What to bring on a rafting tour?
When you are planning to do a Rafting tour in Costa Rica, it is important to consider what to bring, because the safest adventures are only possible by the combination of good guides, detailed information and, excellent equipment. The basic equipment like Personal Flotation Devise (lifejacket), helmet, and paddle are normally provided by the rafting companies, but there is some other gear that is important to wear to enjoy fun and safe rafting trips.
Rivers in Costa Rica like the Balsa River may be very rocky, and some good rapids maybe only are 2 or 3 feet deep. Coming from the base of the Volcanos those rocks may be sharp and irregular. In case of falling out of the raft, we must assume the white water swimming position, which is; to lay on your back keeping your feet first downstream, so your feet will become like a shield, protecting the rest of your body, our legs are flexible and stronger than our arms, this is the best you can do when floating on a rapid.
Once this is cleared, is easy to understand that going rafting barefoot is a really bad idea. Something similar happens when people use flip-flops, “It’s ok I have done it before!” they say. But the truth is that working as river guides we have seen thousands of broken nails, and millions of flip flop going all the way down to Nicaragua.
The safest rafting shoes are regular hiking shoes, sneakers, tennis shoes, diving boots, and any type of shoe that covers your toes and is well tied and closed around your ankle.
Sunblock is important, but NOT on your forehead ?!
We normally down rivers at noon trying to avoid the rain from the afternoon, the rapids reflects the sunlight so we get lots of sunlight hitting us from all over, using a waterproof sunblock is a good idea, but when we apply sunblock on the forehead, the first splash of the waves makes the sunblock come down over your eyes right away, causing discomfort and irritation. The lifejacket covers your chest and back so the most exposed parts of your body are your front legs and shoulders and arms so you can apply sunblock here liberally.
What about sunglasses ??
Sunglasses tend to get foggy with the water splash, and in case of using prescription glasses, we recommend you get straps, or any type of string holder, even better when it floats. The splash of the waves often makes sunglasses get ejected out of the raft when not using holders.
Everybody likes bathing suits, especially at tropical rivers, however, be careful with little tiny bikinis ?, because this girl may spend more time adjusting the bathing suit than using the paddle. The ¨get down¨ position when hitting a big wave or a rapid makes you move your buttocks and legs up and down very often and it may cause some friction of your bathing suit and the raft. The leggings work perfectly!
Don’t worry about using wetsuit or winter clothes, the water is not that cold and we make sure we keep you busy with the paddle to keep your body warm, however, you kids may use a wetsuit or rainjacket when they are not big enough to hold a paddle and they just sit on the raft, especially on rainy days.
Caps or hats are not comfortable under the helmet, so you don’t need them, besides it doesn’t look cool.
What NOT to bring?
To make it simple to understand, the bottom of the rivers where we rafting, are full of sunglasses, go pro cameras, wedding rings, earrings, watches, hotel key cards, wallets, credit cards, and millions of phones.
Some people will answer: -It’s ok my camera floats, -I have a waterproof phone. If you don’t trust in our experience we won’t force you to leave stuff in the bus, Nicaraguan people at the lower section of the river love all this floating devise. Some of our customers send them lots of cameras, phones, and flip-flops every season.
Follow this recommendation, book with Arenal Rafting Company, and enjoy the best adventure of your vacation!