Best River Rafting Experiences in Costa Rica
The green season is here, and the water is running high in Costa Rica
Renting a car in Costa Rica for your vacation can make all the difference in realizing the adventure of a lifetime. River rafting Costa Rica is a unique opportunity to enjoy the country’s rivers from the water instead of the riverbank. Where the rainforest meets the river, you’ll see dramatic cascades of water, lush vegetation, and colorful exotic plants and animals.
River rafting is at its best during the green season, April – December. The country’s major river systems, all 14 of them, are full of water and your chance for a Costa Rican eco-adventure has never been better.
More than any other eco-tourism adventure, river rafting is an exciting mix of striking scenery and heart-pumping thrills. Water levels and flow rates influence conditions on the river as much as the river’s geography. Class I rivers are the easiest and the calmest; Class IV and above are difficult and technically challenging.
Unless young children are on the trip, most people can handle Class II-III rivers. Guides accompany each raft, and they have a comprehensive knowledge of the river and the surrounding landscape. There are trips for all ages and abilities, the rafting companies supply all the equipment and safety instruction.
Río Pejibaye (Class I-II), in the Turrialba Valley, is perfect for a lazy day on the river. About 2 hours from San José, this tributary of Río Reventazón River is perfect for families with children as young as 5.
Close to La Fortuna and Arenal, Río Balsa (Class II-III) is easy enough for beginners willing to try the thrills of slightly bigger rapids but still have time to enjoy the lush rainforest and wildlife. Río Savegre (Class II-IV) and Río Naranjo (Class III-VI+) begin inland from Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Full- and half-day trips.
Río Toro (Class III-IV) requires experience and is rated for advanced intermediate and experts who prefer the non-stop action of whitewater.
Near Tortuguero on the Caribbean side, Río Pacuare (Class II-IV) has a reputation for being a great river rafting trip. The river runs through virgin rainforest and a staggering display of bio-diversity amid its lushly abundant vegetation. One- and 2-day trips.
The Sarapiquí (Class III-IV) is a popular trip with experienced river runners looking for a multi-day Costa Rican river rafting adventure and a whitewater adrenaline rush.
Aptly named “the jet,” El Chorro’s waters rush over steep falls, through narrow river canyons, and around a winding series of bends. El Chorro is a Class IV+ section of Río Naranjo that challenges the skill of rafters who choose to try it. The payoff is more than besting the river, some of Costa Rica’s most breathtaking scenery is found here.
If you’ve never been river rafting before or if you are a whitewater expert, there’s an adventure just waiting for you. If you’re planning a vacation to Costa Rica this summer, there’s a Costa Rica rental car waiting to take you to the white water river rafting trip of your dreams.