The clamor of ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ was a mighty shout. It could not be drowned out. The only possible distraction was my vigilant search for Sloths and Howler Monkeys that called this beautiful landscape home.

The Pacuare River, whose headwaters begin on the Atlantic slope in the Talamanca mountain range, runs about 68 miles (108 km) until reaching the Caribbean Sea on the Costa Rica’s central coast. This is the quintessential tropical river, with stunning scenery and abounding wildlife. The  river offered a perfect blend of wilderness exposure and excitement.  A true river gorge, it is flanked by steep, green walls. Here we enjoyed the feeling of total isolation from urban life and the realness of being connected with nature.


Waterfalls cascade into the river from both sides as colourful, tropical birds fly right over head. Amazing views of this virgin tropical rainforest area appeared before our eyes as we descended this truly exploratory and barren land.


The first 4 miles tested our abilities with fun class II-III rapids. This initial run of the upper Pacuare provided stunning views of secondary growth forest and allowed our amazing guide to spot a three toed Sloth. This effectively concluded all paddling efforts until the crew could contain there cuteness overload attacks.  After about 40 minutes on the river we entered the famous Pacuare River Gorge, which is 5 miles of some of the best white water Costa Rica has to offer.


The rapids here are “Terciopelo snake”, “Double drop”, and the “Upper and Lower Huacas”. We also passed the Huacas waterfall, a 150 foot drop cascading into the river. Our guide allowed us the  truly unique experience of passing directly under the falls for a Costa Rican Shower.


With rapids ranging all the way up to class V, the Pacuare is easilly Costa Rica’s premier white water rafting river. National Geographic called it one of the world’s top 10 river trips in the world, not just due to its challenging rapids, but also because of the stunning scenery that lines its shores. This river is intended for experienced and adventurous rafters of all ages.


Austen Tanney

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