If you think you know what an adrenaline rush feels like, just wait until you visit the Pacuare river.<
Are you brave enough to join us?
We left from San José at 7 in the morning and headed towards Turrialba. We took this route because we had to pass through the entrance of a well-known cattle farm that is located on the border between the province of Cartago and Limón.
When we arrived at the departure point for the tour an experienced guide known as “El Chino” welcomed us with a big smile. Randall Solano, known as “El Chino”, has been navigating the waters of Pacuare for more than 25 years.
We put on our life jackets and helmets while the staff gave us a brief talk on water safety.
Yet again Costa Rica surprised us with its incredible tourist options for people of all tastes. We knew that we were in for an adrenaline rush, but we didn’t know that we would also enjoy so many beautiful landscapes along the route.
The Pacuare River is in the Atlantic basin and is 133 km in length. Its headwaters form in the Cuericí mountains in the Talamanca cordillera, at nearly 3000 meters above sea level. The waters of the Pacuare descend from the mountains to the plains of the Central Caribbean and drain into the Caribbean Sea.
Category II, III and IV
The tour lasts approximately 4 hours, so you have to come prepared to experience a real aquatic adventure. Bring plenty of sunscreen and water to hydrate yourself along the route.
About five minutes after starting the tour we hit some class II rapids, just enough to shake away our nerves and gave us a little more confidence.
Max was the other guide with us. Just like Chino, Max exuded professionalism, taking care of us the whole time and alerting us when we were approaching another set of rapids.
Before each rapid, Max would give us a quick briefing on the category of the rapid and the correct rowing technique to avoid any accidents in the water.
During the trip we also saw several species of birds, and waterfalls falling between the enormous rocks that line the canyon.
After an hour and a half, we stopped to check out lodge on the banks of the river. As soon as you enter and see the fantastic balconies at the lodge, you are going to want to spend the weekend there watching sunsets with a nice cup of coffee and a good book.
Fall in love with the lodge
The lodge is in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by the sound of birds singing and the roar of the river. The lodge or “ecolodge” was sustainably built with reclaimed wood and is located within a private reserve of more than 2000 acres. Here you can go hiking, take a canopy tour, go cayoning, enjoy horseback riding, do some community tourism or simply disconnect from everything and enjoy a relaxing rest in a hammock overlooking the river.
We left the lodge with the hopes of returning one day, but there was still so much adventure to be had, so we grabbed our ours and set out on the water. We were in for a wild time!
Forward 2, forward 3, forward stroooong! Max and Chino shout back to us that we still had to test our mettle on some category III and IV rapids.
After a delicious lunch prepared by our friendly guides (who, by the way, are excellent cooks!), they had a surprise in store for us…
A few meters down the river, we would find ourselves facing a category IV rapid. We truly experienced the saying “after a storm comes a calm”. We paddled very hard across the category IV rapid, only to arrive at a beautiful waterfall that shook us about under its great power. Max steered the raft toward the fall and we were soaked!
After a few more rapids, we arrived at the long-awaited Pacuare canyon, where the channel narrows, the stone walls are impressive and the water is calmer, it was enough to just breathe in and admire the phenomenal landscape.
To close with a flourish, we passed under the Atlantic railway line at the precise moment that a train loaded with containers passed overhead. We reached the end of the tour with the sound of the train’s whistle congratulating us for our accomplishment.
After 4 hours we can say that we dominated this amazing rafting adventure. We would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Have you bested the Pacuare River?