Rafting the Rio Pacuare in Costa Rica
- by crv.staff
- 10:27 AM UTC
- Filed in Costa Rica
Author Name: Austin Smith
Costa Rica is well-know for its tropical beauty and laid-back culture. Laying on the beach with a fruity drink in hand is usually the ideal day for vacationers, but there is also the chance for some outdoor adventure by taking a whitewater rafting trip smack dab in the middle of one of Costa Rica’s natural wonders, the Rio Pacuare. This river is widely known in rafting communities throughout the world and National Geographic has called it one of the top 10 river trips. Below is an account, written by my dad, of a rafting trip he and my mom took down the Pacuare in April. It paints a picture of this rainforest river and what guests can expect on a trip with Rios Tropicales. And as you can tell, the travel bug was definitely a gift from my parents.
The main section of the Pacuare is located about an hour and a half south of San Jose running for 18 miles from Turrialba to Siquirres. The best way to get there is to book with an outfitter that will pick you up at your hotel in San Jose and either return you there at the end of the trip or take you on to your next destination. Make sure you are very clear if you are not returning to your hotel as alternate destinations may have a charge. Most transportation you contract for (vs. public bus) is door to door and very prompt. Interbus was very good. The outfitters we saw all seemed to run similar operations. You can run the river in one day for $85-100 which includes pick-up and drop-off at your hotel, breakfast, lunch, and post trip refreshments.
At 6:20 am we were picked up at our hotel, and after gathering a few more tourists, took the ride to Rios Tropicales’ River Center near Siquirres. On the bus, Andres, a veteran of several seasons in Coloma, gave us a standard, but a very humorous safety talk. We had to walk about ½ mile to the river and put-in. Our group was a mixed one – rafts on one and three day trips and kayaks on a two day trip. The guides are mostly Ticos – local Costa Rican men. I didn’t see a single woman guide in three days. They were very friendly and helpful and all spoke enough English that our poor Spanish wasn’t an issue.
The river was warm, semi-clear and light green. We floated through Class II/III rapids on our way to the lunch where we parted with the one day group. After lunch we hiked up a creek to a nice waterfall and swimming pool and then ran several class II/III rapids to the lodge. The lodge was far nicer than I was expecting. There were decks overlooking the river with hammocks, beautiful tropical gardens and a cascading creek running through the middle. The food was very good with tropical drinks at happy hour. Rooms were very nice and airy and a cool breeze came up in the evening. We had a very relaxing and comfortable stay. After a layover day of ziplining, swimming, and hiking to waterfalls, we met up for a large one-day through the Class III/IV section.
April is the end of the dry season so the river was low and technical. We did lots of rock dodging, scraping, and pin balling. We had the only non-tico guide; a Hungarian giving commands in Spanish. I asked him if there were any whitewater rivers in Hungary and he replied, “No, very flat.” Yikes! As we entered the Huacas River Gorge, the rapids became steep class IV chutes and short steep drops. Our boat took some interesting lines and we did a lot of improvising. In Upper Huacas, we dump trucked at the top and had a bumpy swim down. This was my first swim since the 1980′s and Mary’s first ever in thirty years of rafting with me. I was not amused, but the swim was soon forgotten by the sight of Huacas Falls cascading into the river over the sheer canyon walls. Lower Huacas soon followed, as well as several other class IV rapids. Many of the class IV rapids are created by rock bars forcing the river against the canyon walls. High siding opportunities abound. A lower lush and shady gorge afforded time to swim in the warm waters.
Lunch was on an expansive beach where the guides served a deli lunch with fresh tropical fruit. A guide threw some bread in the water near the rafts. You couldn’t see the fish very well, but the bread was immediately shredded. It brought to mind piranhas, though these fish only wanted bread, not our toes. We finished the trip with several more Class III rapids. At the takeout we were immediately loaded on our air-conditioned bus and taken to the river center for showers, change of clothes and refreshments. A slide show of our trip was already being shown and offered for $40. We were the only ones going to the Caribbean so we said our goodbyes, and loaded into a mini-van for the three hour trip.
The Pacuare is a beautiful river fully deserving of its international renown. I definitely recommend it as part of any Costa Rica trip.
- Immerse yourself in the beauty of tropical nature at the Pacuare Lodge Source: Jungle Lodge Costa Rica From the beginning, the Pacuare...
- Pacuare Lodge Honored in Conde Nast Traveler’s World Saver Awards Source: Email Wire SAN JOSE, Costa Rica— Pacuare Lodge- Costa...
Like this article? Get more articles like this - Subscribe Now