Whitewater Rafting on the Balsa River, Arenal/La Fortuna

Whitewater raft the Río Balsa, one of the best rivers to ride in the Arenal region, tackling class II and III rapids

Overview

Embark on an adrenaline-pumping whitewater rafting adventure down the Río Balsa. You'll transfer from La Fortuna to the put-in spot on the river, where you'll receive safety instructions and get outfitted with a helmet and life vest. Then push off into the current and start paddling through rolling Class II and III rapids with names like Morning Coffee and Rock around the Croc. Enjoy wildlife spotting along the way — you'll even have a chance to swim while passing through calmer stretches of the river. 

Highlights

  • Whitewater raft down the Class II and III rapids of the Río Balsa
  • Swim in the river along its calm stretches 
  • Spot tropical birds and monkeys along the journey
  • Feast on Costa Rican food at the included lunch

Know before you go

Duration
5 hours
Recommended for
10 years old & up
Group
Small group
Food & Drink
Lunch Included. In addition to lunch, a tropical fruit snack is included

What you'll do

The morning starts with a pick-up service at your accommodations. With your group, you'll ride about 45 minutes to the put-in point on the Balsa River. Pick out a helmet and life vest before listening to a safety lesson and general guidelines for whitewater rafting.

Next, the adventure begins! Enjoy the beautiful scenery as you push off into the river's current. You'll quickly make your way to rolling rapids (Class II and III). On quieter stretches of the river, your guide will point out tropical birds, including toucans. You might also spot monkeys, sloths, and other wildlife along the riverbanks. You'll also have the option to swim in the river at different points. The rafting experience lasts about two hours.

Note that travelers need not worry about the river's fluctuating water levels: because there is a dam on the river, the conditions are relatively consistent no matter when you visit. 

The trip concludes with a Costa Rican lunch served al fresco on the river's edge. Dry off and enjoy the meal before heading back to La Fortuna.

Start times

  • Daily
    9:30 am

What's included

  • Transportation
  • Bilingual guide
  • Snack
  • Lunch
  • Safety equipment and gear

Traveler reviews

14 total ratings, 11 with reviews
4.9 out of 5
Feature ratings
Quality of Experience
4.9
Food
4.9
Guides, Drivers and Staff
5.0
Transport
4.9
D
David H.
Crown Point, IN | Reviewed on Feb 17, 2024
first time for us. harder then we thought but really worth it. we r older in 70’s. hike to and getting in boat was hard. something u should do at least once in your life. Read more

first time for us. harder then we thought but really worth it. we r older in 70’s. hike to and getting in boat was hard. something u should do at least once in your life.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Charles
Charles B.
Los Angeles, CA | Reviewed on Oct 18, 2023
Best time ever wild and crazy and fun Read more

Best time ever wild and crazy and fun

Tips for future travelers

Not for the faint of heart, but if you are daring, go for it, I did

Quality of Experience
Food
Falling overboard, but was rescued very quickly. That was fun.
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Alicia
Alicia O.
Seattle, WA | Reviewed on Oct 15, 2023
We had a blast! It was so much and one of the highlights of our trip! Read more

We had a blast! It was so much and one of the highlights of our trip!

Tips for future travelers

Kids would love this! We will bring ours next time for sure!

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
S
Sachin S.
Chandler, AZ | Reviewed on Jul 11, 2023
This was so much fun !! My 14-year-old son said this was the best activity for our entire trip -- and we did a lot of activities. We had never done White Water Rafting before -- so this was a true highlight. The team at Defasio was awesome - very professional, safety oriented and knowledgeable. Read more

This was so much fun !! My 14-year-old son said this was the best activity for our entire trip -- and we did a lot of activities. We had never done White Water Rafting before -- so this was a true highlight.

The team at Defasio was awesome - very professional, safety oriented and knowledgeable.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Lois
Lois K.
San Fernando, CA | Reviewed on Jul 07, 2023
Our guide David was knowledgeable and fun! We had scheduled a more advanced white water experience, but my husband hurt his neck and working through Kim Kim we were able to adjust to an easier journey. We reallly appreciated that. Read more

Our guide David was knowledgeable and fun! We had scheduled a more advanced white water experience, but my husband hurt his neck and working through Kim Kim we were able to adjust to an easier journey. We reallly appreciated that.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
K
Kristin H.
Erlanger, KY | Reviewed on Jul 04, 2023
We were in Costa Rica for 12 days and did many adventures. This rafting adventure was the absolute favorite of all 5 of our kids! Read more

We were in Costa Rica for 12 days and did many adventures. This rafting adventure was the absolute favorite of all 5 of our kids!

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
myranda
myranda w.
Springfield, IL | Reviewed on May 08, 2023
So much fun! The rafting guides were a great time while also ensuring that everyone was safe! The meal provided after our rafting was one of the best meals we had on the trip Read more

So much fun! The rafting guides were a great time while also ensuring that everyone was safe! The meal provided after our rafting was one of the best meals we had on the trip

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
M
Marcin B.
Petaluma, CA | Reviewed on Jan 23, 2023
Excellent! Nice class 3 river with a lot of excitement (but still doable with the kids) Read more

Excellent! Nice class 3 river with a lot of excitement (but still doable with the kids)

Quality of Experience
Thrill, great guide, great fruits, beautiful nature
Food
delicious fruits!
Guides, Drivers and Staff
David (aka Jesus) was a great captain and guide
Transport
on time
Alexandros
Alexandros T.
Greece | Reviewed on Jan 07, 2023
Desafio is a great company to do this experience. The river is not that scenic, but a good experience to add while at La Fortuna. Read more

Desafio is a great company to do this experience. The river is not that scenic, but a good experience to add while at La Fortuna.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Amazing guide!
Transport
Sandy
Sandy T.
Cherry Hill, NJ | Reviewed on Dec 24, 2022
Very organized. Great guides. Beautiful scenery. Read more

Very organized. Great guides. Beautiful scenery.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport

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