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Your Costa Rica Rafting Tour Questions Answered! – The Official Costa Rica Travel Blog

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Last updated on June 9th, 2019 at 12:43 pm

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We are not any strangers to white-water rafting excursions in Costa Rica, particularly white-water rafting tours run on the Pacuare River, which, between the two of us, we have now experienced more than two thousand occasions. As avid rafters, we know Costa Rica’s rivers personally, but we additionally know them professionally given our experience working as a white-water rafting tour information and handling rafting tour reservation requests from travelers. Given our familiarity with Costa Rica’s numerous rivers and rafting tour choices, we’re certified (and comfortable) to reply your Costa Rica rafting tour questions.

Have a query about rafting in Costa Rica that we don’t reply within the submit under? Be happy to submit your question to us as a remark (see the comment field at the end of this publish) and we’ll answer it asap.



Is earlier rafting experience required to take part in a Costa Rica rafting tour?

No. All Costa Rica rafting excursions embrace a security demonstration (plus all needed rafting gear) no matter a participant’s degree of earlier rafting experience. Whereas rafting expertise is an asset, it isn’t required.

Do I want to be able to know the way to swim in an effort to participate in a Costa Rica rafting tour?

Not likely. With the ability to swim will possible assist you to feel more snug in and round water, and that degree of consolation might heighten your general rafting experience. However all Costa Rica rafting excursions embrace life jackets and different security gear, plus tour guides are educated in rescue methods within the event you occur to fall out of the raft, so you need to never end up in a state of affairs the place it’s essential to have the ability to swim.

Do I must be in good physical situation with a view to take part in a Costa Rica rafting tour?

Sure. You don’t must be an Ironman champion or a marathon runner, however you need to have the ability to climb into and out of the raft with out problem, have the power to make use of your upper body and arms to paddle, have the power to bend your knees to take a seat comfortably within the raft, and never have any preexisting medical circumstances that might be made worse by adrenaline-inducing actions, sudden and jerky actions, and/or physical train.

How previous do it’s a must to be to participate in a Costa Rica rafting tour?

This depends upon the river you propose to raft, the speedy class of the river, and the tour operator operating the rafting tour. As well as, although each rafting tour clothes shop has a minimal age requirement for participation in their rafting tour(s), the limit may be negotiable with the tour operator in accordance with the peak and weight of your youngster, your baby’s earlier rafting expertise, and the time of yr you wish to raft, especially in the event you plan to be in Costa Rica through the dry/summer time season when river levels are sometimes low. Although minimal age limits are subject to vary, the next are probably the most present age limits we now have on document for the top white-water rafting excursions in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica white-water rafting tour minimum age limits by river, speedy class, and tour operator:

Pacuare River; class III/IV (Exploradores Outdoor): 12 years previous
Reventazon River; class II/III (Exploradores Outdoor): 6 years previous
Sarapiqui River; class III/IV (Desafio Adventure Company): 13 years previous
Sarapiqui River; class II/III (Desafio Adventure Firm): 10 years previous
Balsa River; class II/III (Desafio Adventure Company): 10 years previous
Tenorio River; class III/IV (Desafio Adventure Firm): 13 years previous
Tenorio River; class II/III (Desafio Adventure Firm): 10 years previous
Naranjo River Chorro Section; class IV (H2O Rios Tropicales): 15 years previous
Naranjo River; class III/IV (H2O Rios Tropicales): eight years previous
Savegre River; class II/III (H2O Rios Tropicales): 6 years previous

What’s the distinction between a category II/III river in Costa Rica and a category III/IV river in Costa Rica? Which river class should I select?

River courses (typically known as grades) signify river problem. Usually, class II signifies a novice class, class III signifies an intermediate class, and sophistication IV signifies a complicated class. Courses are sometimes grouped together (e.g., as class II/III or class III/IV) when a river includes a mixture of simpler and harder sections. In Costa Rica, most white-water rafting excursions are run on both class II/III or class III/IV rivers. In layman’s terms, at the very least in Costa Rica, class II/III rivers are greatest chosen by timid rafters and/or rafters with youngsters who may be too young to take part in school III/IV river rafting tours. In distinction, class III/IV rivers are the most typical rafting tour choice; they’re obtainable to all travelers who meet the minimal age limit for participation, they are ideal for each beginner and skilled rafters, they usually present probably the most thrilling rafting tour expertise.

What color/clarity of water can I anticipate from a river?

Unfortunately that is unimaginable to foretell. Water readability and colour are dependent on a number of elements that change from everyday, most notably the diploma of filth and dirt flowing into the river from its surrounding landscape and mountains as a consequence of current rainfall. All through Costa Rica, we’ve rafted rivers which might be almost crystal clear as well as rivers that resemble melted chocolate. Approximately 70% of the time, rivers are comparatively clear.

