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natchez Jun 5th, 2007 01:25 PM

whitewater rafting in Arenal or Manuel Antonio???
Hello, me and my boyfriend will be spending some time in both Arenal and Manuel Antonio next week (6/10-6/18). We both want to experience white water rafting. Neither of us have done this before, but we are both in top shape and very good swimmers and the age of 29 and 34. What level would you suggest we try, and should we do this in the Arenal area or Manuel Antonio? We will have a vechicle so we can venture out. Thanks in advance for the help!!

Pat_Hewitt Jun 5th, 2007 05:41 PM

I have rafted out of Manuel Antonio, but not Arenal. It was a fun ride, but the scenery didn't really knock me out. The best rafting is on the Rio Pacuare. They pick up at the major hotels in San Jose. If you are spending a night in San Jose, you might think about adding another night and doing the rafting from there. You are going to be gone all day, so you are not missing a beach day. Chances are that the hotel will be cheaper and you can eliminate a day of car rental too.

But if you must raft from Manuel Antonio, you will still have fun. They have both class III and IV rapids. A class III is usually good enough for a first timer. Be aware that this is a rainy time, and the rivers can run pretty swiftly this time of year.

Here is a cautionary word on picking a rafting company. There is no special license or requirements to be a raft operator. Anyone with a raft and a van can get into that business. So there is no guarantee that the outfitter that the front desk recommends is fully qualified, trained, insured, etc.

When we had our office there a few years ago, a young woman died on a class III. Of course, I was not there. But the general consensus around town was that this operator should have ignored the profit, and not have taken a group out on the river that day. Who knows if this is true. But it does make you think.

I would recommend using H2O, the Rios Tropicales affiliate in that area. They are larger and I feel the most professional. I think that they can be trusted to not take you out in risky conditions. It is who we send our own customers to.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel professional)

roadadvisor Jun 5th, 2007 07:41 PM

To operate a Rafting company in Costa need to be qualify by the ICT...when you make your reservation ...please be sure to ask the operator to show the license!!

A lot of "surfers" and foreigners mostly...are running rafting companies under the table...with no insurance...and no experiennce!!

Please support companies that are working by the law!!

In Manuel Antonio...a good local by costaricans is Amigos del Rio!!

R.A Luis

Just buckle up and enjoy the ride in paradise!!

Linda137 Jun 5th, 2007 08:42 PM

Try to raft out of San Jose if you can. The Pacuare is SO much fun and it is really beautiful. Do the 18 mile stretch with III's and IV. We aren't experienced at all and we were fine. They put you in a giant vest and a helmet. Bring some cash along, they will have a camera guy along to take pictures of you and put them on a CD. I think they charged $40 but we got at least 50 really nice quality pictures. They include scenery and wildlife as well as your raft making its way down the river. It's a trip you'll remember for a long time.

natchez Jun 6th, 2007 09:34 AM

Thank you so much for helping me have a fun adventure and stay safe!!!

Pat_Hewitt Jun 6th, 2007 10:25 AM

The ICT (Costa Rica tourism board) permit is not required by law. But it does guarantee that the company complies with the laws, and the ICT requirements. Some of these relate to safety and insurance. Others are labor laws that make sure the Costa Rican employees are protected.

I haven't researched this recently. But a few years ago, there were only two rafting companies in the entire country that had done everything necessary to obtain this permit. Rios Tropicales was one of them. The other was based in San Jose.

Yet there were dozens of perfectly legal companies operating. I am sure more of them have the permit by now. I recall Amigos del Rio in Quepos, and they have been there for quite some time. I am sure that they are just fine.

But all I can relate is my own experience, and we have always been satisfied with Rios Tropicales.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel professional)

crchica Jun 6th, 2007 05:16 PM

I have rafted the Savegre in Manuel Antonio and the Rio Toro in Arenal. I definitely enjoyed the Rio Toro more, as it was a bit more challenging. The Savegre had beautiful scenery, but it just felt a little slow at times. That was only my second time rafting, and my brother's first time and we had no problems, so I'm sure you will be fine even without prior rafting experience. Hope that helps!

roadadvisor Jun 6th, 2007 07:01 PM

I do not like to start a discussion...but yes the ICT is a regulation...that means like many other regulations in my country...that , of course you can run the river...but if you do not file all the requirements requested by the ICT...the company is not a legal company...the reason for this regulation was to stop...the abuse from so many foreigners that were running the river without control...among other reasons!!

As a former owner of a rafting company I know the ICT regulation!!

I have been involved in that activity for well 20 years!!


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