The Pacuare River is the wildest and most pristine remote river you can reach on Costa Rica’s Caribbean side without a helicopter or a week of trekking. It’s an unmatched experience and we’ve returned half a dozen times.
There are many reasons that National Geographic ranks the Pacuare in the top ten rafting rivers in the entire world but one of the best is splitting it into a two day trip with an overnight off the grid in the remote rain forest.
There’s a rustic luxury camp if you want a pampered experience but our favorite is the authentically rustic camp operated by Green Frog Adventures.
Fresh fruit, fish and typico staples along with beer, wine and beverages are floated in with each group and the palenque with the sound of the rushing river below may be the most relaxing spot in Costa Rica.
Ideally plan on spending two nights in the back country camp so there’s a day for exploring between two days of white water – hiking, birdwatching, the waterfall slide, fishing and swimming and of course there’s an amazing variety of amphibians especially if you venture out on a night walk with one of the knowledgeable guides.
The river borders large tracts of Cabécar indigenous lands and with advance notice visitors are welcome at the tiny village about an hours climb up a steep ridge from a hand powered cable car that crosses the river.
There are no roads and everything the villagers need from the outside world is carried in on their backs or horseback. They live very much as they traditionally have for hundreds of years and that includes welcoming visitors. This is not a choreographed historical experience with costumes and reproductions of everyday life…it’s just everyday life.
The rafting companies will pick up from as far away as San José but we prefer to skip the two hour drive by spending a few days near Turrialba before heading out on the river. The Pacuare one day trip is a unique and highly recommended method of transportation from the airport to the Caribbean beaches (more info).