Be very careful if and when booking the dune buggy tour. We went(myself, husband, sons (22&24) and daughters (12 &16) against my better judgement if I would have listened to people on the forum. We booked Treks dune buggies. Now I belive these are the only dune buggies in PV, so no matter what website you book through or what the name of whatever "Adventure" place you go with this is where you;ll end up.
Admittedly, they were going to have a hard time pleasing me. Last Aug. we participated in a Dune Buggy excursion in the Dominican and had a glorius day riding in the sugarcane fields with fun guides, easy going, not taking themselves too seriously and auto matic buggies that were in great condition. This was going to be a hard act to follow.
I figured if we had 1/2 of the fun, it would still be worth it. My older sons begged to do this since they missed the fun last year.
I was skeptical and wanted to do the ATV with wild vallarta as I had personally encountered people who had fun things to say. One look at the dune buggies made me regret the decision to come to Treks. Clutch shifts (it had been a while since I drove one which I readily admitted to.) poor condition, all leaking oil. We were told to be there at 8:30 sharp. By 9am the employees were gassing up the buggies. By 9:20 we were on our way. (FINALLY) This 4 hour excursion actually turned out to be 3 and this is including the time spent stopping at a waterfall. For a "fee" you could walk down and enjoy it or for a "fee" you could buy a drink, or for a "tip" to the 10 year old Bernardo you could use the modern flush toliet that he ferverently mopped after each person used. To get to the beautiful country side you first had to go through major busy throughfares, through a small village where busses and cars competed for the road with the buggies. This took about 45 minutes. The few times we went fast enough to get to second gear, it was already time to brake becuase the leader was lining everyone up single file to catch up. Shortly after leaving the waterfall we arrived at the tequila "talk". There was not actual manufacturing going on. We opted not to participate as we'd done similar tours before. While were sitting by the buggies the tour guide came and said "senora, I am sorry but you burned the clutch. It will have to be paid for." He claimed he could smell it, although my son, who is mechanically savy could not. Of course the other guide was vehemently agreeing with him. Apparently within 45 min. he believed I had ruined the clutch. Admittedly, I did snub out a few times (I was not the only one) and the gears were difficult to shift---see others reviews for confirmation. We started reviewing how the buggies were held together, a little zip strip here, a little wire there, and hey I am surprized we didn't see duct tape also. I will try to post photos later.
To make a long story short, he would have my husband talk to the "owner" when we got back. The excursion was ruined for me and the rest of my family at that point. Previously, although I had not been paritculary enjoying that trip (did I mention you should be at least 6 feet tall to be able to reach the clutch and push it in all the way?) my family had been enjoying it and were heavy hearted knowing that the "owner" had my credit card. (A prerequisite to doing the excursion.)
My son and I switched buggies and he experienced zero clutch problems. By that point however I was demoralized and a little nervous, wondering if I would have to pay for a brake or something in the other dune buggy if they felt that I was doing something improper and I snubbed it out several times just from being nervous. Once i was in 3rd gear, thinking it was first. I just wanted to get back to the gathering area.
Suffice it to say that we did not get satisfaction. The owner refused to discuss the charge of damage or even come out and inspect the dune buggy for himself. I truly believe my family is not the first victim he has scammed. We are jokingly (black humor) wondering what other dune buggy needs a clutch and what unsuspecting tourist will be paying for it tomorrow? I drove number 11 and I'd be willing to bet my teeth it is still being used even with the "burned" up clutch.
This would be a golden opportunity for someone with a get up and go work ethic to start a business. With some decent trails instead of city roads, decent dune buggies, and professional guides this could be a gold mine business. Treks is coasting on the fact that they are the only business with dune buggies. If this was a decent tour people would be fighting to go on it. Ive seen the best in dune buggy recreation. This doesn't come close!
Beware! It pains me to leave a negative review on TA. I almost never do. I know life in PV can be hard for business men. This incident boarded on ridiculous.
The canopy tour and horsebackriding were excellent. I cannot say anything negative about them!