where they lock them up for the night. At that point our guide wished us well and a friend brought him a bike and they left the tour group to walk back to town.
My wife and I have kayaked for years so I wasn't too concerned about our safety but I wasn't so confident for the other three people on our tour who had never kayaked before. A few safety devices with the tour guide (such as a floating throw rope and a signaling device (since we were on open water in the dark) would have been appropriate. Even an extra paddle for our group would have been a good idea given the beginner status of most of our group. No dry bags were provided.
I'd recommend checking out other kayaking outfits before going with Escondido Trex. Not a very professional outfit.
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