A rafting vacation in Costa Rica often entails many questions. What type of boats are used? How does my stay on the river work? What is the food like? What do I need to bring and what is supplied? You'll find answers to all these questions and many more in the categories below.
A whitewater rafting trip can be both thrilling and challenging. Participation requires an appropriate mind set.
Please consider carefully any medical or health condition that would endanger yourself, or others on the trip, or diminish the enjoyment of an adventure vacation such as this. Factors of age, weight, lack of conditioning, heart or other disease can become exacerbated by the environment, remote distances from a hospital, and physical challenges of a rafting adventure. It is critical that you are in reasonable good health and physical fitness at the time of departure so that the staff can focus their attention equally on all trip participants. If you are taking any medications, we should be made aware of these and what these medications are treating. If you have any questions or concerns please talk with us and we can help you consider your options.
You need to be comfortable floating in water while wearing a lifejacket and you need the ability to propel yourself through the water to assist in your own rescue should you fall out of the raft. Falling off the boat into the river, or having your boat capsize is one of the inherent risks associated with whitewater rafting. If this happens, you will need the ability to self-rescue by swimming to the boat or to shore.
Each guest wears a lifejacket and the lifejackets, if worn properly, are very effective at keeping you above water, but if you are unable to swim, it can still be a threatening situation because the waters are turbulent.
We don’t want to be overly discouraging, but it is important for your safety and comfort that we be forthcoming about the specific challenges presented on a river trip. It is also vitally important that you disclose any and all physical, emotional, and mental conditions, limitations, or challenges you or your children may have. Likewise, it is important to be completely honest about the age and weight of children. Undisclosed medical or physical conditions might affect the safety and well-being of you and/or other participants on the trip. It is critical that you share this information with us in advance so that we can help keep you safe.
We cannot absolutely guarantee your safety, or the suitability of a trip like this for you. For a participant who is not capable of meeting these criteria, a river trip, particularly a multi-day trip, can be unpleasant, dangerous, or even fatal. For those who meet these criteria, these trips are often the best experiences of their lives. The difference is in determining your suitability for a trip, then selecting the right trip for you, and arriving physically and mentally prepared to actively and joyfully participate in the experience.
We encourage you to carefully evaluate your overall physical, mental, and emotional condition in relation to these environmental challenges. If you have concerns or questions about your physical condition, we recommend you also consult your physician. If you have questions about the specific parameters of a rafting trip with Western River Expeditions, please contact our office at 1-800-453-7450 or 801-942-6669. We would be happy to provide any other information you need to make this decision, or to discuss any of this information in detail.
An initial non-refundable deposit of $400 per person is required to secure your space. Large groups, extended custom packages and peak holiday travel dates require a 50% deposit of which 25% is non-refundable.
Deposits may be made by check or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express).
No, space cannot be held without a deposit. Trips leave daily, so if you have some flexibility, we can likely find a departure date that works for you.
Payment in full is due 90 days prior to trip departure and is non-refundable. Payment may be paid by check (preferably) or credit card.
You may make payments towards your balance prior to the final due date by mailing in a check or using your credit card. These payments may be made online or by phone. For payments over $10,000 and for large international payments, a check or wire transfer is preferred.
Standard Reservations (1 -3 Rooms)
Your initial deposit of $400 is non-refundable. Payment in full is due 90 days prior to trip departure and is non-refundable. Trip or date transfers will be treated as a cancellation and will incur the same fees.
Group Reservations (4 + Rooms), Extended Custom and Holiday Packages
Your initial deposit of 50% is refundable less 25% if cancelled 90 days before trip departure. Payment in full is due 90 days prior to trip departure and is non-refundable. Trip or date transfers will be treated as a cancellation and will incur the same fees.
Our cancellation policy applies in every instance and there will be no exceptions for any reason. Western River Expeditions will not issue any refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early whether voluntary or caused by other circumstances. Western River Expeditions is not responsible for any expenses incurred due to travel delays, flight cancellations, or illness. Western River Expeditions assumes no financial responsibility for personal injury, emergency evacuation, or personal equipment lost or damaged in any way.
Depending on availability and advance notice, you may have the option to transfer your reservation to another date or trip for a transfer fee. This is not guaranteed, and availability and transfer policies vary between trips.
For your convenience, we offer travel protection through Travelex Insurance Services. For more information on the available plans or to enroll, visit https://www.travelexinsurance.com/home?location=44...travelexinsurance.com or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 44-0116.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic travel insurance is required to enter Costa Rica for any guests who have not been vaccinated. In order to purchase sufficient coverage, this must be purchased from the National Insurance Institute in Costa Rica. (https://www.grupoins.com/seguros-para-viajero/seguro-viajero-salida-costa-rica/).
