Raft, Surf & Kayak Costa Rica

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  • San Jose, Costa Rica

  • 7 nights

  • from $1,731 Per Person


Grade 3 - Brisk
Brisk
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Highlights

Get a thrill in Central America on this 8-day active adventure powered by Intrepid through one of the world's greenest countries. With so much to see and do, Costa Rica is the country perfect for adventure seekers. 

Relax along the Costa Rican coastline to the mellow beach refuge of Puerto Viejo and paddle through the waterways of Tortuguero National Park in search of monkeys, toucans and jaguars. Take a surf lesson in the Caribbean waters near Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. Cascade down the rapids of Pacuare Rivers, and later relax in a rainforest eco-lodge. 

With over half the country's population living within its parameters, San Jose is a city with colorful markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. Explore cultural gems, discover indigenous art or enjoy some of the freshest seafood you'll ever taste. The ecstasies of this expedition are sure to impress even the most seasoned active traveler.

The Basics:

Start and Finish: San Jose, Costa Rica

Ages: Minimum 15

Group Size: Minimum 1, Maximum 12

Intrepid Classic Costa Rica
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Experience

Costa Rica is a country perfect for adventure seekers, and the ecstasies of this expedition are sure to impress even the most seasoned active traveler. One of the greenest countries in the world, you will get a thrill in Central America with unforgettable water adventures, hiking, and surfing expeditions. 

  • Visit Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, home to monkeys, reptiles, toucans, macaws, barracudas, sea urchins, and more than 125 species of fish.
  • Whitewater raft Costa Rica’s Pacuare River, an area ranked in the top five rivers of the world.
  • Catch some waves with hiking and surfing expedition at Manzanillo beach.
  • Hop into kayaks and paddle through the waterways of Tortuguero National Park in search of monkeys, sloths, caiman, jaguars and lizards.
  • Explore the rich urban center of capital San Jose, with time before and after your active adventure to really get to know the Costa Rican way of life.

Itinerary

Hola! Welcome to Costa Rica. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. With over half the country's population living within its parameters, San Jose is a city with colorful markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. If you do happen to arrive early, a good place to start exploring is the main plaza. Artisan booths are common here and you never know when there'll be a spontaneous art fair. Have a look at the Gold Museum which has an amazing collection of indigenous gold art. If these cultural gems get you in the mood for a bit of shopping, head to the outdoor markets in Plaza de la Cultura or the Central Market, where you can buy anything from handicrafts to seafood.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

Optional Activities

  • Pre-Colombian Gold Museum (entrance fee $14 USD)
  • National Museum (entrance fee $11 USD)

Meals

  • There are no meals included on this day

Special Information

It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as Intrepid will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let the travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. Vacayou would be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Please note that this trip can be partnered with other adventures into a ‘combo’, which means that some of your fellow travelers may have begun their journey before today, and some may carry on to further destinations at the end of this tour. 

This morning, head out of the city and to the river. The next 48 hours are full of exhilarating white water rafting in Pacuare River with a nights’ stay in an eco-lodge.

Today will be an approximately 2-hour adventure down the river covering 12 kilometers of rapids, ranging up to Class 3. In the afternoon, arrive at your lodge, where you can either chill out around the gardens or walk through the self-guided trails around the lush canopies of the Turrialba Valley.

Accommodation

  • Lodge (1 night)

Included Activities

  • 2 hours Pacuare River white water rafting excursion (Class 3)

Meals

  • There are no meals included on this day

Hit the river again as you leave the eco-lodge by raft for more unforgettable rapids on the Pacuare River, and potentially stopping for some wildlife-spotting along the way. You'll ride the Class 3 and 4 rapids for around 2 hours, or 14 kilometers.

Around 10 am, travel by private vehicle (approximately 2.5 hours) to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for a taste of the Caribbean seaside – think reggae bars and palm-fringed beaches.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • 2 hours Pacuare River white water rafting (Class 3 & 4)

Meals

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Rise early to take the 8 am public bus (20 minutes) to Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge – an area that encompasses several rare habitats, including a lowland rainforest, a wetland, a coral reef and a mangrove swamp. Spend around 2 hours exploring with your group leader and keep your eyes peeled for monkeys, reptiles, toucans and macaws. The Refuge is also the nesting area for several species of turtles, manatees, crocodiles, caimans, tarpons and dolphins.

