- Embark on a thrilling whitewater trip on the Río Pacuare
- Rappel down canyons and enjoy chocolate tastings
- Take a night hike in the jungle to see nocturnal animals
|Day 1||Arrive in San José, Transfer to Turrialba & Night Hike||Turrialba|
|Day 2||Waterfall Abseiling, Chocolate Tour||Turrialba|
|Day 3||Transfer to Río Pacuare, Whitewater Rafting (Day 1)||Río Pacuare|
|Day 4||Whitewater Rafting (Day 2), Transfer to San José||San José|
|Day 5||Depart San José|
Day 1: Arrive in San José, Transfer to Turrialba & Night Hike
Welcome to Costa Rica! This country may be small, but it's an eco-powerhouse boasting an impressive four biosphere reserves. Within these areas are vast national parks and protected areas spanning all corners of the country. You'll arrive at the airport in San José, the largest city in Costa Rica, but don't get too comfy because soon you're off to greener pastures.
Your personal driver will pick you up at the airport and whisk you off on a 2.5-hour transfer to Turrialba. This idyllic town in Costa Rica's green Central Valley is surrounded by coffee plantations. It's also near the Turrialba volcano, the second highest in the country at 10,958 feet (3,339 m). Over the years, Turrialba has become a hub for adventure sports in Costa Rica. Whitewater rafting, kayaking, canyoning, mountain biking, and hiking are just some of the highlight activities here.
Just outside of Turrialba is your hotel: Casa Turire. This colonial gem sits on expansive grounds with hiking trails in the surrounding rainforest. There's even a farm on the property with a garden that supplies Turires' gourmet restaurant. Also, an on-site spa offers various treatments, some of which utilize fresh herbs from the farm. After enjoying just such a gourmet dinner, you'll meet a local naturalist guide and hit the trail on a hike. It's a great opportunity to meet some of the forest's nocturnal denizens, including owls, night monkeys, bats, snakes, spiders, and the iconic red-eyed tree frog.
Day 2: Waterfall Abseiling, Chocolate Tour
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Abseiling (also known as canyoning or rappelling) is an activity just starting to take off in many parts of the world but is a time-honored adventure sport in Costa Rica. You'll try it yourself when, in the morning, you meet a local guide and transfer to a nearby canyon. At the start of this private, half-day excursion, you'll receive a briefing and learn how to use the harnesses, ropes, and safety equipment.
The best rappelling adventures occur on waterfalls, and that's just what you'll be doing. With your guide spotting you, you'll descend the face of a canyon alongside plunging cascades while the calls of tropical birds carry in the wind. After a few descents, you'll end the tour by stopping at a local farm to enjoy a home-cooked lunch.
Then it's time for dessert. Upon leaving the canyon, you'll transfer by vehicle to a local cacao plantation. Cacao is the fruit that produces cocoa beans, which Costa Ricans use to produce their world-famous chocolate. After an educational tour of the cacao fields to learn about the harvest process, you'll visit the production facilities to see the final steps that go into making this decadent treat. Of course, the private tour ends with a sampling of some of the farm's finest artisanal chocolates.
Day 3: Transfer to Río Pacuare, Whitewater Rafting (Day 1)
Enjoy an early breakfast at Casa Turire, after which you'll say goodbye to Turrialba. Hop in a private transfer for the 45-minute ride to the Río Pacuare, regarded as one of the world's best rafting rivers. As such, you'll arrive at the put-in for one of Pacuare's best routes. It begins in the mountains and flows down into a green valley, making for a fun and leisurely ride requiring less effort.
This full-day (eight-hour) private rafting trip begins on the riverbanks. Your professional guides will help you suit up and adjust your gear, followed by a detailed safety talk and paddling tips. Then, it's time to hop in the raft and head down the river. Today is a more relaxed ride, with plenty of stops for swimming and rock diving. There are also cultural highlights, as most of the route passes through the Indigenous lands of the Cabecar people.
And don't think just because you're out in the wild that you'll be roughing it at night, too. The luxury theme continues when the day is done, as you'll check into the 3-star Pacuare Outdoor Center. These are the best accommodations on the route, featuring luxury eco-cabins overlooking the river, the surrounding rainforest, and even Lake Angostura and the Turrialba volcano. So enjoy a sundowner on your private terrace before packing it in early for day two of your rafting adventure.
Day 4: Whitewater Rafting (Day 2), Transfer to San José
After a good night's rest, wake up early, fuel up with breakfast and a cup of coffee, then get ready for the "whitewater" portion of this whitewater adventure. While Day 1 was all about tranquility and scenery, Day 2 entails a more thrilling 14-mile (23 km) paddle over a grand total of 30 rapids. The classes of rapids on this stretch range from moderate to extremely difficult, but they're all good fun throughout. The route ends when you paddle up to the banks at the town of Siquirres, where you'll say goodbye to your guides.
Then, it's time to hop in a private car for the 2.5-hour transfer back to San José. It's a scenic ride during which you'll pass some famous landmarks of the region, like the misty cloud forests of Braulio Carrillo National Park. Once in San José, you'll check into the Hotel Grano de Oro. This Victorian home has been restored and converted into a boutique hotel featuring elegant rooms with turn-of-the-century-style wood paneling, handmade tiles, and antiques. For your last night in the city, you can stroll around downtown's historic buildings, like the Teatro Nacional, an opulent 19th-century theater.
Day 5: Depart San José
And just like that, you're short but sweet rafting adventure in Costa Rica has come to an end. Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, then meet your driver for the transfer to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. ¡Buen Viaje!
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