Geographical position
Mountain ranges
Educational system
Health care



Costa Rica is cut by the net of 200 rivers. It has more rivers and volume of waters (per square kilometer) than any other country in the world (except New Zealand).

In the majority they origins in the central mountains and hills of the country. After heavy rains, some rivers can turn into avalanches of tree trunks and stones, called "cabezas de agua" (heads of water). It can cause large-scale floods. Rivers are rated from class I to VI in degree of dificulty in rafting.

Rio Chirripo

(Class III, IV). It origins in the highest peak in the country (Chirripo) and flows into the Carribean Sea. Its bed creates the eastern border between Cartago and Limon provinces. It stands out with massive volumes, flows that reach upwards of 15.000 cubic feet per second and giant waves (up to 4,5 metres high). It commonly floods in the wet season making perfect conditions for rice cultivating in nearby terrains.

Rio Colorado

It belongs to the labirynth of rivers, that wind through the Barra del Colorado Reserve in North-East part of the country. It`s a arm of border San Juan river and falls into the Caribbean Sea. At its banks the wild fowl, tapirs, sloths, jaguars, cuguars and ocelots are spotted. It`s popular among anglers because of aboundance of snook and ballenas fishes. From the 100-meter high old bridge are held bungee jumping.

Rio Corobici

It`s 40 kms long tributary of Bebedero River that flows into gulf of Nicoya. It origins from the slopes of volcano Tenorio and is one of the gentlest Costa Rica river that is good for rafting (class III)). It`s lined in its whole length by a strip of tropical riparian forests and flows through extensive ranches. In 1522 Gil Gonzalez Davila crossed that.

Rio Estrella

In spanish its name means "the starry river". It`s spawned in the foothills of the Matama Hills (part of the Talamanca massif), through the valley of the same name and falls into Caribbean Sea. Near the coast Rio Estrella gives rise to a dense network of channels and lagoons that provide shelter for 180 species of birds (among others for cattle egrets). It origins in La Amistad International National Park. On the distance from Pandora village to the mouth spread banana plantations.

In XVI century Juan Vasquez de Coronado come to there and discovered the golden sands. In 1976 over that was built the bridge that links Costa Rica with the rest of Talamanca coast.

Rio Frio

It snakes down from the flanks of Tenorio Volcano. Then it flows to the north border of the country and falls into Nicaragua Lake (in Nicaragua). It flows through Los Chiles village Cano Negro National Reserve. It`s inhabited by caimans, gars, tarpons and rainbow basses. At its convergence with Rio Sabogal tarpons up to 45 kg are aboundant.

Rio General

(Class III, IV). It flows in the vicinity of San Isidro del General. It`s the country longest #00ccff-water river and one of three the most popular rivers in Costa Rica perfect for rafting and canoeing. It flows up to 10.000 m/s. On its stretches there are a cataract called the "whirlpool". The river is noted also because of the depth cataractas Chirripo Grande, Chacalaca and Mexicana. It`s noted for up to 6 meters waves, perfect for surfing, so called "whirlpool" (that submerges kayaks for few seconds under the water) and boulder (rock) resembling an elephant.

Rio Grande de Orosi

It origins in the slopes of Cuerici peak. It flows through Tapanti National Reserve, and unites with Rio Macho entering the Lake Cachi (13.000 years ago it was blocked by volcanic lava and gave a rise to that lake). It provides hydroelectric power and drink water for some San Jose areas. There the rainbow trouts aboundance.

Rio Grande de Tarcoles

It is born by the confluence of two rivers: Virilla and Poas (generally it got the waters of all rivers flowing through San Jose). In one distance it forms the part of the Alajuela and San Jose provinces. It falls to the Pacific Ocean and flows through the Carara Reserve (due to its seasonal floodings there are formed large marshes). Its basin covers an area 2.189 km (4,6 % of the country territory). It`s the biggest place where crocodiles in Costa Rica exist. It was counted that there are 240 crocodiles per each kilometer. On its banks stand out some archeological sites like Lomas de Entierro.

Rio Jesus Maria

It origins at the foot of hills near Atenas (Alajuela province), and then flows to the west falling into the Nicoya Bay a few kilometres to the south of Puntarenas. At some distance it forms part of the border between Alajuela and Puntarenas provinces. At its mouth, there is a Tivives lake covered by mangroves. There live the parakeets flights. Around the lake there is a tropical rain forest. Nevertheless some years ago it was contaminated by cyanide used in the process of mining the gold.

Rio Maria Aguilar

It origins in the western part of San Jose metropolitan area. It flows through the southern part of capital and confluences with rio Tiribi. It`s very polluted. It flows through San Jose. On August 29th 2002 it flooded barrio Cuba in capital.