Will I see wildlife throughout my Costa Rica rafting tour?

Unfortunately this is unattainable to foretell as a result of wildlife-spotting isn’t assured. This being stated, while rafting, we sometimes spot quite a lot of birds and butterflies flying overhead, egrets and herons perched on riverbanks, and iguanas basking on tree branches. Once in a while, monkeys may be heard, as can the river’s natural soundtrack of fowl calls, cicada buzzes, and roaring rapids. The hassle with making an attempt to accomplish more in-depth wildlife-spotting throughout such a fast-paced exercise like white-water rafting is that the nature of the flowing tour makes it almost unimaginable to cease along the best way to seek for or admire fauna. To keep away from disappointment, settle for that your Costa Rica rafting tour expertise might be an adrenaline-inducing adventure, not a wildlife-focused tour. Any animals or critters spotted along the best way are a bonus.

What occurs if it rains the day of my Costa Rica rafting tour?

Costa Rica is a component rainforest and rain is inevitable. Because of this, nearly all of tours and activities–rafting tours included–run rain or shine. Since white-water rafting tours sometimes splash you with water, you’ll get no less than barely moist anyway, and rain hardly hinders the experience. Within the occasion of utmost climate, similar to vital rainfall that would improve a river to a harmful water degree, the river journey can be cancelled.

What occurs if my Costa Rica rafting tour reservation is cancelled?

Within the occasion of a uncommon river tour cancellation issued by a rafting tour operator, the tour operator will either supply a rafting tour expertise on an alternate river (if one is accessible and protected) or make an try and reschedule the unique river rafting tour expertise for a special day (often the subsequent day). If/when neither of these options is possible, cost for the cancelled tour just isn’t required. If a full or partial prepayment was paid to the tour operator, then a refund can be issued.

Are Costa Rica rafting tours ever cancelled for causes aside from excessive river levels?

Not often. We can’t say this is able to never happen because life is filled with surprises and something is feasible. Nevertheless, throughout our history of rafting Costa Rica’s rivers (almost 15 years) and working with rafting tour outfitters, we will only keep in mind a number of occasions when rafting excursions have been cancelled because of causes aside from harmful water ranges (they have been brought on by obstacles blocking river access, corresponding to fallen timber, mudslides, and road protests). Whereas cancellations that outcome from high river levels are rare, cancellations that outcome from other causes are much more unlikely.

What do I wear for my Costa Rica rafting tour?

Briefly, wear snug clothes that you simply don’t mind being wet in. Most males wear bathing go well with shorts with a t-shirt, and most girls put on shorts and a t-shirt or tank prime with a showering go well with beneath. Water footwear, running shoes, or strap-on sandals are a should as flip-flops or using different non-secure footwear just isn’t permitted. Hats are also not permitted, as a helmet have to be worn in the course of the tour. When you have long hair, contemplate leaving your hair down or tying it in a low ponytail/bun to stop discomfort while sporting the helmet. Do not put on any helpful jewellery or accessories to keep away from dropping them in the river. In the event you should convey glasses, make sure you have a tight-fitting band that may hold them safe round your head (beneath your helmet) when you experience the bumpy rafting journey.

What do I deliver for my Costa Rica rafting tour?

Should you plan to make use of your Costa Rica rafting tour as a city-to-city transportation-inclusive tour (as described in our associated blog submit Costa Rica Tour Transportation: How To Use Excursions To Travel Between Locations) convey all your trip luggage with you the day of your tour.

Separate from the remainder of your baggage (for those who plan to make use of the rafting tour as a city-to-city transportation-inclusive tour) and in addition to the garments you propose to put on through the rafting tour, convey a towel and a set of dry garments (including a t-shirt or tank prime, shorts or pants, undergarments, and footwear) to vary into upon completion of the rafting tour. Although most tour operators provide tour individuals with plastic luggage for storing moist clothes in, it isn’t a nasty concept to deliver a plastic bag of your personal, in case one just isn’t offered. Deliver a high SPF waterproof sunscreen (we advocate 60+) for sufficient sun protection whereas on the river, any mandatory prescription drugs, and money for tipping your tour information and/or purchasing rafting tour souvenirs (akin to photograph CDs and/or t-shirts) after the river journey.

What do I convey with me to the river to store within the raft?

Along with the garments you propose to put on through the rafting tour, the only other gadgets you must convey to the river (which can be stored within the raft in either a water-proof container or your tour guide’s waterproof bag) are a high SPF (we advocate 60+) waterproof sunscreen for enough sun safety whereas on the river and any medicine you might have to take throughout the course of the day. Your tour guide will inform you the place it is best to depart your different belongings (resembling your towel and change of dry garments/footwear) when you are on the river.

