Rafting the Rio Reventazon

Getting Your Fill on the Pascua Run
  |  Gorp.com
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Haven't had enough of spectacular rainforest scenery and churning whitewater? You're in luck; there is still another section of the Reventazon that offers both. This is called the Pascua section. This is a Class IV-V run with 16 miles of big water. The gradient on the Pascua is "only" 55 feet per mile. The Pascua section actually begins just below the Peralta section, and the personality of the river is pretty much the same as the Peralta section; big continuous whitewater with technical drops. Most of the commercial outfitters start this run about two miles farther downstream near the village of Linda Vista and paddle to the town of Siquirres.

Wherever you start your trip, be prepared for great paddling. Though less intense than the Peralta section, the Pascua is still an exciting outing. As with the upper section, the river here is boulder-strewn and the frequent scouring rains move things around. What worked last week may not work this week so the river demands a lot of thinking on the fly. Boulder fields, chutes, forking river channels, and hydraulics appear quickly. A guide is recommended.

The first three miles of the run beginning at Peralta is a lively pack of Class II-III rapids. The first big run, called Corkscrew, is just below Linda Vista. As its name implies, it is a twisting series of winding curves that requires a sequence of maneuvers across eddy lines and around pour-over currents to navigate. Corkscrew spits you out into the Minefield, a 300-meter field of boulders, bars, and hazards. And this is just the first 2,000 meters—an intro to warm you up for the real heart of the Pascua section. Take a short rest for the next 1,000 meters through a flatwater float that drops into the Tail of the Dragon, a rolling tongue of water in the middle of the river that drops over a ledge into a hydraulic. The names get scarier; so do the rapids.

The next rapid is called Frankenstein, a standard plunge that will cause little trouble except at the highest levels. An island just below Frankenstein slices the river in half. On the right side is Horrendito, the little brother to Horrendo, the big drop negotiated on the Peralta section. Don't let the moniker mislead you; this is still a challenging run. At higher levels it can be dangerous. An option is to paddle to the left of the island where a tamer Class III plunge awaits. Below Horrendito are Surprise, Shark Fin, and the Slide, and a host of other Class III-IV's. The last killer rapid is called Sugar, the baddest rapid on the Pascua section.

This is a Class V rapid that should be run on the left side. Perhaps a dozen more Class III and IV rapids of varying difficulty complete the Pascua section. These gradually disappear and the last mile or so of the trip peters out into a wide, slow float through flatwater slicks until the take-out point at a concrete highway bridge near the village of Siquirres.

Always check water levels before setting out on the Reventazon. It is also a good idea to check weather forecasts, since a sudden squall can significantly change the character of the river. The Reventazon is about three hours northwest of San Jose. The recent popularity of Costa Rica with the outdoors and environmental crowds assures that services are available for the aspiring paddler. Guides and outfitting companies are available in San Jose. A couple of these companies are Aventuras Naturales, (800) 514-0411, avenat@sol.racsa.co.cr, and Rios Tropicales, 011-506-233-6455, www.centralamerica.com

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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