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Need some excursion help. Go with gus???


new england sailor

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I am new to Cruise Critic and am looking for a fun excursion in Guatemala. I am sailing on the Veendam in February and do not see any excursions offered by the ship that sound as interesting as some of the excursions you can book off the ship. I have read lots about the humanitarian tour and a bit about the livingston tour run by Go With Gus and wondered what the differences are. I also checked out his website and saw the kayaking tour as well as the waterfall/city tour. Has anyone one been on either of these tours and can give me info? I'm nervous about booking off ship but don't want an expensive and not-so-exciting excursion either.

 

Can anyone help me?

 

New England Sailor

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Thank you for the link. That's good information that helps me feel better about booking outside of the ship. Many CCs have suggested Go With Gus, but I was a little hesitant to plan it myself. Since I am a novice I was nervous about safety, etc. It sounds like you had good results and make the procedure sound easy and safer than I expected. Thank you.

 

I would love to hear from someone who can tell me about the other tour options. I have read much about Lake Atitlan(sp?) and Antigua so am starting to lean toward a tour that included one of those places. I was wondering what the difference was between two of the Go With Gus tours, the Humanitarian and the Livingston. Also, we love to kayak and his tour is the only one I have found so far, so I could be convinced to do that if it was worth it.

 

Thanks for any help you can give me!

NES

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We did the Livingston tour with Go With Gus and every member of the family (14 of us) had a great time. We did take a detour though! As we were walking along the street, outside of the city, more in the "farmland" area, a gentleman came out of the jungle from a path and stopped to talk to our guide. We were given the choice to continue on the road or? Take a shortcut that would save us about 30 minutes.

 

So we did! And it was fabulous! It was a well worn path and led to newly planted fields of corn, banana and pineapple. I'm pretty sure most tourists don't take this path because the looks we got from some of the locals in their backyards was priceless! LOL! 14 tourists from ages 80 to 23, hiking through the backyards of the locals.

 

The path was pretty easy, for the most part. The problem was that it had rained hard earlier in the day, so at times the mud made the walk, shall we say? more interesting. Slippery and slidey on the hill parts. But luckily my family is very easy going and they tend to look for the positive rather than focus on minor things.

 

The town itself was great. People were very friendly--lots of smiles and nods of heads. The shopkeepers were also low key. No pressure sales at all. You would walk in, they would smile at you, you wander around, show some interest in a beautiful huipile bag and they would come over to help you.

 

I saw butterflies and hummingbirds everywhere.

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I've had the same issue but have added the kayak tour to the mix! I have been emailing Gus and have decided to wait and see what appeals to us when we get there. I didn't have to book ahead or pay in advance. He knows we are interested in several of the tours and told me we could pay after the trip with American money.

 

I'd be interested to hear what other people say.

 

NES

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  • 3 weeks later...
Has anyone done the kayak tour with GowithGus?

 

We just got back from a cruise on the NCL Spirit where we did the kayak tour, and it was so amazing I felt compelled to get on here and recommend Go with Gus.

 

We negotiated to do the kayak tour and then go to the Siete Altares waterfalls afterward. We started in a boat with the people on the humanitarian tour, and rode down the Rio Dulce, where a nice man named Hugo gave us some of the history of Santo Tomas and the river.

 

Then, they dropped us off at a hotel where the kayaks were, and we were off! Kayaking is unguided, which made me nervous (my boyfriend didn't care though), but the river is pretty easy to navigate, and it is GORGEOUS. There are egrets everywhere along the riverbanks, and except for the passing tour boats, it's pretty peaceful. Two recommendations: 1. Wear a hat b/c it is crazy sunny and the river is wide with no shade cover and 2. GO TO THE BATHROOM first. Also note I'd say you have to be in pretty good physical condition to do the kayaks... it's about a two-hour trek from the hotel they drop you off at and Gus' place. We were exhausted afterward, and ended up going to bed that night at like 8:45 p.m.

 

Oh and I should also note that Gus and all the people associated with Go With Gus are honest -- we left our backpack with them, which had all our money and IDs in it, and they kept a safe watch over it. I appreciated that so much!

 

Anyway, after we pulled in to Gus' place, his wife (and forgive me because we spent the rest of the day with her and I cannot remember her name -- I feel terrible) hooked us up with some lunch and a hat for me (I got so sunburned on that river), and then she took us on pretty much a private tour of the Siete Altares waterfall, which was SERENE AND GORGEOUS... and Gus' wife is a really friendly, nice lady, so the day was totally pleasant and awesome.

 

Bottom line: Gus and his wife were awesome, and we had a great day. Santo Tomas de Castilla was by far the best port of call we went to (we also hit Costa Maya, Belize City and Cozumel).

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I have to echo what everyone else here has been saying about Gus and his tours. We just returned from our cruise, and our day in Guatemala was wonderful in every way. Gus and his wife are such warm and wonderful people and run such a professional tour company.

 

We are a bit adventurous and like to get off the beaten tourist track when we can. We took the Humanitarian tour and couldn't have been more pleased. It was absolutely wonderful. We took the boat to Livingston and visited the one-room school. The children were so cute and happy to see us. Then we went to the house of a couple who lives along the water and had a hot-off-the-grill tortilla and saw their house and how they live. Next it was on to Gus's hotel, where we had a wonderful lunch. There was time left over, so he walked around the village with us, allowing us to see some of the day-to-day lives of the people, all the while explaining what we were seeing. During the whole tour he gave us interesting information about what we were seeing.

 

I would like to go back to Guatemala just to do some more of his tours and see more of this fascinating country.

