Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chasing the Summer in Costa Rica

By Ben Morton, ACA Instructor Trainer Educator and owner of Precision Paddlesports.

Every year, I am fortunate enough to travel down to Costa Rica in December to guide a few whitewater kayak trips through my company, Precision Paddlesports. It's always an amazing experience to visit and work with old friends, share my love for Costa Rican rivers with my guests, and paddle some amazing whitewater. Below, I've listed three (of the many) reasons that Costa Rica should be on your radar for your next winter paddling trip.

The Rivers

There are beautiful rivers throughout the country; north, south, and towards the coasts. The rivers that I generally guide on during my trips are on various sections of the Sarapaqui, Pacuare, and Pejibaye. The Sarapaqui offers great class II, class III, and class IV sections of river that are surrounded by lush farmlands and nature preserves. The sections of the Pacuare that I normally paddle are class III-III+(IV) and are absolutely stunning (blue water, lush jungle, and super fun rapids). The Pejibaye River is one of the closest rivers to Turrialba (where we generally base ourselves in Costa Rica) and offers a few really great sections of rivers. There is a fun class II warm-up run, a class II-III section, and a narrow technical class III-IV section. 

The Landscape and Weather

Costa Rica offers enormous biodiversity within its landscape. While paddling on the Pacuare River, you'll be surrounded by steep jungle mountains. The Pejibaye River offers more gradual and rolling hills, and the Sarapaqui River is generally surrounded my more mellow flat lands. Because Costa Rica is a relatively small country, it's not uncommon to start off paddling in the mountains and by the end of the day notice that the landscape is changing dramatically as you get closer to the coast. Over the past four years, I've chosen to visit Costa Rica in December because this is at the tail end of the "rainy season" and start of the summer. The benefit of visiting this time of year is having solid water levels with really warm air temps (75-85 degrees Fahrenheit). While there is always the chance some rivers have "too much" water in them towards the beginning of December, I'd prefer "pushy" water vs. low water in the later months. 

The People

Costa Ricans are some of the friendliest people in the world, period. One of the reasons I return year after year now is because I've developed such close friendships with some of the Costa Rican guides I work with and other people I see there year after year. It's one of the greatest feelings to be a visitor in a country, but feel made at home by the locals. It's quite normal to be greeted by every Costa Rican paddler and guide going down the river with a big smile and "Pura Vida" (translates to: pure life. It is commonly used as a greeting, farewell, etc, etc). The people in Costa Rica (especially the ones you find on the river) are laid back, happy, and just exude positive energy.

There are so many other reasons why Costa Rica should be on your radar, but the reasons listed above should at least get you scheming about your future winter plans.

For more information about kayak trips in Costa Rica visit And remember the best kayaker is the one having the most fun!

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