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dune buggy tour review

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wisconsin
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78 posts
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dune buggy tour review

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!

Green Bay, Wisconsin
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1. Re: dune buggy tour review

I'm sorry to hear of your bad expierence and I couldn't agree with you more on the quality of the buggies and tours in PV for this type of activity. I did the ATV excursion last year and it was a joke compared to the one I took in Cabo. The ATVs in PV were junk and like you we were traveling extensively through the city and villages which was dangerous in my opinion. I agree that a reputable company outside the city limits would be worth it's weight in gold and people would line up for the trip. There may be laws preventing trail riding versus street riding or possibly the land owners do not approve for obvious reasons but in Cabo the trails were amazing!

Thanks for the warning, I hope people take it to heart!

Cobalt

Vancouver, Canada
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379 posts
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2. Re: dune buggy tour review

I an really sorry to hear about the scam but if you contact your credit card company you may be able to get your money back. Good luck.

Puerto Vallarta...
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3. Re: dune buggy tour review

What you guys don't realise is that there are no 'trails' here, this jungle not a desert like Cabo. The trails that are here are cattle trails and anything wider than a cow or a horse won't make it and during the rainy season they have to keep clearing even these.

Very few wide enough for a vehicle and those lead to people's ranches, and they don't like ATVs or Buggies.

In the dry, dusty season they kick up a lot of dust driving through small communities, which goes into everybody's houses.

'nuff said !

wisconsin
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78 posts
7 reviews
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4. Re: dune buggy tour review

I can see your reasoning. I would not like people taking joy rides on my land either unless I was compensated appropriately. That said, if someone could start a business farther out of the city, where perhaps road riding would still be necessary, at least it would be safer than the main highway.

I actually enjoyed seeing the town. My favorite part of any vacation is seeing and interacting with the local people. My point in mentioning the start up of a possible new business is in case someone has a vision for it. I would be willing to invest....however small it would be. The competition would not be hard to beat!!!

Puerto Vallarta...
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5. Re: dune buggy tour review

I think what JR was saying is that there really isn't much suitable terrain in the greater Puerto Vallarta area. The only off-road places that I know--and I'm talking about more rural areas away from the city--go through small villages and farms and things at some point. Tours used to go on beaches but that is illegal and people have started toughening up on violators. Locals still use offroad vehicles for getting from a to b but they're usually short distances and fairly utilitarian trips (like to the local town or stores).

California
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6. Re: dune buggy tour review

Sorry you had such a horrible experience. I don't think Treks is the only company for dunebuggies though. Aren't there Pathfinders and Mud Rats? Or are they gone now?

Not saying they would be any better or worse, just asking.

We did the Extreme Amphibean Tour with Nayjal Ranch and really liked it. If you do a search, I posted a review here at the forum the other day. Not exactly dune buggy, but an option.

wisconsin
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78 posts
7 reviews
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7. Re: dune buggy tour review

http://www.williestours.com/atvs/

I found this on the internet. It would appear by the brochure that treks and Pathfinders are indeed one and the same. Same tour, same rip off, different name. Actually when I pulled up the reviews on TA for "Pathfinders" instead of "treks" there are a lot more reviews.

Mud rats I am not so sure about. I went by what the guy at American express booking said to me. That Treks was the only dune buggy tour in PV

washington
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649 posts
5 reviews
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8. Re: dune buggy tour review

I went ATVing with a group down the road from the bullring. Their name is pathfinders but it is a very small operation; 7 ATVs & maybe four dunebuggies. Definately not attached to a large operation. Only 2 to 7 vehicles out at a time. All in need of new brakes & tires but we had a blast. ATV for $40. Called when a hurricane warning canceled our other activity & he took us out. Never had a problem with billing or credit card. If you go into it knowing you may have to stop to fix a flat it is a fun time. They also stayed more to the main roads to get to the river & jungle.

California
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9. Re: dune buggy tour review

I wish my family and I had read your posting prior to our visit to PV this past week. However, we vowed when we got back we would also write about our VERY SCARY EXPERIENCE that ruined our other wise great vacation. My family went on the "Mud Rats". From the very beginning they felt uneasy but did not pay attention to their intuition. Shortly after arriving to a not so great area a young lady walked up and open shop. Their credit cards were taken and $1,000.00 dollars (not pesos) were put on hold. Then they were given their buggy and atvs and without a briefing off they went. They weren't even given goggles or helmets. Their ride was exactly as you described, dangerous, and constantly stopping. They too had to pay to see the waterfall and visit the bathrooms. They refused to buy the tequila and questioned why they would be given liquor while driving. Unlike you we were charged for a flat tire, $95 dollars and almost $300.00 dollars for a small piece of plastic that came undone when my daughter tapped the back my my sons atv from all the stopping and going and the poor brakes. One of the guides immediately said they would have to pay for the damage although my son in-law, who works on motorcycles, immediately snapped the piece of plastic back in. When they got back they guides immediately started to take the front part apart and claiming front end damage. The owner would not listen to anything we had to say, they all get their share of the $$$$$. The argument got heated and scary. We were threatened with the police unless we signed the credit card charge of almost $400. To this day my daughter still has a hold on her money besides the charges for the supposed damage. The owner of the Mud Rats refused to release our funds. THIS COMPANY IS A SCAM. THEY TAKE OUR CREDIT CARDS AND HOLD US HOSTAGE. PLEASE DO NOT GO ON THIS TOUR. The tour to Caleta and the horseback riding were fine.

wisconsin
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78 posts
7 reviews
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10. Re: dune buggy tour review

You summed it up perfectly. We felt too, that it was an otherwise perfect vacation. I guess we got off easy with the clutch. I encourage you to e-mail whatever hotel you stayed at and encourage them not to allow this tour to be sold on their premesis. It sure sounds like you experience at MUDRATS mirrored ours exactly at TREKS aka PATHFINDERS. I'd be willing they are all the same place or at least have the same owner. Shame on this guy who is bringing suspicion on all the other honest tour owners operators in PV. Makes other tourists suspicious of all and uneasy when booking. I hope all TA travelers mention that they heard about the dune buggy scams in PV when booking their excursions. Let them know that travel forums do work!