costa rica vacations
Pacuare 3 Day Package
MOST POPULAR! 3 DAYS & 2 NIGHTS IN THE RAINFOREST
Our Pacuare 3 Day Package is the most popular length of stay for busy travelers seeking to experience the gorgeous Costa Rica rainforest and some of our adventure activities. Your options for how to get to our remote river lodge include hiking by land, or rafting by water. There is no automobile access directly to Rios Lodge.
Just select your preferred access (raft, hike, or combo) and room type to your 3 Day Package. Then add the number of guests for your meal package. Next, you can add on any Guided Activities when you checkout online, to confirm availability.
Lodge Access: Rafting or Hiking – What to KnoW
Rafting into the Lodge
Rafting on the world-renowned Pacuare River is an experience not to be missed! It’s a truly unique and exciting way to get to and from remote Rios Lodge. Your lodge stay includes shuttle transportation from San Jose to the Pacuare River Linda Vista put-in. There you’ll get your rafting gear, a safety briefing, and a dry bag for your one bag going to the lodge. There are changing rooms and bathrooms at the put-in. You’ll raft approximately 16 kilometers of Class 1-2 whitewater for a 2-3 hour paddle to the lodge, depending on the water levels. The minimum age is 6 years old to raft this first half of the Pacuare River to the lodge.
Rafting out of the Lodge
Rafting out of Rios Lodge on the final day of your stay brings the fantastic excitement and incredible scenery of the Pacuare River Gorge. Enjoy thrilling Class 3-4 whitewater, tropical wildlife and birds, and mesmerizing canyon high waterfalls. National Geographic rates the Pacuare River one of the top 10 whitewater rivers in the world. The second half of the river will take between 2 and 4 hours depending on the water levels, and takes out near the town of Siquirres. Your transportation shuttle back to San Jose will meet you at the take-out, and will have any bags you stored while at the lodge. Bathrooms with showers and changing rooms are available at the take-out. The minimum age is 12 years old to raft the lower Pacuare River through the Gorge.
Hiking into the Lodge
Guests are shuttled from San Jose to the Pacuare River Butterfly Garden, in the small community of El Tigre. There you will meet your Rios Lodge guide, and get a tour of the butterfly garden and enjoy a lovely, typical Costa Rican lunch. After lunch, you will be shuttled via 4×4 vehicle through our conservation properties to the start of the Rios Tropicales Reserve Trail to begin your hike down into the Pacuare Gorge and to Rios Lodge. The trail through the rain forest drops about 800 feet in elevation and includes numbered signs on key trees that are referenced on a downloadable Rios Tropicales Reserve Trail Nature Guide. This hike takes about 30 minutes to go down, longer if you stop to take pictures. The total trail distance is 2.6 km (1.6 miles).
Hiking out of the Lodge
Hiking out of the lodge is on the Pacuare River Trail, which travels upstream along the Pacuare River. The 1.5 km (0.9 miles) trail is rolling and is a 20-30 minute moderate hike along the river, depending on how many stops you make to take pictures. You’ll hike to the cable car crossing over the river and cross on the cable car. Our 4×4 shuttle vehicle will meet you on the other side of the river to take you back to Santa Marta for the bus to San Jose. If you made arrangements for a shuttle transportation to another location instead of San Jose, those shuttle details will be ready for you, as well.
Rios Lodge is a magical place for kids. The zipline canopy tour, nature hikes, natural waterfall swimming pools and waterslides provide endless entertainment for kids of all ages. Families typically choose to stay at the Lodge for at least 2 nights so they can take advantage of this unique jungle playground and deeply connect together. Kids often don’t want to leave! Parents should expect to be with their kids at all times on the trails or creeks though, it is a real jungle environment! Our raft in and hike out lodge access option is perfect for families with kids under 12 who are too young to raft the lower section of the Pacuare River.
We make it easy for you to get to your rafting or hiking starting point for your Rios Lodge vacation. All lodge packages include shuttle transportation from San Jose, to either your hiking or rafting meeting place. In addition, other transportation shuttles are available as separate add-ons for your trip from La Fortuna, Puerto Viejo, Turrialba, and Siquirres. Just select what you need at check out online.
