Near Arenal, the three main rivers are the Toro, the Balsa, and the Peñas Blancas. Each river caters to a different style of rafting – some trips are leisurely “safari floats”, where tour takers enjoy a slow pace that allows for excellent animal watching, while others plunge through Class III and IV rapids. Like most activities in Costa Rica, there is something for everyone, regardless of age or experience. Guides accompany every trip and ensure that tour takers are equipped with the proper equipment and rafting knowledge. Most tours include transportation and lunch. The three options are discussed below.
The Peñas Blancas River runs through the Tilarán Mountain Range in north-central Costa Rica before converging with the San Carlos River just east of the Arenal Volcano. This river is slow moving and pleasant. Rafting trips down the Peñas Blancas allow tour takers to enjoy the sights and sounds of both the river and the passing landscape. Be on the lookout for monkeys, iguanas, caimans, crocodiles, sloths, and a wide range of bird species. The float is peaceful and ideal for people of all ages.
The Balsa River has class II and III rapids. This category has calm, cool stretches as well as some more exciting passages. There is, however, nothing too intense, and a trip down the Balsa River is suitable for people of all ages and abilities. The rafting adventure typically takes about 2 hours and passes through scenic forest landscapes.
The Toro River begins near the Poás Volcano in the central highlands of Costa Rica. From here, the river runs to the northeast and eventually empties into the Caribbean Sea. On its way it passes through dense forests, impressive canyons, and rolling hillsides. A trip down the Toro – which means “Bull River” in English – is an exciting, fast-paced affair. There are technical rapids and large, sweeping waves. All told, this trip runs through both class III and IV rapids and will challenge even the most experienced of rafters.