Whitewater Kayaking Season Is Almost Upon Us

Kayak Costa RicaWell it is that time of year again when you whitewater kayaking junkies start thinking about heading south for the winter to get your off season fix. At Costa Rica Rios we have been planning for your arrival over the past several weeks and our team is raring to go.

Boasting the largest fleet of whitewater kayaks in Central America, Costa Rica Rios is still the country’s number one outfitter. Our guides have been busy over the last year with our four head kayaking leaders, Walter, Arnaldo, Davies and Daniel all gaining certification as ACA level 4 instructors. We are now the only kayaking company in the Costa Rica that has local guides with such a certification.

Next month will see us step up our preparations in earnest and we will be heading on scouting missions all over the country to see how our rivers have are. As many of you have paddled here in the past will know, our rivers change constantly with the amount of rain we receive in the rainy season. We’re always one step ahead and by the time you get here we will have all the insider knowledge that comes with being based in-country year round.

This week saw our first kayakers of the season join us as part of their honeymoon. We spent two days on the Pacuare, with a compulsory overnight stop at the Pacuare River Lodge, before paddling out the next day. The river was a perfect medium flow and it allowed our honeymooners to kick off their first few days of married life together in adventurous style.

Our season is starting to fill up with January close to being full already. We still have availability on our October and November kayaking trips so for all guys starting to think of getting away this winter, now is the time!

kayaking the pacuare river, costa ricaWe can’t wait to see all of our repeat guests this winter and we’re looking forward to hosting some new faces down here in the tropics. Enjoy the rest of your paddling season up north and we’ll see you all in a couple of months.

Pura vida!

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Costa Rica: The Rainforest vs The Jungle

costa rica wildlifeIf you’ve never been to a tropical climate, the idea of a jungle or rainforest may sound very exotic. It is. Costa Rica has both rainforest and jungle. Some people refer to these forested areas interchangeably. While the two eco systems are very similar, there are a lot of differences that come into play. The biggest contrast is the amount of sunlight that peeks through the treetops. It dramatically changes the environment. If you’re planning a vacation or a honeymoon in Costa Rica, it’s helpful to know how these beautiful landscapes teeming with wildlife compare to each other, especially if you want to go exploring.

The Jungle

Amid the wilderness of Costa Rica is the jungle. It’s a dense forest comingled with trees and vegetation. The trees grow close together, and leafy vines seem to connect the dots. Animals have free range, roaming among the trees or through the wealth of plants that create a thick groundcover. The jungle is also filled with the sounds of wild animals singing, chattering and calling to each other amid the rustle of leaves and flowers. Humans find it more challenging to navigate, but it’s quite a sight to see. One of the most exhilarating ways to view the jungles of Costa Rica is to take a zipline ride over these scenic forested areas. Whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River is another option.

costa rica adventure vacations in the rainforest

The Rainforest

The rainforests of Costa Rica are similar to the jungle, but they have layers. There’s little vegetation on the ground except where the stray ray of sun shines through. You won’t find the dense tangle of plants and vines growing under your feet the way it is in the jungle. Instead, there’s a high canopy of treetops that shields the sun from peeking through. Vines climb up long tree trunks to reach the sunlight. This is where the vast majority of rainforest animals live. In this setting, trees can range from 60 feet tall to well over 100 feet. A lower canopy of treetops blocks out sunlight below 60 feet, creating a humid environment. The cool breezes rarely

The Animalsbreak through this layer, but the sounds of the busy animal kingdom in the treetops filters down below and fills the air. It’s much warmer on the ground. The moist hot air creates a lush environment for ferns and flowers in this tropical setting. Rodents and reptiles roam the ground in this rain-soaked environment, which is dotted with rivers, streams and waterfalls.

Much of the wildlife is the same in canopies of the jucosta rica waterfall in the rainforestngle and rainforest. Monkeys, macaws, anteaters, snakes and sloths are just a few of the wild animals found in the Costa Rican jungle. A trek through the rainforest also reveals various species of birds, monkeys, snakes and sloths. Creatures like the peccary, lizards, tree frogs and an assortment of cats and rodents also roam the jungle and rainforest, foraging for food and water.

