Places to Paddle tm
Canoeing - Kayaking - Rafting

Rio Pacuare, Limon, Costa Rica
By reading further, you agree to our Terms of Use

Copyright 2002 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Gail Seidler
  • Date Submitted: 4/2002
  • Location: Southeast of San Jose in the state of Limon on the Caribbean side of the continental mountain divide.
  • Class: I - IV typical.
  • Water Level: The water level was low in March so many rocks were exposed, and the side banks were sloping with mostly rock.
  • Distance Paddled: 16 miles down river only. No entries/exits in between.
  • Water: Natural, pristine river from fresh mountain run-off.
  • Wildlife: Fish. Didn't see mammals, but I did see big cat prints on the hiking path on the cliffs beside the river.
    Birds such as toucans, kingfishers, tanagers, humming birds, swifts, orioles, jays, woodpeckers, many more...
    Plants - orchids, bromeliads, heliconias, ginger, peace lily, impatiens, philodendron, palms, many huge trees all wild and growing in rain forest conditions. Many butterflies such as the famous blue morpho butterfly. It's interior wings are fluorescent blue and sometimes 8 inches across, so when it flies it flashes all through the trees.
  • Special Regulations:


  • Directions: The only way I know to get there is through a rafting company reserved trip, usually departing from San Jose. Put in is near San Martin in the state of Limon on the Caribbean side of the mountains about 2 hours southeast of San Jose. Put-in was up a long winding mountain road, most of it unpaved, and then an entry to the property where the put-in was down another narrow dirt path. The only way to get there and be allowed on the property was through one of three rafting companies.
  • Fee: We went with Rios Tropicales. It's $95 for one day, $250 two days, and 315 for three days.
  • Description: The river bank was mostly large and small smooth rocks with a dirt bank some distance from the water.
  • Parking: none
  • Facilities: none
  • Handicap Access: none


  • Directions: Only exit available near the town of Siquirres, 16 miles down the river. No roads connect with the river between the put-in and the take-out.
  • Fee: (see put in information above)
  • Description:
  • Parking: none
  • Facilities: none
  • Handicap Access: none

What We Saw

My daughter and I took the two day trip. The trip from San Jose took about 2 hours and we stopped at the rafting company's restaurant on the way for breakfast. All meals included fruit, cassava chips, and usually sandwiches.

This first day was about 2 hours on the river with many stops to hike side creeks and waterfalls. We rafted up to class III rapids with calm pools in between. At the beginning, our guide reviewed commands and what to expect down the river. It was just the two of us with one guide. The river is pristine and naturally flowing from the mountains eventually to the Caribbean sea. There were many canyon like sections with rivulets streaming into the river.

We stopped at the rafting company's rustic lodge (picture above) for lunch and hiking. The overnight stay at the lodge was breathtaking. We hiked in the afternoon. Exotic house plants that we have in the United States were all growing wild in the forest there. Orchid and heliconia blooms were everywhere. In the rustic kitchen, our guide made dinner of rice, beans, and salad.

After sleeping in cabins and waking to breakfast, we got back into the raft. This second section was very dramatic with steep canyon walls and falls shooting out of the sides into the river where we could paddle under the water and get a rinse. The water was cold but refreshing. We stopped many times to hike side rivers, see other waterfalls (picture at left) and swim in pools. At one point where the canyon walls had flattened out again there was a family of Indians living on the river bank. Two small children were playing on the rocks. There were no roads or other signs of "civilization". This was a long day with many class IV rapids, and we didn't get to the take-out until about 5 in the afternoon (with sore arms). The river had flattened out by the take-out and we were told it continued for about 5 hours to the Caribbean. Our guide was very pleased with us because the water level was low and many other rafters were getting stuck on the boulders where the river flow was very narrow but we had a great run with no problems.

The drive in a bus to and from the river went through the Braulo Carillo National Forest with breathtaking views of the mountains and forest. Yes, everything you've heard about drivers in Costa Rica is true; they are crazy! Blooming impatiens grow wild all along the road. The other parts of the drive were past pineapple, coconut, and other agriculture crops. The bus guide always pointed out what to expect, what we were seeing, and where we were.