Pacuare River Rafting Full Day Trip Class 3/4 Beginner/Intermediate 12-Hour trip with Breakfast and Lunch

The Pacuare River rafting trip is easily ranked among the world’s top ten rafting trips. It is an absolutely exceptional gem of a river. Rafting on the Pacuare River offers an unforgettable blend of adrenaline-pumping rafting adventure, stunning natural beauty, and cultural immersion, making it a must-do activity for anyone visiting Costa Rica. Whether you’re seeking a thrilling river adventure or want to connect with nature, a rafting trip on the Pacuare River is an unforgettable experience. On the Pacuare river rafting trip, you will raft through over 50 fantastic Class 3 and 4 whitewater rapids surrounded by lush tropical jungles teeming with wildlife and the incredible bio-diversity that makes Costa Rica famous. Float past stunning waterfalls cascading into the river as your naturalist guides interpret the birds, trees, and wildlife around you. Rafting on the Pacuare River in Costa Rica is an exhilarating and unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Our Pacuare river rafting trip is open to all participants between the ages of 12 to 112! Regardless of your level of rafting experience or physical ability, a trip down the Pacuare River should be at the top of your activities in Costa Rica. The Pacuare River offers a range of whitewater rapids suitable for all experience levels, from beginner to advanced. Some rapids are characterized by technical challenges, while others provide thrilling drops and big waves.

Our Pacuare one-day and two-day trips start with early morning hotel pick-ups from the San Jose or La Fortuna areas. If you are staying elsewhere in Costa Rica, call us, and we can help you with alternative shuttle arrangements. The Pacuare River whitewater rafting section is 18 miles long and is ideally experienced over two days with a night spent along the river at a rustic yet comfortable jungle camp. Those with a limited schedule can experience the Pacuare by joining us on an epic day trip. The total time spent on the river rafting is between 5 and 6 hours, but it is also dictated by the water levels, side hikes, and wildlife viewing opportunities. The Pacuare River Canyon is a magical place, and once on the water, we are on river time soaking in everything!

Regardless of your vacation schedule, a Pacuare river rafting trip should be at the top of your must-do Costa Rica list! We can comfortably accommodate anyone, regardless of abilities. We even have oar-raft options if someone in your group has a physical disability and would rather not paddle. The Pacuare River is very special and should be enjoyed by all.

Come join us and experience the top ten river journeys in the world! If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call our office in California at 916-402-3442 or our La Fortuna office at +506-8670-4711 or email us

Day Trip Pacuare River Rafting

We offer two trip options on the Pacuare River. Our Pacuare River Day trip is ideal for those with limited time in Costa Rica who want to experience this epic river adventure. Let’s do it if you are okay with a long yet incredibly epic, adventurous day! Most travelers to Costa Rica have their vacation scheduled out with relaxation and adventurous activities. Our Pacuare rafting day trip definitely covers immersion into nature, biodiversity, and the thrills of 50+ rapids ranging from beginner to intermediate.

Our Pacuare River day trip starts from San Jose or La Fortuna. Our shuttle will pick you up from your hotel between 5:30 AM and 6:00 AM. The Pacuare River is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from San Jose or La Fortuna. We will make a quick stop along the way to grab breakfast and coffee because our priority is to spend time on the river soaking in the sun and enjoying the beauty of the Pacuare. Once at the river, we will give you all the rafting equipment and launch our rafts after a comprehensive safety talk. Expect to spend 4 to 5 hours floating and rafting the rapids, soaking in the adventure, exploring the river corridor, and immersing yourself in epic natural beauty. We will stop along the river for a healthy and hearty lunch before ending the journey near Siquirres. At the takeout of the Pacuare rafting trip, you can change into dry clothes, use the restrooms, and enjoy refreshments. The drive back to San Jose or La Fortuna is about two and a half hours, putting you back to your hotel at about 6:00 PM.

Yes, the rafting day trip on the Pacuare will be long. Still, we promise it will be a magical adventure filled with thrilling whitewater and epic natural beauty that will be etched into your memory. It’s oh so well worth it!

Overnight Pacuare River Rafting Trip

The Pacuare river rafting overnight trip is one of the most magical experiences in Costa Rica. The Pacuare River brings together the thrills of world-class whitewater rapids and the absolute immersion into the epic biodiversity of Costa Rica. Our two-day trip to Pacuare is the ideal way to experience one of the world’s top ten rivers. Anything more than two days on the Pacuare is unnecessary. Costa Rica is filled with incredible natural beauty and thrilling activities, and one or two days of rafting on the Pacuare is ideal. La Fortuna and Monteverde Cloud Forest are the best places to go zipline, canyoning, and experience the famous hanging bridges.

