The Lost Jungle Adventure Golf
September 4, 2017
Monteverde Extremo: Zip Lining
September 8, 2017

Sarapiqui River: White Water Rafting 

The Sarapiqui River is located in the Arenal and La Fortuna area of Costa Rica, and is a popular spot for white water rafting. The rapids are a grade 3-4, so perfect for adventurous first time rafters, but those more experienced adrenaline junkies are still guaranteed to have an exhilarating day out along the 12 km of river track. I went white water rafting many years ago, so for me this felt like I was heading out to the waters again for the first time – and I couldn’t wait !!

The rafting day trip came with a hefty price tag of $80 per person, but Costa Rica is in general fairly pricey so don’t be surprised by this. The cost should cover your transfers to and from your hotel, all your equipment, an experienced guide, snacks, and lunch post your rafting activity. Expect a long half day trip, usually starting from as early as 08:00 and finishing up around 16:00. Ideally you want to be wearing closed shoes and quick drying clothes, but pack a towel and change of clothes for later, as you WILL get soaked!

We arrived on site, which was a large restaurant in the middle of the jungle. We were greeted by a team of friendly staff who swiftly split us into groups. There were 7 of us altogether, so we were split between two rafts with extra guy added to make up the numbers. Renee, Patrick, Ellen and I were grouped together in one raft, with Marie, Francine, Danika and the other guy grouped together in another raft.

After getting kitted up with our life jackets and helmets, we were given a safety briefing by each of our guides. Our guide Gabriel explained the various paddling techniques that would help us manoeuvre our raft through the rapids, along with a few emergency instructions such as what to do if one of us fell out the raft – eek! Before our groups headed off on our adventure, we all had time in our rafts to practice our paddling techniques and working together as a group to ensure we were in sync and made it to the end of the river. We would head off in a convoy of rafts, along with another guide in a kayak who I didn’t even spot till half way down the river when he suddenly appeared to rescue someone!


And Then We Were Off..

The first part of the river was definitely the hardest section but I guess nothing beats being thrown in the deep end! I was lucky to be with a group of people that I’d been travelling with, so we easily bonded and worked well as a team. As we approached each rapid Gabriel would shout out paddling instructions as we heaved our paddles through the cascading waters. As we bumped and bounced our way along the river waters, we all yelped as we got soaked by the cold water that splashed us and made it onto the next section. Every time we tackled a demanding rapid, Gabriel would encourage us to raise our paddles and chant Pura Vida, (Pure Life), which you’ll hear numerous times throughout your visit to Costa Rica!

We had a few exciting moments as we crashed along the river and survived many challenging rapids, and nearly had one man overboard as Ellen got thrown backwards out of our raft. Somehow, and I really don’t know how she did it, but she managed to grip onto the side of the raft with her legs and using every stomach muscle she had, was able to pull herself back up before she completely tumbled feet over head into the waters. I’m not sure I should be saying this seeing as Ellen will no doubt read this, but I actually think that moment was the highlight of my trip. It had disaster written all over it as our raft careered down the river extremely close to a rocky section, but fear not, this unpredictable older lady was far stronger than any of us half her age! What a legend!

The other half of our group also had their own excitement when their raft hit a rapid way too hard and three of the four of them were catapulted out of the raft and into the river. Not really sure if we should be laughing or worried, we watched as Marie was thrown into the water and began to drift down the river as she bobbed along thanks to her life jacket keeping her afloat. Danika was also thrown into the river, but somehow grabbed onto a passing rock and held on for dear life to prevent herself from drifting down the river.

Out of nowhere our kayaker guide appeared and paddled up to save the ladies and help them get back into their raft. Their excitement wasn’t over as later down the river the guy within their group got thrown out again and as we were behind their raft, we were able to pull over whilst our guide helped him back in. Turns out our kayaker guide was also our secret photographer as he raced ahead of us throughout the course to climb up rocky sections to capture moments throughout our experience.

Time Out

Half way along the rapids we pulled over to the riverbank for a short break where our guides laid out a spread of fruit and drinks for us. We were able to catch our breath and laugh at the ridiculous moments that just happened! We cleared up and made our way back to the water to continue the rest of our rafting experience. The second half of our adventure was much easier, however after those challenging moments we’d all experienced in the previous hour, I’m sure we all saw ourselves as pro’s by then!

It’s quite hard to appreciate the incredible surroundings of the dense river jungle whilst you are concentrating so hard on paddling your way down the river, but in those few moments of floating along the waters it was quite amazing to look up and see such beautiful scenery around us. This tropical rainforest was stunning – from the lush vegetation, to the intertwined and overhanging vines, to the towering forest trees that lined the riverbank – and very typical of Costa Rican landscape.

We rafted for a good 90 minutes before we made it to the finishing point. Equally exhausted and exhilarated, we dekitted and clambered into the minivan that would drive us back to the restaurant from which we started. Drying ourselves off and getting changed, we had time to rest up over a local Costa Rican lunch that was provided.

This was such a fun day out and a great group activity to be part of whether you are on your own or in a group. If you have never had the opportunity to experience white water rafting, and happen to be travelling through Costa Rica, then add this to your bucket list and prepared to get wet and wild for an unforgettable day out!

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