There will be some free time for lunch in Manzanillo town before taking to the shores for a surf lesson at 2:00 p.m. Learn some basic pointers to ride a wave, or if you've done this before, grab a board and hang ten! You will be dropped back at the hotel between in the late afternoon, in time for perhaps a Costa Rican regional specialty, Casado, at one of the local restaurants on offer.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Manzanillo for a Beginner surf lesson or Independent surfboard rental
  • Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge with a leader-led walk (entrance fee & transport included)

Meals

  • No meals included on this day

Wake up nice and early, and at 8 am, transfer to Limon on the Caribbean Coast, and then travel by boat to Tortuguero National Park, one of the best places in Costa Rica for wildlife spotting (approximately 3-4 hours depending on the water level). Tortuguero is a network of canals and waterways on Costa Rica’s north Caribbean coast, surrounded by native jungle and full of exotic plant and wildlife species, including turtles, caimans, monkeys, and various bird species.

Today and tomorrow are dedicated to kayaking on some of the canals in search of various forms of land and birdlife around the park. Tonight, why not join an optional activity of a turtle watching night tour where, depending on the time of year, you’ll see these small creatures nesting and (hopefully) some little babies hatching.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

Optional Activities

  • Tortuguero for a turtle watching night tour ($45 USD)

Meals

  • No meals included on this day.

Today is another active day in Tortuguero National Park. Accessible only by plane or boat, the park is regarded as one of the best places in Costa Rica for spotting wildlife. With this in mind, today, hop into kayaks and set out on a 2-hour journey through the park's canals in search of monkeys, sloths, caiman, jaguars, lizards, bats and a vast selection of birdlife. Along the way, learn from a local tour leader about how the jungle's islets, lagoons, wetlands and palm forests functions as a thriving ecosystem.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Tortuguero for a canals kayak trip and visit to the Tortuguero National Park (entrance fee included)

Meals

  • Breakfast

Travel by boat to La Pavona (1.5-2 hours, depending on water level) and continue by road back to San Jose (approximately 3.5 hours). With time to explore the historic buildings and bustling food and artisan markets, you’ll see a more urban Costa Rica, quite different from the past few days of travel. After so much activity in Costa Rica, you may instead be up for a quiet night, so perhaps head out for a group dinner and become acquainted with the city's night scene – your group leader will know a good place to go.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

Meals

  • Breakfast

After breakfast, you are able to leave at any time, with no activities planned for the day. If you’d like to explore San Jose in more depth, Vacayou would be happy to book additional accommodations for you (subject to availability).

Meals

  • Breakfast

Offers

7-Night Raft, Surf & Kayak Adventure

from $1,731 Per Person

The package rate displayed is per person based on double occupancy in a twin share room. Solo travelers will be allocated a room with someone of the same gender. A single supplement is available. Stay tuned for more 2023 dates!

Package Includes:

  • 4-nights accommodation in a hotel and 3-nights accommodation in a lodge
  • 5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner included
  • Transportation throughout the tour including private vehicle, shared vehicle, shared boat and raft
  • Class 3 Pacuare River white water rafting (2 hours)
  • Class 3 and 4 Pacuare River white water rafting (2 hours)
  • Manzanillo for a beginner surf lesson or Independent surfboard rental
  • Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge leader-led walk (entrance fee & transport included)
  • Tortuguero Canals kayak trip
  • Visit to Tortuguero National Park (entrance fee included)

*Flexible Booking: You have the flexibility to change your travel plans up to 21 days before your scheduled departure and you can pick new travel dates or an entirely different trip with no change fees.

FAQ

You’re in for an active trip! Whilst previous experience isn’t essential for getting involved, a decent level of fitness will help you get the most out of this tour. There’s always a choice to opt out of certain activities too.

If you’re already a regular exerciser, you’re probably good to go. If you’re not, it might be an idea to add it into your routine in the weeks leading up to your departure. Anything cardio related (swimming, running, cycling, etc.) would definitely help you to enjoy this action-packed adventure to the max.

San Jose, Costa Rica. Please be careful when booking flights to/from San Jose; make sure you fly into/out of Juan Santamaria International Airport [SJO]. Please do not book flights to/from Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport [SJC] as this is located in California, United States.

