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Old 07-30-2006   #1
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 13
Where to paddle in Costa Rico?

follow paddlers,
i was wondering if anyone had some advice and about Costa Rico. i'd like to fly into San Jose for 3 weeks during my winter break from school and would love know: where to paddle, who to talk to, how to get a car or use another form of transportation, how to avoid the cops and/or how much money to give them to get out of any situation, and also if i should fly a boat down or find some place to get one there. if anyone has some suggestions that would be great.
thanks, alex

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Old 07-30-2006   #2
wannabe raft guide/kayak instructor
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 18
costa rica

check out "Chasing Jaguars: A Complete Guide to Costa Rican Whitewater" by Lee Eudy which can be picked up at A buddy and I used this as our guide; It is the most complete whitewater guide out there. Gives a ton of useful info.

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Old 07-31-2006   #3
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Summit, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,085
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Ditto on the guide. Check out the Pecuare, Serapaqui, Toro, and a surf day at the black sand beaches. Hotsprings at Arenal are cool too. Here's the link to an earlier thread:

You'll have tons of fun Alex.

"The world would be a better place if everyone kayaked."-Brad Ludden (Valhalla)
"You only get one chance to run a drop blind."-DD
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Old 07-31-2006   #4
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Mountains on the river!!!, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 702
Alex, we should talk sometime. I'm planning 2-4 weeks in dec/jan of kayaking in Costa for winter break. I've never been as well, and will be doing the same thing for gathering info.

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Old 07-31-2006   #5
Woodland Park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 43
I spent 3 weeks in CR this past April. We rented a Suzuki Grand Vitara 4WD from Dollar ( they have a desk in the airport, and shuttle you to the actual site off the airport). Dollar was the least expensive of the 4 other options we checked (both local based and global based companies).

We did not have reservations for any of the motels or lodges we stayed in. We just showed up and found a room at our 1st choice 99% of the time, and this was during the high season (aka the dry season). May through November is considered the low season (aka the wet season). I understand that many roads during the wet season can be impassable even with 4WD.

Got 1 speeding ticket (10.00 fine for 12KPH over, payable at a Bank of Costa Rica outlet), also was fined once for not having my passport on me (my wife had hers) while on a short jaunt from our motel (40.00, payable to the officer!). The police were mostly a non-presence except for Easter week, at which time they had road checkpoints set up in busy touristy areas. They were all very polite and friendly. But then, there wasn't any vegetative aromas emanating from our vehicle upon rolling the window down, and being graying-middle-aged, we did not fit the stereotype either.

Be sure to take a camera with you for the awesome scenery, just don't let it sit out in the open unless your hand is attached to it. We had no security issues but were pro-active in that regard since we were carrying over $10,000 worth of camera gear with us.

This is an exceptional country with wonderfully friendly and helpful people at least away from the metropolitan areas (we did not spend any time inside San Jose, except for driving through). Have a great time!

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Old 07-31-2006   #6
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 335
You might consider spending a week in Boquete,just over the border in northern Panama,you can access something like 20 runs from there,mostly class 4 but also creekin' runs.Check out Lonely Planet Panama,John Miller of Nantahala Outdoor Center wrote up a mini-guide book for them"Chiriqui Is For Kayakers", sounds awesome ,there are other boaters and outfitters there.You can hit up runs in southern Costa Rica eg General and Coto Brus,on the way to or from.

If you get hassled by cops ,do not outright offer a bribe,broach the subject very delicately,or you may piss off the cop.My friend Greg did not get insurance at the border when he came into Belize from Guatemala.We passed thru a check point on our way to check out some topos in Belmopan,the cop warned us but let us slide ,the next day on the way to the rivers the cops were not so cool "I regret to inform you you are under arrest", he was told he would have to sit in jail until before appearing before a magistrate and that the fine was 900 bz= $450,he pleaded with them and said he didn't have the money,they told him to get it from me,and could not accept that 2 gringos didn't have ample money.After a while of this one said give them 400 bz,once theyv'e asked for a bribe they are in a bad position,can loose thier job,Greg still insisted he didn't have enough somehow they accepted 200 bz,we lucked out ,but wasted a couple of nerve racking hours. The black cop pulls me aside and says"don't punk us out"in a threatening tone.In Costa Rica you will have to negociate in Spanish.Avoid the problems in the first place,obey the laws and keep your nose clean.
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Old 07-31-2006   #7
Costa Rica Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 19
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i live and paddle in costa rica and just spent a couple awesome weeks boating in colo. happy to help one of you out...

what you should run depends on your paddling style: are you more into play or creek? what type of water suits your ability level? (rapids are routinely rated 1/2 to a full class lower in cr than they would rate in the us: be warned!) i would say the pacuare is a must regardless of your skill level ( if you're into class 5, do the upper as well). apart from that, there are 1000's of different options.

levels around the holidays are usually dropping steadily, since the rainy season ends around nov/dec, so if you're more into play, you want to come the earlier the better( so you catch the rivers as high as possible).
if you're more into creeking, you should aim for a little later. either way, there's awesome boating all the time

you should definitely go for the guidebook (i saw it pretty much in every boating store) it contains TONS of priceless beta ( though the author misspells pretty much every single spanish name in it... LOL),

dude PM me with your email address, i'd be happy to help set you up!

ferdinand steinvorth

PS leave your drytop at home!
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Old 08-01-2006   #8
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 9
Hey Alex,
I spent 7 weeks down there paddling a few years ago. Remind me to tell you about it next time I run into you somewhere.
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Old 08-01-2006   #9
Steamboat, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 92
Ferdinand send me an email brosky....I have tried to call you from Jim's skype afew times and it hasn't worked.

Anybody going down south for the winter has a great friend and an amazing boating connection in Ferdinand. I will be down there too for a so far undeterminded amount of time this fall/winter and if you have any questions and don't wanna call Ferdinand in CR you can call me 720 936 6330. I lived there for 8 months last year.

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