The requirements are as follows:
Gratuities for guides, waiters and drivers are not included. Tipping is voluntary, of course, but it is a nice way to recognize special attention or express gratitude for the service you receive during your stay. Any gratuity offered to guides, housekeepers, waiters, or massage therapists is greatly appreciated and at your own discretion.
Yes, every departure is guaranteed. However, on occasions (generally during the late summer and fall with heavier rain) we are forced to cancel the arrival and/or departure by river rafting to Pacuare Lodge due to unsafe water levels of the river. In these cases, clients will access or leave the lodge by ground transportation by 4x4 vehicle (approximately a 45-minute ride). A refund of the unused portion of the rafting trip will be given under these circumstances.
Due to the popularity of this Costa Rica Package and the singularity of the Pacuare River and Lodge experience, this is a trip that generally must be booked far in advance. However, if your dates are not flexible, we can either put you on a wait list in hopes that some space will open from cancellations or we can suggest an alternate adventure.
There are 19 total rooms at the lodge, so the total number of guests depends on the availability and configuration of those rooms.
There is space for 6 guests plus a guide on each raft.
This is possible if you have enough people to book all the rooms at the lodge (likely around 40) and book far enough in advance that no other guests are booked.
Based on the size of your group and the time frame of your travel, you may have a lower trip cost although we do not offer any specific group discounts.
This trip is not recommended for solo travelers Transportation is private. Because pricing is based on double occupancy, your cost will be double that of guests who share lodging. You'll have your own room throughout the itinerary. Please consider our Grand Canyon Expeditions or our Utah or the Idaho trips which are very enjoyable and well suited for solo travelers.
As our minimum rafting age is 12, most of our guests are couples, groups, or families with older children. We do offer ground transportation to and from the lodge, so guests can, if they wish, bring children ages 7 and up.
Most of the activities and facilities at the Pacuare Lodge are geared for older children and adults. However, younger children will certainly love the wildlife and warm river and ocean water. Longer drives between locations can be harder for younger children. If you're looking for an excellent adventure vacation with younger children, we highly recommend our 5-Day Desolation Canyon trip out of Moab, Utah.
Please see our recommended packing list. Your list for what you bring on the river may differ a little from the rest of your belongings. However, if you pack light, you may be able to bring it all on the river with you.
No. Water temperatures on the Pacuare River and in the ocean are quite comfortable. Temperatures can range between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Guests are not allowed to bring their own lifejacket or PFD. Guests of commercial outfitters wear Type V Whitewater lifejackets. Personal life jackets are usually meant for lake sports and even Type III jackets, meant for kayaking or canoeing, are not acceptable for use by our guests.
Fortunately, the newer generations of Type V life jackets are very comfortable. They also have a lot more floatation than the typical personal jacket.
Fishing on the river is possible from the shore while at the lodge. If you want to fish, bring a collapsible pole inside a case that can ideally fit inside your luggage.
Be ready for the river when you are picked up at your hotel in San Jose. This means you should be wearing sturdy water sandals, swimsuit, quick-drying shirt, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
You will want to have at least 30 SPF sunscreen on when on the river and outside at any time. You may also consider a lightweight, quick-drying, long-sleeve shirt or pants for added sun protection.
You cannot charge your camera while on the raft. However, during your stay at the Pacuare Lodge, there is a charging area by the main office. Bungalows do not have outlets.This video features some excellent camera tips:
Guidelines for camera use on the river:
You are free to film and shoot photos during our trips, however, we ask that you consult with your guide before doing so. We have some guidelines you will be asked to follow. These include:
If you’re wondering what type of camera is most suitable for the river, here are a few thoughts.
Waterproof/Shockproof Digital Cameras - These cameras are perfect for everyday use and have become very affordable with most at $100 to $300. They’re rugged and waterproof, but also elegant and trim like any other digital camera.
GoPro and Similar Cameras - Together with their durable waterproof cases, these cameras can take some nice shots while on and off the water. Generally, the wide angle zoom cannot be adjusted so this should be taken into consideration. We ask that you plan to mount these cameras only with the head strap or helmet mount options (bring your own helmet). You will not be allowed to mount the cameras anywhere on the rafts during travel on the river.
Larger SLR Cameras - It is possible to bring a larger SLR camera, but be sure to have something sturdy to protect it. We recommend a hard-shell Pelican Case if you’re planning to bring a more expensive camera. Space is limited on the boats, so we try to keep additional camera equipment minimal.