If you receive an immigration card upon entry, please ensure you keep this safe as it may be requested at point of exit. Passport holders from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and The United States of America are not required to obtain a visa prior to arrival. Some nationalities will require a visa but be aware that you cannot get it at the border. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Costa Rica for the most up to date information. To enter the country visitors are required to have a return or onward travel ticket. Visitors generally get a 90-day stamp in their passport upon entering Costa Rica.

USA Visa Waiver

Applicable if arriving via the United States of America. Many countries now operate under a visa waiver program, meaning a visa isn't required, however, you still need to obtain an authorization which confirms that you have been approved to travel. This authorization must be obtained in advance of travel. All travelers from Visa Waiver Program countries must obtain an electronic travel authorization prior to their flight from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website. All ESTA registration applications or renewals require a US$14 fee to paid by card. Apply for ESTA no later than 72 hours (Intrepid recommends 1 week prior to travel) before departing for the USA. Real-time approvals will no longer be available and arriving at the airport without a previously approved ESTA will likely result in being denied boarding. If there are any discrepancies between the name on your ESTA, your passport, your tickets or even your frequent flyer membership, you may be detained at Immigration and subject to a secondary inspection which could take a few hours. If you have recently changed your name, please check that your details have been updated everywhere.

A negative COVID-19 test is NOT required before joining a trip unless it is a requirement of entry for the country. If you are unwell prior to traveling, please stay at home and contact Intrepid to make alternative arrangements. At the group meeting, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns at this time, the advice of local health authorities will be followed to determine whether medical assistance, isolation or further action is required. All travelers should continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their tour leader.

Zika Virus:

There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and Intrepid advises all travelers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, they recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip.

Dengue Fever:

Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent, and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.

Malaria:

There is no commercially available vaccination against malaria, which is transmitted by mosquito bites and is a risk in many less-developed tropical areas in Latin America. Protection against mosquito bites is essential and where the risk is considered high, anti-malarial medications are recommended. Anti-malarial medications should be discussed with experts as there are different medications available and not all medications suit all people or all destinations. Where malaria is considered prevalent in mountainous regions we prefer that trekkers to altitude try to avoid the use of mefloquine (Lariam) if possible.

WhatsApp is a popular way to communicate in Latin America. Intrepid recommends downloading WhatsApp prior to departure to communicate by text with your leader and group members during the tour. Once downloaded, please validate your phone number before leaving home as you will not be able to do this once you arrive unless you have international roaming enabled. Connections for making phone calls through WhatsApp are not reliable, so please do not use this app to make calls to Intrepid's emergency phone line.

To allow flexibility in showing your appreciation, gratuities are not included. If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

The recommended tipping amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travelers. Intrepid does however recommend that you tip in the local currency - Hold on to your smaller notes and coins to make tipping easier. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travelers:

Restaurants:

Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$5. For more up-market restaurants, Intrepid suggests 10% of your bill.

Local Guides:

Throughout your trip, you may at times have a local guide. Intrepid suggests US$3-5 per passenger per day.

Drivers:

You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. Intrepid suggests US$3-6 per day for drivers.

Local Guides:

There might be times during the trip where you’ll have a specialist local guide alongside your trip leader. Intrepid suggests tipping these guides about USD$2-3 per day.

Your Tour Leader:

You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD$2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course, you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

In total, Intrepid recommends you budget approx USD$5-10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

Most travelers prefer to take a small to medium wheeled suitcase, which is a great size for the packing capacity in Intrepid's private vehicles. Whatever you take, be mindful that you will need to be able to carry your own luggage, handle it at airports, take in/out of accommodation and perhaps even walk short distances. Generally speaking, Intrepid recommends you pack as lightly as possible. You'll also need a day pack/bag for activities and day trips. In terms of weight, airlines generally allow a maximum of 33-44lb for check-in luggage and a maximum of 11lbs for carry-on.

For this trip, Intrepid recommends between USD 25 to 50 per day. How do they work this out?

  • Breakfast: if breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café.
  • Lunch: if you are happy with a quick snack on the go, you may get away with as little as USD5 to USD10 for a set menu at a local eatery or a sandwich and a drink at a café. On the other hand, a lunch meal at a more tourist restaurant can cost between USD10 to USD15.
  • Dinner: at dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD12 to USD25 for a main.

