Rivers tumbling from the central mountains down the coast afford good white-water rafting possibilities, and several tour operators provide rafts, paddles, life jackets, helmets, and guides for these adventures. One-day trips include roundtrip bus transportation from San José and lunch. Multiday trips can also be arranged. Most river-running companies offer kayak rental or at least provide information on it, and sometimes you can accompany a rafting trip in a kayak if you have the requisite experience. Thousands of tourists enjoy running a river each year, and the fast majority have a memorable and enjoyable adventure.
However, river-running companies are not regulated in Costa Rica, so, for your own safety, go with an outfitter with experienced guides. Most guides are not well paid and do it for fun. Some companies use guides with no rescue or emergency medical training and relatively little experience. The more experienced and ethical guides are pushing for internationally acceptable minimum standards and training for all professional guides, but this had yet to happen at this writing. Please ask us to recommend a reliable outfitter.
The best-known rivers are the Río Reventazón and the Río Paquare. These rivers on the Caribbean slopes can be run year-round and have rapids of Classes II to V, depending on the section and the time of year. June to October are considered the wildest and wettest month, but you'll get wet whatever time of the year you go.
Runs are available for all levels of experience. Rafters need to put on plenty of sun-block and bring a spare change of clothes. Going barefoot is not recommended because the rubber-floored boats sometimes hit rocks fairly hard, so sneakers or river sandals (like Tevas) are suggested.
North of San José, the Río Sarapiquí has one-day runs from May to November. This is a narrower and more technical river than the Reventazón and Paquare, and less frequently run. On the Pacific slope, the Río Chirripó is a big volume river that tumbles down from Costa Rica's highest mountain and is runnable from mid-June to mid-December. Trips here usually last three or four days. The gentlest river is the Río Corobicí, near Cañas, which is basically a float trip with good chances of spotting many birds and often monkeys. This is a good trip for the whole family and can be done year-round. Please contact our reservation department for details and rates.
Pictures by Jörn Malek. The team of 1-CostaRicaLink and Costa-Rica-Information-Mobile wishes you the best of times in our little paradise called Costa Rica.
Text by Lonely Planet.
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