The Pacuare River is world-renowned. It’s known for its incredible jungle, biodiversity, gorgeous canyons, tall waterfalls, and of course, its rapids. Like other rivers, the difficulty of the rapids changes based on water levels, but overall, the Pacuare River is considered to have a mix of Class II, III, and IV whitewater. This post will break down the rapid ratings and where they’re located, either up or downstream of our lodge.

Huacas Falls is located between Upper and Lower Huacas rapids

Rapids on the Pacuare River are rated on the European scale, which gives them a rating from Class 1 to 6. (These ratings are written in Roman numerals and this post will follow that methodology here out.) Class I rapids are insignificant, gentle currents with small inconsequential waves here and there. On the other end of the scale are Class VI rapids, generally regarded as unrunnable whitewater. The Pacuare is right in the middle of those, excluding Class V, beginner friendly yet exciting.

Upstream of Rio Vista Lodge: Class II and III rapids

On day one, the section of the Pacuare River upstream from our lodge, which is from the San Martin Put-In to Rio Vista Lodge, is Class II and III whitewater. This is beginner friendly, nothing of which is considered difficult for our guides, but features very fun rapids – of which there are probably more than two dozen of them. On this day Pyramid Rock and Pele el Ojo rapids are going to be the bigger ones for the day, but all the others, including many of the unnamed ones are close in comparison. One item that makes the Pacuare River an amazing river is that the whitewater gets progressively harder throughout the trip. This means the easier rapids towards the start of the trip allow you to get a feel for the river and you can practice working together as a team as you paddle under your guide’s direction.

Downstream of Rio Vista Lodge: Class II, III, and IV rapids

After a night or two at our lodge, the whitewater downstream of our lodge will at first feel similar to the start of the trip. It will be consistent Class II and III out the gate as you head downstream. Just a few miles further though, we’ll enter the Pacuare Gorge, which features the canyon walls tightening in and all of a sudden the rapids gets more pronounced. These rapids have larger waves, steeper drops, and are much splashier. If the water levels are medium or higher, then many of these rapids are considered to be Class IV whitewater. If the Pacuare is running at lower flows, which is commonly found during the dry season, then a likely rating for this section would be Class IV- or III+.

Whether you’re a seasoned rafter or a first-timer, the Pacuare River offers an unforgettable journey. Its rapids build in intensity, the scenery is awe-inspiring, and the experience is a true immersion into Costa Rica’s wild beauty. We’re excited to show you why so many have called the Pacuare River the best river trip in the world and can’t wait to hear what you think.

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