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We just returned from Guatemala. I have pictures from our tour at www.worldgallerygifts.com/cruisephotos.html.

We booked with Turix Activo, http://www.turixactivo.com/ Last year we did the "Go with Gus" Humanitarian tour. Both were very good. We wanted something different this year. We are a family of 7, 5 children ages 8 - 14. This time we traveled with extended family.

Our group of 25 (all family and friends) enjoyed out day. Louis at Turix was great about answering all of my emails very promptly. We twicked our schedule a few times and he was very helpful with suggestions. This is what we did:

1st - Hibicus Project - http://www.hibiscusprojectizabal.com/ It is a small Mayan museum. The people/owners there were wonderful! It was only 20 minutes from the boat.

2nd - Iquana Mission - http://www.turixactivo.com/ver_noticias.php?cod=20&mostrar_center They raise iguanas to be released into the wild. My kids loved this! They let my girls take an iquana with them for the day to be released into the wild at the waterfalls that afternoon. Those iquanas clung to their shirts all day. You can see a picture that I posted of my daughter eating at McDonalds with the iquana stuck to her shirt.

3rd - Waterfalls - we decided it would probably be best to do this last so that we wouldn't be wet all day, and we thought that it would probably be less crowded (and it was). Everyone loved this too. Leo, one of the 3 guides (we had 3 guides and 3 vans that followed each other for 25 people. Leo was the best!) made sure everyone could swim, helped to carry the bags, and helped to watch our kids in the water. He was very proud of his country and explained everything to us. We learned a lot on this tour and had a great time! My sister has back trouble and could not make it all the way up. One of the guide took her down, stayed with her, and my sister had a great time visiting with her.

If you do this tour above, you can't do Livingston in the same day. It is an either or thing. You can either go into Livingston for the day by boat or go into San Tomas by van. Turix Activo was more than willing to personalize our tour and they were very flexible. We would use them again. They also do the Livingston tour that is slightly different from the Go with Gus tour but I am not sure of the details.

Guatemala is a great place and the people are wonderful.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Best tour ever, we just got back!!! Gus greets you that morning, and treats you like family. Believe me, you will see some gorgeous sites---the wildlife is unbelievable,the hospitality is also wonderful. We cannot figure out how he makes any money at this, but he truly loves and believes in his country and his people. Do not hesitate to take this tour if you like what you read on the descriptions! email me with any questions. it was great, and we have been on 14 cruises.

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The Humanitarian tour and Livingston tour started out together in the morning. Then the Livingston people left us and we, Humanitarian tour, people went off to see the school in the jungle. Not sure what they did the rest of the day, but the Humanitarian tour was great! You really get a feel for the community as a whole--hike to school, river with hot springs stop, store along the river with woman making us tortillas over wood fire and children paddling in on their dugout kayaks, fishermen to talk with along the shore, full course meal in Livingston with dancers from the community to entertain and talk with, tour of the town with native from Livingston, ... Best tour I've taken.

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We just completed our cruise on Veendam yesterday, and I wish we had used "Go With Gus" in Guetemala instead of the tour we went with! We followed a similar schedule as the go with Gus group, but our guide was not very good. Everytime I would see a go with gus group, I would try and slide their way to hear what was being said. We later spoke with several people who went with Gus and they all had a great experience. On the other hand, our experience with Native Choice in Costa Maya was our favorite day with very wonderful guides and experiences. We were also in good hands and had a great time with cavetubing.com in Belize. Hope you have a great trip.

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It was Happy Fish. they were very nice, but canceled the confirmed trip we had signed up for, so we ended up on a different trip. Our guide was pleasant, but it was difficult to understand her English, nor did she seem as well informed or passionate as the other guides. It also was worrisome when she did not know what time we were scheduled to be back at the boat or how long it would take us to get back. It was not a bad day; it just could have been better.

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We just returned from our cruise & I just have to comment on the wonderful experience we had with Gus on the Humanitarian tour. Wow....a definite highlight of our trip! It is such a beautiful country & Gus is so kind & has such pride in his country. Do not hesitate to book this excursion....AMAZING!

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  • 1 month later...

I just wanted to write that there are other options for humaintarian tours besides Gus for less money. I researched on these boards and found good reviews about Javier Putul who also does a humanitarian tour. He owns a hotel in Livingston called Hotel Casa Rosada. We had a fabulous time, we vistited a mission that had about 30 kids who sang to us a nd did a little skit. We went to the hot springs and thru a cave, we took a tour thru Livingston led by Javier, we toured down the river which was absolutley beautiful. We had lunch at his hotel which was better than any of the food on the Norwegian Spirit. I would post his email but I can't they will remove it but the hotel has a website with contact info. One other thing, we were a group of 16. We had our own boat and tour, which was nice as we set the schedule ourselves!

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  • 1 month later...

I have used Gus twice. Both time were fantastic. The first time was the Go with Gus humanitarian tour with about 12 people including three children of the ages 8-10. The tour was basically private and the schedule was flexible allowing everyone to do what they wanted--the trip Dulce river to the mayan village was beautiful and seemed to be right out of a movie. The lunch and dancers at Gus's restaurant was fantastic--lunch was part of the tour--and then we toured Livingston.

 

The second time i used Gus was in Antigua--we had a group fo 12 people and Gus give us an all day tour of Anitgua and the surrounding are with lunch, shopping, coffee plantation etc. This also was a fantastic tour. If you go to Santo Tomas or Antigua and do not use Gus for your excursions you are making a mistake.

 

I will be Santo Thomas again this November and will be able to see Gus and have another wonderful day..

 

Big Green

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