I gather around a group of strangers, or as I like to think, new friends. We make small talk as our guides are prepping us for our adventure, rafting the Tenorio river in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
After a quick course on paddling and what to do if you fall out of the raft, we are broken into three groups, get into position, and start paddling down the river. Recent rains have the water moving swiftly, and the massive debris of trees and rocks line the river banks.
The jungle comes alive as we go.
With only three of us (plus our guide) in the raft, we bounce like a top along the rapids. It takes great focus to paddle in unison as we try to navigate safe passage downstream.
We quickly learn that the river may have it’s own plan for us. As we reach our first set of rapids, my mate next to me learns the hard way of the Tenorio’s power as he is tossed out of the raft like a piece of rotten meat. We see his safety helmet floating downstream as the rest of him is under water. Soon though he is able to stand up as his body makes it’s way to the shore.
The three of us still in the raft get caught in an eddy, spinning uncontrollably. Without our fourth man, we lack the strength to paddle out. My guide screams at me to bail out of the raft as well, and to keep my feet ahead of me as I float downstream.
“You want me to do what???!!!!????”
A tarantula floats by me, trying to survive itself in the raging current. I’m sure their were other creatures in the water as well, but my only thought is staying alive. I hear people yelling at me to stand up. I didn’t realize I had floated far enough so that the water was shallow and I could stand. I find my mate is a few feet away from me. We laugh with the knowledge that we are both ok, and get back in the raft.
Let the adventure continue.
The Tenorio is known for it’s class 3/4 rapids. The rains though have turned one of the class 4 rapids into a class 5. As we approach this river giant, our guide stresses that most people do not stay in the raft for this one.
Get prepared people.
Being in the front, I get a first view of the upcoming drop, and without a doubt, I said a prayer as I peed a little.
Next thing I know, we are under water.
Amazingly though, no one falls out. We cling to the ropes and each other as we bounce through the class 5 rapid and continue on downstream.
My final day in Costa Rica was an epic one. Do not miss the opportunity to raft the Tenorio if you get the chance. You won’t regret it.