See our FAQ – How Do I Get to Rios Lodge for more details.
Hiking into the Rios Lodge: Rios Tropicales Reserve Trail Hike
Get ready for a unique and exceptional rainforest hiking experience to our remote Rios Lodge today! It’s an early start with a pickup between 6am and 7am in San Jose and a drive along the spectacular Braulio Carrillo highway east to the tiny town of Santa Marta. There you’ll switch to a smaller vehicle and drive the final few miles to the beautiful Pacuare Butterfly Garden (Mariposas del Pacuare) in El Tigre. You’ll arrive between 9am and 10am. Relax and enjoy a tour of the Butterfly Garden and a traditional Costa Rican lunch.
You will depart by about 12pm and 12:30pm via a 15 minute shuttle to the trailhead of the Rios Tropicales Reserve Trail to begin your hike into the Rios Lodge. Stop often to revel in the lush rainforest’s huge trees and brilliant flowers as you cruise down the trail for approximately 2.6 km (1.6 miles) to the river. There you’ll cross a suspension bridge right at the entrance to the famous lower Pacuare Gorge, which is also just downstream of the Rios Lodge. From the bridge, it’s about 100 yards upstream to the lodge.
Rafting into the Lodge: Pacuare River
Today is the day! Fantastic white water rafting on Costa Rica’s most famous pristine jewel – the Pacuare River – awaits you! After an early pickup from San Jose, you’ll get to the rafting Linda Vista put-in about 9:30-10:30am. There you’ll prepare for your rafting trip with a safety briefing, gear up with rafting equipment, and put your luggage into a dry bag for safe transportation on rafts to the lodge. Changing rooms and bathrooms are at the put-in.
The wonderful, fun Class 1-3 rapids and scenery of the Pacuare River will entertain you for the next couple of hours as you raft right to the Rios Lodge. You’ll arrive by early afternoon to the Rios Lodge with a delicious traditional Costa Rican lunch awaiting you. Actual time on the river will vary pending water levels. Minimum age is 6 years old to raft this first half of the Pacuare River to the lodge.
Afternoon at the Lodge
Settle into your lodge room, and explore the lodge property at your leisure for the afternoon. Waterfalls, hiking trails, swimming holes, and hammocks on the decks all beckon. If you’ve booked an afternoon zipline canopy tour, you’ll do that anytime before 5pm. The zipline canopy tour is an hour long and onsite. Cocktail hour is about 5pm at the dining pavilion, followed by dinner about 7pm.
Today is a full day at the lodge and doing any Guided Activities you either booked in advance or decide you’d like to book today! Start with fresh Costa Rican coffee and listen to the jungle awaken with birdsong, howler monkeys, the river and weather. Coffee is ready early by 6am, and breakfast starts at 7am. If you booked a Dawn Patrol Canopy Tour, you’ll be off to do that after coffee and before breakfast.
Guided activities typically start about 10am, like horseback riding, guided waterfall hikes, tubing, and rappelling and take several hours. You’ll either have lunch out on your activity, or back at the lodge. Lunch is served between 12pm and 1pm at the open air dining pavilion.
Afternoon activities typically start about 1:30pm, and you’ll be back to the lodge by late afternoon, and ideally in time for cocktails on the deck about 5pm!
If you are doing self-guided activities, the day is yours to be as active or relaxed as you wish.
Sipping rich Costa Rican coffee as you listen for howler monkeys and watch toucans flying overhead is an awesome start to your day in the rainforest! If you booked a Dawn Patrol Canopy Tour, you’ll be off to do that after coffee and before breakfast.
Coffee is ready early at the lodge, about 6am, while breakfast is served at about 7am – enjoy stretching or yoga moves on the river viewing deck. Checkout is at 9am.
