If you want to one-up the whitewater park designers, think bigger: the opportunity to paddle entire rivers at varying water levels from one day to the next; and then think Costa Rica. Because in Costa Rica, in the past week we have paddled rivers from medium water levels to high water levels to very high! And with two different itineraries going on this week, the quantity of rainfall here in Costa Rica made the trips challenging and definitely more interesting!
For the Class III-IV group, rather than gamble on water levels in the Turrialba area, we headed over to the west coast for some great boating.
After surfing the waves of the Pacific coast for an afternoon warm-up, we teamed up with our friend Arturo and paddled the Rio Naranjo. Highlight: while the river was top-notch, the walk down to the river with Arturo was the definitely highlight. We played scratch and sniff on a cinnamen tree, tasted spearmint and allspice right off the plants, checked out how vanilla orchids were germinated and learned something interesting about almost every plant all the way down to the river.
Then it was time for a high water Sarapiqui run. Highlight: for sure it was Confusion Rapid as it was some of the group’s first real experience with wall shots. Costa Rica is renowned for wall shots – where the entire river heads directly into one river bank or the other and then takes a hard 90-degree turn downstream. The way to deal with wall shots is to follow the flow of water right to the wall and then ride the pillow coming off the wall-while leaning into the wall. Very counterintuitive! But once you get the hang of it, and are okay doing a spin or two in the squirrley water it is good to go. Then throw in a few toucan spottings to make it a great day.
Favorite run of the week for the Class III-IV group: hands down the Pejibaye this week. After giving the river a couple of days to drop, we hit the Pejibaye at the most perfect water level. The rapids were stout, playspots abounded and we could not get enough of the river.
Simultaneously, the Class IV+ group spent the week on just plain huge whitewater. Because of the caliber of the group, high water runs on the Pacuare and the Lower Reventazon and the Sarapiqui were called for. When we caught up with the group, they were still telling stories about Upper Huacas on the Pacuare. And Himalaya rapid on the Lower Reventazon. When this gang was not pounding through huge whitewater, they were spending quality time discussing the south. That’s right! Take a couple of southern boys and give them a chance to educate a canadian on the best place to live in the world (the south of course) and you can’t get them to stop talking! Stay tune for the new ERA Southern tour headed up by world-famous guides Ben and Matt.
Thanks guys for a fantastic week. We just paddled all week with big smiles on for all the fun we were having together.
And check out the trip’s great photos from Brian and Juliet.