This question can be a quite a dilemma for some and for all the right reasons, so what is the answer? The short answer is “it depends”. Below are the main characteristics of both that hopefully help you decide what to pick.
- Quality of route. The routes in Mijas are all very similar – they all go through Mijas mountains and offer some fantastic views. Both go on- and off-road, with buggies potentially spending more time on road. What is different though is accessibility of both vehicles: buggies sitting on their wheels quite a bit lower that quads cannot always access what quads can, which puts certain limitations on their route, and suggests that quad routes can expand and diversify their route thus providing a more interesting journey. In this sense the quad is a contender, especially if you are looking to re-taking the tour: you can always ask the guide to offer a slightly different route to the one you have not been on before and you can rest assured that this can be provided without a problem.
- Speed. If you are after speed then the buggy would be your choice – buggy has to have higher engine capacity due to the sheer volume of it. It goes without saying that some quads have huge engine capacity as well, however it is worth noting that usually adventure tour companies will not add those quads to their fleet for one simple reason: safety. Some riders, especially experienced ones, may be tempted to drive faster and that would pose too much of a risk to both the drivers themselves as well as the company running the tours, not to mention other riders participating on the tour. It is worth noting though that whilst you physically can drive faster on a buggy, you would not be allowed to for safety reasons. There are sharp turns and bumps that do not bout well for fast riders and present safety risk not just for you but for the riders behind you, so yet again the tour guide will not allow you to increase your speed above the safe limit.
- Danger of an accident. On either vehicle you have to drive carefully and keep 10 meters away from the ATV in front of you. It is paramount to follow guide’s instructions on speed and all safety measurements as you may be withdrawn from the activity. Accidents can be ugly because at times you would drive quite high up with a steep drop on the side of you. Also remember, these are dusty tours and visibility may significantly reduce when you drive off-road.
- Tour price. Usually the prices are the same or very similar for buggy and quad tours so that should not be a decisive factor when making your choice. Both buggy and quad companies run at similar times and offer similar tour lengths: 2 or 3 hours. Both types of vehicles are 2-seaters so you can have a passenger who usually would not be charged and you can take turns driving as long as the passenger can present their driving license.
- Ease of steering. Some people are nervous about steering quads assuming that buggies are a breeze to drive and that is a bit of an illusion. Buggies do not offer power steering that some people expect, and some riders may struggle steering it round some sharp bends, so it is something to bear in mind. As for the quads, a few people do genuinely struggle to get the hang of steering using the handle bars so it is paramount that you let your guide know if you feel uncomfortable. That by no means mean that you need quad/motorbike experience to be able to drive a quad. When I first rode a quad, I had had zero experience of riding anything of the kind and was quite nervous in the first 10 minutes, after which my confidence grew and adrenaline rash started to ease out. Above all, the experience was fun.
You may have gathered from the above that there is no real winner here: it is all about what you prefer at this particular point in time. Mijas is quite stunning and you would not regret if you decide to get to know it a bit better by means of one of these tours. It is not just about the beach on the Costa del Sol