Costa Rica Adventure Travel: Ultimate ‘Eco-Immersion’ with Chill

This month, GearJunkie partnered with CamelBak and Ardmore, Penn., based Chill Expeditions on a project to send two readers to Costa Rica. (Sign up here at our “Off Grid & All Clear” page for a chance at the prize.) We caught up with Chill Expeditions this week and asked the company to pick three of the ultimate “eco-immersion” experiences the country can offer. Here’s the kind of adventure you can expect if you travel with Chill (or if you’re the lucky winner of our sweepstakes next week!). —Stephen Regenold

Rafting the Pacuare River — On the Caribbean slope of the country, loaded with Class III and IV rapids, deep canyons dripping with verdant green rainforest and abundant waterfalls, flows the Pacuare River. Rafting this river means a day full of adrenaline and stunning beauty. But given the right context and a dose of local authenticity, this experience can be taken to a whole new level.

To that point: Alongside this river sits a remote indigenous village which has been home to a community of Cabecar people for hundreds of years. As the customized eco-immersion experiences with Chill often flow, you have likely worked hand-in-hand with an indigenous community on a service project a couple days before rafting, so you have an understanding of their way of life.

As you are rafting, you are introduced to the proposed dam on the Pacuare River and its threat to the Cabecar community, the river’s biodiversity, as well as the area economy, which is fueled by eco-tourism.

The following day, you may visit your rafting guide’s hometown of Tres Equis, where you kick the soccer ball around with the local kids and learn to make tortillas with your guide’s mom. Now that is a rafting experience that will profoundly impact your life for years to come!

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.