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“Twilight Safari Float - Peñas Blancas River (near Arenal)”
Review of Rios Tropicales

Rios Tropicales
Ranked #3 of 97 Tours in San Jose
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Rios Tropicales is an eco-adventure company that operates throughout Costa Rica. We offer adventure activities that take advantage of Costa Rica’s unique variety of environments: whitewater rafting, multisport activities that feature kayaking,canoeing, hiking, and cycling, family adventures, cultural encounters, nature and wildlife tours, and “volun-tourism”. Our mission, to share the rivers, natural resources and culture of Costa Rica while sharing conservation values, has not changed since we began in 1985. Rios Tropicales was established by native Central Americans, El Salvadorian Rafael Gallo and Costa Rican Fernando Esquivel, whose deep connection with the region and culture are apparent in every aspect of the company.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Lockers / storage, Bathroom facilities
Chicago
Level 5 Contributor
76 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Twilight Safari Float – Peñas Blancas River (near Arenal)”
Reviewed April 9, 2013

We took this tour only because our car trip from San Jose took longer than expected, which caused us to cancel another event. But the idea of a quiet, twilight float trip to view wildlife had instant appeal. Our family of five and another family of four met our guides (Diego and a colleague) at The Lost Iguana and proceeded to drive to the put-in point east of la Fortuna. After three-fourths of a 40 minute drive in a dirty van with at least two broken seatbelts (1 repaired and one "tied-on" by us), we were wondering whether we had made the right call. Boy did we ever! We saw a sloth in a tree at the put-in point (thoughtfully equipped with bathrooms). And the wildlife sightings continued. Sloths, plumed basilisks (a/k/a Jesus Christ lizards - they walk on water), monkeys, bats, click beetles (bioluminescent), iguanas, hawks, vultures, and several other bird species. There was very little down time, which Diego generally filled with useful and interesting information. The quiet darkness, pierced by various calls, produced an eeriness that reminded me of my “smallness” in the universe - - an unexpected blessing.

Diego was outstanding. He is an articulate and keen-eyed guide, with a passion for the river (and this tour) and for educating kids. His demeanor is relaxed and his flawless guidance of the raft seemed effortless. His lamps and laser pointer were quite helpful.
We ended the float with snacks (read “heavy hors d’ouevres”) at the house of a local farmer and horseman. Fried yucca (forget about French fries), farmer’s cheese, yucca bread, juice (tamarindo?) and more. The kids loved the dogs, puppies and baby goat. The 40 minutes back to Lost Iguana passed quickly as we recounted highlights and laughed with our new friends.

Why not five stars? The broken seat belts and the slow leak in our companions’ raft prevents a five star rating, though Diego’s skill almost got me there . . .

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank PADiamond
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RiosTropicales, Owner at Rios Tropicales, responded to this review, May 2, 2013
Dear PADiamond, Thank you for your detailed description of the Twilight Safari. It's impressive how sometimes the wildlife comes to look at you instead of what we are there for. We are taking note on your comments about the seat belt and also letting Diego know your appreciation of his services.

Take care,

Fernando Esquivel
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Scottsdale, Arizona
Level 5 Contributor
34 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Must do attraction in Costa Rica!!”
Reviewed April 8, 2013

They picked us up from San Jose and drove us hours to our destination past the cloud forest and towards the carribbean side! Upon arrival we were greeted with breakfast and clean restroom facilities. Gallo pinto round two for us as we already had our breakfast at the radisson hotel in san jose. After enjoying breakfast, we are on route for another ride up the hills to a drop off point. At the drop off point we had a tractor pull a trailer slowly towards the pacuare river!!! On the way the driver spotted a sloth sleeping in the trees. This was our first sloth siting in costa rica. This was also a good opportunity to see how locals lived as we drove past many beautiful houses. Once we got to the river we were suited with helmets and life vests. We were given more instructions for safety before entering the river with our funny guide named Chris. Along for the ride were a saftey kayaker named roy and a photographer named arellos. The water was around 70 degrees which was a nice treat coming from san diego and it's cold california waters. We were off and away and tons of rapids and water falls hours later we were back on our way to san jose!!! What an adventure

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
Thank jonathan c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RiosTropicales, Owner at Rios Tropicales, responded to this review, May 2, 2013
Dear jonathan c, Thanks for taking your time to write your detailed review and jumping on the raft with us to paddle down the Pacuare River. I will let Chris & Roy now about your comments.

