Whitewater Rafting in Arenal


Whitewater Rafting, La Fortuna

So, Alyssa and I thought that whitewater rafting would be a wonderful excursion for our first complete day in Costa Rica. We also thought that we’d be pretty good of it. One of the previous two statements is correct.

We loaded a bus with our fellow rafters and drove about an hour outside of Arenal to the Balsa River. The rapids were level 3 and 4 (on a scale of 1-7) so relatively intermediate. We went through a quick rafting crash course, and then were told to split in groups.

One problem. Everyone else on the excursion already had their groups. So here we are, just Alyssa, myself, and our guide, Oscar. Let me tell you something-  whitewater rafting is hard enough when the raft is weighted down. When you just have Alyssa and I in the front and our guide in the back, the raft can get quite a bit of air – which is my official excuse for the rest of this story.

Here’s the timeline of our rafting experience:

20 seconds in – Alyssa falls in.

Grebe falling otu}.jpg

Grebe falling out 2.jpg

1 minute in – Alex almost falls in, but does a matrix move and survives

Alex matrix raftingalex matrix rafting after arm in air

15minutes in- Our guide who thinks he’s funny tries to strategically put us on a rock in the middle of rapids so we can try getting unstuck…and Alex falls in.

alex falling off raftalex falling off raft 3

(We were told later that where I fell in was one of the most dangerous areas and people get really hurt. I have a few bruises, but our guide was very quick to get me out.)

25 minutes in – We think we’re getting the hang of it

Rafting picture for blog.jpg

45 minutes in – We haven’t seen any sloths yet, so I offer our guide 2 beers for every sloth sighting.

45.5 minutes in – Guide points out first sloth

46 minutes in – Guide points out second sloth

46.5 minutes in – Alex cancels sloth for beer agreement

1 hour in – stop for fresh fruit on the river and officially become friends with the guides (this becomes important)

rafting fruit.jpg

1 hour 10 minutes in – guide lets us jump out to float gently

1 hour 20 minutes in – guide has us jump out again – after fastening our life vests – into rapids that were not so gentle. We did it,we’re happy we did…but it was more intense than we anticipated

1hour 30 minutes in – guide tells Alyssa to sit next to him in the back…then proceeds to jump out leaving us alone

1 hour 32 minutes in – guide pulls Alyssa in, leaving me and the raft alone

1 hour 40 minutes in – guide teaches us to flip the raft. Alyssa thinks he’s kidding (he’s not), Alex falls out.

About to fall.jpg

1 hour 40 minutes and 10 seconds in – passing raft guide is mad at Alyssa for not trying, pulls her off the raft.

1 hour 50 minutes – guide steers us straight into trees, jumps out to catch frog, tells Alyssa to hold the tree branch, Alyssa doesnt hold tree branch, guide jumps back in boat.

2 hours in – end of trip. Kiss dry land. Proceed to be made fun of by a 7 year old boy who asks “did you even stay in the boat”. (No, we really didn’t, little brat.)

Group photo.jpg

Since my Dad never got the chance to go to Costa Rica, I brought three pictures of him – one for each location we’re going to.  My idea was to plant one in each area where it’ll be forever – sort of like leaving a bit of his memory here.  Our guide saw the picture and asked me about it on the river, so I told him about how great of a man he was. He made sure that I brought the picture into the water when I fell out (Dad would have appreciated that) so that I could release it into the river. Photo memory number 1 planted forever.


10 thoughts on “Whitewater Rafting in Arenal

  1. Ha! What an exciting adventure! I don’t think I would have made it – good job!!! Love the idea of placing the photos of your dad all around the world. What a wonderful tribute to him! Can’t wait to read more about your adventures!


      1. I love this idea. That way its kind of like he did make it to Costa Rica. How sweet. ❤ I’m loving this blog, although I’m a few posts behind and quickly catching up. Its making me all emotional. I’ll just blame the hormones lol


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