The Rio Balsa Class II and III rafting trips in La Fortuna is an excellent choice for adventurous novices and more experienced rafters alike. The river’s natural six-mile course shifts between smooth sections and more turbulent ones, resulting in a series of exhilarating whitewater challenges with space to catch your breath along the way.
At the start of the tour, your friendly driver will collect you from your La Fortuna hotel. The 45 minute drive to the Rio Balsa basecamp is filled with rolling green backcountry views and vibrant, tropical flora. The late-model tour van features Wi-Fi if you need to send a text or check your Facebook before you arrive at the river launch.
Learn Techniques & Gear Up!
Once you arrive at the Rio Balsa basecamp, rafters are gathered together for a thorough safety briefing and team planning session. During this meeting, your knowledgeable rafting guides will review the conditions on the river and the obstacles you might face during your tour. Careful instruction on the techniques you can use to meet those challenges with confidence and enthusiasm is provided, along with simple signals that maintain team communication during the adventure. Professional and friendly bilingual guides are happy to answer any questions they may have.
Once everyone is feeling confident and ready to go, you are fitted with top-of-the line, professional equipment that includes a paddle, a helmet, and a life jacket. You don’t need to bring your cellphone with you on the river as a professional photographer always accompanies each group, giving you the freedom to live in the moment without missing out on the dramatic photos you’ll want to show your friends and family back home. These images will be available for purchase at the end of your tour.
Exact conditions on the river vary, as does the length of time that it takes to complete the six-mile course. During our Green Season, (May to November), Costa Rica experiences more rain. On the river, this means faster flowing rapids and higher water levels. During the rest of the year, we see less rain and river conditions tend to be slightly tamer with the course taking slightly longer to complete. Classed at II and III, the Rio Balsa never features conditions that an adventurous newbie can’t enjoy.
The river launch site is calm, so once on the water you will have an opportunity to practice the techniques and maneuvers you learned during the safety briefing. Paddling together, your first series of rapids approach and things start to get bumpy. Excitement builds as you move from Class II to Class III. You are entering a wild and boisterous section of the Rio Balsa the locals call, “Congo Loco”. With tumultuous rolling features, this lengthy series of rapids are sure to get your adrenaline pumping!
At around the three-mile mark, the rapids give way to a smooth section of river that is perfect for a bit of relaxation to help you refresh and recharge. You paddle to the shore along a scenic stretch of beach bordered by vibrant, dense rainforest. Go for a quick swim in this calm part of the river while your guides prepare a fresh, tropical fruit snack for you.
After a delicious fruit break, you are back on the river and ready to encounter a series of Class II rapids. While adrenaline-based thrills can still be found here, this leg of your rafting trip features calmer runs, allowing you to take in the natural beauty that surrounds you. The picturesque landscapes feature flat, backcountry farmland giving way to deep, rainforest jungles. These incredible vistas are truly awe-inspiring.
As you paddle by, look for wildlife along the riverbanks. Sloths can often be spotted clinging to thick tree branches at the edges of the jungle, while iguanas and other reptiles scurry along the sand. Rare and colorful tropical birds fly over head and call from the canopy.
As you arrive at the ending basecamp, a guide will greet you with a fresh, dry towel. Relax and dry off before climbing into the vehicle that will take you back to the river launch site.
Your exciting day on the Rio Balsa is sure to have left you with a healthy appetite, and traditional Costa Rican cuisine is a perfect way to satisfy that hunger. At an open-air, riverside rancho restaurant, an inviting buffet allows you to choose from a variety of grilled meats, fresh vegetables, tropical fruit and delicious sides, like creamy sweet potato puree, fluffy white rice and savory black beans. Buffet dining allows us to build a custom meal according to our own tastes or dietary needs, so grab a plate and make your selections. Refreshing drink options include fresh-squeeze fruit drinks and sodas, or you may prefer to order an ice-cold beer. At the end of lunch, your friendly driver is ready to take you back to your hotel.
Rafting on the Balsa River is provides water sports whitewater adventures that everyone can enjoy on their amazing trip to Costa Rica.
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