Is there an choice to buy rafting photographs or movies from the day as a tour memento?

Typically, yes. Until by fluke one isn’t obtainable the day of a specific tour, a photographer (typically referred to as the tour’s paparazzi) will accompany the rafting tour group down the river (often in a kayak) in an effort to capture pictures and/or videos of the day’s occasions. Entry to photographs and/or videos is out there for purchase on the end of each rafting tour. Though the price varies across tour operators, photograph and/or video souvenirs sometimes vary in worth from $20.00 to $40.00.

Is it attainable to make use of Costa Rica rafting excursions as a way of transportation between cities?

Yes! As we describe in our associated publish Costa Rica Tour Transportation: How To Use Excursions To Travel Between Destinations, some Costa Rica rafting excursions embrace complimentary transportation between two totally different Costa Rican cities. For an entire listing of our beneficial Costa Rica rafting tour options that embrace a pick-up in a single city before the tour and a drop-off in another city after the tour, please visit our article linked to above.

I plan to make use of the rafting tour as a way of travelling between two destinations; what do I do with my luggage whereas I take part within the rafting tour?

Depending on the river you propose to visit and the tour operator operating the rafting journey (as every clothes shop has their very own luggage storage plan), your luggage shall be safely secured for you when you raft. Normally, baggage is saved in lockers (giant enough to include multiple suitcases), nevertheless for more remote river trips, luggage could also be saved within the tour operator’s tour transportation car, which is locked and guarded by the tour operator’s driver.

What occurs to my city-to-city transportation service if my Costa Rica rafting tour reservation is cancelled?

The transportation service continues to be offered. Since many vacationers use city-to-city transportation-inclusive tours as a approach of traveling between locations, the transportation portion of the reservation continues to be offered regardless of whether or not the rafting portion of the day’s actions is cancelled. For example, in the event you plan to make use of a Pacuare River rafting tour to get from San Jose to La Fortuna and the river journey is cancelled the day of your tour, you’ll nonetheless obtain transportation between San Jose and La Fortuna to accommodate your scheduled trip itinerary. In these instances, when a rafting tour is cancelled and an alternate river just isn’t capable of be run instead but a city-to-city transportation service continues to be offered, the rafting tour is charged at a discounted fee. The partial cost charged covers the price of the transportation service offered between cities, as well as the price of any meals or other providers offered. The actual low cost awarded is determined by the river and the tour operator you choose, as every tour operator’s cancellation insurance policies range from the subsequent.

Are meals included with Costa Rica rafting tours?

Usually, sure. The majority of Costa Rica rafting tours are three/4-day or full-day excursions that embrace lunch. In some instances, breakfast and lunch are each included. There are a couple of half-day rafting trips that do not embrace a meal, but they sometimes present rafters with a snack, resembling recent fruit and/or cookies, as well as a beverage.

Do I tip my Costa Rica rafting tour guide? How much do I tip my Costa Rica rafting tour information?

Although not all Costa Ricans tip, tipping is a standard follow among overseas vacationers. Consequently, the apply has come to be expected by rafting tour guides who supply a beneficial service worthy of appreciation. For tipping amount suggestions, assuming your rafting tour guide was pleasant, knowledgeable, truthful, protected, and contributed to your enjoyment of the Costa Rica rafting experience, goal for 10% of your rafting tour’s value, or 15% should you’re feeling generous. For more information about tipping recommendations, don’t miss our associated weblog submit What To Know About Tipping In Costa Rica.

How lengthy does it take to get to the river?

This answer depends upon which river you propose to raft and the place you propose to depart from. Since river trips can depart from almost every fashionable metropolis in the country, the drive time might be anyplace from ten minutes to 3 hours long. When you have a selected Costa Rica rafting tour in thoughts, as well as a selected departure location, please publish these details as a comment on the bottom of this web page and we’ll reply with an approximate driving period for the route.

Can I drive myself to and from the river?

In some instances sure, and in other instances no. For many Costa Rica rafting excursions, the tour operator has a gathering spot, middle, or clubhouse nearby the river. When that is present, you’ll be able to drive your self to and from the assembly spot and safe parking is often obtainable on-site. From the assembly spot, you’ll then take the tour operator’s transportation car to the river put-in website, in addition to from the river take-out website back to the assembly spot, if applicable. In instances the place there isn’t a meeting spot, middle, or clubhouse you’ll be able to drive to, we strongly advocate that you don’t attempt to drive your self to and from a river. Not only will car parking at the river not be secure, however because the river take-out website is downriver from the river put-in website, as soon as the rafting trip is full, you’ll need to figure out a approach to get again to your car upon completion of the rafting tour.


