Costa Rica

Every Paddler's Dream Trip

Tour:
11 days
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SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
Single travelers staying in a room by themselves will be charged this additional single supplement fee, as all of our regular prices are otherwise based on double occupancy.

SINGLE SHARE OPTIONS (if available)
If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room, we will make every effort to find you a roommate of the same gender, in which case you will not have to pay the single supplement fee. The single supplement will be charged until we are able to confirm a roommate for you. If we are able to match you with a roommate, the single supplement will be refunded. In the event that we cannot find a share for you, you will be required to pay the single supplement fee.

New: Click the Singles Find a Share' icon below or check our "Community" page to connect with other single travelers looking to share.

Rating:
Easy to Moderate

Costa Rica

Every Paddler's Dream Trip

Destinations

  • La Selva Biological Reserve
  • Sarapiqui River - Class III-I
  • Puerto Viejo River - Class III-I
  • Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs
  • Penas Blancas or Tres Amigos Rivers - Class III-II
  • Rio Celeste Hike
  • Corobici/Tenorio Rivers - Class III-I
  • Carara Biological Preserve
  • Dominical
  • Savegre River - Class III-I

Highlights

  • Paddling on 5-6 of Costa Rica's best rivers (both whitewater & flatwater)
  • Wildlife Viewing in over 5 National Parks and Reserves
  • Canopy Tour
  • Day-Hiking
  • Hot Springs
  • Beaches
  • Volcano
  • Expert Naturalist Guides
  • Breathtaking Rainforest Lodges & much more!

Itinerary at a Glance

  • DAY 1 Sarapiqui Region
  • DAY 2 Puerto Viejo River / La Selva Biological Preserve
  • DAY 3 Sarapiqui River
  • DAY 4 Penas Blancas or Tres Amigos Rivers / Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs
  • DAY 5 Hike to Rio Celeste
  • DAY 6 Corobici & Tenorio Rivers / Carara Biological Preserve
  • DAY 7 Zip Line Canopy Tour
  • DAY 8 Savegre River
  • DAY 9 Dominical - Ventanas Beach
  • DAY 10 Dominical / San Jose

Every Paddler's Dream Trip

Whether you prefer rafting, kayaking or inflatables, every paddler dreams of Costa Rica's warm, unspoiled rivers, lush tropical rainforests and abundant wildlife. This is the ultimate Costa Rica paddling adventure, flexibly designed to accommodate paddlers of all skill levels and emphasizing Costa Rica's best whitewater rivers and flatwater float trips. We've included many additional destinations and special touches from our Ultimate Wildlife itinerary.

. Expert Local Naturalist Guides Even biologists in some places.

. Breathtaking Rainforest Lodges

. Specifically designed to accommodate paddlers of various skill levels.

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1 Transfer to Sarapiqui Region

Upon arrival in Costa Rica, you will be met by your Wild Planet Adventures guide and whisked away to begin our journey deep into the fabric of Costa Rica. We'll travel through rugged mountains, lush coffee plantations and small villages on our way to the Sarapiqui River.

DAY 2 Puerto Viejo River - Class I-III, La Selva Biological Preserve

Highlights: Flatwater wildlife expedition on an intimate rainforest river that rarely sees any humans besides us! Hike in a Biological Station with biologists studying the rainforest.
Wildlife: Extreme biodiversity including 400 species of birds, monkeys, sloth, rare rainforest frogs, river otter, agouti, coati, anteaters and more.

This morning we'll explore La Selva Biological Preserve, with special guides and biologists sharing their exciting research on the plants and animals of the rainforest. La Selva forms the border of Barullio Carillo National Park, one of the most dense, lush National Parks in the Country, and also one of the least visited. We often see howler and spider monkeys, tent bats, strawberry poison arrow frogs, and many rare and endangered animals while hiking La Selva.

This afternoon we'll float the Puerto Viejo river, a remote, mostly flatwater river that rarely - if ever - sees any other paddlers. Its slower moving water offers ideal conditions for wildlife viewing, revealing 400 species of birds including great green macaws, parrots, laughing falcons and great jacamars, as well as 2 species of monkeys, iguana and caiman.

DAY 3 Sarapiqui River - Class II-III

Highlights: Whitewater paddling on a lush rainforest river.
Wildlife: Extreme biodiversity including 400 species of birds, monkeys, sloth, rare rainforest frogs, river otter, agouti, coati, anteaters and more.

