This is our last entry about our hurried visit through Costa Rica. You can read about our highlights, lowlights, and opinions of some of the places we visited during our jam-packed tour of the country during Part 1 and Part 2. The last adventure during our stint in Costa Rica was a whitewater rafting trip down the Pacuare River, which was definitely a highlight!
There are a number of different whitewater-rafting trips throughout Costa Rica and the Pacuare is said to be among the best. We were there at the end of March, which is very much the dry season, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect in the way of rapids. But we’d soon find out. After our predawn wake-up call in San Jose, we were being shuttled about two hours East to discover what the river would have in store for us.
A hearty breakfast awaited us at the outpost to fuel up for the day. The outpost also served as our exit point from the river. So from here we boarded another shuttle to climb up over a series of mountains in order to get to the drop off point, high up in the mountains. The bumpy ride up the steep roads felt almost as if it were the part of the rollercoaster where the chain slowly drags you up to the top before your first big dip.
Finally we reached that top portion and it was time to make our way quickly back down over a series of 52 rapids in 18 miles, all in just a few short hours. With our life jackets and helmets on, we jumped in the raft to begin our trip, which started out with some playful rapids that eventually got a bit bigger.
In an effort to avoid the many exposed rocks, our guide called out to us commands: “Forward!” “Stop!” and occasionally “Get down!!!” During the latter command we’d tuck ourselves into the middle of the raft to prevent getting thrown over the side.
Overall the rapids were fun. Because it was the dry season, they weren’t too huge and intense, but still packed in some great thrills. There were some big class III’s. Supposedly there were some small Class IV’s too, but it didn’t seem like Class IV rapids we’ve experienced in the past. Either way, it was still loads of fun and definitely a wild ride.
As we flowed down the river, we bounced around from rock to rock that are usually submerged well underwater during the wet season. Some folks popped out of the raft on the other boats rafting along side us. We had a few very close calls, but no one went overboard in our raft. Well, we did go overboard but it was on purpose. As the river calms there are some great spots to hop in for a refreshing dip.
This rafting trip was not only good for the whitewater and the thrill of it. The scenery is what really made this trip special. You’re whitewater rafting through mountains, jungle, and rainforest! It was spectacular! We glided past some high waterfalls emerging from right out of the forest. The river wound its way through the mountain valley until ultimately forming a canyon. During the trip we spotted some beautiful birds and even some sort of wild feline clinging to the side of a cliff. It was our last full day in the country and we may have finally found that slice of Costa Rica we’d been searching for. I can’t imagine a more perfect backdrop to a fun whitewater trip.
Of course I strapped a GoPro to my head to capture our plunge down the rapids. So have a look to see what the whitewater was like!
We’d love to come back and discover what the more intense rapids during the wet season have to offer. But our rafting trip during the dry season was still a very good one and left us yearning for more whitewater further on our trip.
If you go: We chose to go with Exploradores Outdoors based on their good reviews and the fact that you stop to have lunch on the river during the rafting trip (unlike other outfitters who lunch at their outpost after the trip). We found their guides to be very knowledgeable, friendly, and really a lot of fun. We would definitely recommend them and give them a good review. The cost is USD$99 which includes breakfast, lunch, and transportation from San Jose, the Caribbean Coast, or the Arenal Volcano. Tip: They’ll allow you to leave one location and will drop you off in another, basically giving you free transportation between destinations.
Love the post. I am also planning to river raft in a March and this post truly answered some questions I had.
John Widmer says
Great to hear! It was such a fun whitewater rafting trip in Costa Rica! It seems like forever ago that we pursued this, yet still have such fond memories. Hope you enjoy it – pura vida!
Wow, this looks like an amazingly fun experience. I’m sure this was an adrenaline rush. Whitewater rafting in Costa Rica is definitely on my list of things to accomplish this year. Thanks for sharing.
John Widmer says
Yes, we really enjoyed it. This was three years ago and we’ve rafted many rivers since then but this remains a highlight!