Rafting the Rio Reventazon

The Pounding Peralta Run
  |  Gorp.com

The first 1,000 meters present an easy introduction to the whitewater, with three quick Class III drops as a warm-up. The next two miles heat up. This section hits you with six intimidating rapids, each diabolical in its own way—and each one coming in quick succession, allowing little time for rest or celebration.

The initial drop in this six-pack first appears as a meek-looking series of standing waves but dumps into an undercut canyon wall that can cause problems. Another Class III+ sits in the middle of a left-turn bend in the river and is complicated by an enormous boulder that bisects the river, requiring a quick decision as to which way to paddle (go right). Below this bend in the river, a large boulder garden appears. This is the beginning of a famous Class V rapid called Jungle Run, one of the most notorious drops on the Reventazon. Jungle Run is a one-two succession of huge keeper curls that can pin a boat, no problem. This is one of the most dangerous runs on the river. Treat it accordingly.

Two more powerful Class III+ rapids follow before the Turrialba River flows into the Reventazon from the left. The confluence of the Turrialba also marks a change in the terrain along the river. The river to this point has coursed through a narrow canyon with high overhanging walls, but from this point the canyon walls fold back. The river also settles down a little and the less constricting walls allow the water to widen out. The rapids below the Turrialba tend to be longer and bigger, though not as violent. The river also starts to meander, instead of the straight chute through the canyon walls that has been the standard so far. The rapids immediately below are a string of zigzagging technical runs through boulder fields. This area is known as the Rocks of Fire.

The remaining five or so miles of the Peralta run are an amazing series of drops with little flatwater. There is one other famous rapid in this section called Horrendo. This drop is mentioned in a lot of the literature that the local outfitting and guide companies put out, and with good reason. Horrendo is an eight-meter stair-step drop over rock ledges. Viewed from upstream, monstrous waves and churning chutes bring a lump to the chest. The run makes the lump bigger. This is an erratic drop because frequent floods tend to change the approach, so calculating the correct route is often a matter of luck. Horrendo is the premier run on the Peralta section. The last three rapids on the section don't go out with a whimper. All three are big, chaotic, and full of boulders. The take-out for this section is on the left near a suspended footbridge.

Nine miles may not seem like a long run, but the Angostura to Peralta run presents you with almost continuous big drops and technical lines. And speaking of lines; do not attempt to run the Reventazon without a guide. The volume of water, constantly changing routes, large amount of house-size boulders, and speed of the current all advise against a naked run. Experienced local guides should be employed for a first descent.


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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