Frequently asked questions Arenal Volcano Tours and Activities

Adventure Tours in Arenal Costa Rica

Río Balsa Class 2-3 Half-day river trip with great blend of nature & adventure – perfect for first-timers & families! Includes: transport, delicious lunch, professional guides, private entrance & exit

Rafting Río Toro Class 3-4 Full-day–full of adrenaline! 45 continuous rapids! Don’t miss this famous river! Includes: delicious lunch, transport, professional guides, private entrance & exit

Safari Float on the lovely Peñas Blancas River for wildlife viewing – very family friendly Includes: transport, naturalist guide, snack


• Rio Tenorio Class 2-3
• Rio Puerto Viejo Class 2-3
• Safari Float on the Corobici River
• Rio Pacuare Class 3-4

What is the best time of year to go whitewater rafting?

Our rafting season runs year long. We receive the highest rainfall in Costa Rica here in the Northern Zone and it is not uncommon to get hot sun and rain in the same day.

Our rivers are fed by volcanic mountain ranges and pristine watersheds and are dam-controlled, so we do not have low-water problems like other areas of Costa Rica during the dry season. The dams release the water to produce electricity for San José and the release times work out perfectly for our raft trips.

We only cancel in extremely adverse conditions, but can easily offer to exchange rafting for another adventure option, such as our Lost Canyon Adventures Canyoneering tour. Rain or shine, we'll be running our adventure trips.

What certifications does Desafio Adventure Company have?

Overall, Costa Rica has excellent safety standards for the rafting industry. All of our Desafío guides are certified by the Costa Rican government in swiftwater rescue, first aid and CPR techniques. All of our trips have a senior Head Guide and safety kayaker.

Most importantly, rafting in Costa Rica is year-round and our adventure guides are permanent full-time employees of Desafio Adventure Company. We oppose companies who pay their guides on a per trip basis, which often causes guides to make unwise decisions to run a river in high water or dangerous conditions because they know they will only get paid if they run the river that day.

Many of our guides have graduated from the government-certified.

Desafío Adventure School, where they learned to provide our clients with additional information on nature, culture, and history of Costa Rica and the rivers we run.

We are proud of our staff and we know you will enjoy this fine group of people.

What safety precautions are taken?

We have 2 rules at Desafío: 1) Be Safe! 2) Have Fun!

We have emergency plans, safety procedures and established helicopter landing areas for every river we run. We carry cellular phones for use in select areas of the river (radios do not work in our river canyons.)

Will I see wildlife?

Wildlife is abundant in Costa Rica! We do our rafting in deep-canyon gorges with waterfalls and lush jungle where we often see sloths, monkeys and tropical birds, such as toucans and the Montezuma Oropendula.

Where do I meet you?

We are located in downtown La Fortuna, at the base of the Arenal Volcano, right behind the central church in a three-story building with a big sign outside that says "Desafio Adventure Company." We provide free pick-ups from your hotel in the La Fortuna hotel zone (please ask for our pick-up times) or you can jump on our Adventure Connection to do rafting from San José on your way to the Arenal Volcano.

What do I have to bring?

Bring comfortable clothes to get wet in, secure shoes, waterproof suntan lotion and a change of clothes.

We provide all of your rafting gear, professional, bilingual guides, safety kayaker, round-trip transport, delicious lunch and towel.

What kind of previous experience do I need, Do I need to know how to swim?

No previous rafting experience is required. Even though knowing how to swim is recommended, it's not necessary as all of our guests are outfitted with ExtraSport Class-IV life jackets at all times on the water. Before anyone gets on the river our guides check

everyone's personal flotation devices (PFDs) to make sure that they fit properly, are appropriate for their body weight, and are adjusted correctly.

What about tips or gratuities?

All of our employees are paid for their services and do not expect a tip, but if you feel your raft guide, cook, or driver has made your trip especially enjoyable, tipping is a nice way of expressing thanks and is certainly appreciated!

Is rafting dangerous?

