Prices have gone up for this popular tour (p. 241), and after talking with some of the guides, I realize the description of pricing is not as clear as it could be.
For the shorter tour (1â€“1.5hrs, depending on where the flamingoes are at the time):
To start, a boat for up to four people costs M$400. Then each person must pay another M$40, PLUS M$40 in taxes (M$20 state, M$20 federal) for upkeep of the site and research.
But boats actually hold six people. If you want to put more than four people in a boat, then it’s simply M$140 per person, PLUS the taxes (compare that to M$165 on a four-person boat).
Basically, they price it this way so there isn’t a huge incentive to pack everybody onto a single boatâ€”there are a lot of boat captains, and not a whole lot of custom. So you can wait around to try to get a full boat together, but the savings will not be immense. (The guides recommend arriving around 10am if you’re keen to join up with other people, as that’s when the most people arrive.)
For the longer tour (2â€“2.5hrs), it’s M$1160 for four people, or M$240/person for five or six people, PLUS the taxes.
There’s also the matter of guides. Your boat captain may know a little English, and be able to point out a few things, but you may want an additional guide if you’re a real naturalist, or would like someone who speaks fluent English or a different language. The guide service is an additional M$200 (short tour) or M$400 (long tour) per boatâ€”so split among a few people, it’s not that much.
Also, regarding seasons: The best time for visiting is November through mid-May. You can’t really go swimming at the springs during September and October because the water is high and has all the mangrove runoff in it, so don’t expect this as part of your tour at that time.