Our overnight trip on the Pacuare River starts with an early morning pick-up at your San Jose or La Fortuna hotel between 5:30 AM and 6:00 AM. Enjoy the two-plus hour drive into the countryside with lots of interpretation from your drive/guide. Along the way to the river, we will make a short stop to grab breakfast and stock up on some coffee. Once at the river, you will get a detailed briefing on safety and paddling. Your overnight bags will stay in the shuttle, and you will be reunited with them at our jungle camp. A water bottle, sunscreen, and a hat are all you will need on the river. A detailed equipment list can be found below.

The first day on the river will be filled with rapids ranging from easy Class 2 to beginner Class 3. A perfect introduction to the more challenging whitewater that awaits you on day two. Immersing in a unique natural environment is immediate; from the moment you float on the water, you will be surrounded by jungle. Depending on the water level and weather, there will be an opportunity for an easy hike. Also, based on the river flow and weather, lunch will be served along the river, or we will wait a bit longer and eat lunch once we arrive at our jungle camp.

We typically get to our jungle camp in the early afternoon. Remember, we are on river time, and our time is dictated by the sun, rain, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Our jungle camp, while being primitive and simple, does have the comforts of home, like flush toilets and jungle-temperature showers. Once at the lodge, you can grab your overnight bags and head to your assigned sleeping structures. After you have got yourselves situated in your rooms, you will have plenty of time to explore the jungle trails on your own or take one of our guided nature walks. After a relaxing or active afternoon, it’s time for drinks and appetizers. Soft drinks and beer will be on hand at our main camp building. Enjoy the epic views, read a book, play board games, or get to know the people around you better. Our guides and lodge staff will whip up a yummy typical Costa Rican cuisine for dinner. After dinner, another opportunity will be to join in on a guided night walk and experience the jungle’s nocturnal wildlife.

The following day, wake up to yummy coffee and a hearty breakfast. Afterward, you will get ready to experience some excellent whitewater and more epic natural beauty. We will spend several hours paddling down intermediate Class 4 rapids. Your time on the river will be punctuated by epic waterfalls leading to thrilling rapids into lush forests. Between rapids, your guides will keep their eyes peeled and ears perky for the sights and sounds of wildlife and birds. It’s hard to describe one’s immersion in the incredible natural world of the Pacuare River canyon. Partway down the river, the rafts will make a lunch stop to fuel our bodies and minds for the continued sensory overload of nature and whitewater! After lunch, we return to the rafts and get into more whitewater and natural beauty. Depending on the water flow and timing, there is usually an interpretive hike to experience some of the areas where it is hard to see animal and plant life.

The trip will end early to mid-afternoon near the town of Siquirres, where you will be reunited with your dry clothes and overnight bags. Restrooms and changing rooms will be available to freshen up for your drive back to civilization. Depending on traffic, the drive back to San Jose or La Fortuna takes two to three hours from the takeout. Typically, we will get you back to your hotel around 4:00 PM or 5:00 PM.

Trip Location, Logistics & Times

The Pacuare River flows from the Cuericí mountains in the Talamanca cordillera on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica in the province of Lemon. The Pacuare River is roughly a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the capital, San Jose, and the same if you come from La Fortuna, Costa Rica’s adventure capital. Our Pacuare River Day Trip and Two-Day trips start with early morning pick-ups from your hotel in the San Jose or La Fortuna metro areas. Pick-ups start between 5:30 AM and 6:00 AM, but exact times will vary slightly based on hotel location and taking Costa Rica’s legendary traffic patterns into consideration. If you are staying elsewhere in Costa Rica we can help make arrangements for a pick-up. Just give us a call and we will be happy to help or advise.

The shuttle to the river usually takes two and a half hours from San Jose or La Fortuna. It is a great way to experience the beautiful countryside. During the drive to the river, we will make a quick breakfast stop to get some energy. Once at the river, you can use the restrooms, change into your river clothes, and get items like sunscreen and water bottles situated. Once at the river, your Trip Leader and guides will hand out your rafting equipment and give you a detailed safety and paddle briefing.

After briefings and equipment checks, we typically get on the river around 10:30 AM. Depending on the water flow, we will put in either at Saint Martin or Linda Vista. Our Pacuare Day trip will be put in at Linda Visa during the lower water season. We put in three miles above Linda Vista for higher water levels at a spot called Saint Martin.

Once we push off the banks, you are on river time, soaking in the incredible lush forests and natural beauty that envelop the raft. As you raft down the Pacuare River, you will encounter its legendary whitewater rapids ranging from beginner Class 3 to intermediate Class 4. With over 50 rapids, the whitewater experience on the Pacuare is world-class!

Why Raft the Pacuare River with us?

Rafting Costa Rica is a high-quality boutique rafting company, and we specialize in small group rafting adventures on the Pacuare River with a maximum of 3 rafts per trip or 12 clients per group. Our Pacuare river rafting trips in Costa Rica are operated at the highest standard in the industry.