Rio Naranjo

(Rio Mangue or Rio Estrella). (Class III). It origins in the pacific slopes of Cordillera Talamanca. It descends through thick jungle and stands out with huge volcanic bolders inside its waters. Its mouth is within the Manuel Antonio National Park and is accented by rocky Mogote island. It was a site of first settlement of Quepoa Indians. In 1923 in its vicinity was built the huts for banana plantations. In 1991 there was caught the world record pacific black snook.

Rio Pacuare

(Rio Suerre). It`s considered as the most perfect river for rafting. In sum, it`s spread on distance of 134 kilometres. It begins on the peak of Cuerici. In majority it`s lined with jungle. A few spectacular waterfalls fall to it. On 30 kilometres stretch, between villages San Martin and Siguirres, it`s classified as III and IV class of rafting. It slices through rainforests and mountain gorges and falls into the Caribbean sea. Along its banks there are a few isolated Indian settlements. In some places the sugar cane plantations are stuck to that. From the bottom protrude stones and rocks. In 1986 was declared a wild and scenic river and have protected status conferred upon it by government (it`s the first river to be so protected in Central America).

Rio Parismina

It origins in the slopes of Turrialba volcano. In the lower part close to the outlet, it is united with Rio Reventazon. It`s considered to be the oldest and most famous sportfishing area in Costa Rica. It`s popular because of the tarpon fishes (the record fish was taken there in 1978). There are also snooks (there was taken a world record snook: 24,3 kg, 123,3 cms of length), tunas (in the outlets) and wahoos. On the beaches in the river mouth, the green turtles lay their eggs (special patrols of control the territory against poachers).

Rio Reventazon

(class II - V). The best river for rafting, ranked as the 10th in the world in that respect. (In 1978, on that was made the first white water exploration of Costa Rica rivers). It flows out from the Cachi lake, cascades down the eastern slope of Cordillera Central to the Caribbean plains, and entered into river Parismina. It has been giving San Jose the access to the Caribbean for many centuries. At the distance from the Cachi dam to Turrialba bridge, 50.000 tourists rafts on every year. With that river is referred the legend "Sniveller", about a young girl, who threw her illegitimate child into the river (they say, her cry is heard till today). In 1543 Diego de Guttierez come to Costa Rica from Nicaragua through that river.

Rio Sabalo

It`s situated in North-West corner of the Guanacaste province. It has 16 kms of lenght. Its name in Spanish means "tarpon fish". It origins in the slopes of volcan Orosi, flows northwards, cross the border with Nicaragua and flows into the Nicaragua Lake. I flows through a few climatic and herbal zones. (It links the hottest and the most moisture regions in the country). Its banks are covered by decideous and evergreen, dry forests. Grasses are always green to the east of river. Around its rapids snooks fishes abound.

Rio Sapoa

(Quebrada Jorgo). It origins in the slopes of Orosi volcano and entered to Nicaraguan territory finally flowing into the lake of Nicaragua. It has 25 kms of length and the point where it entered into Nicaragua territory is considered to be the northernmost point of Costa Rica. Its name was given also to the revolution 1919 which broke out within around.

Rio San Juan

Border river between Costa Rica-Nicaragua. It flows for 199 kms (135 kms create a border). It links the Nicaragua Lake (in Nicaragua) with Caribbean Sea. In its water live saw fishes, tarpons and fresh-water sharks. It collects waters from streams in the northern lowlands of Costa Rica and has on a avarage 250 metres of width. In 1850 there the first commercial passanger service was opened. At the end of XIX century was born the idea of dugging the Nicaragua Canal linking both oceans, but after the eruption of Mt. Pelee volcano in Martinique in 1902 it was gave up (due to the fear the devastating power of adjacent volcanoes). For many years it has been the point of dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica over the navigational rights.

Rio Sarapigui

It descens from Barva volcano, runs along the eastern flank of the Cordillera Central, falls into bordering San Juan river that subsiguently falls into Caribbean Sea. On many stretches its banks are stuck to the thick tropical jungle. It flows among others through Puerto Viejo de Sarapigui. It`s inhabited by crocodiles. People sail down through it in motorized dugout canoes (due to the great number of canoes it was called "Vietnam river"). The upper stretches are distinguished by many cataractas and steps. It`s clasified as a III class for canoeing. Often it`s used for tourist flowing boats, during which participants can observe the birds. It`s noted for its crystal clear waters.

Rio Savegre

(Rio Division). (Class II, III). It begins in the slopes of Cerro de la Muerte, winds down deep valleys and pours into Pacific, to the south of Quepos. It`s full of trouts. It`s considered as one of the most secluded river due to the fact it moves through very isolated region full of thick forests. It gets steeper and more difficult further up. It is distinguished by great boulders stuck from that. People transport themselves there by two-man canoes called "duckies".