A jungle or a rainforest can grow naturally, creating an ecosystem where plants and animals thrive. When part of a rainforest is cleared, however, rays of sunlight encourage growth of vegetation across the ground, creating a jungle instead.

If the idea of trekking through the jungle or wandering through the rainforest intrigues you, it might be time for a visit to Costa Rica. At Costa Rica Rios, we help people plan vacations and honeymoons with as much or as little adventure as you like. Check out our photo gallery from The Jungle Lodge on the Pacuare River to see some of the unique tropical scenery you can encounter on your trip.Costa Rica bird watching is a popular past time

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Spotlight on Turrialba

active costa rica volcano

Turrialba is a small agricultural town in the heart of Costa Rica that has largely been left unaffected by the vast number of tourism flocking to other parts of the country. That is not to say it is uninteresting or has nothing to offer! On the contrary, this little town has many treasures to enthrall the discerning traveler. Nestled in a valley, surrounded by primary and secondary rainforest, one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica to the north, as well as the highest volcano in the country, and with the highest mountain on the horizon to the south, its beauty is unquestionable. Located just 1.5 hours form the capital city of San Jose, Turrialba is worlds away from the hustle and bustle.

If your idea of a Costa Rica adventure vacation includes meeting locals and getting a feel for the culture, then this is the destination for you. Its warm and welcoming community is friendly and fun, always rising to the occasion when there is something to celebrate. It seems nearly every second weekend there is something going on, from a mountain bike race to runs to cultural festivals and fairs. It’s also the hub for many indigenous people, who come in for their weekly market shopping and other necessities.

luxury boutique hotel in costa rica

There are no large chain hotels, but several smaller boutique lodges that cater to almost any budget. So if you want luxury on your family vacation or adventure honeymoon, you can still get it in Turrialba.

Turrialba is also the gateway to many adventures. With more than 22 canyons in and around the town, canyoning has become one of the most popular adventures in the area. The beautiful thing about the canyons here, is that the tours all run on a “leave no trace” policy, meaning that when you are rappelling down waterfalls there are no fixed points and all the ropes are set up at each drop by your expert guides

canyoning in the rainforest of costa rica

There are numerous mountain biking trails for enthusiasts, and you could fill your entire Costa Rica adventure vacation with a different trail every day. And the hiking is incredible. There are many private and public reserves to visit including a UNESCO Natural Heritage site just a 20-minute drive from downtown. Due to the low number of visitors to the national parks around here, there is a lot of wildlife. We have been lucky to see the shy and rare Tayra twice this year, as well as an abundance of sloths, toucans and many other exotic creatures. No Costa Rica vacation is complete without a little wildlife!

hiking costa rica's rainforest

The most important archaeological site is also located here and is a wonderful place full of mystery and intrigue. You’ll be able to learn about the pre-Colombus people and their way of life. Dotted all around the valley are relics from the past and many stone carvings and artefacts.

Turrialba is best known as the gateway to the Pacuare River, home of the best whitewater rafting in the country and some of the best whitewater in the world. National Geographic voted this river “one of the top 10 commercially rafted rivers in the world”. There are two ways to raft the Pacuare: A one-day trip that leaves early in the morning and has you off the river by mid-afternoon, or an overnight excursion where you will spend a night or two in a beautiful and remote jungle lodge. An overnight in one of the Pacuare River’s lodges is generally a highlight of any Costa Rica trip.

costa rica wildlife

An unusual fact about Turrialba is that it is home to the Rawlings baseball factory, and every baseball used in Major League Baseball in the USA is made here in this town. The factory produces 50,000 handmade baseballs every week to be shipped to the USA! Also hosted in the town is the world coffee bean bank. This means that if a crop of coffee, anywhere in the world, was to be wiped out due to plague or other phenomena, we have the original strain ready to start the replenishment. If you like your family adventure vacation to include a little education, this is a great place to start.

