In January of 2009, Costa Rica suffered a devastating earthquake – which has come to be known as the Cinchona Earthquake. The epicenter of the earthquake was very near Poas Volcano. What was of particular interest to the whitewater community was the damage done to the Sarapiqui River–a favorite of kayakers visiting Costa Rica. The earthquake destroyed a dam in the upstream reaches of the Sarapiqui–sending a wall of water/silt/debis down the river bed. It was catastrophic. Concern was that the Sarapiqui might not recover from the incident. While we released a sigh of relief returning this season to see the river flowing, we were also stunned by the after effects.

Carving a new river bed- Upper Sarapiqui

The wall of water careening down what was once a narrow tree lined river bed carved out a new path. The Upper Sarapiqui section is a totally different river now.

The bridge at San Miguel, put in for the Upper Sarapiqui section. In fact, this is the third bridge this year. The first was swept away when the wall of water careened downstream (note the height of the bridge), the second again fell due to unstable ground, and now a third provides access.

The bridge at San Miguel, put in for the Upper Sarapiqui section. In fact, this is the third bridge this year. The first was swept away when the wall of water careened downstream (note the height of the bridge), the second again fell due to unstable ground, and now a third provides access.

A before-shot of the original river bed at San Miguel (albeit at high water!)

A before-shot of the original river bed at San Miguel (albeit at high water!)

The new Upper Sarapiqui Run--it has gone from a 200feet/mile boulder drop run to a continuous stretch of river very remnant of the Upper Reventazon--Powerhouse Section years ago.

The new Upper Sarapiqui Run--it has gone from a 200feet/mile boulder drop run to a continuous stretch of river very reminiscent of the Upper Reventazon--Powerhouse Section years ago.

The tree that is forever-at the putin to the Lower Sarapiqui River. The lower Sarapqui did not get the complete facelift that the Upper did, but there are still noticeable changes.

The tree that is forever-at the putin to the Lower Sarapiqui River. The lower Sarapqui did not get the complete facelift that the Upper did, but there are still noticeable changes.

Probably the rapid that changes more often--and more extremely, than any other rapid anywhere!

The new Confusion Rapid, Lower Sarapiqui. Probably the rapid that changes more often--and more extremely, than any other rapid anywhere!

The route to la Paz waterfall was destroyed by the earthquake; sending houses into the 1000 foot deep canyon, destroying the road and cutting off access in this region.

The route to la Paz waterfall was destroyed by the earthquake; sending houses into the 1000 foot deep canyon, destroying the road and cutting off access in this region.