“During high water, the ‘Aye, mami!’ rapids become ‘Oh, crap!’ rapids,” my guide informed me
Rafting in Costa Rica can only be somewhat of a dichotomy of an experience. There are moments when it seems like tucking into the raft is the only way to hold on for dear life. Then not too long after, going for a dip in the calmer waters seems like the best way to enjoy an idyllic rainforest complete with an orchestra of monkey howls and chirping birdsong.
Costa Rica offers a spectrum of river experiences, from the chilled out class I and II rapids to the rollercoaster inspiring river runs of classes III, IV and V.
Most tour companies suggest starting on a class III and IV trip to get the best of both worlds – the intensity of paddling furiously through rapids with the reprieves of still water swims.
For some, the ability to go from crouching down into a raft to getting back up and paddling again may be a bit much on the knees and unsafe for little kids. River floats along class I and II sections are then great alternatives. Spotting caimans, sloths, and tropical birds become a bit of a sport with easy winners.
However, if the adrenaline fix still hasn’t been met after a class III and IV, then there are few ways to up the intensity. Multi-day rafting packages offer class V rapid sections which require alertness and readiness to paddle hard during more challenging rapids.
Alternatively, with prior kayaking experience, you can select an inflatable two-person kayak called a ducky for class II and III rapids. With a guide either at the back of the kayak or on a separate safety kayak, this is a sure way of feeling more in tune with the river.