Whitewater Wishlist: The Top Ten Whitewater Rafting Trips

Costa Rica's Pacuare and Chile's Bio Bio
  |  Gorp.com

The Pacuare, Costa Rica
For a quintessential jungle run, head to Costa Rica's parrot-populated Pacuare River, which flows into the Caribbean from the Costa Rican highlands. That's where Hollywood went to get authentic jungle footage for the movie Congo, and that's where river runners head for 32 miles of Class III-IV, crystal clear whitewater. Trips range anywhere from one to three days, with a thatched-roof, bird-chirping lodge awaiting overnight stayers just a coconut's throw away from the river.

The Bio Bio, Chile
Although a controversial dam has drowned one of its wilder stretches, Chile's Bio Bio—named by Mapuche Indians for the song chirped by an indigenous flycatcher—still offers more than thirty-five miles of Class IV-V whitewater under towering volcanoes and Chile-blue skies. The South American classic, located about 450 miles south of the capital city of Santiago, has tested the mettle of guides, passengers, and private boaters ever since it was first run in 1978. But book your trip soon—the waterway that put international river-running on the map is now straining the mettle of environmentalists as a Chilean power company is proposing even more dams that will block this paddling paradise.


Eugene Buchanan lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where he has worked as editor and publisher of Paddler magazine since 1992. He is an accomplished freelance writer whose credits include The New York Times and Men's Journal, Outside, Powder, Ski, and Sports Afield magazines.

Published: 20 Jun 2001 | Last Updated: 3 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Costa Rica

$83
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Volcano Lodge and Springs
$193
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Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose
$196
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The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal
$90
Average/night*
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Pumilio Mountain and Ocean Hotel

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