I got back a few days ago from our first annual SOAR to Costa Rica Adventure with 8 folks from the US. I think I can say for all (and hope that others who were on this trip will contribute to this thread!) that we had a wonderful time.
We paddled on 5 different rivers in 8 days. 3 rivers were flatwater w/ excellent current and great birdlife and wildlife sightings: Rio Puerto Viejo, Rio Penas Blancas, Rio Tenorio / Corobici. 2 rivers were whitewater rivers with some very fun, technical rapids: Rio Sarapaqui, Rio Savegre.
On all rivers but the Sarapaqui, we were the only ones paddling, and enjoyed a great sense of solitude and rainforest wilderness.
In addition, we hiked through several biological stations / ecological preserves, and national parks. I'll leave out the specifics on the differernt bird / mammal / marsupial sightings out, but we couldn't have asked for more.
We were fortunate to have a local guide Fofo to lead us throughout the country and down the rivers that he has been exploring for more than 15 years. He has a great knowledge of the natural history of the various types of forests (rain, cloud, dry), yet on several rivers he hired a local guide who's keen eyes were able to spot animals and birds that we would have surely missed on our own.
His many friendships throught the parts of Costa Rica we travelled allowed Fofo to share w/ us not only private river put-ins and personal tours, but also the wonderful food. We ate very well to say the least.
The trip was orgazined by Josh Cohen of Wild Planet / InnerQuest Adventures. Josh did an awesome job of setting us up w/ the best possible lodges, a great bus driver who got us from river to river and met us at every takeout, and of course an introduction to Fofo who has now become a true SOAR fan. He marveled at the ease and fun of paddling SOARs down all the rivers. Because of Fofo, I anticipate that we will begin to see more and more SOARs running rivers in Costa Rica.
Trip participants: Irana and Wally Willey, Bridget and Dan Cramer, Kyra and Richard Bronson, and Andy and Josh Black. Plus me!! We had a blast!
We'll be running a very similar trip again in late January / early February 2006