These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget, are happy to eat just local food and are not afraid of an upset tummy every now and then, you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try just the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries.

While traveling with Intrepid, you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule, Intrepid groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though. Please let them know your diet requirements before your trip starts.

Generally speaking, in bigger cities/towns vegetarians can expect a reasonable range of vegetarian venues and/or vegetarian options within tourist restaurant menus. However, vegetarianism is not the norm in this part of the world so options can be limited when eating at homestays, small local restaurants, street stalls, markets, etc.

More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, coeliac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) can also be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. Intrepid recommends that, if possible, to bring your own supply of snacks with you.

For those on strict Kosher or Halal diets, Intrepid understands your dietary requirements are important, however, sometimes due to cultural and language differences these are not always easy to convey when you are traveling. Your guide will do their best to assist you in translating your needs when eating out, but please be aware that these diets are almost unheard of in much of the continent and the best they may be able to accommodate is no pork and shellfish. If this will be a concern for you you may need to consider opting for vegetarian or vegan meals for the included meals in your itinerary. Intrepid recommends researching kosher or halal options in your destination country prior to travel to see if you are able to buy snacks once there, otherwise consider bringing some from home.

All group trips are accompanied by one of Intrepid's group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavors to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Your leader will provide information on the places you are traveling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to their local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid, they aim to support local guides who have specialized knowledge of the regions they visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

The official currency of Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colón (CRC). You can pay with major credit and debit cards at many hotels, restaurants and stores. You can use major credit cards and some debit cards to withdraw colones from ATMs. US dollars are widely accepted except for taxi fares (so if you arrive by plane please ensure you get some local currency at the airport before taking a taxi).

Costa Rica is the most expensive country in Central America, particularly compared with its neighboring countries Nicaragua and Panama. Expect meals, souvenirs and optional activities to cost as much as they would in western countries. That said, Costa Rica has done a great job of looking after its natural wonders yet maximizing their potential as tourist attractions. So, while optional activities are pricey, you can expect a high standard of service, well-maintained gear, clear paths and signage and well trained local guides that allow you to make the most of every activity.

Essential:

  • Warm as well as light clothing. Central America is often assumed to have hot weather, but it can get cold in the countryside, mountains and at night in the winter so Intrepid suggests you check the expected temperatures en route and bring clothing that you can layer
  • Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through cities as well as bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings
  • Sun protection such as a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses

Recommended:

  • Soft and/or hard copies of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, travel insurance etc. and keep the hard copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a copy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary
  • Water bottle. Intrepid recommends at least a 1.5-litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1-litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments
  • Electrical adapter plug (view www.kropla.com)
  • Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but Intrepid recommends you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and Band-Aids.
  • Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both
  • Swimwear
  • Travel beach towel
  • Tissues &/or toilet paper &/or wet wipes
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera with a spare memory card, charger &/or batteries

Optional:

  • Earplugs to guard against a potential snoring room-mate
  • Phrasebook

Valuables:

Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your safe if available. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers, taxes and excess baggage charges
  • Travel insurance (mandatory and must be taken out at the time of booking)
  • Optional activities and all personal expenses

Terms

This trip is provided by Intrepid Travel. Minimum age requirement is 15 years old. Minimum of four people total must book this trip for it to happen. Maximum 12 people allowed on the trip in total. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 2 (Pacuare River) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to the booking agent for further information.

Deposit:

Lock in your trip with a deposit and then pay the rest in instalments whenever you like, with no interest or fees. Just make sure you've paid in full by 21 days before your trip is scheduled to depart. If you cancel your trip up to 21 days before departure, you can transfer your deposit to another available trip or hold your deposit on file indefinitely.

Insurance:

Travel insurance is compulsory on all Intrepid trips for those travelling internationally. They require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. Intrepid strongly recommends all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

Authority on Tour:

Trips are run by a group leader. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund.  Intrepid may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited

Health:

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy Intrepid's style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of their group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. They recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling.

Any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving Intrepid's leaders, partners or local people, will not be tolerated. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, drink responsibly and abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.