We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Wonderful Adventure Trip in Costa Rica! The Good and Not so good...”

Desafio Adventure Company
Book In Advance
More Info
and up
Canyoning in the Lost Canyon
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Desafio Adventure Company is considered the pioneering tour outfitter in Costa Rica's Epicenter of Adventure near the Arenal Volcano since 1992. Desafio offers high-quality rafting, canyoning, biking, hiking, birdwatching, kayaking, stand up paddling, unique cultural experiences, transfer with tour services, incentive programs, volunteer opportunities and much more. We only have two rules: 1) Be Safe! and 2) Have Serious Fun! Look for Desafio in Downtown La Fortuna near the Arenal Volcano or take the Desafio Adventure Connections to the Monteverde, Guanacaste, San Jose, Manuel Antonio, Playa Samara and now Leon, Nicaragua! Desafio is family-owned and operated and your "one-stop-shop" for adventure travel in Costa Rica and beyond!
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Food available for purchase, Lockers / storage, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children
Reviewed 22 June 2010

First, I want to say that we had a wonderful trip. Desafio Adventure Co. was very accomodating and we never worried about a thing while on our vacation.
This review is to help you when planning your vacation with them and what we would do differently. We chose the Jungle/Lava/Beach Package - 8 days and 4 locations
- Transportation is always on time and the drivers are safe
- The Whitewater Rafting on the Rio Toro(Class 3 and 4) was outstanding. The guides were fun and kept us safe and laughing. Wear your teva sandals, no flip flops. You will be soaked. Bring a change of clothes.
- The Canyoneering/Rapelling down the waterfalls was wonderful and a great work-out. We had never done this before, but never felt scared with our guides. They took their time to show us exactly where to jump, how to climb and use our gear properly. Wear your running shoes with good tread on the bottom, lots of sharp, slippery rocks. You will get VERY wet. Bring a change of clothes and waterpak. No h2o until the end and your muscles will be thirsty.
- Baldi Hot Springs was PERFECT! There are several springs to choose from with waterfalls, granite pool bars and peaceful spots just for 2. Tthere are also huge waterslides in the back of the complex for the kids. It was raining when we went and I must say that is the BEST time to go! The cold rain in the evening while you are soaking in the hot springs is such an experience, not to be missed.
- Horseback Riding through the mountains was very quiet and the horses are well trained. Nixon was our guide and he is quite a character. He made us laugh and put flowers in my helmet that smelled so good.
- The Boat Ride in Samara Beach Town...we couldn't do the scheduled snorkling bc the water was too rough, so they took us out to watch the dolphins. It took about 45 min. but we found them...ALL of them. There were about 100! They were schooling all around us and jumping and spinning in the air. Too cool!!
- The Wildlife...we only saw about 6 monkeys, a few birds, butterflies, dolphins, lots of dogs in the streets. We didn't see any toucans,snakes, sloths or frogs... BUT Desafio did include these photos in our CD from the photos taken on the rafting tour and canyoneering. Loved them! If I had a choice I would trade the Zip Lining for an Eco Tour to spot more of the wildlife away from the beaten trail.
- The Hotels...Desafio will offer you the option of choosing Upper, Mid or Lower level hotels for your stay. We chose lower bc we thought we wouldn't be in our room very much. The" La Fortuna" was good, no complaints. The town of La Fortuna was great and lots of shops and things to do in the area (like the hot springs). But then it went down from there...The "Rustic Lodge" in Monteverde had no ac and no tv. I don't mind not having tv, it is rustic after all. But it rains alot, so you may want to watch a little tv. The worst part though was the walls were paper thin and you could hear everything your neighbors were doing. From using the bathroom, to other things =P The people were nice though and breakfast was good. There is also nothing to do in the area, so we would probably skip this loca next time. The "Giada Hotel" in Samara smelled of mold really bad. All of my leftover clean clothes even had to be washed, it was bad. They had 2 small pools which was a plus. Another location that is very boring. We surfed and made the best of it. But the beaches are not the kind that we are used to in Florida. Lots of driftwood and hot black volcanic sand. 1 day is all you need there.
The "Los Volcanos" in Alajuela was our last stop. One word...hostel. No privacy, in the loud city, motorbikes, horns constantly and very dirty bathroom. We were only there 1 day thank goodness. Nothing in the city was very good, polluted.
So I highly recommend the Upper level hotels. I saw some of these resorts along the way and other guests said they are sooo much nicer and more remote than ours.
- The Zip Lining in the Cloud Forest...we were not very impressed with this. The company that provides this tour is SkyTrek, not part of Desafio. The guides were all about getting you hooked on and getting through it as fast as possible. They played around too much. They would jump up and down on the bridge and make the entire tower shake. Didn't seem to care that I had a HUGE bee stinging me or offer help from their first aid kit. The views are incredible but zip lining is not that challenging. Good for families I suppose.
- Planning...I own an Event Planning Company, so I make certain every detail is considered. The only detail I think Desafio should include with your itinerary is what to wear and what to bring for EACH adventure day, not just a general "what to bring on your entire vacation" list. We really had to think about each day and made the right decisions, but some folks didn't. Some forgot their shoes or change of clothes or waterpacks and became dehydrated. Other than that, they've got you covered!
Overall our vacation was AWESOME and we had a blast. I hope this review had been helpful and I would definitely recommend going with Desafio for your Costa Rican vacation!