So if you are planning your honeymoon or your annual family adventure vacation, why not get away from the crowds and experience a little bit of the “real” Costa Rica? We would suggest at least a two-night stay in the Turrialba area before moving on to your next destination.

To see how Turrialba could fit into your next vacation plans, contact us for more information. You won’t be disappointed.

whitewater rafting past waterfalls on the Pacuare River

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5 Things to Pack for Your Costa Rica Adventure Tour

Whitewater Rafting on the Pacuare River

You’ve purchased your package and are counting down the days until the big trip to include hiking, zip lines, swimming, sea turtles and other exotic animals, surfing, and kayaking. But, are you really ready for your Costa Rica adventure tour? Here are a five quick tips for what to pack for your Costa Rica vacation.

  1. Head Lamp – This little gadget is a favorite among hikers, cyclists and kayakers for its hands-free function. A headlamp with LED lighting, adjustable elastic band and adjustable light direction is ideal. Many are quite lightweight and comfortable.
  2. Quick Dry Attire – Athletic apparel companies manufacture quick-drying attire for sports activities. These types of clothes are great for kayaking and rafting, but also for boat trips and stand-up paddle boarding. Made to wick away moisture, these shirts, shorts and other garments help prevent skin rash and cold body temperatures that can be caused by wet clothing.
  3. Small Package of Laundry Detergent – When you’re having lots of fun, it’s hard to stop for the boring shopping activities like buying laundry detergent. It’s easier to plan ahead and take along a travel-size package. With the warm and humid temperatures found in Costa Rica, it’s easy to quickly soil your clothes with sweat and dust. A simple wash in the hotel bath or sink can fix that.
  4. Waterproof Bags for Electronics – With all the water sports activities you likely have planned for your trip, it’s best to bring a few waterproof pouches to protect your electronic items. Digital cameras, film recorders, cell phones and computer devices can easily be damaged without proper care.
  5. Quick Dry Towel – Usually made of super-absorbent and finely woven micro-fiber or micro-terry, these towels are very handy in many kinds of adventure activities. Quickly towel off after a dip in the ocean, a splash from the raft or an unexpected jungle rain shower.

Contact us for more tips and travel advice when you book your Costa Rica adventure through Costa Rica Rios.

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How Costa Rica Trips Broaden Cultural Horizons

Costa Rica trips have been lauded for years for displaying natural beauty. What doesn’t always come to mind, though, is the value of learning about a new culture. Nothing helps to expand human experience and bring people together like learning about a locale’s unique culture. Costa Rica is no exception.

The culture of Costa Rica is heavily influenced by settlers who arrived during Spain’s period of colonization throughout the world. Although the Spanish language and many Spanish customs still exist, don’t be fooled. This is not Spain. There is plenty of influence from indigenous tribes whose customs, food and languages still live on with the locals.

One of the most important aspects of Costa Rican culture is called “Pura Vida,” or “pure life.” Although that’s the direct translation, the phrase more accurately means “living well” or “This is living.” It can be used as a greeting, a farewell, or even a response to a question, and it portrays the Costa Rican culture well. Costa Ricans live for fun. Whether it’s good food, dancing or a holiday celebration, the Costa Rican love for food, games, and fun is contagious to just about anyone that visits.

This love of parties and fun, of course, means that Costa Rica is marked by a hospitable and friendly people. Our visitors are typcially welcomed with open arms, and it’s easy to find a place to eat, to shop or just watch the waves and feel welcome. The sand, the sun and the adventure aren’t the warmest part of Costa Rica. When you’re thinking of warmth, you should think of the people.

And who can forget the food? Probably the most important is coffee. It’s custom to drink coffee several times a day, even when it’s very hot outside, so you’ll always be able to find a fresh cup. Fresh fruits and vegetables also feature prominently in dishes like Casado, a mixed-variety plate that takes place as the most common dish served here in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rican culture is like nowhere else on earth. With influences from Spanish settlers and native peoples, as well as a culture that emphasizes fun and adventure, you won’t see this lifestyle anywhere else. The food and drink are unique, and the people are warm and inviting. When it comes to broadening cultural horizons, learning about Costa Rica firsthand is something that simply can’t be replaced.

