If you’re visiting La Fortuna and the area around Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica you must go rafting with Arenal Rafting. The more typical adventures are canopy tours, zip-lining, horseback rides and visiting the La Fortuna waterfall, etc. Rafting was way more fun than most of those.
We booked a trip for rafting that was for Class III & IV rapids. It was the most enjoyable experience of the Arenal area. We were picked up at 9 AM for the trip. The trip is scheduled so that you’re in the river when the dam is opened at 10 AM, which makes the rapids more agressive throughout the river. A 30-minute drive out to the river. Along the way our guide on the bus gave us an extremely interesting history of Costa Rica and the region that was much more informative than you’d get from reading your Lonely Planet because of personal slant to the stories.
Once you arrive at the river you receive a thorough safety lecture on what to do in the boat, what instructions your guide will be giving and what they mean and what to do in different situations. We laughed when they told us what to do if someone falls out. One person fell out twice in the first five minutes. I’m glad we paid attention. You are also fitted out with a paddle, helmet and life jacket.
After you’re geared up you’ll be paired off into groups of six. This is the point where you should be very clear with your guide whether you’re looking for a more chill, relaxed ride down the river or if you want some adventure. We were put into a group of 20 and 30-somethings that all seemed ready for a rowdy trip down the river. We also wound up with Oscar as a guide. We later learned that he is ‘the crazy’ guide. I cannot express how happy I am to have been paired with him, as he was funny and definitely teased us quite a bit over the course of the trip but he also kept it interesting. He asked multiple times whether we wanted the trip to be calmer or crazier than what we were experiencing.
Throughout the trip he did give clear instructions and helped us to improve our ability to navigate the river. About 20 minutes into the two hour ride he also tricked us into flipping the boat. It was fun (and was a much needed, refreshing break from paddling and navigating the rapids). At later points he steered us into the more frothy areas of the river and kept the adventure level high for us; for a group who had never been white water rafting he managed to keep the excitement high without making anyone feel uncomfortable or scared.
After a snack break, of fresh fruit we headed into the second half of the trip. At one point he explained that it was possible to jump out of the raft and that the river would grab you into a bit of a whirlpool which was a fun, if disorienting experience. Not everyone did it but those that did enjoyed it.
At another point he explained that it was possible to hop out and travel down the rapids without a boat. After first we thought he was joking. He wasn’t. About half of us did it. You lay on your back and try your damndest to keep your back straight and your feet up. I failed and bounced off a few boulders on the way down. It was worth it. Though I was fine during my ride down the rapids sans-boat all of the guides were carefully watching and regularly signing and asking if I was ok. It was reassuring and they were close by to offer help if you needed it.
All in all, we loved the trip and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for some adventure. If you’re not prepared to flip out of a boat or swim a bit you may want to skip this particular river. Also, unless you’re ready to paddle like a mad-man while attempting to hold yourself in an inflated raft with your toes I might not recommend being the people in the front of the boat where things are a little wilder than for those in the back.
At the end of the trip they hand you a beer (or water) and then drive you back to La Fortuna where you’re provided lunch.
|Hour||Daily at 9 AM|
|Cost||$85 per person|
|Phone||+506 2479 9997|