Hiking out of Rios Lodge: Pacuare River Trail
Hikers will depart from the lodge about 10am via the Pacuare River Trail. The Pacuare River Trail travels upstream along the river for 1.5 km (0.9 miles) to a traditional cable car crossing over the Pacuare River. The hike is moderate, with some hills and flat sections. It takes approximately 15-30 minutes, depending on your fitness level and how many pictures you stop to take. Your primary luggage (carryon size bag) will be carried out via the trail for you. You’ll carry out any other personal back or day pack.
The cable car crossing is used by local communities and Rios Lodge staff and guests to access trails on the side of the river with no other roads. This kind of short, open cable car ride is common to traditional river communities. After crossing the river on the cable car, a shuttle will take you up the 4×4 river access road and back to Santa Marta (approximately 20-25 minutes) to catch your shuttle back to San Jose. If you booked a return shuttle to somewhere else, those arrangements will be ready for you, as well.
Rafting out of Rios Lodge: Pacuare River Gorge
Rafting guests will depart about 10am to raft the spectacular lower Pacuare Gorge. The Pacuare River Gorge includes thrilling Class 3-4 whitewater, tropical wildlife and birds, and mesmerizing canyon high waterfalls. National Geographic rates the Pacuare River one of the top 10 whitewater rivers in the world. Your rafting trip on this lower section of the Pacuare River from Rios Lodge will take between 2 and 4 hours depending on the water levels. The trip takes out near the town of Siquirres. Your return shuttle to San Jose will meet you at the rafting takeout. If you booked a return shuttle to somewhere else, those arrangements will be ready for you, as well. The minimum age is 12 years old to raft the lower Pacuare River through the Gorge.
IMPORTANT PLANNING TIP
We recommend that guests book any return travel flights for the day after your lodge stay ends. Arrival back in San Jose typically is between 5pm and 8pm, and can vary widely due to traffic.
- Lodging for 2 nights and 3 days.
- Lunch and dinner on Day 1 (arrival day).
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Day 2.
- Breakfast and lunch on Day 3 (departure day).
- Guided Hiking or Pacuare Rafting into and out of the lodge.
- Professionally trained and bilingual guides.
- Access to conservation lands and hiking trails on our 2,000 acre Pacuare River Conservation Area.
- Transportation of luggage for RAFTERS
- You will get a dry bag to put your luggage into for rafting into and out of the lodge on the Pacuare River. Pack light with one soft sided bag. Your day pack, if you bring one will also fit in this dry bag.
- Transportation of luggage for HIKERS
- You will get a dry bag to put 1 bag into for rafting into the lodge from the cable car river crossing on the Pacuare River.
- We will carry your luggage to the cable car, and provide transportation from the cable car river crossing back to Santa Marta and on to San Jose.
- Secure storage of unneeded luggage is available for hikers.
- Transportation shuttles to other locations: La Fortuna, Puerto Viejo, Siquirres, or Turrialba. These are available separately if desired when you book your reservation.
- Guided Activities: You can add on any guided activity to your package when you book your reservation, like ziplining, horseback riding, and more.
- Additional gratuities for lodge staff: A 10% gratuity is already included in your package price for meals. Additional gratuities for lodge staff are always appreciated, but not required. All lodge tips are shared across all lodge staff.
- Gratuities for guides: Gratuities for your guides are always appreciated, but not required. A typical tip is 10% to 20% of the cost of your guided activity.
- Additional beverages and food are available outside of standard meal times, at a la carte costs.
- Closed toe shoes (sneakers or river specific shoes) or strapped water sandals (for example Chacos, Astrals, Tevas)
- Quick drying swimsuit or shorts and top
- Sunglasses and eyeglass strap retainer, especially for prescription glasses! (for example: Chums)
- Ecofriendly, waterproof sunscreen
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Clothes (evenings can be a little cooler depending on time of the year)
- Medications and toiletries
- Quick drying swimsuit or shorts and top
- Closed toe shoes (sneakers or river specific shoes) or strapped water sandals (Chacos, Astrals and Tevas are the most common) for the river
- Small day pack
- Light hiking shoes or sneakers for hiking
- Light and quick drying hiking clothes
- Croakies and sunglasses
- Ecofriendly, waterproof sunscreen
- Light rainjacket
- Insect repellent
- Water bottle