Rafting is thrilling, exciting, wet, wild and unbelievably fun! However, as with all adventure sports, there is inherent risk involved. That risk contributes to the excitement, and is one of the reasons people enjoy rafting so much. Our guides are trained to minimize and manage risks, and, statistically, you're safer in a raft than in a car in Costa Rica. The most common injury on most rafting trips is sunburn, and most other injuries occur on land, especially getting into and out of the boats.

What if I get hurt?

We are the industry leader and carry a $1-million insurance policy.

We are equipped to handle emergency first aid in case of illness or accident. We will provide aid and arrange evacuation when the Head Guide deems necessary or desirable.

Costs of specialized means of evacuation, such as helicopters, and medical care beyond immediate first aid are the financial responsibility of the ill or injured person.

Which river is best for me?

First-time rafters and families with younger children love our beautiful class 2-3 Río Balsa. Rafters who are confident in the water, healthy, and feel adventurous, jump right into our Class 3-4 Río Toro river without previous experience. Guides will make sure you are trained in safety and paddling instructions.

I have a family with young children Can they go rafting?

We have special family trips available, especially on the Río Balsa recommended for ages 10-55. We can also offer the lower section of the Río Balsa that has fewer rapids for a less-challenging class-2 rafting experience. In addition, we run a safari float class-1 trip on the Río Peñas Blancas for children as young as three years of age which offers great wildlife viewing and a slow easy-going pace for youngsters.

What happens on a typical rafting trip?

Your trip begins when you meet the trip leader at your designated rendezvous place and time. He or she will collect your receipts or vouchers.

En route to the river, your guide will brief you about your trip and have you sign our Waiver Forms. Once we reach the "put in," you will receive your safety briefing - a vital 20- to 30-minute discussion about how to be safe on the water. We will then carry our rafts to the river. You'll be assigned a boat and a boat captain and jump in! Our sturdy Star 13-ft self-bailing rafts typically seat up to six people and a guide.

Your boat captain will give you further instructions on how to paddle once you are afloat and give you time to practice following the commands.

Then you'll head on down the river for about 2-2 ½ hours, for your best day in Costa Rica! We'll cut up some tropical fruit at the end at our private take out where you can change into your dry clothes and then head to our River House for an all-you-can-eat, delicious lunch with many vegetarian options. You will also be asked to fill out our Client Comment forms to provide valuable and important feedback to Desafío Management.

Is there a chance of falling out of the raft?

Believe it or not, some people love falling out of the boat. It's exciting. But sometimes it can be disorienting and a little overwhelming. Many

people have taken multiple trips and never fall out. It's all a part of rafting. We have a safety kayaker that goes down to help out, just in case!

If you follow your guide's instructions, your "swim" could be the most exciting part of your trip and a great story to tell your friends afterwards!

Can I bring my camera?

We don't recommend bringing cameras on trips. We have helped some of our raft guides develop their own photography businesses.

Didier Alfaro and Jairo Espinoza descend the river in their kayaks to get very personalized shots whose photo CDs you can purchase after your trip.

What kind of equipment do you use?

We use top-of-the-line Star 13-ft self-bailing rafts equipped with grab lines and foot stirrups for your safety, Pro-Tec helmets, ExtraSport lifejackets and Carlisle paddles.

Are restroom facilities available at the river?

We have the advantage over most rafting companies because we have private entrances and exits for our river operations equipped with restrooms or changing rooms. Facilities are not available on the river. In this case, you will commune with nature in the purest form.

Are the owners active adventurers?

Suresh and Christine Krishnan have been working in the outdoors most of their adult lives. In 1992, Suresh was invited to become a raft guide in the Pacuare River and later moved to the Arenal Volcano area where he pioneered rafting by exploring rivers with his own kayak. We call the legendary Suresh the "Gangsta Kayaker." You'll still see him out there exploring new canyons and rivers and enjoying his surf kayak in the ocean waves from time to time.

Christine met Suresh in 2001 when she was leading a GAP Adventures group all the way through Central America from Mexico down to Costa Rica. Upon arriving to La Fortuna the group wanted to go rafting with Desafío and a year later, Suresh and Christine were married and live on the banks of the Río Arenal, next to their future surf wave.

Have questions or need help?