Being a sister company of American Whitewater, one of California’s most prominent and highest-quality rafting companies, we can import the best of the best! We use top-of-the-line, made-in-the-USA Sotar and AIRE rafts, military-grade Mustang Survival Lifejackets, and MIPS whitewater helmets. Each trip carries a HeartSine AED as well as extensive first aid kits and INMARSAT satellite phones in the event of an emergency. Our biggest asset is our guides, who bring a wealth of river experience and knowledge unmatched in Costa Rica. Our raft guides are all bilingual Costa Rican naturalists, many of whom grew up near the Pacuare River and are highly experienced. Our core senior Pacuare guides, Carol, Alex, and Christian, all grew up rafting the Pacuare River and call California their summer home. Costa Rica, their winter home during the rafting seasons, operates at different times of the year.

What to Expect on your Pacuare River Rafting Trip

Here’s what you can expect from a rafting trip on the Pacuare River:

  1. Scenic Beauty: The Pacuare River flows through dense tropical rainforest, offering breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls, towering trees, and diverse wildlife. As you navigate the river’s twists and turns, you can soak in the pristine natural surroundings.
  2. Thrilling Rapids: The Pacuare River features a variety of rapids ranging from class II to class IV, providing an exciting challenge for both novice and experienced rafters. From gentle stretches where you can relax and enjoy the scenery to adrenaline-pumping rapids that will get your heart racing, the river offers something for everyone.
  3. Professional Guides: Experienced and knowledgeable guides lead rafting trips on the Pacuare River, ensuring your safety and providing expert instruction on paddling techniques. They also share insights into the local ecology and culture, enhancing your overall experience on the river.
  4. Multi-Day Trips: We have a two-day overnight trip on the Pacuare River, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the wilderness experience. You’ll camp along the riverbanks in comfortable tents or rustic jungle lodge-style rooms, dine on delicious typical Costa Rican meals prepared fresh by our staff, and enjoy the tranquility of the rainforest under the starry night sky.
  5. Environmental Conservation: The Pacuare River is a playground for adventure enthusiasts and a vital ecosystem supporting a rich diversity of plant and animal life. As the premier outfitter operating on the Pacuare River, we are committed to environmental conservation and sustainable tourism practices, minimizing their impact on the fragile ecosystem.

The Whitewater Rapids on the Pacuare

The rapids on the Pacuare River are typically classified using the International Scale of River Difficulty, which ranges from Class I (easy, moving water) to Class VI (extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening). The Pacuare River features rapids ranging from Class II to Class IV, with some sections reaching Class V during the rainy season when water levels are higher and trips are not offered during that time.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the notable rapids on the Pacuare River:

  1. Upper and Lower Huacas: These rapids offer a gentle introduction to whitewater rafting, with Class II and III rapids suitable for beginners. This helps build confidence and lets you get used to the raft’s movement and understand the guide’s paddle commands.
  2. Cimarron: This rapid features exciting waves and drops, rated as a Class III+ rapid. It provides an adrenaline-pumping experience while still being manageable for intermediate rafters.
  3. Dos Montañas: This section of the river contains Class IV rapids with challenging obstacles and powerful currents. Rafters need to navigate carefully through this stretch. Following your guide’s instructions is essential.
  4. Upper and Lower Dos Montañas: These rapids are particularly exhilarating, with steep drops and turbulent waters. They are rated as Class IV+ rapids, providing an intense whitewater experience.
  5. Upper and Lower Pacuare: These sections contain some of the most challenging rapids on the river, reaching Class V during the rainy season. The rapids here demand precise maneuvering and strong paddling skills. Since the river flows are unstable during the rainy season, we choose not to raft on it as a safety precaution.

The Pacuare River offers a thrilling whitewater rafting experience amidst stunning natural scenery, including lush rainforests and cascading waterfalls. Whether you’re a beginner looking for an introduction to whitewater rafting or an experienced rafter seeking adrenaline-fueled adventure, the Pacuare River has something to offer for everyone.

Camping & Lodging on the Pacuare

When rafting down the Costa Rica Pacuare River, several camping and lodging options are available for visitors. The Pacuare River is renowned for its stunning natural beauty. It is considered one of the best rafting rivers in the world. Here are some standard options for camping and lodging along the Pacuare River:

Riverbank Tented Campsites: Many rafting tour operators offer overnight trips along the Pacuare River, including camping on its banks. These campsites typically provide basic amenities such as tents, sleeping pads, and meals cooked over a campfire. Camping along the river allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the natural surroundings and experience the jungle sounds at night. These campsite styles have limitations because you are in a tropical rainforest setting; most of the time, these are impractical.

