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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 28 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Alex Robinson

On the eastern edges of Costa Rica’s Central Valley, the Pacuare River cascades down a series of slopes on its way to the Caribbean Sea.

For decades, this has been ground zero for whitewater rafting – for good reason. The Pacuare is home to a series of Class III-V rapids that travel down a canyon wrapped in virgin rainforest.

It’s a thrilling ride and an essential stop for adrenaline junkies.

Price from: £60
Minimum age: 18
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: 1 day

Getting there & doing it

The Pacuare has put-in points that are both accessible and remote. Rafting excursions, therefore, can last a full day or four.

Most travellers arrange rafting trips from San Jose, but it’s possible to set these up from other towns, including Fortuna (near the Arenal volcano), or when staying at local lodges like the Pacuare Lodge.

If you’re travelling with smaller children or just aren’t up for churning Class IV rapids, most companies offer moderate river runs (no waves or difficult passes), as well as gentle floats. The nearby Reventazon river is another excellent rafting option, with four different stretches that offer rides both gentle and fierce.

When to do it

The wildest rafting months are from June to October in the rainy season, when the tropical rains keep the rivers pumping.

January and February are the height of the dry season, when some rivers dry up. Beginners may want to avoid September and October, when rivers are at their most powerful.

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Rainforests, powdery beaches, white-water rivers and towering volcanoes: this relaxed Central American country offers exceptional wilderness adventures in stunning landscapes.

Round-ups that include this experience

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