Rafting the Rio Reventazon

An Outstanding, Unpredictable Run
  |  Gorp.com
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The Reventazon drains the mountains of Costa Rica's Cordillera Central, a rugged area of extremely high and unpredictable rainfall. Costa Rica's wet season, running from May through November, provides almost daily tropical rains, which keep the steep rivers of the central highlands running full and fast. Almost every afternoon, heavy tropical downpours fill the rivers of the highlands. The result is raging mountain rivers with wildly varying water levels.

The runoff from these rains gathers and dissipates swiftly so that a steady two-hour downpour can raise the level of the Reventazon a meter or more in less than an hour and just as suddenly quiet down. The highest reaches of the river are at elevations of more than 4,300 feet, way up in the steep mountain valleys, where river gradients can exceed 85 feet per mile. Needless to say, unpredictability is the key word. An almost continuous stream of whitewater works its way down into the lowland villages some 60 miles away before dumping into the Caribbean.

The Reventazon is fed by a number of smaller tributaries, including the Orosm, the Pejibaye, and the Navarro, all of which originate in the remote upper reaches of the Cordillera. Below the junction of the Orosi and the Navarro, the river is known as the Reventazsn and it is along this stretch that the river has established its reputation as one of the most outstanding whitewater runs in Central America. Despite its isolation, there are many places to access the Reventazon, allowing for a variety of paddling adventures.

Although all 60 miles are capable of being paddled, there are three sections of the Reventazon that provide some of the best whitewater in Central America. The first of these is the run from Tucurrique to Angostura. Unfortunately this portion of the river is doomed.

A hydroelectric project is underway that will flood this run—one of the most popular whitewater runs in the country. This 12-mile paddle offers two trip options. The first involves some hairy rapids immediately after the put-in point at the powerhouse on the river. This three-mile run to a bridge near Tucurrique is a near constant Class III-IV float. The first rapids hit you before you even have time to warm up, one of them being a Class IV+. If you want a slower and milder indoctrination, put in at the bridge at Tucurrique to pick up eight miles of Class III water.

The second section is from Angostura to Peralta. This is perhaps the most exciting section of the Reventazon and is an "experts only" section. The Angostura to Peralta trip is nine miles of Class IV-V water. The river gradient here is almost 70 feet per mile, which means hold on! It also means check local conditions before launching since the water can be too high during the rainy season.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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