Jungle to your left, jungle to your right. There is silence, except the tweeting, chirping and singing of the birds, which are all around you. And suddenly – splash – a big wave of water hits you directly into your face. The guide screams “Paddle, paddle, forward!” and everybody gathers the last strength in order to get across the rapids without too much trouble. That is how it feels like, when you are river rafting on the Sarapiquí River.
Sarapiquí is a rather unknown part of Costa Rica, nicely situated in the rainforest, close to the Nicaraguan border. Tourists either get stranded here to go bird watching or to take an extremely adventurous river rafting tour. The river rafting tour takes you from the small town La Virgen to the village Chilamate, which is just a jump away from the town Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí. The tour operator Green Rivers is located in Puerto Viejo and is a good option for a fun and safe river rafting tour with experienced tour guides.
After a short introduction on how to paddle and about the different commands and their meaning, the tour starts. You put on your gear: a swim west and a helmet and off you go. Six people get into one boat, four green eared tourists and two guides. You need to trust them, as they will be your fellow survivors for the next two hours. In front of your huge, inflated boat you will find two more guides in canoes. They are searching for the best and most fun way to lead you through the river.
When passing the twirly rapids, you will definitely get wet. On the way through the river, you need to be fast. Huge rocks suddenly show up in front of you, which need to be circumvented. Fast rapids move and shake your big boat. Be careful not to fall out! At other times the river is nice and calm, while the boat floats its way downstream on its own you can enjoy the nature and observe the many birds. When the trip is half way through, it is time for a small break.
After getting on land, take a 3 meter high jump from the riverbanks and swim in the refreshing water. Before getting on the boat again, you will get a small snack with fresh fruit and biscuits. You will need new strength for the last part of the fast river. Another hour more of twisting river, fast rapids and splashing water and you reach the final destination. The bus from the tour operator will already be waiting for you and take you back to your hotel. During the whole trip a photographer was following you. So if you like, you can even purchase a CD with pictures from your adventurous river rafting trip.
Take a bus from the capital San José to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, but do not get confused with the other Puerto Viejo de Limon at the Caribbean Coast.