About Us

Celebrating 35 Years of Award Winning Costa Rica Adventures!

We’re Celebrating 35 Years of Adventures + Conservation!

We are thrilled to be celebrating 35 years of Costa Rica adventures and conservation! We are grateful for the thousands of friends, customers and partnerships we have made along the way through our rafting, kayaking, biking,  hiking and nature adventures, our rainforest reserve tree planting and conservation program, our International Rafting Federation involvement, and our international training collaborations with startup rafting companies in Bhutan, Colombia, and other parts of the world.

As we look back on this journey, we have been inspired by a love of nature, rivers, community, and shared global collaboration to do our part to support positive solutions for our beloved Costa Rica and the planet.

The History of Rios Tropicales

Founded in 1985, Rios Tropicales started with kayaking and whitewater rafting trips on the Sarapiqui River, expanding to the pristine Pacuare River and many more rivers throughout Costa Rica. Over the years, we’ve added other adventure tours like zip lining, biking, hiking, sea kayaking, horseback riding, nature safari tours, and more. We design authentic experiences that inspire a positive impact on the environment, benefitting people and the planet now and in the future.

Three childhood friends — Rafael Gallo, Fernando Esquivel and Jimmy Nixon — had a simple dream to pursue a love of paddling, show Costa Ricans the beautiful wilderness of their country, and to protect the forests and rivers. From the start of Rios Tropicales 35 years ago to today, their deep connection with Costa Rica and their unwavering commitment to environmental protection are still apparent in every aspect of the company. Rios Tropicales played a key role in stopping a hydroelectric dam on the Pacuare River in the 1990s and now protects 2,470 acres, comprising the largest private rainforest reserve in the Pacuare River Valley where we are reforesting, caring for old-growth rainforest, and protecting wildlife. In addition, we are a completely carbon neutral tourism operator. Rios Tropicales CEO, Rafael Gallo, is a co-founder and honorary president of the International Rafting Federation, and even co-wrote the book on Costa Rica’s Rivers.

Over Three Decades of Awards in Adventures & Conservation

Rios Tropicales has been consistently recognized by National Geographic Adventure and others as one of the best adventure outfitters in Costa Rica and one of the top rafting companies in the world. Our conservation, reforestation, ecopreneurs, education, and community efforts have earned us numerous national and international awards. We are humbled and grateful for the recognition we’ve won during our long history.  See all our awards and achievements.

Rios Tropicales won the 2008 National Geographic Geotourism Award for our positive impact on the environment, our development of eco-preneurs, and our ecolodge located on the riverbank of the famous Pacuare River. It’s a wonderful community story — learn more about our Pacuare ecolodge here.

Passing It Forward: Training & Leadership for the Next Generation

Rios Tropicales is eager to promote and share best practices in rafting and adventure tourism with others around the world. From the South-South project with Bhutan and our own Costa Rica El Tigre Community, to training former Colombian FARC guerrillas in whitewater rafting and spearheading the organization of the first World Whitewater Rafting Summit of the International Rafting Federation in 2019 in Costa Rica, we strive to share the magic of adventure plus conservation with everyone.

Adventures in All of Costa Rica’s Regions

Rios Tropicales is an eco-adventure company that operates throughout Costa Rica – on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, in the mountainous central rainforest, and in the western regions. We offer adventure activities that take advantage of Costa Rica’s unique variety of environments: whitewater rafting, multisport activities that feature kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and cycling, family adventures, cultural encounters, nature and wildlife tours, and “volun-tourism”. Our mission to share the rivers, natural resources and culture of Costa Rica while sharing conservation values, has not changed since we began in 1985. Rios Tropicales was established by native Central Americans, Rafael Gallo and Jimmy Nixon from El Savador, and Fernando Esquivel from Costa Rica. Their deep connection with the region and culture are apparent in every aspect of the company.

Costa Rica is a country with a wide variety of environments: rivers and jungles in the mountainous central rainforest; a dry western region of Guanacaste; and either side is flanked by the ocean coasts of the Pacific and the Atlantic. Rios Tropicales has offices and outposts locations throughout the country: in the capital city of San Jose, central Costa Rica with the Rios Tropicales Cairo Operations Center (El Cairo de Siquirres in Central Caribe region), La Fortuna (Arenal region), Cañas (Guanacaste region) and Quepos (Manuel Antonio region). Rios Tropicales’ signature trips are the Pacuare River Rafting Adventures, offered in one through four day adventure packages, with multi-day trips staying at their acclaimed rainforest “Eco-Lodge” deep within the Pacuare Protected Zone.

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