Rio Sierpe

It origins in the lake of the same name, winds down separating Osa peninsula from the rest of the land and flows into the Coronado bay. Together with Rio Terraba it creates a delta which is the most extensive area of mangrove swamps in Costa Rica. There is a conviction that a pirate Francisco Drake used it to take himself into the interior of the country. Its tributaries make up the densely network through mangrove swamps surrounded by white cliffs. In its upper parts there are vast raphia palm forests. At its mouth there is unspoiled Violin Beach. On some parts of the river considerably large stone stick out.

Rio Sixaola

The bordering Costa Rica - Panama river. It origins in Valley of Talamanca (by the unity of a few trubutaries: Rio Coen, Rio Uren, Rio Lari and Rio Telire). It winds through the banana plantation terrains and falls into the Caribbean Sea. Its estuary is covered by the biggest concentration in the country of red mangroves. From the beginning at its mouth Spaniards tried to build the settlements (in 1540 the first carribean settlement in Costa Rica San Marcos port was established and in 1605 Diego de Sojo funded Santiago de Talamanca). In 1939 on the bridge over the river was signed the historical border peace agreement with Panama. In Nevember 2001 it overflooded due to the heavy rains.

Rio Sucio

(IV class river). It origins in the slopes of Irazu volcano and flowing down creatures a part of a border between Cartago and San Jose provinces. It continues through Braulio Carillo National Park in Heredia province and entered into San Juan river. Thanks to golden-brown shade of water, it`s called "the dirty river". Its coloration is due to sulfuric deposits on Volcan Irazu. The river is destinguished by steep drop. In its central part hungs the bridge that is a part of San Jose - Limon route. In 1994 due to sudden eruption of Irazu volcano its lava fell into the river and cold down.

Rio Tabacon

It origins from the Arenal volcano foot. It continues tumbling down through lava fields which heats it naturally to 42 C (that makes it perfect for boiling). It`s used by private lodge where its water are sent through maze of pools and gardens (they say the minerals inside heal skin disease. In 1975 after the sudden Arenal volcano eruption, the lava flows straight through its bed.

Rio Tempisque

The second longest river in Costa Rica (159 kilometres). It flows through Palo Verde National Park. On its banks, jabiru stork (the biggest stork in the world) laid there their eggs. On some parts of its banks is covered by mangroves. There are popular canoeing and angling. The spring emerged from the Cacao Volcano slope and the river falls into Nicoya Bay. There is an island Pajaros (birds) - a very important nesting site for many species of birds. Between both banks, the cars ferry runs. The lower Tempsique is surrounded by hills of limestone that were formed by corals some 50 millions years ago and changed the course of Tempsique (that once flowed directly out to sea). It is constantly dredged and its sand due to giving a work reasons for many families is called "black sand". In 1522 Gil Gonzalez Davila crossed through the river. Now near its outlet is being built the bridge La Amistad.

Rio Terraba

The longest Costa Rica river (196 kilometres). It flows through steep canyons from the southern slopes of Cordillera Talamanca (became from the confluation of two rivers: Coto Brus and Rio General) and starts meandering to the coast at Coronado Bay. It cuts into two separate parts by two twin settlements: Palmar Norte and Palmar Sur. Together with Sierpe river, it creates the biggest mangrove swamps in the country (it`s full of granite precolombian spheres). It`s navigated only 20 kms upstream. Its delta extends 40 kilometres of shoreline. In 1522 Gonzalez Davila as the first European who come to its banks. Getting the rheumatism, he had to spend 15 days in the treatment in one of Indian huts placed in the Terraba river fork. In the same period, the catastrophic flooding appeared.

Rio Tiribi

It origins in the slopes of Irazu volcano and flows through the southern part of San Jose. It confluences with rio Maria Aguilar and futher unites with rio Torres. In 1868 the first pipe-line carried its water for San Jose. In 1889 there was funded the first hydropower plant Anonos. According to a legend, in that river used to drawn a woman called "La Tulevieja", who tried to take out her old stained hat. They say, that till today it`s heard the echo saying "la tulevieja, tulevieja...".

Rio Torres

It flows through the middle of San Jose metropolitan area (it forms the northern boundary of famous Barrio Amon). It unites with Rio Tiribi and further flows into Rio Virilla. It`s very polluted. There is a plan to create a botanical garden and tourist walkways along its bed.

Rio Virilla

It origins in the slopes of Irazu volcano, flows through norhtern suburbs of San Jose and gatheres waters of three other San Jose metropolitan area rivers: Torres, Maria Aguilar and Tiribi. Further it confluences with Rio Poas and forms the Rio Grande de Tarcoles. On it there is the hydropower plant Brasil II.

2004; SLUPSK; Rafal Cezary Piechocinski