Pura Vida,

Fernando Esquivel
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Salem, Oregon
Level 5 Contributor
56 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Highlight of our stay”
Reviewed April 8, 2013 via mobile

Rio Tropicales' trip on the Pacuare river was fantastic. My husband and I did a three day trip with two nights at the Tropicales Lodge! It was magical. The river guides work around the clock with excellent hospitality to give you a good time. Plenty of wet fun on the river, then they become your cooks and servers along the way and at the lodge. Some are great birders as well. Although there were fewer birds here than I expected, there were quite a few to enjoy. Hawks soaring over the ridge, kingfishers, etc, I forget.

When I reserved the trip I just indicated a standard room to keep the cost down. The first night was in a small basic room set up behind the front buildings. It was right along the creek that runs through the property, which was a pleasurable sound scape to sleep by. However the second night we asked to be "upgraded" to the building that has the River front view. It was well worth the little extra (although they didn't even charge us more). The room is bigger, big screened windows on both sides, with the river flowing right in front. Enjoyed watching the Sunbittern along the riverbed in the morning. Definitely recommend the river view rooms.

Regarding activities there, since we sated the extra day (first day you float in to lodge, second day we went on the horseback trip to butterfly garden, third day float out).
I would have opted for the zip lining and rappelling the waterfall activity, but I let my husband choose and we did the trip to butterfly garden. It was a nice trip to get up on the ridge by horseback, and get in some hiking. Our guide found us some good birding up on the ridge as well. Since we were there in Jan. the Orupendullas were building their amazing nests in a tree on the ranch up there. We were on horse back and there were a dozen or more of these amazing birds flying back and forth with nesting material, and making their magical calls.
You leave the horses at the ranch at the top and take the trail through the forest back down the valley ( 800 steps down!) the only downside of this trip is that the horses seem to be in pretty poor shape. Very thin tired and hot! If you have romantic ideas about a beautiful bridal trail through the woods on hefty healthy horses, suspend that expectation. It is up a rough steep jeep trail. Believe me I was glad to not be hiking it myself and appreciated my horse, but felt sorry for their condition.

The butterfly garden was beautiful, informative, and lunch delicious, provided by our hosts, with great view from the top of the hills. Also some cell service up there which you will not get in the river valley.

Third day out was a blast, enjoying more rapids and swimming and floating.

We had arranged for them to include transport to our next hotel in Arenal, which they will do for a mere $20 per person. Thats a deal! We loved this trip and encourage you to stay an extra night or two to enjoy the tranquility of the Rio Lodge setting!

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank OhPrettyMoon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RiosTropicales, Owner at Rios Tropicales, responded to this review, April 17, 2013
Dear OhPrettyMoon, Thanks for your fantastic comments about your multiday Pacuare Trip with us. As you mention, this area is worth the time to spend quality time there. We really appreciate clients taking part on our community tours and projects, these have brought wellbeing and sustainability for El Tigre. Horses for this tour are not pure bred but are in good condition for that area. Take care and hope to have you back in Costa Rica.

Sincerely,

Fernando Esquivel
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Level 5 Contributor
57 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Wonderful experience and memories; anybody can do it”
Reviewed March 25, 2013

Having a lifetime of river rafting experiences, I need to say that this was the BEST. For scenery, the BEST. The staff, the BEST. Safety, the BEST. The rapids, the BEST. One day on the river is not enough, but until I rafted with them and found people were doing 5 days by staying in San Jose, it never really occurred to me to do something similar. After a long day of rafting, a meal and hot bath or shower is all that's needed anyway. Get picked up and go. Think about it.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
Thank CostaRicaGuest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RiosTropicales, Owner at Rios Tropicales, responded to this review, April 17, 2013
Dear SkiSanDiego, Coming from a seasoned paddler your comments confirm we're on the right track. I'll will send your comments to our Team.

Happy paddling,

Fernando Esquivel
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Rafting on the Pacuare - 3 day trip”
Reviewed March 25, 2013

My boyfriend and I went on a three day rafting trip on the Pacuare river. The first day we rafted to their lodge that's nestled in the jungle, right along the river. The second day we hiked to nearby waterfalls, went zip lining, relaxed in the hammocks that overlook the river, and repelled down a waterfall. The third day we rafted Class III-IV rapids on the Pacuare. I cannot recommend this trip enough. Everything was amazing. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks were included for our three day trip and everything tasted delicious. The scenery cannot be beat - so many beautiful waterfalls and the canyons on the river are simply breathtaking! Our guides (Ronald, Henry, and Walter) were all great! I always felt very safe. This trip is an absolute must!

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank esanty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RiosTropicales, Owner at Rios Tropicales, responded to this review, April 17, 2013
Dear esanty, I'll let the boys know about your great recommendation. Thanks for coming along and taking your time to write about your Three Day trip with us.

Take care,

Fernando Esquivel
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