Aquapac - This is a good solution if you aren’t in the market for a brand new camera, but just want to protect the one you have. It is a flexible waterproof housing to fit a number of camera types -- including video cameras. You do need to make sure the plastic housing stays clean as you’re shooting through it, but a lot of our guests find this to be a nice solution.
Batteries and Cards - While your are in remote areas during your trip, there will not be any location to charge your batteries or devices. Consider bringing extra batteries and memory cards and don't forget to charge your extra batteries before you get to the river.
Small Float - You might consider attaching your camera to a small float that may save your camera if you happen to drop it in the river. GoPro sells a small, attachable float that fits on the back of the camera housing that many of our guests find useful.
Your main luggage will be stored in large dry bags as they are transported down river. Anything that you carry personally should be okay to get wet.
All necessary rafting equipment is provided. This includes your lifejacket / PFD, paddle, and helmet.
Pacuare Lodge offers complimentary storage for your extra luggage stowing at their river take out warehouse in Siquirres. You raft out and pick it up once your experience at the Pacuare Lodge has concluded.
Up to the present they have never had any problems with theft, however, Pacuare Lodge will not be held responsible for any lost or stolen objects. Therefore we will require guests to securely padlock all luggages left at their facilities.
It is also advisable for guests not to leave behind valuables or important documents such as passports and credit cards. The latter should taken to the Pacuare Lodge in ziplock plastic bags or similar (we provide safety boxes in our bungalows). Additionally, guests who leave luggage at our facilities will be asked to sign a form consenting to the above conditions.
Yes. Be sure to prepare months in advance to renew or obtain a valid and current passport during the time of travel.
You will want to have small bills ($1- $20 increments) on hand for souvenirs, restaurants, spa treatments, etc., as credit card processing is not always available. US Dollars are commonly accepted in Costa Rica. You may wish to exchange a portion of your money to colones (Costa Rican currency) at your local bank or the airport in San Jose for small purchases such as fast food. You will want to spend this money while in Costa Rica as there is a steep exchange rate to convert back to the US dollar.
You'll spend 2-3 hours on the first leg of your rafting trip down to the Pacuare Lodge.
We'll experience whitewater rapids and calm sections of water coursing through rugged canyons and verdant tropical rainforests on one of the most exotic and scenic rivers in the world. We'll make a stop or two to do a short walk up to a waterfall or other area of interest.
The Pacuare River is rated a class III-V river which means it has some straightforward, fun rapids and others that are more technical. Water levels can fluctuate dramatically due to rainfall which does impact the speed of the river and the size of the rapids.
On the Pacuare River, we use paddle rafts that fit 6 guests.
The river temperature is generally between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
A few sections on the river are suitable for swimming. Your river guide will let you know when you can get out of the raft and float down the river.
Standard bathroom facilities are not available for the time you are on the river. However, there are toilets at the river put in, at the lodge and at the river take out location.
If you expect to be menstruating during your trip, we recommend the use of tampons rather than pads. While on the river, you will constantly be getting wet, so pads are not ideal. You will only be on the river for a short period during two days of your itinerary, so this will likely not be too big of a problem. You'll have standard bathroom facilities at the Pacuare Lodge and during each part of your stay in other locations.
You will not have cell phone reception while on the river. However, there is a small area at the lodge where you can get wifi if you need to contact someone. The reception area also has an IP phone system that can be used for emergency situations.
The Pacuare Canopy Adventure (Included): A thrilling adventure where visitors glide amid a tropical rainforest canopy
The Day Break Activity Tour: An early morning tour that explores the impressive variety of plant and animal life native to this area (led by a naturalist guide).
The Cabecar Indians Tour: Enjoy a fascinating cultural exchange with a Cabecar Shaman (participants should be in reasonably good shape as the tour involves some strenuous hiking).
In addition to the above tours, the second floor of our main lodge boasts several hammocks (just steps from the soothing sound of the river), board games and a well-stocked collection of nature books.
Therapeutic Rainforest Massage: Experience the energy of a tropical paradise with our deep tissue Therapeutic Rainforest Massage
All accommodations on your trip will be 3-star or better. Learn more on our accommodations page.
Throughout the itinerary, all rooms are private and will not be shared with anyone except those specified within your party.
Each room at the Pacuare Lodge is equipped with private solar-heated showers.
Although the Pacuare Lodge is located deep in the jungle (generally too deep for the mosquitoes to even find us!), we have had very few complaints about bugs from our guests. Our bungalows are well screened, so the important thing is to keep your bungalow door closed at all times. For late afternoon outings, or hikes into the rainforest, we highly recommend a good dousing of insect repellant.
