Category Archives: river paddling

Costa Rica – Pura Vida!

On January 23, we flew to San Jose, Costa Rica and escaped the Northern Ohio winter  for 23 days. Weather at 41 degrees latitude is a sharp contrast to  the mid 80’s F at 9 degrees north of the equator.

Part I of the trip was a “Week of Rivers” paddling experience with Costa Rica Rios, an adventure outfitter. Our group of 12 friends, came from Idaho, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Quebec. Only three of us knew everyone, but we were all had river connections and years of experience (somewhere between 200 and 300 years collectively). It was a great mix of people. Thanks to trip organizer Bill Sedivy!

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Costa Rica Rios is based in the central mountain region in Turrialba. They take great care of their guests; providing accommodations, food, transportation, equipment and knowledgeable river guides.

Our paddling was on the Pejibaye, Serapiqui, and Pacuare Rivers in kayaks, IKs a canoe, a cataraft and a raft. They are in the interior mountain region and flow through remote jungle areas. The water was extremely low, which meant these whitewater rivers required more technical paddling. My waterproof camera had issues, and some people just got better shots, so many of the photos I have included were taken by other members of the group.

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We spent two nights at the Pacuare Outdoor Center, in a remote area where we paddled in and out. It’s a jungle camp located high above the river, with a climb up a steep trail to get there. It has a large open-air shelter, screened cottages and no electricity. The guides made special drinks for happy hour and delicious meals. While several people enjoyed their zipline course, I remember our cottage, the quiet and the peaceful ambience.

After the river week, four members of our group went home and eight of us continued on for Part II of the trip. Our first experience was a visit to the family farm of Pablo, our lead guide. We met his family, had a group cooking lesson, toured the farm, milked a cow, had a good meal and a very enjoyable afternoon.

Next we traveled to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast just north of Panama. We have visited this small laid-back town before. Here we stayed in The Birdhouse, a rental home in Finca Loco Natural within walking distance of the beach and town. It was like staying in our private jungle garden with a pool. Pamela and Carter are wonderful hosts and also built the house. It was good to see them again since our last visit 6 years ago.

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Here is where I insert plant pictures. One of my favorite parts of Costa Rica is the exotic flowers, plants and trees. Lush overgrown house plants. Can’t get enough of them.

In Puerto Viejo, we had lots of choices to make: Walking or taxi? Which beach to enjoy? Playa Negra? Arrecife? Punta Uva? Serious or casual birding? What to read?  Happy hour at the pool or the house? Get up early or sleep in? A day with plans or winging it?  Lazy Mon on the beach. Evenings in town listening to Soul Caribe and visiting Kaya’s Brewery. Hanging out at the Birdhouse and grilling. Having a party. Hiking in Manzanillo and Cahuita National Parks. Lunch at Maxi’s.  Restorative relaxation. Sloth watching.

It was hard to leave Costa Rica to return to Ohio and winter.

Costa Rica – Pura Vida! Part I

Jungle Camp on the Pacuare River

Jungle Camp on the Pacuare River

I’m back home for two days from 17 days of sensory overload in Costa Rica. Still sorting it all out & will not do justice to a  wonderful experience. I miss the bright colors, dramatic terrain, rich smells, great fruit and friendly Ticos.

OUR ITINERARY: January 24 – travel with Dave W. to  San Jose, Costa Rica.  Two days at Hotel Don Carlos & we meet up with our friends Bill, Maryl & Karan for Idaho Rivers United’s Week of Rivers with Costa Rica Rios outfitters.  Seven days & three whitewater rivers for our group of 14. Follow up the week of paddling with a week at house near the beach in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast.

Dome in Morrazan Park - a landmark

Dome in Morrazan Park – a landmark

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OUR EXPERIENCE: Costa Rica Rios is based in Turrialba, about 65 km from San Jose.  It’s a community of 60,000, accessible to mountains, rivers & it’s own volcano.  From there we traveled by tour bus to paddle the Pejibaye, Serapiqui & Pacuare Rivers.

Pejibaye River

Pejibaye River

DSCF0060Our group came from far and wide: Quebec, Alberta, CA, ID, OH, NJ, VT.  It was fun to hear Spanish, French and English interspersed in conversations. The Costa Rica Rios Team took great care of us & provided an experience that exceeded expectations. Our guides were fantastic.  ‘This rapid’s no big deal.  Middle, middle, middle right.’ Bonus: they were good cooks and dance instructors.

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In  addition to the beautiful rivers with challenging whitewater and good people, exotic flowers, plants and birds kept us in a permanent state of wonder.

Red Ginger

Red Ginger

Bird at Serapiqui Lodge

Bird at Serapiqui Lodge

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Dressing for happy hour at Jungle Camp - a two night stay on the Pacuare

Dressing for happy hour at Jungle Camp – a two night stay on the Pacuare

Jungle Camp

Jungle Camp

For me, the scary highlight of the week was the Canopy Tour in the jungle  near our camp. Given that heights are not comfortable for me, it took a lot of positive self-talk. Ziplining at 100 feet plus and rappelling??? I was always afraid to do the high ropes course at our camp, but this experience was to much of an opportunity to pass up. It worked & I actually enjoyed it. Would I do it again?  Maybe.

Zipline

Zipline

Rappel

Rappel

Canopy cable walk

Canopy cable walk

"I'm on the beach, I'm on the beach, I'm..."

“I’m on the beach, I’m on the beach, I’m…”