Let me start this off by saying that we very highly recommend Wilderness ATV Tours. This is a very professional organization and they will take very good care of you.
We were on Royal Caribbean’s “Mariner of the Seas” and at Ocho Rios on February 28th, 2007. I had looked on the Internet and through Trip Advisor, I found the Wilderness ATV website. I first emailed with a couple of questions and then reserved a couple of spots.
Wilderness ATV Tours offers two times for their combo tours, the first is at 9AM and the second is at 1PM. Our ship wasn’t scheduled to arrive until 9AM so we figured there was no way to make the first tour so we opted for the second tour. I was very concerned that we would miss our ship leaving since it was scheduled to depart at 5 PM. We got off the ship and spent some of the morning walking around Ocho Rios, we grabbed a soda at the Hard Rock Café and then headed back to the dock to get in touch with Wilderness Tours.
We did have a little trouble getting in touch with them, no one at the dock wanted to call but we finally got in touch with Chris and they said they would be there at about 1:20. Actually earlier than that the van arrived with another couple from one of the hotels and we were on our way. It was just a few minutes from the dock. Actually, the base location is just behind the Bauxite Works and Dock area that you can see from the Ocho Rios Bay. When we were sailing away, I took a long distance photo of the base camp.
Once there, we met Chris, Damien, and Joseph and took care of our paperwork. I race off-road motorcycles so I was pretty familiar with signing release forms but I was not quite prepared with what happened next. Chris gave a familiarization/riders course that was second to none. My wife is not mechanically inclined at all and has only been on an ATV once in her life and I was very concerned that she was going to have problems. My concern was unfounded as Chris gave a great presentation and covered every part of the ATV in depth.
Also, the ATV’s that they use are great for beginners or novice riders. They are Yamaha Breeze 125’s that have full floorboards and an automatic transmission. Both brakes are on the handlebars, no foot brakes and no foot operated gearshift. Place the transmission in “F” (for forward) and away you go. They had more than enough power to run at a nice pace.
Chris placed the girls first and then the guys, I was last in line with Joseph riding behind me. Chris led the excursion up and back. As an off-road Hare Scramble and Enduro rider, I was really hoping that this would be fun and little challenging and I wasn’t disappointed. It was easy enough for beginners and fun for veteran riders. Most of the trail was pretty easy on older and unimproved roads but some was over a little bit of terrain, no hard riding and nothing too rough. I have attached a map of the trail that we traveled on and you can see quite a few switchbacks. On the ride back, we got off the road for a while and rode right beside the Bauxite Conveyer Belt. Don’t let Joseph tell you that it’s the Jamaican Bobsled Team practice track.
Once up at the top of Murphy Hill, we had a few minutes to enjoy the view, take some pictures and have a drink. Joseph let us know of the some of the history of the area and showed us around the buildings and fish tanks. Don’t let Joseph tell you that the fish in the tanks are Piranhas. He will. Hey, we are gullible tourists. While we are resting and relaxing, Chris is checking out and getting the ATV’s ready for the trip back down the hill. Two of the photos are of Chris hamming it up.
Heading down the hill was just as much fun as going up, maybe more fun because I had Joseph behind me screaming “C’mon Mon” and “Whooo, let’s go”. We would hang back a little and slide around the switchbacks. It was a ton of fun!
Once we got back down, I again asked Chris if we were going to make it back to the ship by 5 PM and he said that he would be sure to get us back. Actually, Chris assured me many times when we were at Dunn’s River Falls that we were on time. He was great about all this.
It took just a few minutes to get to Dunn’s River Falls and when we got there, Chris sat us all down and told us how to go up the falls. He wasn’t getting in the water with us but would be there all the way, just look up and to the left and there he was! One of the nicest things about going into the park with Chris was that we were not bothered by people trying to sell us souvenirs. My wife decided to not try to climb the falls but I had a great time. Water shoes are a must!!! Climbing the falls is really something that everyone should do at least once in his or her lifetime. At the top I had a true feeling of accomplishment. Much more than the six-year old kid that passed me on the way up.
Once back at the van we headed back to the pier. The Mariner of the Seas was supposed to sail at 5 PM and Chris had us back at 20 till 5, just like he said he would. All in all it was an absolutely fabulous time and the highlight of the cruise for both of us. I just can’t wait to do it again. Thanks Guys!!!
Please contact me with any questions - martinb1 at earthlink.net.
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