Contact us to  plan a Costa Rica vacation where you can learn more about the culture and customs of our amazing and unique country.

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Wake Up And Smell The Coffee On Your Vacation in Costa Rica 

When you mention Costa Rica, most people may not think of coffee. They envision the warm turquoise waters, pristine beaches or lush tropical rain forests. But Costa Rica also has a thriving coffee industry. And its coffee plantations are a perfect way to immerse yourself into the country’s sights, smells and tastes during your vacation in Costa Rica.

Once coffee was introduced to the nation, its Central Valley quickly became Costa Rica’s coffee-producing center during the late 18th century. The ideal climate and slightly acidic soil provided perfect conditions for the coffee plants to thrive. In only a few decades’ time the number of coffee plantations grew, and exporting to neighboring countries and other continents began.

As word of Costa Rica’s aromatic Arabica blends spread to the rest of the world, so did the country’s export business, which provided a financial boom for the people of this nation. Costa Rica’s growing infrastructure was largely financed by the coffee trade’s success. The “Ferrocarril al Atlantico,” the first railroads to the Atlantic Coast, and the National Theater are often listed as developments made possible by the efforts of the coffee growers.

Today, many coffee plantations in Costa Rica offer tours to educate you on the cultural impact the industry has had on the many facets of life. Whether you live here or your on vacation in Costa Rica, you can learn the entire process of how the beloved, rich cup of coffee is made. Begin with a trip to the growing fields, continue on through a tour of the roasters and conclude by indulging your taste buds with a fresh cup of joe.

Take the opportunity to learn the rich culture and history of the coffee industry in Costa Rica. Contact Costa Rica Rios and let us help you plan your customized adventure vacation.

drink coffee during your costa rica adventure vacation

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Flowers Fill the Sights and Smells of Costa Rica

If you love the sights and smells of blooming flowers, be sure to schedule in some time to see them on your next adventure in Costa Rica. The variety of different climates here make it possible to see a wide range of flower species. When most people think about the different types of flowers found in the wild of Costa Rica, the first one that comes to mind is the orchid. There are more than 1,300 different types found within just 19,730 square miles.

Guaria Morada

The national flower is the guaria morada, a purple orchid believed to bring good luck. Well-known for its generous and shimmering blooms, it grows mostly in elevations between 1,600 and 3,000 feet, and in areas near the Pacific Coast. Guaria morada was once quite easy to spot, but because it became so popular it is now harder to find. The air plants sprout in the wild along tree branches they use mostly for support. Many locals grow them in their front yards for their beauty and for hopes of good fortune. You can catch the light floral scent of the guaria morada orchid during its peak, between January and April.

Scenic Flowers

Although orchids are among the most plentiful flowers in Costa Rica, there are other flowers that will capture your attention, whether you’re driving down the road or you’re out exploring on one of our Costa Rica guided tours.

  • Cortez Amarillo – This tree has bright yellow blossoms that flower for just a few days during the rainy season, particularly in the Central Valley region. They are a favorite snack among small howler monkeys that roam among the treetops.
  • Red Ginger – Sometimes called the ostrich plume, the red ginger has red bulbs and tiny white flowers. Believed to be native to Malaysia, it is found in the moist conditions and shady surroundings of Costa Rica. The red plumes are popular additions to floral arrangements.
  • Dahlia Imperialis –Dahlias grow on shrub-like bushes in the mountains and along the roadside in altitudes from 1,500 to 2,700 feet. These flowers have pale purple or white petals surrounding a large yellow center. They grow about two inches wide and create a beautiful scene when they’re in bloom.

If you love flowers in their natural state, you’ll love the wide range of blooms you can see in any season in Costa Rica. Whether you’re in the city or off the beaten path, the vivacious colors and heady fragrances will capture your attention on your next adventure in Costa Rica.

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Costa Rica Rios: Our story.

My name is Fraser Tyrrell, and I’m one of the owners of Costa Rica Rios. The year 2000 was when it all started for us. We were both living in the British Virgin Islands, working on yachts, when Jane literally sailed into my life. Almost 14 years later, we are still going strong and things just seem to be getting better and better.

When we met each other, it was clear from the outset that we came from similar backgrounds and that we were destined to do great things together. Before meeting around the Millennium we spent quite a bit of time traveling the world, and between us we have visited more than 100 countries. When I first met Jane, she was working as a yacht skipper, one of only two female skippers in the Caribbean at the time. We immediately realized that we shared a passion for travel, and with backgrounds in tourism, we thought it was time to make our mark.

Our first foray into the world of business started in Queenstown, New Zealand, where we bought our first house and turned it into a high-end bed and breakfast. It was an incredible experience turning a house into a business, and we had four years of fun doing it. We learned some valuable lessons during this time that have helped us get to where we are today. We realized quite quickly that Queenstown was never going to be a long-term home for us, and we were desperate to get back to the tropics and to a climate that we both love.

The decision was made, and it was time to start searching for our new venture. We had two criteria that were non-negotiable when deciding on what we wanted to do: Our new business had to be in tourism, and it had to be in the tropics. Our attitude was that we could live anywhere and do anything, and when we found the right business we would know it. Our search lasted over a year, and every time we found a potential “goer,” something put us off until we found Costa Rica Rios.

We discovered that the company was for sale by three American guys who had been running it for four years after having bought it from the founder, who started it all in 1995. This was our chance and we knew it! We saw massive untapped potential in Costa Rica Rios, and with a combined 35 years of experience working in the tourism industry, we thought we had the ability to realize that potential.

Of course, we had to ask ourselves some serious questions. Can we live in Costa Rica? We didn’t know the country at all! Jane had very little Spanish, I had none. Will it be an easy language to learn? Will it be easy, as foreigners, to work, employ, do business and be accepted by the local community? Luckily, after visiting the country and the company, we decided the answer was yes to all of these questions.

Now, almost seven years in, we believe we have made the best decision of our lives. We love where we live, we love what we do, we have two young boys who were both born in Costa Rica (both fully bilingual, which still blows us away!) and we have expanded our company from a small local business into a Costa Rican wide one.

We are now the largest kayaking company in Costa Rica, taking more paddlers down more rivers than anyone else. We have quickly established ourselves as one of the premier honeymoon providers in the country. After having spent the last six-and-a- half years discovering the country and what it can offer, we believe we can give any newlyweds a honeymoon they will never forget, whether it be a romantic relaxing beach honeymoon to a more adventurous one, with anything from ziplining to whitewater rafting to even staying a night in a remote cave, right in the heart of the rainforest set behind twin waterfalls. We have expanded into family adventure vacations, and we guarantee you will never have a family bonding trip like you will in Costa Rica.

Our guides are a huge part of what makes us what we are. They are some of the best adventure guides in the country, with two of them having represented Costa Rica at the world kayaking championships, two at the world rafting championships and one of them is one of the top triathletes in the country.

Jane and I are still very hands-on and any guest that chooses an itinerary that comes through our town will meet us, so if you are planning your next vacation and Costa Rica is on your radar, drop us an email or give us a call and hopefully we will get to meet you at some point in the future.

Adventure tour operators in Costa Rica
Living the dream
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Enjoy Pristine Whitewater with Costa Rica Guided Tours Geared for Kayakers

Whitewater kayakers all know that when you are looking for new waters to paddle, or new destinations to experience, the last thing you want is a choked, commercialized stretch of river that holds more resemblance to a highway than the natural, amazing whitewater experience of their dreams.  Costa Rica Rios understands that when you are looking for new water to hone your paddling techniques on, and new destinations to add to your conquests, paddling the same congested waters everyone else is, isn’t a good time.   Which is exactly why we are proud to offer amazing costa rica guided tours geared towards adventurous kayakers of all skill levels.

For such a small country, Costa Rica is home to some of the most desired water in the world.  The Pacuare River has even been identified by National Geographic as one of the finest rivers in the world, both for its stunning rapids and its breathtaking scenery.  The Pacuare has been compared to the Middle Fork of the Salmon on more than one occasion.  Yet, despite these accolades, the rivers of Costa Rica remain happily non-congested and continue to provide excellent boating opportunities for paddlers of all ages and experience levels.

Costa Rica Rios celebrates the magnificence of our home’s superior water with our 8 Day Costa Rica Kayak Adventure Vacation.  Covering three rivers over six action packed days, this guided tour can show you the finest of Costa Rica’s pristine whitewater.  Starting with the Rio Pejibaye (on day two), then progressing to the Rio Sarapiqui (on days three and four) and ending with the best of the best, the Pacuare (on days five through seven)-this tour is the must experience for those seeking a paddling adventure in Central America.

Do you have a member of your group that doesn’t paddle? That’s not a problem with Costa Rica Rios non-paddlers option. Don’t leave your non-kayaking loved one home with this adventurous tour option. Focusing on exciting activities like canyoning, rapelling down cliffs and waterfalls, zip-lines, rainforest hikes, nature watching and so much more, the non-paddlers option is perfect for those in your party who do not kayak.

Costa Rica Rios is proud to offer “hassle free” guided tours that allow you to come and enjoy the world class paddling as opposed to worrying about planning for meals, lodgings, or transportation.  Each tour includes lodging for the entirety of the tour, all of your meals, and private transportation while within Costa Rica.  Our guides are all English-speaking, highly skilled guides who will work to personalize your trip to match your kayaking skills.  They have recently completed the ACA Level 4 Kayak Instructors course and therefore the perfect team to help improve your skills.

ACA kayak instructors for kayak school costa rica

Costa Rica Rios also provides required paddling equipment, and covers park entrance and off-river activity fees.

Book you Costa Rica kayaker’s dream today with Costa Rica Rios and experience the mind blowing adventures the pristine waters of Costa Rica can provide.  Contact us today to ask about upcoming tours.

whitewater kayaking costa ricaKayaking the Pacuare River  Costa Rica

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Costa Rica Adventure: Natural Perfection Inspires Video Game Designers

“We want to recreate the most amazing nature that you see in any video games,” says Andreas Öberg of Avalanche Studios, creators of the best-selling Just Cause video game series. That’s why he and a team of designers, artists, photographers and sound engineers traveled to Costa Rica in 2013 to gather inspiration for games in development. They knew they would find the perfect backdrop in a Costa Rica adventure.

The crew spent time in and around the Braulio Carrillo National Park, also known as Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo, recording every aspect of their surroundings. They captured the complexity of the vegetation, the precise curve of the toes of a three-toed sloth, even the sounds of the jungle — monkeys, birds and all. With time-lapse photography, they captured the changing patterns of the clouds in the sky and the colors of the sunset over the sea. They used super-slow motion to record the rolling surf and every subtle movement of the water droplets clinging to the rainforest plants, because depicting water realistically is one of the more difficult challenges for video game artists.

As imaginative as these game creators are, they know that nothing beats working with original material. And Costa Rica, with its pristine natural environments, provided them with all of the inspiration they could have hoped for to make an amazing game.

Even though it’s just minutes from San José and accessible via a major highway, Braulio Carillo National Park is one of the most carefully preserved natural places on earth, and one of the most ecologically diverse. It spans more than 100,000 acres with altitudes that range from the beach at sea level to more than 9,500 feet above sea level, encompassing micro-climates from sultry rainforest to misty cloud forest as well as several volcanoes. There are miles and miles of walking trails for visitors to follow and an aerial tram that will carry you if you prefer to see the view from above. Either way, you won’t need a full camera crew to appreciate this spectacular natural beauty!

For a closer look at Costa Rica’s wildlife, the crew also visited the Toucan Rescue Ranch, a licensed rainforest wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release facility. All creatures are welcome and cared for here — toucans, of course, but also sloths, kinkajous, otters, and even rare and endangered animals like the oncilla, a beautiful spotted wildcat that’s native to Central America.

To experience some of Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity during your adventure vacation or honeymoon, contact us today!

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