7  Thank quickcare
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a ReviewReviews (3,513)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
  • More languages
All reviews
"lost canyon"
in 146 reviews
"white water rafting"
in 503 reviews
"the river"
in 539 reviews
"la fortuna"
in 523 reviews
"costa rica"
in 730 reviews
"rio balsa"
in 150 reviews
"rafting trip"
in 167 reviews
"wet clothes"
in 40 reviews
"a lot of fun"
in 155 reviews
in 174 reviews
in 120 reviews
"combo tour"
in 79 reviews
"these guys"
in 126 reviews
"waterfall rappelling"
in 59 reviews
"felt safe"
in 88 reviews
"san jose"
in 87 reviews
"always on time"
in 55 reviews

2,953 - 2,957 of 3,515 reviews

Reviewed 22 June 2010

Spent two days in the La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano area as part of a GAP Adventures group tour. GAP works closely with Desafio so we were brought to their office and given a complete rundown of all the tours they offer in the area (which are aplenty satisfying everyone's different desires). I chose to do the Liquid Lava Volcano Night Hike which was great. Saw an eyelash viper, a couple spider monkeys, and a toucan on the hike and then once dark you go to a viewing area to hopefully see lava if the clouds clear from the volcano which we were lucky enough to experience. You also get cacique (a sugar cane spirit) cocktails so you can hallucinate lava if nature isn't cooperating. Then I did the Mambo Combo the next day. The Mambo Combo tour takes you canyoneering/rappelling in the morning down 4 different waterfalls (2 of which are quite high) and along the waterway through the Lost Canyon (with a couple fun surprises along the way which I won't spoil for those of you who do the canyoneering) and then you do the Class 2-3 white water rafting on the Rio Balsa in the afternoon (maybe 45 minutes or so from La Fortuna). Having never been white water rafting before, this river was a perfect amount of fun and exciting rapids without freaking me out. Both parts of the tour were awesome! Sooooo much fun! The guides are great! A ton of fun! But safe and professional at the same time. They're all young Costa Rican guys who love the adventure themselves and really enjoy sharing it with the tourists. Don't think the tours would have been nearly as awesome if not for the guides!

Thank JRock_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 June 2010

While in the Arenal area, our family of six had not planned on rafting the Rio Toro with Desafio, but on the morning of June 12, 2010, when Exploradores, another rafting company failed to pick us up at the designated location in La Fortuna for our Pacuare River rafting, we went to find a telephone to call our travel agent. I found a very helpful woman entering Desafio, but before she could help me, Giovanny took over with making phone calls to our travel agent and also to the local Exploradores Rafting company. Since there was no way we could raft the Pacuare River, we decided to try the Rio Toro after Giovanny guaranteed us we would have a great time. We were given a discount rate for the tour of $75 each. We were taken in an air conditioned bus to the drop off location where Herman gave us our rafting safety course. Herman ended up being our guide and he was awesome! We could not have had a better time on the Pacuare River and am thankful for Exploradores not picking us up. For anyone wanting to do the Pacuare River from LaFortuna, forget it. The drive is too far and you will have a fantastic time with Desafio on the Rio Toro. There were many, many rapids and our adventure was captured by a great photographer! We ended our day with an excellent meal at the private restaurant of Desafio's.

Thank rogersla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 June 2010

Took the canyoneering trip with Desafio - family of 4 with boys in their 20s. Definitely recommend for those that enjoy adventure. The ride up to the camp where you start and end the trip was a treat as well - great views on an unpaved road. The descent down the stream and 4 rappels were a thrill and the guides were very professional and friendly. Lunch at the camp in the end was a nice way to end the tour. Great alternative to the many canopy tours in the area.

This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
See more reviews
Reviewed 17 June 2010

My wife and I chose Desafio to raft the Rio Toro in the beginning of June. They picked us up at our hotel, took us to the main office where we joined the rest of the group, and then we drive to the river (about an hour). We geared up with life vests and helmets, had a safety talk, then they carried the rafts down to the river. Each raft had 4-5 plus a guide. The rafting was great! I had only been once before in TN. My wife had never been and was a bit nervous, but she had a great time. We are fit 29/30 yr olds. We spent about 2 hours on the river. Really felt like in a rainforest/jungle. Just amazing scenery of jungle surrounding you. The staff of Desafio is great and willing to assist with anything. Food after the rafting was ok. Tip: if you choose to sit up front and ride the bull, hold the rope with your hands between your legs so you can stay up on the front of the raft instead of falling back!

Thank rjlaw_1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Desafio Adventure Company also viewed

La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park

Been to Desafio Adventure Company? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing