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“Easy to deal with; you don't always get what you thought you would”

Desafio Adventure Company
Book In Advance
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$69.00*
and up
Rio Balsa Whitewater Rafting Tour from La Fortuna
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$125.00*
and up
Costa Rica Gravity Falls Canyoning Adventure from La Fortuna
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$95.00*
and up
Canyoning in the Lost Canyon
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Desafio Adventure Company is considered the pioneering tour outfitter in Costa Rica's Epicenter of Adventure near the Arenal Volcano since 1992. Desafio offers high-quality rafting, canyoning, biking, hiking, birdwatching, kayaking, stand up paddling, unique cultural experiences, transfer with tour services, incentive programs, volunteer opportunities and much more. We only have two rules: 1) Be Safe! and 2) Have Serious Fun! Look for Desafio in Downtown La Fortuna near the Arenal Volcano or take the Desafio Adventure Connections to the Monteverde, Guanacaste, San Jose, Manuel Antonio, Playa Samara and now Leon, Nicaragua! Desafio is family-owned and operated and your "one-stop-shop" for adventure travel in Costa Rica and beyond!
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children, Wheelchair access, Food available for purchase, Lockers / storage, Bathroom facilities
Reviewed December 28, 2012

My wife and I used Desafio to book 5 activities while we were vacationing in La Fortuna de San Carlos. Two of those were actually better than described: canyoneering in the Lost Canyon, and white river rafting down Rio Sarapiqui. Those were the highlights of our trip, well worth the price and over-delivered by Desafio.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the safari float down Rio Tenorio, where we saw a lot of wildlife in a tranquil float down the river, with an excellent guide. At the time the description of the activity included a visit to an animal shelter, which was not done to our chagrin. We did enjoy this activity though, and found it practical to combine fun with a transfer from Arenal to the beach.

We also booked a zip line/horseback combo to Arenal. It was offered by a third party, and is no longer offered by Desafio. The zip lines and tarzan cable were fun, high in the canopy, long rides and all. However the staff looked bored, took no interest, and acted unprofessionally. The horseback ride was not enjoyable. Note that this is the only time in Costa Rica where I felt we were not treated well.

Finally, we also booked the Twilight Arenal Volcano Hike. Nice guides, knowledgeable. The problems were that we had done most of these trails while on our horseback ride, so we did not see much. Also, the guides did not use powerful night lights, which meant we saw very little. This one was very disappointing, and is absolutely not worth the price.

All in all, good operators, easy to deal with. Knowledgeable staff generally speaking, with the odd exception. They pick you up on time (though one day they showed up 20 minutes in advance...).

Thank Rene B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DesafioAdventures, Owner at Desafio Adventure Company, responded to this reviewResponded January 30, 2013

Hola Rene ~

Thank you so much for writing a review on TripAdvisor. You said we over-delivered on our Lost Canyon Adventures and Rafting Río Sarapiquí -- what a great compliment! So glad you and your wife had fun!

And how wonderful to hear you say we are easy to deal with! Our Reservations Team works very hard to provide prompt responses and thorough explanations of what you can expect when you book your Costa Rica vacation with us. We understand that putting your trust in us is a huge responsibility!

We are very sorry for the sudden change in itinerary for the Adventure Connection Río Tenorio Safari Float. We had decided to remove the visit to the wild cat rescue shelter shortly before your arrival because we had been receiving complaints about the service there and it turns out our clients were much more anxious to finish up their safari float and continue their travels to the beach. Unfortunately, we didn't get that properly communicated to you at short notice. Please excuse us.

We appreciate you bringing these issues to our attention and hope you'll come back again to visit us!

Warm regards,
Suresh and Christine Krishnan, owners
DESAFIO ADVENTURE COMPANY

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2,061 - 2,065 of 3,368 reviews

Reviewed December 28, 2012

This is the first activity my wife and I booked when we got to La Fortuna de San Carlos. I had read about it, seen the video, and there was no way I was not going to try this. Man, was it ever worth it! It was one of our favorite activities of the trip. We ended up just the 2 of us with 3 guides. They were very enthusiastic, patient, helpful. I felt safe all the time. It took about 10 seconds to feel safe, once our guide had briefed us and explained that we needed to trust the gear. Once you go over the 'trust issues', then it is a rush.

I would recommend a pair of non-slip water shoes. There is a lot of walking on submerged rocks that get very slippery. Also, when the guide says not to touch the cliff wall, listen to him! There may be a tarantula...

Thank Rene B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DesafioAdventures, Owner at Desafio Adventure Company, responded to this reviewResponded February 17, 2013

Hola Rene ~

Thank you for your wonderful review of our Lost Canyon Adventures Canyoneering. The Lost Canyon is one of the most-magical attractions in the Arenal Volcano area and you're right, sometimes it's hard to really understand it until you try it!!

As you know, we only have two rules at Desafío: 10 Be Safe and 2) Have Serious Fun -- we love to see that our guides are following the rules!

We appreciate the time you've taken to write a review and even happier you and your wife took the time to try out the tour! Hope to see you again in Costa Rica!

Your friends at Desafío Adventure Company!
Suresh and Christine Krishnan

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 27, 2012 via mobile

Desafio's canyoneering tour is the best. You rappel down four waterfalls (including two big ones), and this isn't even the highlight of the tour!! They have two 'wet surprises' (sorry, no spoilers here - you have to do the tour to find out) that are just awesome.

Desafio has top-of-the-line equipment, and the company is very fastidious about safety. The tour starts on time, the guides are fun and helpful, and the food at the end of the tour is delicious. This was the highlight of our stay in Arenal - I'd do this again in a heartbeat!

1  Thank MR-EDH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 26, 2012

We booked almost everything through Desafio. Nine days of transfers, tours and guides. It became quite obvious that they were very polished and professional when it came to booking the trip, arraigning pick-ups and staffing the tours. After using a different company for a couple of tours we quickly realized just how spoiled we were by the gang at Desafio. Don't hesitate to use this company for your trip to Costa Rica, as you will not be disappointed. The staff is enthusiastic and their "stoke" is contagious. The transfers were on time and the vehicles were relatively comfortable. (The Costa Rican Massage is not a myth) You will never take the road surface in the US for granted again.

Pros:
- The Tours are geared for fun and safety. Just about everyone brave enough to try, will have a good time. We sampled: canyoneering, rafting (class 3-4), hikes (day and night), hot-springs, hanging bridges (Arenal and Monteverde), zip-lines (Monteverde and Samara), kayaking/snorkeling, surfing, and Latin America's biggest Bungee Jump. Most of our tours were through Desafio and the ones that were not, well, we could easily see the difference.
- The Desafio booking staff were very helpful and quick to respond to any changes or problems. We booked with them online and found them to be helpful, prompt and accommodating.
- The Tour guides (for the most part) were terrific. These guys are loving their jobs and it shows. This may be the company's strongest asset. Safe and fun, seems to be their motto.
- The Transfers were really not that painful. Although the roads (and one-way bridges) are narrow and bumpy, the drivers were professional and friendly. They are however, long, but made shorter if you split them with a rafting trip or boat taxi. We learned to appreciate Desafio more when we chose others.
- The accommodations, well that's up to you to do your homework. We knew where we wanted to stay before booking and had to reserve our own hotel in Samara. Make sure that you choose wisely if you want to be within walking distance to town. We found our hotels to be clean and safe with most of the expected amenities.

Cons:
- Some of the tours are "tuned down" for safety and insurance purposes. Desafio's Canyoneering was fun for all ages and abilities, but this was a negative for many of us on in my group. If you go expecting "real" canyoning... you will be a little disappointed. There are other companies that will take you rappelling without the zip-line "assist". The owner hinted to me that a more robust canyon experience may be in the works for the future. Having separate "beginner" and "advanced" level tours would be ideal, IMO.
- The rafting is dependent on dam release. You will not be guaranteed a certain river and Desafio is clear to point that out. What we were not told, (beforehand), is that the alternative to the Rio Toro (class 3-4), is a grueling 2 and 1/2 hour drive. We were given the news while we were driving and assured that it was just "20 mins more" about a dozen times. We had no regrets about the excursion, (it was a blast), but they should have been more transparent about dam release and the drive time.
- Don't expect your transfer drivers to be tour guides. We found them to be very friendly but not bilingual. Spending that much time in a van, in a new country, with so many questions... well, it would have been great to be able to converse with the drivers. Selfish American that I am, I will take some of the blame here. :-) But it would be nice.
- Not all guides are created equal. Obviously some are less informed than others. More trained naturalists would be great on the hikes. Especially on those days that the resident vipers, tarantulas, monkeys or sloths are not cooperating. Overall the Desafio guides were very good.
- The further you travel from La Fortuna, the weaker the service from Desafio. They will do all they can to accommodate, but keep in mind that they are centered in the Arenal area and that's where they excel. They will use other companies for tours in Monteverde and Samara and they won't have the same level of control. This was to be expected, and we found ourselves missing the clock-like punctuallity and professionalism of the Desafio group.

Although I spent more time describing the "Cons", keep in mind that these complaints (or suggestions) are far outweighed by the "Pros". I give this company a solid 5 stars without hesitation. If you are looking for a safe and friendly adventure without taking any big risks, then you'll love Desafio's group. We look forward to returning to sample more. I already miss the pineapple and good karma. Pura Vida!

1  Thank Windsurf4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 26, 2012

Canyoneering was highly recommended to me by a friend who had been to Costa Rica before, and his experience with Desafio made me book a tour for myself and my husband, even though I'm afraid of heights. It rained on and off on our tour, but that actually didn't make much of a difference since we were getting soaked anyways.

The tour has 4 rappels, as well as some "water surprises" in between 2 and 3. The first is 20 ft, just to get used to braking yourself and where to place your feet walking down a small "waterfall". The second is 150 ft, and in my opinion the most fun. Once you get used to being off the platform, you can jump off the rocks/waterfalls and it was pretty easy to learn how to release and brake as you jumped. About halfway down, they tell you to let go of the rope and you fall to the ground, where one of the guides will belay you and catch you. It was pretty controlled and nothing like free-fall, which was the right about of thrill for me. The guides did a great job of making you feel completely safe, while keeping the adventure alive.

Then you do some hiking, which is somewhat strenuous and involves a good amount of coordination. I personally loved it, but was glad that I had already done a hike a couple days prior so I was used to watching where I stepped and thinking about how not to slip.

The third rappel was short like the first one, and the last one is 220 ft. Getting off the platform was the hardest part, and watching everyone drop was pretty scary. For those of us who were afraid of heights, the guides let us brake ourselves down until we were comfortable to let go - everyone else just got off the platform and let go all the way down.

Afterwards, we hiked back to our starting point (this hike is pretty strenuous with a lot of stairs) and there was a delicious meal waiting for us. Rice and beans, salad, yucca, a chicken/potato dish - it was very heart after the excursion. They also have small towels available to dry off with and a couple outdoor showers to rinse off - make sure you bring dry clothes for afterwards!

There's a photographer who takes pictures of your group and they sell them afterwards. As of Dec 2012 it was $15 for one person, $25 for two, and +$5 for each person thereafter in your group. The pictures came out great, and almost everyone got a CD!

Thank ChristinaP588
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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