A really nice day trip from San José which includes lots of adrenaline, action and nature is a tour of rafting on the river Pacuare. This river is located west of the capital and flows through the Province Limón into the Carribean Sea. It is best to reach from the town Turrialba where you can find lots of different tour agencies that offer rafting tours, but some also can pick you up in San José center for an extra transportation fee.
We chose the tour agency Travesias Naturales because they have good prices (student price 60$ including breakfast, lunch and transport besides the rafting) and we did not regret it. The journey in the shuttle started at 5:30 am from the National Theater and took two hours to reach the river, but we made a stop at a local Soda to get some typical Costa-Rican breakfast, the famous Gallo Pinto.
When we reached the river, the participants’ group of 20-30 people got divided into smaller groups of six people who went on board of a raft together with a guide. The guides know every tiny rapid of the river, steer the raft and give instructions whether you might paddle forwards or backwards or sit on the ground in the most difficult and dangerous parts: “Al piso!” in Spanish. When our guide shouted this, my heart always started to pump a little faster because some rapids where really strong and the water was literally everywhere.
I would recommend sitting in front because the adrenaline kick is the biggest and you can enjoy the amazing view without another person’s back in front of you. But it also means that you will be completely wet all the time ;) The river plunges downs through a series of spectacular canyons clothed in virgin rainforest and there are also calm stretches where you can relax a little and enjoy the look on the near-vertical green walls towering hundreds of meters above. There are several camps consisting of tiny cabins along the river where you would stay for the night if you were doing a trip of several days. The rapids vary between Class II – IV, the river can be run all year-round, but it is considered to be a little more challenging from June to December when the water is at its highest and wilder. That is why it was more brownish than clear blue during our trip, but nonetheless the looks were amazing.
After approximately 3 hours of rafting we made a break with all the groups of the tour, a delicious lunch consisting of tacos, fruits and cake was served by the guides. The rest of the trip after lunch was way too short and I could have continued much longer because it had been so much fun. In the last part, there is the opportunity to go overboard and swim and float a little through a gorgeous canyon because the river is calmer there. Ashore you can take a shower, change your clothes and buy the photos of your rafting trip which have been taken by people of the tour agency from the bank.
In total we paddled 28 km and already reached the province of Limón and so the bus ride back too San José was a lot longer. It was so quiet in the bus because almost everyone fell asleep immediately because it had been quite exhausting. I could also feel my arm muscles from paddling the following days.
I do not have any other white water rafting experience to compare it with, but I would honestly say that this trip was one of the coolest things I have ever done and a must-do in Costa Rica!