Costa Rica // The Valle Central and the highlands //

White waters: the Pacuaré and Reventazón

Turrialba is blessed with two of Central America’s finest white-water rafting rivers on its doorstep. Indeed, the scenic Río Pacuaré’s adrenaline-inducing mix of open canyons and narrow passages has made it one of the best on earth – when rapids are called “Double Drop” and “Upper Pinball”, you know they’ve earned their names. Although a controversial hydroelectric-dam project has put paid to some of the most popular sections of the Río Reventazón, there is still a lot of world-class water to ride, especially the technical drops that constitute the Pascua section, where you can tackle the “Corkscrew”, the “North Sea” and “Frankenstein” (it’s a bit of a monster), among others.

Most day-trips on the Pacuaré run the 29km stretch of Class-IV rapids on the Lower Pacuaré (up to 5hr on the river; $75, including lunch and transport); trips down the Reventazón tend to hit the Class-III rapids at the Caribbean-side section of Florida (up to 2hr 30min on the river; $75) or, for experienced rafters, the 24km of Class IV+ rapids at Pascua (up to 3hr 30min on the water; $85). Multi-day trips on the Pacuaré (starting at $195 for two days) include overnight accommodation at jungle lodges along the river.

Recommended Turrialba rafting operators include Tico’s River Adventure (t 2556-1231, w http://www.ticoriver.com) and Costa Rica Ríos (t2556-9617, whttp://www.costaricarios.com). Several specialists, including Rios Tropicales and Exploradores Outdoors, run trips out of San José.