If you want to go white water rafting, the Pacuare River is almost as good as it gets. Rated as one of the top five white water rafting rivers in the world, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try it out during our time in Costa Rica. We booked our three day expedition through Rios Tropicales in March 2012. Everything from the bus to pick us up to the afternoon cocktail was a wonderful experience.
We bused from San Jose early in the morning and stopped at a lodge for buffet style breakfast. The only thing I really remember about breakfast in Costa Rica is the fruit, which is so fresh it just melts in your mouth. Fruit in the states can’t compare to the pineapple and papaya in Costa Rica. After breakfast, we headed to the riverbank where we unloaded the rafts and supplies.
The Rios Tropicales lodge isn’t accessible by car, so the guides take all of the food and supplies on the rafts. They packed our bags in waterproof sacks and gave us the rundown on how to raft. John and I shared a raft with four other people and a guide. Since I had never rafted before and generally dislike water activities, I was a little nervous about the whole endeavor. The guide mentioned what to do if you fall off and told horror stories of people getting pulled under the rafts. Fortunately, neither of these things happened to me or anyone else on our trip! We rafted for a few hours and hit some fairly strong rapids, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Rafting through the rapids is a little bit like a mild roller coaster, and the adrenaline junky in me couldn’t get enough.
When we got to the lodge they prepared food and cocktails for us. Once again, the most memorable part was the fruit. I could have lived off of fruit and been perfectly content. I think the other food was usually rice, beans, and some kind of meat. Our cocktails were a blend of fruit and Costa Rican sugar cane liquor, and they were delicious. Later that night we played drinking games with the other tourists and the guides who also taught us some Spanish.
We booked a standard room for about $300 each for the 3 days (it has probably gone up since then). Our rooms were fine and we didn’t care enough to get a deluxe room. The only complaint I had was the lack of hot water. Fortunately in Costa Rica a cold shower isn’t too awful. I definitely recommend the three day adventure over the two day. For the three day, you have one day rafting there, a day at the lodge, and a day rafting back. We spent the day at the lodge exploring the area, hiking around the rain forest, and ziplining.
There is a chance that you will miss out on the rafting if the river is unsafe (too high or too low). On our day at the lodge there was a French couple who had to hike in instead of rafting.