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Old 05-28-2013   #1
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 5
Has anyone paddled the Upper Pacuare in Costa Rica?

Hi fellow paddlers,
My friends and I are planning a kayak trip to Costa Rica the last week in August (only time we can go). I have a few questions if anyone has answers or opinions:
!. Has anyone paddle the Class V section of the Pacuare (the Upper)? If so, what river does it compare to? Is it hard hairy Class V or more just super technical or big and pushy?
2. Would you think a creek boat would be mandatory for that section or a river runner OK (we have availability to borrow some RPM's)?

We are planning on the Upper Upper Pacuare for sure but are toying with the Upper, also. Also trying to decide if we can get by with just RPM's for the whole trip or if creekers are necessary.

Any info would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 05-28-2013   #2
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 748
The Upper Pacuare is not super hard class V. I would call it IV/V. To use a Colorado reference it is pretty comparable to Gore in difficulty. It is mostly class IV boulder gardens that are very fun, but not too difficult. If I remember correctly, two rapids are noticeably bigger than the rest, but both are scoutable/portageable.

As far as the RPM that just depends how comfortable you are in it. I was in a creek boat, but the ticos we were with were in full on playboats so that part really depends on you.

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Old 05-28-2013   #3
yourrealdad's Avatar
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Paddling Since: 1864
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I hear most of the rapids are like Tunnel on Gore and can be done in a playboat with no boof and lots of penciling. J/K I have no idea.
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Old 05-28-2013   #4
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Leadvillian, Colorado
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 381
Personally, I would compare Upper Pacuare to Bailey just three times as long. There are only three class V drops and they are easy to portage. The main issue you will run into in August is water level. Locals pretty much only run the Upper when it's low. You might get a window in August, but I'd say it's highly unpredictable that time of year. Also, it's remote and long. I'd probably prefer a creeker as much for my feet as for making the moves. A few Turrialba locals run the big ones in playboats, but I never did. The Pacuare is prone to change considerably during flood events so I'd also find someone who's run it pretty recently. Buen viaje!
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Old 05-28-2013   #5
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 90
I would....

Rent the mules and do the 3 day/2 night program. Well worth it. The brothers that did the packing were great and we had a great run. I will say that we were there at the right time with great flows on everything we hit throughout the whole trip (November). I know nothing of August flows, so... At juicy just right, it wasn't terribly hard, with quality rapids throughout in a relatively remote setting. A creekboat, time and camping gear woud be my strong suggestion. It is, without question, a high-quality run. Have a great time and consider not camping on Spider Island night one. Bring a good tent or bug net if you wanna sleep soundly and a sawed-off to keep the Bushmasters at bay after sunset.
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Old 05-29-2013   #6
slamkal's Avatar
vancouver, Washington
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,146
So wish I would have had more time there. So wanted to run the Balsa!!!!
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Old 05-29-2013   #7
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 748
I hear most of the rapids are like Tunnel on Gore and can be done in a playboat with no boof and lots of penciling.
Thanks for reminding me of that - probably the funniest thing I have witnessed on the river.

Original Poster listen to Matt - he has run it way more than I have. In fact here is a picture I took of him running it when he was nice enough to help show us down many years ago.
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Old 06-17-2013   #8
goldcamp's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 337
Any suggestion on where to rent a boat and who to run this with? I am going to be in Turrialba in Novemeber with my wife and am only going to go kayak for one day. We are doing a 2 day raft trip first. The raft company wanted $200 for a trip to the upper Pacuare. That seemed really high to me. Suggestions?
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Old 06-17-2013   #9
Durango, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 390
I rented a boat from Mario Vargas (JK rep down there). Contact Adventure Vacation in Costa Rica - Explornatura Tour Operator, they can put you in touch with him.
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Old 06-17-2013   #10
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 123
I did not run the upper, but did do the upper upper/alto stretches in November at medium flows (~10k was the locals guess).

You can also try Cacho at Mi Tierra ( http://www.hotelmitierra.net/) who has kayaks as well as kayaks, guides, drives, etc. Good guy, paddled with him a decent amount when down there last year. His hotel is located in Alajuela, maybe 5 miles from the airport. This may or may not be useful depending on what you transport/hotel situation is.

August is rainy season (as is may to decemberish) so who knows. Last year was drier than normal everyone kept telling me.


"Basic research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing." -- Werner von Braun
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