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The Pacuare River Rafting Tour

The Pacuare River Rafting Tour

NOTE: The content on this page was last updated on November 8th, 2017.

Looking for Costa Rica Pacuare River rafting tour discounts? WE OFFER TRAVELLERS FREE ACCESS TO DISCOUNTS FOR PACUARE RIVER RAFTING TOURS when booking the day tour through Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated. Click here for more information and/or to obtain the Pacuare River rafting tour discount. Con mucho gusto (you’re welcome) and pura vida! 🙂

Pacuare River rafting tour
Ricky; guiding the Pacuare River (with Nikki in the back, to the left)
Have a question about white water rafting in Costa Rica?

We answer 20+ of the most popular Costa Rica rafting tour questions, plus offer our rafting tour tips and important information to know before you go. Don’t miss our related blog post:

Your Costa Rica Rafting Tour Questions Answered!


Toot! Toot! That’s the sound of us tooting our own horn. We’re humble people, so very rarely do we accept–let alone admit and share with others–how spectacularly awesome we are at something when we think it to be the case. However, when it comes to discourse surrounding Costa Rica’s Pacuare River rafting tour, we don’t hesitate to shout from the highest mountaintop: “We’ve got this!” How could we not? Between the two of us, we have rafted or kayaked the Pacuare River over two thousand times.

Yes, you read that right. Over two thousand times.

As we confirm in our related post The Pacuare River Family, Ricky and I are part of a very special river family here in Costa Rica. We not only have longstanding relationships with (and have worked with and for) a variety of rafting tour operators, but we also consider a number of rafting tour outfitter owners our family. We know just about every guide who has worked on the Pacuare River over the past ten years, and are proud to call many our friends. And, we know the river inside and out; it is safe to say that Pacuare River rafting tours–via rafting or kayaking–are so much a passion of ours that we don’t just name the river’s rapids, but we read them, we maneuver them, and we have run them enough times to know how their drops, swells, and holes have evolved over the past month, year, and decade.

More specifically, Ricky knows just about everything river-related as a result of running nearly thirty kilometers of the Pacuare River rafting tour route daily as a guide and safety kayaker for many years (don’t miss our related blog post White Water Rafting Costa Rica: Go Big Or Go Home for pictures of some of Ricky’s most thrilling and adrenaline-filled rafting experiences). In contrast, I honed my knowledge spending just as many years experiencing the Pacuare River rafting tour from a tourist’s perspective, answering travellers’ questions about the river, rafting tours, and rafting outfitters, offering discounts for Pacuare River rafting tours to travellers via Pura Vida! eh? Inc., and processing Pacuare River rafting tour reservations. From the moment you consider participating in a Costa Rica river rafting tour or a Costa Rica river kayaking tour, to the moment you return home from the trip, you can rely on us to provide you with the most accurate information about the experience and how to make the trip one you will never forget.


Where does the Pacuare River rafting tour depart from and where does the river trip start from?

The Pacuare River rafting tour begins with a pick-up at your hotel in San Jose, La Fortuna, Puerto Viejo (de Talamanca), Sarapiqui, Cahuita, Turrialba, Guapiles, or Siquirres, and continues with travel to the Exploration Center in Siquirres (see our Pacuare River rafting tour driving distance list below for approximate drive durations). At the Exploration Center you will change your clothes in preparation for the river trip and eat a hearty breakfast (the cost of which is included with the tour). After breakfast, any luggage you brought with you to the Exploration Center will be checked into large lockers which are locked upon departure for the rafting tour. Since each raft carries its own waterproof barrel (which allows the guide to store small items during the river trip), bring to the river any items you will need to have access to throughout the day, such as sunscreen and/or any necessary medications. All other belongings (including clothes, sunglasses, jewelry, and important travel documents) should be stored in the luggage lockers.

How long does it take to get to the Pacuare River?
The following are approximate drive times to the Pacuare River rafting tour start location:

From downtown San Jose to the Exploration Center in Siquirres: approximately two hours
From downtown La Fortuna to the Exploration Center in Siquirres: approximately two hours and forty-five minutes
From downtown Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to the Exploration Center in Siquirres: approximately two hours
From downtown Sarapiqui (Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui) to the Exploration Center in Siquirres: approximately one hour and fifteen minutes
From downtown Cahuita to the Exploration Center in Siquirres: approximately one hour and forty minutes
From downtown Guapiles to the Exploration Center in Siquirres: approximately forty-five minutes
From downtown Siquirres to the Exploration Center in Siquirres: approximately five minutes

After departing from the Exploration Center, tour participants make their way to the “river put-in”–the site where the river trip begins. A verbal safety demonstration is provided en route to explain various rafting commands and rescue techniques. Once at the river, a physical safety demonstration will be provided, and you will be supplied with your rafting equipment, including life jackets, helmets, and paddles. From this point on, you will embark on what will likely be the highlight of your vacation.

The Pacuare River rafting tour: What to expect

In the hours that follow, you will raft in the heart of the Costa Rican jungle, through two breathtaking canyons, past an Indigenous reserve, alongside stunning waterfalls, and over fifty-two rapids over the thirty-kilometre run. Your guide will point out interesting flora and fauna along the way, and he or she will educate you about the river and its rapids. Don’t forget to smile at the camera as you maneuver each rapid–a paparazzi photographer follows the rafting group through the Pacuare River rafting tour’s course in order to capture the very best photos the moment you tackle the biggest rapids. A healthy lunch (also included with the cost of the tour) is prepared entirely by the rafting tour guides and served at the side of the river (weather permitting). The meal (and an approximate thirty-minute break for food preparation and dining) offers a welcomed rest.

Upon completion of the Pacuare River rafting tour, participants return to the Exploration Center. There, the luggage lockers are opened so all personal items may be accessed. Showers are present onsite, as are change rooms and bathrooms so you can swap your wet clothes for dry ones (plastic bags are also provided for storing wet clothes in). Once changed, relax at the Exploration Center’s bar (soft drinks, juice, bottled water, and beer are available for purchase, if desired), and watch as the paparazzi photographer displays a slideshow of the day’s best moments (a photo CD, which offers hundreds of photos from the day’s trip, including photos from each raft/rafting guide, general photos of the river and its scenery, and photos of surrounding wildlife accumulated over years of the tour’s operation) is available for purchase, as are other souvenirs such as rafting t-shirts.

Pacuare River rafting tour transportation

Since the Pacuare River rafting tour is one of the city-to-city transportation-inclusive tour options we list in our related blog post Costa Rica Tour Transportation: How To USe Tours To Travel Between Destinations, participants may choose one of a number of Costa Rica destinations to travel to following tour completion. At the end of the river trip (once everyone has had a chance to change into dry clothes and purchase a beverage or souvenir if they choose to do do), you will board one of three tour vans, either the van going to San Jose (this van services drop-offs in the Siquirres and Guapiles areas as well), the van going to La Fortuna (this van services drop-offs in the Sarapiqui area as well), or the van going to Puerto Viejo (this van services drop-offs in the Cahuita area as well). Since the Pacuare River rafting tour offers the option to get dropped off in a new city after the rafting trip at no extra charge, the tour is an excellent way to make use of complimentary transportation between San Jose, La Fortuna, and Puerto Viejo (as well as other less popular areas). Throw in the fact that participants receive breakfast, lunch, and a kick-butt rafting tour experience too, and there is no doubt the adventure should be a not-to-miss excursion during your time in Costa Rica.


QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you rafted the Pacuare River in Costa Rica? Share your experience(s)!

Pura vida!

If you’re more of a visual learner, take a moment to view our gallery photos below from the Pacuare River rafting tour.

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