The Sarapiqui is one of the highlights of every paddler's "dream trip." Flowing freely from two Costa Rican volcanic national parks and lined by dense Caribbean lowlands primary rainforest, the Sarapiqui is one of the most pristine and cleanest rivers in Costa Rica. It passes directly through La Selva Biological Reserve, known for its extreme biodiversity and abundance of wildlife. An excellent choice for beginners to experts, the Sarapiqui offers a choice of runs, ranging from easy class I-II to intermediate class III. This wildlife lover's paradise is full of monkeys, sloth, rare rainforest poison arrow frogs, sunbitterns, river otter, toucans and more.

DAY 4 Penas Blancas or Tres Amigos Rivers - Class III-I, Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs

Highlights: Flatwater wildlife expedition on an intimate rainforest river at the base of Volcano Arenal. Relax in a rejuvenating hot springs near the foothills of of Volcano Arenal. Then enjoy a night-time view of the volcano spouting lava.
Wildlife: Extreme biodiversity including monkeys, sloth, anteater, 400 species of birds, rare rainforest frogs, river otter, agouti, coati, and more.

This morning we'll choose between the Penas Blancas or Tres Amigos Rivers, depending on conditions. These are quiet, isolated river surrounded by lush rainforest and vibrantly colored birds. They start in the Monteverde Cloudforest and retain their interesting character in the sections we paddle. They always have sufficient water in the lower sections and feature overhanging trees filled with bromeliads, orchids and easily spotted monkeys. We'll paddle at a leisurely pace, allowing us to soak in the exuberance of life in the rainforest.

DAY 5 Hike to Rio Celeste

Highlights: Hike to this remote and unusually colored cobalt-blue river, with natural hot springs and breathtaking waterfall.
Wildlife: Tapirs, monkeys and over 400 species of tropical birds inhabit the Tenorio National Park, and colorful trogons in particular are found close to the rare waters of Rio Celeste.

This incredible cathedral-like setting features an unusual natural phenomenon that causes the river and its rocks to turn a bright light blue, due to a the presence of cobalt and other minerals washed off the ground into the river. We'll follow the river downstream for a refreshing swim under an enormous waterfall that continues on to spill down the sides of the volcano. It is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in Costa Rica, with dense rainforest surrounding the cascading water.

DAY 6 Corobici / Tenorio Rivers - Class III-I, Carara Biological Preserve

Highlights: Intimate rivers in a tropical dry forest ecosystem, hike.
Wildlife: Crocodiles, scarlet macaws, anteater, ocelot, peccaries, white-faced and spider monkeys, poison-arrow frog, rare boat-billed herons, roseate spoonbills, iguana, parrots and much more.

The Corobici is an intimate river with many exciting rapids, fun turns and a brisk pace. It meets with the flat Tenorio River which is known for its abundance of wildlife, including a nesting roost for odd-looking boat-billed herons and sometimes roseate spoonbills.

This afternoon we will hike in Carara Biological Preserve. An old growth forest of striking complexity and density, Carara's giant trees include 10 of the rarest hardwoods in Costa Rica. The unique combination of ecosystems is habitat for many rare and endangered animals, including one of the largest populations of scarlet macaws in the country, which migrate twice daily from the inland rainforest to the coastal mangrove swamps.

DAY 7 Zip Line Canopy Tour

Today we will zip on cables from platform to platform high above the rainforest. Canopy Los Suenos is one of the most fun and thrilling canopy tours in Costa Rica, with lengthy zip lines over steep ravines and rivers. With luck you may join the parrots and scarlet macaws as you experience the transcendent feeling of flying over the rainforest.

DAY 8 Savegre River - Class III-I

Highlights: Pacific coastal river with technical whitewater and abundant wildlife.
Wildlife: Rare squirrel monkeys, howlers, white-faced capuchins, scarlet macaws and more.

Located south of Manuel Antonio, the Savegre is a beautiful, boulder-filled whitewater river with scenery that rivals that of the Sarapiqui, yet features the entirely different ecosystems of the Pacific coast.

DAY 9 Dominical - Ventanas Beach

Highlights: Spectacular world-class beaches.
Wildlife: White-faced and squirrel monkeys in the rainforest surrounding the beach!

This secluded beach is far from the crowds of Manuel Antonio and is the perfect spot for swimming, walking and relaxing. The brilliant white sand beaches are populated with centasaurs who sometimes join you sunning on the beach. The water is very warm and clean, and the beach is surrounded by tropical rainforest with great trails to hike and view friendly white-faced monkeys, squirrel monkeys and more.

DAY 9 Dominical / San Jose

Return to San Jose by mid-day, in time for your flight back home.

