Costa Rica and Ecuador: it is not which country to visit, but which one to visit first
The repeat rate of our trip participants between the two countries is not only a reflection of the quality of trips we run in both countries, but the quality of the countries themselves. Both Costa Rica and Ecuador are known for their eco-tourism, warm cultures, appealing climates and ease of travel. We can plan custom trips that include multi-sport vacations with itineraries that include whitewater kayaking, rafting, bird watching, hiking, waterfalls, yoga retreats and cultural immersion. Following will help you decide which you will choose for this year’s travel plans.
Destination Costa Rica
Along with some of the most exciting whitewater kayaking anywhere, Costa Rica offers an abundance of fascinating wildlife and flora. Costa Rica is one of the most popular vacation destinations for international travelers. The country boasts vast ecosystems to explore — from rain forest to cloud forest to lovely beaches.
- Tourism is one of the top three economies of the country.
- The infrastructure is very accommodating to a traveler looking for a comfortable vacation.
- If you have never traveled outside the US, Costa Rica is a good place to start.
The diversity of this country is amazing! In this Inca nation, you have the opportunity to experience the towering Andes, climb snow-capped volcanoes, the Amazon jungle, the Galapagos Islands, and the Pacific Coast–all in one amazing country.
- Enjoy a bit more of an adventure travel vacation in comparison to Costa Rica.
- Ecuador is becoming known as the eco-tourism destination of Latin America.
- The Oriente of Ecuador – destination for the paddling segment of our trips, boasts a “wet season” and a “wetter season,” with weather patterns coming from both the Pacific and the Amazon.
For whitewater kayakers, once you decide on the destination, then it’s a matter of which trip is right for you. Following are a breakdown of the levels of trips we offer in each country and rivers that will make you feel prepared.
Class II – Class IV+: Which Level International Kayak Trip Is Best for You
In both Costa Rica and Ecuador we offer trips from Class II-III up to Class IV+. Our trip itineraries are designed to paddle classic runs with fellow-boaters, and to enjoy the culture of a foreign country. You are planning a paddling vacation, so please be sure to choose a trip with which you will be comfortable and enjoy. Paddling in a foreign country adds variables not found on “backyard runs” paddlers are used to back home. Rivers tend to be remote and access off the river can be limited to impossible. Water levels can fluctuate dramatically in rain-forest setting. It is important that you choose a trip that is suitable for your skill level.
In an effort to help you choose the trip most enjoyable, we offer a list of rivers under each skill level that we feel are accurate comparisons:
Class II-III Trip: Paddlers on this trip should have a fairly consistent whitewater roll. Rivers that will help you enjoy the trip include:
- N. Fork of the American, CA (Shirttail Run), CA
- Wolf River, WI (Sec III),WI
- Lehigh River (Whitehaven to Rockport),
- Nantahala River, NC,
- Section III of the Chattooga River,GA
- Hiawassee River, GA
- Lower Pigeon, NC
Class III Trip: Paddlers on this trip should have confidence rolling in Class III rapids. To enjoy a Class III trip, the following rivers will help you prepare:
- Ocoee, TN (from Second Helping to the takeout)
- Shoshone Section of the Colorado,CO
- Lower Section of the Roaring Fork,CO
- Section III of the Chattooga,GA
- Chili Bar Section of the South Fork of the American,CA
- Brown’s Canyon of the Arkansas,CO
- Westwater Canyon of the Colorado,
- Deerfield River,
- French Broad River, NC
- Pigeon River, NC
Class III-IV Trip: This trip is for paddlers who run an occasional Class IV rapid, but prefer a Class III river to a Class IV river. Paddlers should be comfortable on rivers such as:
- S. Fork of the American (Riverton to Peavine), CA
- Kern River (Miracle Run), CA
- Numbers of the Arkansas River, CO
- Wolf River (Otter Slide to Big Smoky), WI
- Ocoee River (with no trouble at Broken Nose), TN
- Section III and III+ of the Chattoga (including Bulls Sluice), GA
- Lower Gauley River, WV
- New River, WV
- Lower Youghegheny, PA
- Lower Tellico River, TN
Class IV Trip: Paddlers on a Class IV trip should have a solid whitewater roll, preferably on both sides.Boaters should be comfortable catching eddies and making moves on Class IV rivers such as:
- Section IV of the Chattooga
- the Upper and Lower Gauley
- Upper Yougheghaney,PA
- Lower Tuolome, CA
- Royal Gorge of the Arkansas or Slaughter House Section of the Roaring Fork, CO
- Upper Ocoee River, TN
- North Chick Creek, Gorge Section, TN
- Little River in the Park, NC
- Upper Tellico River, TN
Class IV+ Trip: This trip is for paddlers who paddle Class V rapids, but prefer Class IV runs. On Class IV+ trips, paddlers should be comfortable paddling on new, unfamiliar runs, where boat scouting is more the norm than the exception. Paddlers should have and use a roll on both sides. Class IV+ paddling includes being able to handle running high water runs on:
- Section IV of the Chattooga,GA
- Slaughter House, Numbers of the Arkansas, CO
- North Fork of the Skykomish, WA
- the Cal Salmon
- Upper Gauley, WV
- Pine Creek of the Arkansas, CO
- Cheoah River, NC
- Cain Creek, TN
- Narrows of the Green River, NC
- Watauga River (Guys Ford to Lake), NC
If you need help with the scale of difficulty, resource the American Whitewater International Scale of Difficulty to help you determine which trip is best for you. And never hesitate to speak with us personally about your river experience and the right trip for you.
A note about the roll:
Your trip is scheduled for later in the season, when many boaters have already called it a season at home. Come on this trip with confidence in your whitewater roll. If you have been having problems with your roll this past season, plan on spending a day or two at the pool before your trip or book a day of instruction with us. You will have a much better time!