Travel to Costa Rica, the other happiest country on earth, to achieve a different state of mind.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Travel to Costa Rica, the other happiest country on earth, to achieve a different state of mind.
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With frothy, churning waters and large smooth boulders just visible beneath the surface, the mighty Pacuare River carves an imposing path through miles of pristine Costa Rican rainforest.

The gushing river looks intimidating, but rafting is the only way for visitors to access Pacuare Lodge, one of the most exclusive luxury resorts in the country. Located in the heart of this primordial rainforest shared with jaguars and ocelots, the property opens itself to those that dare to take their chances with the river.

Still, despite the blustery first impression, the journey is not as precarious as it seems.

Our guide, who deftly navigates the rapids as we paddle, reassures us that falling into the emerald green water happens only occasionally and is hardly life-threatening, especially with life jackets and helmets in place.

Instead, the most common mistake amateur rafters make is to shut their eyes and scream, which means they not only miss out on all the sights, but also put themselves at risk of ingesting water-borne bacteria.

“Keep your eyes open and your mouth closed,” he quips, and off we go. The twohour sojourn down the river is exhilarating and relaxing in equal parts. The first few rapids are gentler in terms of navigation, akin to a drive on a bumpy pothole-riddled road, but the experience gets more intense as we head downstream.

In between bouts of adrenalinfuelled paddling, there’s plenty of opportunities to gaze into the forest canopy in the company of lazy sloths and curious electric blue morpho butterflies. At particularly calm stretches, we disembark and lower ourselves into the comfortably tepid waters, drifting along with the gentle current.
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