Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Whitewater Rafting on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica

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The most fun I had on our Costa Rica trip was during our whitewater rafting tour with Exploradores Outdoors. The company picked us up 6 a.m. Saturday from Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast for the 12-hour adventure. We picked up two new friends, one from France and one from Sweden, on the way to the company's Exploration Center in Siquirres. We were free to use the changing rooms and restrooms, drop our luggage off in the lockers, and eat breakfast (eggs, toast, orange juice, coffee, yogurt and gallo pinto). Other shuttles carrying people from San Jose and Arenal arrived soon after. After about an hour, we were on our way to the river, which was another 45-minute drive from the Exploration Center on a bumpy, windy mountain road. The views were incredible: We could see the Talamanca Mountains and never-ending forest. Six rafts, six guides, several rescue kayaks and a photographer in a kayak were waiting for us at the river. I loved the humor that was used to explain the safety measures to us; it made me feel a lot more comfortable. It wasn't long before we were on our way for the most amazing ride. 

Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors

Our raft was the last on the water, but we soon learned that our guide, Kenneth, was a talented guide. He got us to the lunch meeting spot first, our raft never got stuck and no one fell overboard, all pluses in my book. We rafted for two exhilarating hours before it was time to eat. Our buffet-style lunch was a spread of all the fixings necessary to make burritos or sandwiches: tortillas, bread, cheese, lettuce, red pepper, pickled jalapeƱos, salsa, tortilla chips, beans and ham. They also included pineapple, lemonade and crackers with jelly. We ate and chatted with our new friends: We met a firefighter from NYC, a woman from Paris, a young couple from Sweden, a solo traveler also from Sweden, and many more interesting people. After lunch, we rafted for about another hour, including time to swim at one of the waterfalls when we hit the second canyon. That moment was one I'll never forget. The water was a perfect temperature as I jumped off the raft and let the current carry me. I looked ahead and saw towering cliffs covered by rainforest. I wondered what animals lay under the canopy. To my left was a canyon wall and a waterfall, and to my right was another huge wall covered in flora. I felt lucky to be able to raft in this special place and visit this gorgeous country. It was in that moment that everything leading up to the trip, all the work and saving and planning, was worth it. I hope to be back there again soon. 

Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors, Costa Rica
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors

Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors, Costa Rica
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors

Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors, Costa Rica
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors

Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors, Costa Rica
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors

Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors, Costa Rica
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors

Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors, Costa Rica
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors

Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors, Costa Rica
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors


Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors, Costa Rica
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors

I highly recommend a rafting trip on the Pacuare river. For $99 we got transportation to the river, a guide, breakfast, lunch, use of the showers and changing areas, lockers to store our belongings, and transportation either back to your departure place or to a different destination, like Arenal in our case. For an extra $25 you can have a CD with your photos. Plus, you see views like this:

Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors, Costa Rica
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors

Pacuare River, rafting, Exploradores Outdoors, Costa Rica
Photo by Exploradores Outdoors

As my raftmates and I shouted many times on our trip, "Pura vida!"


Travel planning books we used:



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