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Old 09-06-2011   #1
Mmcquillen's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 267
Costa Rica Boating

going to be in Costa Rica this Christmas and was wondering if anyone had any beta on the Rio Pacuare or the Rio Reventazon. Any info (class, where you rented boats, how much, how long the section, etc.) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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Old 09-06-2011   #2
boneboater's Avatar
Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 22
I've only paddled the Tenorio River south of Liberia. It was a good time. I brought all my soft gear and a breakdown paddle and coordinated in advance to rent a hardshell.
The pacific side is lower volume than Pacuare. I never paddled Pacuare but I hear it is awesome. I don't remember how much it cost to rent a boat but it wasn't bad.

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Old 09-07-2011   #3
PattyNYCO's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 297
Contact Cacho at Hotel Mi Tierra in San Jose. He has rentals and tons of info. Tell him Patty from Colorado from Renaissance Adventure Guides sent you. Here is a link. Hotel mi Tierra | Hotel in Alajuela, Costa Rica

Or contact Lyle from RA Guides. He has all the beta too.
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Old 09-07-2011   #4
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D-go go, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Jun 2010
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I would avoid San Jose and keep your money in Turrialba. There are a few different places to rent hard shells in town and plenty of help with logisitcs. We prefered to base out of Turrialba and immerse ourselves in the culture there for a few days. Great food-awsome Sat. market-beautiful people. After getting the lay of the land, Ticos River adventures worked very well for us....They've been around a long time and we felt like we got their complete attention. (and we definitly present as dirtbag boaters- not rich gringo zip line tourists) This was not our experience in San Jose although if you've got a personal contact with one of the big companies that may work out well...We felt we were just revenue to the bigger guys....

The Pacuare should be on everyone's life list- World Rafting Championships are being held down here this fall. The Reventazon is big and fun and smelly and gross. But the action is fantastic....If you are looking to boat on your own, try synching up with a crew on the buzz or rally a group in country and pick up a copy of chasing jaguars. (There's also a reference copy and occasional beta to be found at the Hotel Interamericano in Turrialba.) I'd try and see if you could get Fabio from Ticos to boat along with you....not a very expensive option that will give you the edge in Lower Huacus- There are so many fantastic rivers in CR and you are going at a pretty good time of year. Enjoy it and good luck
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Old 09-07-2011   #5
Haley Station, Ontario
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 82
I second the 'stay in Turrialba' advice. I lived there for a few months and it's great. The reventazon is big water non stop class IV (the upper sections are usually a bit trickier) that is hard to scout. Once you more or less know the lines its pretty cruise but there are some big holes to avoid. If you are used to scouting big water on the fly it's not that bad but I'd go with someone who's done the run. The Pacuare is awesome. The raft run is a good place to start and then you can work your way to the upper for a step up in difficulty. If you are looking for some class V technical stuff (with a big drop or two) check out the Vereh or Patria. Some of the best creeks I've done.

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Old 09-07-2011   #6
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Golden, Colorado
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Sorry - allow me to clarify:

Hotel MiTierra is in Alajuela, not San Jose...very convenient to the airport. Cacho (the owner) grew up in CR and owns his own hotel and kayaking tourism business. He knows every rock in every river in the entire country. I've been to Costa Rica multiple times and his experience and knowledge is outstanding. He has tons of gear, transportation and knowledge. He takes his clients everywhere - knows every farmer, every access road, the good places to eat, the towns to avoid and on and on and on. He knows the tides for ocean kayak surfing both Pacific and Carribean sides and all the mtn. towns and all the runs. Class II to Class V. My best advice is starting with him. His prices are very reasonable and you will get outstanding service. However, if you choose not to use him he is a good stop over point from the airport as his hotel is 5 min away (he will pick you and all your gear up) and he will direct you to the companies you should use and the ones you may want to avoid. I've heard lots of stories about people having horrible trips to CR simply b/c they made the wrong choices. Plan, plan, plan. Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy.
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Old 09-07-2011   #7
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
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I was there about 10 years ago... as others mentioned, the Pacure, Upper Pacure and Reventezon are not to be missed. We also had a ton of fun on the upper stretch of the Pejibaye where there is some solid class IV, maybe some class V too.

Hotel Interamericano was a great place to stay and nothing but boaters back then, Costa Rica Rios in Turrialba was who we used as a guide. They were pretty good, but have changed ownership since, so who knows now.
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Old 09-07-2011   #8
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 141
Super Easy down there

Just some general thoughts. Paddling is Costa Rica is super easy compared to anywhere else that I know of in Latin America but you'll pay for it too. Its not that it is expensive but you're not going to find the $4 taxi shuttle that you might find elsewhere. In fact, I'd say shuttles are pretty pricey but the more people you have, the cheaper it becomes. The best route to do it independently would be to rent a van and have a friend come down as a shuttle driver. I've heard great things about a number of guides who do the 'take care of everything route' but our mindset and wallets didn't mesh well with that.
Boat rental prices are comparable to here so again, don't plan on getting a super deal. One of the issues with this is that locals often have to pay 100% tax when they import a boat so they are hard to replace. If you plan to boat a lot it might be a good idea to try to bring a boat down there and sell it when you're done. You won't make any money but you might save some as well as the time and hassle of renting. There are a lot of Tico paddlers and they are looking for new boats- don't try to pawn off your Alien.
We enjoyed finding our way down the runs ourselves but the Reventazon, Chirripo Atlantico (from what I hear), and others would be better with a guide. Leave a lot of extra time if not! The upper Pacuare would go a lot faster with a guide but it was more fun to scout for us. The lower Pacuare was super easy to work out. We typically just paid a raft company to pick us up and bring us home with one of their trips. And it was all easy to read and run. As mentioned, the intercontinental in Turrialba was great and cheap. You might also look for Mario, a kayak instructor there.
Vaya Con Rios!

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Old 09-08-2011   #9
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,302
I agree with both Patty and Mike. Cacho is a great starting point, especially if you fly in late at night with your kayak. The guy is the man, and his place is cool and convenient for your first and last nights of the trip, or a few more if Joe is flying in still. Two of us brought our own creek boats down. Joe was able to sell his asap, and I was able to leave mine with a friendly class V kayaking local that sold it for me and sent me the money later. Saved some hassle.

We scored big and had a local that drove us around for a few days to San Gerardo, since he was kayaking with us. We hooked him up with some food, lodging, gas, and he took us kayaking with him to places that blew our mind. This kept the cost of shuttles down for a few days, but left one of us hitching rides for shuttles.

For the other half of the trip we had shuttle vans. It was much more pleasant to split the shuttle costs with more people, but with two it's not too bad. I seem to remember $140/day, so between two it's not bad, and between 4 it would be perfect. This was well worth it because we got a few extra runs in, and a few runs that were only possible to complete in a day with a shuttle driver. And we sat back in the van with a beer and relaxed our way through the crazy traffic. On our last day we did a run with a shuttle that was roughly 8 hours I think (one way, mountains to coast).

If you can swing it, go with the shuttle, but you might save some money by paying for the shuttle to get you to the goods with some paddling on the way, and then stay in a town for a few days.

One other thought. Although the Upper Pacuare was beautiful, there is plenty of kayaking in CR. We never touched the Pacuare, and didn't feel like we missed out at all. As far as towns to stay in, Tarrialba was a little dirty compared to some other places we visited, but the local kayakers are awesome.

We posted a TR of a thanksgiving trip on the CKS blog a while back. Get some.

Kyle McCutchen
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