 

Costa Rica Activities

At a Glance

  • Paddling on at least 6 rivers in 5 distinct regions of Costa Rica
  • Naturalist-guided hiking & wildlife viewing in 3 National Parks
  • Hot Springs
  • Beaches/Ocean
  • Zip Line Canopy Tour

Other Activities

Paddling on at Least 6 Rivers in 5 Distinct Regions of Costa Rica

Whether you prefer rafting, kayaking or inflatables, every paddler dreams of Costa Rica's warm, unspoiled rivers, lush tropical rainforests and abundant wildlife. This is the ultimate Costa Rica paddling adventure, flexibly designed to accommodate paddlers of all skill levels and emphasizing Costa Rica's best whitewater rivers and flatwater float trips.

Naturalist-Guided Hiking & Wildlife Viewing in 3 National Parks

Our hiking philosophy is simple: "The slower you go, the more wildlife you see." Most of our hikes last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours and the pace is a relaxed meander. with frequent stops to observe nature and wildlife. We may even spend intimate time with a troop of wild monkeys, especially if we observe exciting behaviors such as teaching a newborn to walk, a conflict involving an alpha male, or anything else that has what we call a high "wow" factor.

Hot Springs

Relax in a rejuvenating hot springs near the foothills of of Volcano Arenal. Then enjoy a night-time view of the volcano spouting lava.

Zip Line Canopy Tour

Zip on cables from platform to platform high above the rainforest. Canopy Los Suenos is one of the most fun and thrilling canopy tours in Costa Rica, with lengthy zip lines over steep ravines and rivers. With luck you may join the parrots and scarlet macaws as you experience the transcendent feeling of flying over the rainforest.

 

Costa Rica Wildlife

Prolific Sightings

Wild Planet's wildlife eco-tours are designed for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Our "Ultimate Wildlife" eco-adventures are specially designed for maximum wildlife viewing. We take care to seek out wildlife that is rare, off the beaten path, and in greater numbers than you will see on conventional tours. Our expert naturalist guides will educate you in the field so your experience is intimate and unparalleled. Still, wildlife viewing can unpredictable and requires patience and sensory awareness. A partial list of some of the animals you are likely to see is below.

Primates: Howler Monkeys, White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys
Other Mammals: Three-Toed Sloth, Two-Toed Sloth, Coatimundi, Bats
Reptiles & Insects: Crocodiles, Caiman, Blue Morpho Butterflies, Basilisk (Jesus Christ Lizards), Poison Arrow Frogs
Birds: 600 species including Parrots, Trogons, Mot-Mots, Tanagers, Montezuma's Oropendolas, Hawks, Squirrel Cuckoos, Owls, Herons, Kingfishers, 60 species of Hummingbirds and much more.

Likely Sightings

Primates: Squirrel Monkeys
Other Mammals: Tamandua (Anteater), Kinkajou, Agouti, Dolphins, Tayra, Peccaries (collared & white-liped)
Reptiles, Amphibians & Insects: Red-Eyed Tree Frogs, Walking Sticks, Eyelash Pitviper, Fer-de-lance, Leaf-Cutter Ants
Birds: Resplendent Quetzals, Scarlet Macaws, Lovely Cotingas, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Green Honeycreepers, Roseate Spoonbill, Woodstorks, Crested Caracara, Purple Gallinule, Northern Jacanas, Great Curassow

Rare or Endangered Possible Sightings

Other Mammals: Jaguar & other cats, Tapir, Porcupine, Silky Anteater, Grey Fox, Olingo, Paca, Grison
Reptiles: Caiman, Fleishman's Glass Frogs (see-through), Leatherback Turtles, Green Turtles, Hercules Beetles
Birds: Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Harpy Eagle, Great Green Macaw, King Vulture, White Hawk, Great Potoo, Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, Royal Flycatcher, and many more

 

Costa Rica Guides

Radolfo Campos

Fofo, as his friends call him, is a paramedic, naturalist guide and acclaimed river guide. A native of Heredia, Fofo grew up paddling the best whitewater in the country, and has worked for many of Costa Rica's biggest tour operators before coming to Wild Planet. He is equally at home on whitewater or flatwater, but has a strong preference for each of the specific rivers that Wild Planet runs. Fofo's extensive knowledge of these rivers is the reason our "Paddler's Dream Trip" is a standout favorite itinerary of paddlers who want to run less-commercially run rivers. With Fofo as your guide, you're sure to find sections of rivers that are still frequented by more monkeys than humans.

