I felt like a big kid, steering into the mud instead of away from it. I’ve driven a lot of rough roads in this country, but I baby my car, puttering along like a senior citizen. It was so liberating to know I didn’t have to worry about my suspension, my tires or whether I would stall out mid-river and provide amusement for the locals by seeking rescue.
The rainy season, incidentally, is the best time to do this, as there will be lots of water to cross, and the waterfall won’t be dry. When the waterfall dries up, Xtreme takes guests on a tour of local farms and towns, with a visit to someone’s home.
We came to a couple of stopped cars, one of them giving the other a jump, and carefully squeezed by them, with centimeters to spare. I don’t know what happens if you scrape someone’s car in a rented ATV, and I wouldn’t want to find out.
After multiple river crossings, we arrived at a splendid pair of waterfalls called Las Pilas (“the washtubs”), where a bunch of ATVs were parked and a lot of people were getting wet. The more daring among them were cliff-jumping into the pool. We spent 20 minutes there and took a lot of pictures.
I asked Fernando if they ever had any accidents, and they said they were very rare.
“You have to control the accelerator, because if you juice it too much, the ATV is going to go too fast, you’re going to spin out, it’s going to be hard to control it, or you might pop up on two wheels,” he said. “There are people who have fallen for those reasons. Sometimes the ATV doesn’t turn over, the person just falls off.”
He said in three years with Xtreme Adventures, he’s seen this happen maybe five times, fortunately with no serious injuries.
“Sometimes you have a big group and there’s someone doing something he shouldn’t be doing, and so you talk to the person, you bring it to his attention,” he said. “In some cases we’ve had to take away the key and say, ‘If you keep doing that, we’re going to leave you here, or we’ll send someone to pick you up, but you’re going to lose your money.’ Because the most important thing is safety.”