Costa Ricaâ€™s frothing, wild rivers have been rated among the best in the world for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Â Whether youâ€™re tackling Class IV rapids on the Pacuare River or taking a more leisurely paddle down the tamer Sarapiqui, youâ€™re guaranteed an unforgettable experience filled with adventure and unspeakable beauty. Water levels are typically higher during the green season (late May through October), when afternoon downpours swell the rivers, providing even more of a challenge!
Before setting off on this epic excursion, heed these practical tips:
1. Expect to get drenched! Leave all valuables at home (this includes fine jewelry, purses and cell phones) and donâ€™t carry anything onboard that isnâ€™t waterproof. Your guides may offer to safeguard must-have items in a water-tight bag.
2. Wear quick-dry clothing and sturdy river sandals instead of sneakers. Even if your raft doesnâ€™t tip, the occasional sprays and gushes will soak you from head to toe if youâ€™re paddling on Costa Ricaâ€™s more advanced Pacuare and Reventazon rivers.
3. Consider a waterproof GoPro camera for amazing footage. Strapped to your helmet, this tiny camera captures every action-packed second of your journeyÂ past towering waterfalls and through lush, dramatic canyons. And since youâ€™re wearing a helmet, donâ€™t bother with a hat but donâ€™t forget to apply plenty of water-resistant sunblock even on overcast days.
4. First-time rafters or those who are anxious should confirm with guides about difficulty levels before the tour. Some rivers, such as the Sarapiqui, Naranjo and Savegre Rivers, are better suited for beginners, and feature mostly Class II and III rapids, with small stretches of Class IV. Though more challenging, the Reventazon and Pacuare are still popular options for travelers of all ages and abilities, but itâ€™s important to know your comfort zone first.
5. Listen to your guides, they are seasoned pros and can help you master any situation on the water. A pre-tour safety talk will outline the basics, and youâ€™ll be wearing a lifejacket for the duration of the trip, which can last anywhere from three to six hours, depending on location and currents. And most importantly of all, have fun and enjoy the ride!