Josh Cohen

Josh Cohen Wild Planet's Director

Josh personally hand-crafts all of Wild Planet's itineraries to reflect his own love of wildlife and the transformational power of nature. The Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife itineraries remain his favorite after guiding them for nearly a decade. A dedicated wildlife enthusiast and conservationist, his keen eyes and love of nature still make him Wild Planet's most requested guide.

 

Costa Rica FAQ

Costa Rica Facts for Visitors

Climate/Best Time to Go:

Costa Rica boasts 12 climatic zones, surprising travelers with a wide variety of temperature and rainfall conditions year-round. In general, temperatures in the lowlands range from the low 70's to the high 80's, cooler at elevation. The temperature on top of the continental divide can vary from the mid 50's to low 80's in Monteverde to the 30's on Chirripo, with enveloping clouds drifting over the mountains and bringing mist and occasional rain. December through May is the dry season in most places except the Caribbean coast, which is dryer January through March, but has no real dry season. The "green season" begins very slowly in June and tapers off in July for about 3 weeks which native Costa Ricans call "Little Summer". So don't let rain scare you away from the rainforest! Even in the green season there is plenty of sunshine and great weather for your vacation. Best time to go: late December through early August

Government:

A stable democracy for more than 100 years, Costa Rica is a peaceful nation in the midst of a region that has been troubled by turmoil for centuries. Costa Rica also has the highest standard of living of any Central American country, including literacy rates, medical standards and facilities are all quite high. Costa Ricans are extremely proud that they do not have an army.

Location:

Costa Rica lies on the southern part of Central America, bordered on the south by Panama and on the North by Nicaragua. It's land mass is referred to as an isthmus, which is bordered by the sparkling waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean and contains the mountains of the continental divide.

Size:

Approximately 51,100 square mile--about half the size of the state of Kentucky. Only 120 km wide in some points, Costa Rica would be easy to traverse were it not for the extreme variation in ecosystems and the continental divide. Over 27% of the country's 12 distinct ecological zones are in protected areas.

Population:

The population of Costa Rica is approximately 5 million, mostly of Spanish descent. Costa Rican people call themselves "ticos" (male) or "ticas" (female.) They are extremely friendly, polite, well educated, and enthusiastic about their country. Costa Rica is home to a large international community as well.

Language:

Spanish is the official language and is spoken, thankfully, at a speed that is much easier to understand than many other countries. English is widely understood, especially in tourist areas, hotels, lodges and restaurants.

Entry Requirements:

A passport and return ticket is required to enter Costa Rica. No visas are required for citizens of the US, UK, Canada, Japan and many others.

Customs:

US residents are permitted a $400 per person (or $1,100 per family) duty-free tax exemption upon returning to the US

Departure Tax:

Approximately US $17.50

Currency:

Local currency is the Colon. One US dollar is worth approximately 375 Colon. US dollars are accepted in many places in Costa Rica. Credit Cards/Travelers Checks: Nearly all hotels, restaurants and shops in the major towns and tourist areas take all major credit cards. Street vendors and smaller establishments in remote areas may accept only cash or travelers checks. Its important to keep travelers checks in a waterproof pouch, as they are considered void if they get wet.

Telecommunications:

All telecommunications services (direct dial phones, fax, telex, cable) are available; but calls from Costa Rica are much higher than an equivalent call to Costa Rica. The country code for Costa Rica is (506) Remote jungle lodges usually have short wave radio communications linked to cellular service.

Time Zone:

Costa Rica is in the Central Standard Time zone, and does not utilize daylight saving time. There is very little seasonal variation between dawn and dusk due to the proximity to the equator, dawn is usually 6:00 am and dusk 6:00 pm.

Sales Taxes:

Costa Rica has high taxes, roughly 15% sales tax and there may be 15% service charge in many hotels and restaurants.

Tipping:

Tipping is voluntary; tips of 15% are acceptable; more if the service is exceptionally good. Some hotels and restaurants add a 15 percent service.

Water:

While the water is said to be safe in most of Costa Rica, we recommend bottled water in most places. Do not eat fruit you have not pealed yourself, stay away from leafy vegetables like lettuce, and avoid ice cubes. These are common causes of amebic dysentery and giardia, both of which are unpleasant enough to be worth avoiding at all costs.

Choose Your Costa Rica Travel Style! Any of our wildlife adventures are also available as fully customizable private trips, honeymoons or family wildlife adventures.
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We're Wild for Wildlife...
  • Flexibly Designed to Accommodate Paddlers of All Skill Levels
  • Includes many additional destinations and special touches from our award-winning Ultimate Wildlife itinerary.
  • Expert Local Naturalist Guides - Even biologists in some places.
  • Breathtaking Rainforest Lodges
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