While most of Costa Rica’s rafting excursions take you on brisk rides to the Pacific side, one of the country’s greatest rivers flows to the Caribbean Sea. The Pacuare is among the world’s 10 best rivers as named by National Geographic and a journey down the unique waterway tells you why. Descending from the rugged slopes of the Irazú Volcano, the majestic river rolls through stunning canyons, passes impressive waterfalls and an indigenous reserve, and traverses over fifty challenging rapids.
Your trip begins with a 6 am pick-up in San Jose. Enjoy picturesque views of Braulio Carrillo National Park as you cruise through wide-open countryside on your way to the river that borders the Talamanca Mountains. After a hearty breakfast, you reach the riverbank for safety instructions from an experienced guide and set off on the jade-green waters.
River Rafting on an Incredible Nature Excursion
Often compared to fictional Jurassic Park, the stunning landscape that emerges before your eyes fills you with a sense of awe and wonder. Thick vines twist around colossal trees, massive boulders defy the rushing river and towering waterfalls cascade to your left and right. Brightly colored toucans and brilliant blue morpho butterflies flutter overhead while monkeys, ocelots and white-tailed deer lay claim to lush expanses of virgin rainforest.
But your attention is drawn to the rapids! Along the river’s upper section you plow through intense Class IV and V whitewater, plunging down sudden drops and bouncing through bumpy narrows. In the Pacuare River Gorge, you take on famed rapids including the “Double Drop,” “Pinball” and “Terciopelo Snake” and gaze in amazement at the 150-foot-high Huacas Waterfall.
The river opens up in the Pacuare Valley where calmer currents give you the chance to absorb the scenery. Take note of tropical wildlife on shore and stop to refresh in a natural swimming pool. Enjoy a fresh-cooked lunch on the riverbank. You also paddle past the valley’s original inhabitants. The indigenous Cabecar people have called this spot home since pre-Columbian times and today live much in the same manner as their ancestors.
Along the final downstream stretch through the Huacas River Gorge, you encounter some of the river’s biggest rapids. Exhausted but exhilarated and fueled by pure adrenaline, you and your now-tested team bump and tumble through extreme whitewater challenges on the last tear down the formidable river.
On the relaxed ride back to town, you reflect on the amazing experience. At once exhilarating and inspirational, the whitewater rafting trip is a high point of your adventure travels on an exceptional Costa Rican vacation.