In addition to the questions and solutions provided above, familiarize yourself with our useful Costa Rica rafting tour ideas, advisories, and other necessary issues to know.

River levels are decided by the quantity of rainfall that a river receives the day/night time before (and early morning of) the rafting tour date.

Costa Rica’s rivers are sometimes greater through the rain/moist/green season (Might-December) and decrease in the course of the summer time/dry season (January-April). This being stated, a big quantity of rain acquired in a single day on any day of the yr can improve the river’s water degree and have an effect on a rafting tour’s potential to run the following morning. Because of this, river ranges and rapids are troublesome to predict and cannot be guaranteed prematurely. Sadly there isn’t any surefire option to know whether a rafting tour will or won’t run on a specific date, and similarly, there isn’t any strategy to know whether or not the rapids can be superior or common on the day you propose to raft.

When is the most effective time of yr to go rafting in Costa Rica?
If we thought-about, on common, all of Costa Rica’s class III/IV rivers for white-water rafting and gave the water/speedy degree a rating between 1 and 10 (1 being the lowest degree we have now seen and 10 being the very best degree we’ve got seen), that is what to expect from month to month:

January: 5
February: three or Four
March: 2 or three
April (first few weeks, relying on whether or not the rain/inexperienced season begins early or late): 1
April (the last week, relying on whether or not the rain/inexperienced season begins early or late): 5
Might: 5 or 6
June: 5
July: 5
August: 5
September: 6
October: 7, 8, or 9
November: eight, 9, or 10
December (first few weeks, relying on whether the dry/summer time season starts early or late): 8
December (previous couple of weeks, relying on whether or not the dry/summer time season starts early or late): 5

Rafters completely should wear secure footwear, a life jacket, and a helmet when collaborating in a Costa Rica rafting tour.

The use of a life jacket and a helmet during a Costa Rica rafting tour is nonnegotiable. Additionally mandatory is using safe footwear; flip-flops and different footwear that can simply slip off are usually not permitted. The truth is, many tour operators will deny you participation within the tour or require you to buy water footwear or strap-on sandals from them on-site in case you arrive eager to raft with improper footwear.

No rafting tour operator needs to see any hurt finished to any traveler (nor do they need to danger their company’s popularity), so if a river was ever unfit to run, a good tour operator would cancel the day’s rafting tour.

Probably the most widespread questions we are requested about white-water rafting in Costa Rica is “is it safe?” While recognizing that to a level danger is unavoidable and inherent in all of Costa Rica’s journey activities, the brief reply is, “Yes, it is safe.” Respected rafting tour corporations verify river degree measurements day by day to make sure the river is just not too harmful to run. Additionally they verify weather forecasts to greatest predict climate modifications than can create dangerous flash floods. Assuming you’ve chosen a good tour operator, if a rafting trip on any given day is a go, the river is considered protected to run. Though there are various Costa Rica rafting tour outfitters obtainable to select from, we advocate Exploradores Outdoor, Desafio Journey Firm, and H2O Rios Tropicales with probably the most confidence.

Some Costa Rica rafting excursions are city-to-city transportation-inclusive tours (i.e., tours that assist you to get picked up at one destination before the rafting tour and get dropped off at a unique vacation spot after the rafting tour).

Costa Rica rafting excursions lead the pack of potential city-to-city transportation-inclusive tour choices (to study more, don’t miss our associated weblog publish Costa Rica Tour Transportation: How To Use Tours To Travel Between Destinations). Because of this in case you plan to travel between two of Costa Rica’s fashionable locations, including San Jose, La Fortuna/Arenal, Monteverde, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, Cahuita, Samara, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Conchal, Flamingo, Coco, Hermosa, Papagayo, Liberia, and others, there’s an excellent probability you possibly can e-book a rafting tour that serves as a transportation connection. As we define in our associated blog publish Planning A Journey To Costa Rica? Learn This First!, we advocate a bottom-up strategy to trip planning, which suggests you need to determine your tour preferences earlier than making other trip selections, akin to selections pertaining to which locations to go to, which motels to remain at, and which transportation providers to travel with. For those who plan on going white-water rafting in Costa Rica, award your Costa Rica rafting tour selection preferential remedy. Doing so can save you valuable vacation time and travel funds in the long run.


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Nikki Solano

Nikki Solano is a Costa Rica skilled, writer of the Moon Costa Rica (2019) guidebook; CEO of Pura Vida! eh? Inc.; operator of the Costa Rica Travel Blog, writer of DIY Costa Rica; and a contract writer for rent.

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