Jungle Eco-Lodges: Several eco-lodges along the Pacuare River offer more comfortable accommodations than camping. These lodges are often nestled within the rainforest, providing a more luxurious experience while still allowing guests to connect with nature. Some famous eco-lodges along the river include Pacuare Outdoor Center, Pacuare Lodge, and Rios Tropicales Lodge.

Researching and booking your accommodations or tour with a reputable operator well in advance is essential, as the Pacuare River is a popular destination, especially during the peak tourist season. Additionally, please inquire about the amenities and level of comfort provided at each accommodation option to ensure it aligns with your preferences and expectations.

Wildlife on the Pacuare River

The Pacuare River in Costa Rica is renowned for its rich biodiversity. It is home to a variety of wildlife species. Some of the wildlife commonly found along the Pacuare River includes:

  1. Birds: Costa Rica is famous for its diverse bird population, and the Pacuare River is no exception. Visitors might spot toucans, parrots, kingfishers, herons, egrets, and various species of colorful tropical birds.
  1. Reptiles: The riverbanks and surrounding rainforest are inhabited by reptiles such as iguanas, basilisks (Jesus Christ lizards), various species of snakes (including boa constrictors and venomous snakes like the Fer-de-lance), and different types of turtles.
  1. Mammals: While more elusive, the Pacuare River area is home to several mammal species, including howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, sloths, coatis, and various species of bats. Jaguars and other large cats are present in the region. Still, they are rarely seen by visitors due to their elusive nature.
  1. Amphibians: The rainforest environment along the Pacuare River supports a diverse array of amphibian species, including frogs such as the iconic red-eyed tree frog, poison dart frogs, glass frogs, and various species of toads.
  1. Fish: The Pacuare River itself is inhabited by a variety of freshwater fish species, including machaca (a type of tropical fish), guapote (rainbow bass), and various types of catfish.
  1. Insects and Arachnids: The rainforest environment along the Pacuare River is teeming with insect life, including butterflies, beetles, ants, and spiders. Notable species include the famous blue morpho butterfly and diverse tarantula species.

Due to its outstanding biodiversity and ecological importance, The Pacuare River and surrounding rainforest are part of the more extensive Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can enjoy various eco-tourism activities, such as whitewater rafting, birdwatching, hiking, and wildlife observation.

The Best Time to Raft on the Pacuare River

The best time to go rafting on the Pacuare River in Costa Rica is typically during the country’s dry season, which runs from December to April. Interestingly, we refer to the Dry Season as the “Less Rainy Season”! During this time, the weather is generally more predictable, and the river’s water levels are lower, making for safer and more enjoyable rafting conditions. However, it’s also worth noting that the Pacuare River can be rafted year-round. Still, the intensity of the rapids and the overall experience may vary depending on the season. It’s always a good idea to check with us for the most up-to-date information on river conditions and to ensure a safe and memorable rafting adventure.

What to Bring on the Pacuare River Trip

Day Trip

  1. Please leave your valuables in your hotel safe. Bring a bit of cash in US$ or CRColones for incidentals and gratuities. $100 in $20 bills is ideal for a family of 4.
  2. Pack a day bag with a change of dry clothes, socks and shoes. Flip flops for after the trip is ideal for your feet to dry out. We will provide you with a clean microfiber towel. This bag of dry clothes will be left in the shuttle vehicle for the end of the trip.
  3. On the raft you should wear, non-cotton T-shirt, shorts or leggings, bathing suit under and shoes/sandals that will stay on your feet. Flip-flops or Crocs are not recommended at all as they come off. Bring a hat to wear under your helmet and a lightweight rain jacket.
  4. In addition to the clothing above bring sunscreen, sunglasses and medication. We will have a small drybag on the raft for your medications and small items.
  5. Camera – We will have a small Pelican Case for several small cameras or cell phones. If you have a larger DSL camera please make sure you have a waterproof bag or case for it.

Overnight Trip

  1. For the trip please limit your bags to one airline carry on size bag or less per person. This bag will be taken to our jungle camp while you are on the river. Your larger bags/suitcases can be left at your hotel or at our office in La Fortuna. If you are not planning on returning to your pick-up hotel then please let us know in advance so we can make sure your bags meet you at the Being a overnight trip we are limited on room for bags in the shuttle vehicle. For example you are being picked up in San Jose but going to La Fortuna after the trip.
  2. In addition to the items listed above on the Day Trip list, please bring an additional set of dry clothes and add a light jacket and rain jacket for the jungle camp. Additionally, a set of shoes to walk around camp will be helpful.
  3. Flashlights are important but not essential. Please pack basic toiletries as well a bug spray if you are sensitive to flying creatures.
  4. Basic bedding and sheets are provided for the night.


If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call our office in California 916-402-3442 or our La Fortuna office at +506-8670-4711 or email us




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