Taking It Off Road

You won’t mind getting dirty on this road trip

Normally, a road trip where you get dunked with water, covered in dirt and sand, and have to bump over stretches of worse-than-washboard roads wouldn’t be considered much fun. But if you’re driving a Polaris UTV on Cabo Adventures new Off-Road Adventure tour, then it’s a whole different story.

This is the newest tour from Cabo Adventures, which just debuted about a month ago. This excursion features a two-hour cruise on the beach and through a desert canyon in a four-person Polaris UTV.

off-road.JPGThe UTVs are easy enough to maneuver that all you need to learn how to drive one is a quick lesson. The guide talks about the shifting gears, the switch you flip when you need to go between two-wheel and four-wheel drive, and demonstrates the hand signals the guide uses for stop, slow down and go. (OK, you also need a valid driver’s license before they let you get behind the wheel. Drivers must also be at least 18 years old.)

Unlike some other off-road excursions at other companies, where they don’t seem too concerned about how fast you’re going or if you’re staying on track, there is a big emphasis here on safety and staying in line. The guide emphasizes several times that drivers aren’t to get too crazy or be negligent. It’s not a race, he tells us, and it’s not a competition. If you're looking to bust loose, go with a looser company. The Polaris can reach about 35 to 40 miles per hour, so it’s not like you’re just putting along, but this off-road adventure is more about navigating different types of terrain rather than seeing how fast you can go.

There are three distinct parts of the tour that stand out, as far as the terrain goes. The first part is driving along the beach. The drivers can get used to working the vehicles while driving along the smooth sand of the beach while their passengers can enjoy watching the waves crash against the shore and feel the cool ocean breeze on their faces.

The next leg of the trip is through the canyon. Along with the expected sand, dirt, cacti and brush, you see a couple of things you wouldn’t expect in the desert: lush, green trees and water. And yes, you will be driving through that water (not ponds or anything, just some big puddles) and you will be getting wet. As the UTV splashes through the water and mud, there are a few spots where you think that maybe, just maybe the mud is too much for it and you’re going to get stuck, but the UTV always pulls through. So far.

The third part of the ride is the bumpy part. After driving up and over some big rocks, the route goes through a patch of bumps and dips that, even at just 10 miles an hour, rattles your skull and bottoms out the Polaris in a few spots. Bottoms out your bottom, too.

Interspersed with the driving are a couple of pit stops where the guide gives us little nature lessons, talking about the trees, the rocks, the climate and the topography of the canyon we’re driving in. That canyon is San Bernancio Canyon, which is about 12.5 miles from where the tour started, to give you an idea of how far you go.

The tour starts and ends at Cabo Adventures’ newest excursion location, which is the house with the big lighthouse waterslide that sits along Highway 19 on the way to Todos Santos and La Paz. The company bought the property recently and has rsenovated it to use for tourist groups, and there are plans for more renovations in the future. (Spoiler: The lighthouse and water slide will be coming down.)

Cabo Adventures currently offer off road three tours a day, morning, mid-day and afternoon, Sunday through Friday. Prices range from $199 USD for a single rider to $399 for a four person vehicle. That includes transportation from your hotel, the tour and a light meal of sopes, which are similar to tostadas only they’re made with a thick corn dough. For more information on the tours, or to book one, visit their website at www.cabo-adventures.com.

One last thing to mention: Wardrobe choice. Cabo Adventures recommends you wear long pants and tennis shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Most of the people in our group opted for athletic shorts and T-shirts (and one poor girl showed up in a white T-shirt that I am sure will never be white again). Remember, the more skin you have covered, the less dirt and mud you’ll have to clean off yourself at the end of the ride. A light long-sleeve shirt provides good protection for the arms, although long pants might be a bit too much with this summer heat.