The short answer is no. Although the CDC (Center for Disease Control) does list certain provinces of Costa Rica as posing a possible malaria risk, these areas are isolated outbreaks generally occurring in areas far from tourist traffic. We strongly recommend you follow your physician’s advice in this matter – but as far as we know, in recent years no tourist has contracted malaria in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has highly consolidated protocols for the prevention and control of diseases. Further, the World Health Organization states that Costa Rica has one of the best sanitation systems in Latin America. However, we recommend staying informed and up-to-date with the following trusted organizations:
If you are traveling from outside Costa Rica, please consider that you may require vaccination against some diseases found in other parts of the world. There is currently no risk of yellow fever in Costa Rica, although Costa Rican government requires proof of yellow fever vaccination only if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. We recommend to ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the US.
It is best to leave your jewelry behind. Rafting is an active vacation and jewelry often gets in the way. Earrings and necklaces can get caught on lifejackets. Rings can also cause injuries when you are holding on tightly to ropes.
During the course of your 9-day vacation package, you will have 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners included. All meals while on the river and at the Pacuare Lodge are included. You will have some optional meals while in the Arenal area and in Manuel Antonio, providing an opportunity for you to go out and experience your favorite cuisine at local restaurants.
At the Pacuare Lodge, all meals are served at the main lodge or deck. Breakfast includes a healthy assortment of eggs, pancakes, cereal, tropical fruit, yogurt, homemade bread, juice, Turrialba cheese, Gallo Pinto, coffee and tea. Lunch tends to be a pasta type meal such as pizza, pasta, cous cous and salad. Dinner is the main meal at our lodge. Here you will enjoy a candlelit three-course meal that features a soup or salad entry, a choice of prime cuts of beef or chicken/fish with vegetable side dish, and dessert.
Most meals throughout the remainder of your itinerary will be enjoyed at local restaurants featuring a wide variety of delicious selections.
During your stay at Pacuare Lodge, water, soda and juices are available at any time. A superior selection of wines may be purchased with the evening meal. Additionally, the upstairs bar includes a variety of spirits and liquors that may be purchased separately. Restaurants throughout the rest of your itinerary have a wide selection of beverages available. Bring a refillable water bottle that you can use throughout your entire trip.
Yes. The tap water at the Pacuare Lodge comes from an uncontaminated spring originating in the mountains high above the lodge and is tested periodically to ensure its quality. Bring a refillable bottle with you as plastic water bottles are not available for purchase at the lodge. Water throughout the Arenal and Manuel Antonio areas at resorts and restaurants is generally fine with most everyone.
Please let us know of any special dietary needs well in advance. All food and supplies are brought to the lodge by raft so we will have to plan ahead. We are able to cater to most needs. Throughout the rest of your trip, you'll have a wide selection of food choices at most every meal.
The most popular time to travel to Costa Rica is from December to April due to the lower rainfall. If you are planning to travel during December or January, please plan to book well in advance. February through April may have a little more availability.
In Costa Rica’s tropical rainforest it is best to be prepared for all kinds of weather. In general, expect most mornings to be sunny and clear followed by rain showers in the afternoon. During the day the weather will be hot and humid with temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s (28 – 30 C). Evenings are usually clear and occasionally may even require the use of a light jacket.
Book your flight in and out of San Jose International Airport (SJO). A representative will be at the airport to meet you when you arrive and transport you to your hotel in San Jose. On the final morning of your itinerary, you'll be transferred back to the San Jose Airport. Please note that this is approximately a 3-hour transfer and you should arrive 2 hours early for check in at the SJO Airport so you should plan your departure flight accordingly.
All transportation is included between activities and destinations. The only transportation you might purchase during your trip would be a taxi ride to and from dinner or a nearby activity during your stay in Arenal or Manuel Antonio.
Distances between locations are as follows:
• Notify your bank/ credit card companies that you will be traveling internationally.
• Call your cell phone service provider as it is a good idea to add an international plan for the duration of your trip.
• When carrying cash it is best to use smaller increments such as $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills. Tipping can be done in US dollars and most places also accept your credit or debit cards.
• It is recommended to convert a small amount of money to the Costa Rica colones for purchases such as souvenirs. This can be done at your local bank (best conversion rates) or as you exit the SJO airport. Plan to use all of your colones in Costa Rica as the conversion rate back to dollars is steep.
• As with any other international travel it is a good idea to enroll in the STEP Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. They will advise you of any travel concerns that may arise.
This comprehensive PDF guides include river maps, overview, full itineraries, camping and weather information, details on physical requirements, packing lists and more.