Imagine floating down the Río Peñas Blancas on a wildlife safari tour in Arenal, Costa Rica when you look up and see colorful toucans and howler monkeys playing in the treetops.
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Wouldn’t that be awesome?!
Having done it myself, I can tell you that is indeed very awesome, which is why you shouldn’t miss out on this fun wildlife-watching eco tour when visiting La Fortuna and Arenal.
In this guide, I will detail more about what you can expect on the Peñas Blancas safari float tour on a half-day excursion from La Fortuna/Arenal. 🦋
Guide: Peñas Blancas Safari Float in Costa Rica
While the wildlife you see on the safari float near Arenal isn’t a guarantee, you are sure to see something! 🦥
That’s because the Peñas Blancas River is incredibly biodiverse and therefore teeming with all kinds of life.
On our safari tour with Raúl from Green Vacations Costa Rica, we got to see these wildlife and bird species, and then some:
- Osprey eagles
- Kingfisher birds
- The Costa Rican tayra (weasel)
- A sleepy sloth
- Herons, Egrets
- The Blue Morpho Butterfly
- And more!
Below is a brief overview of all the guided rafting and wildlife tours you can take from Arenal.
Overview of the Best Safari Tours in Arenal
A quick search on Viator will show you about a dozen of safari tours on the Peñas Blancas river outside of La Fortuna.
But which ones are worth your time and money? And which ones are appropriate for your travel group and style?
Here is a quick overview of the best safari rafting tours in Arenal.
Read more down below for an insider’s look at our tour provider of choice, Green Vacations.
⭐️ Most 5-star reviews: Canoa Aventura
👧 Best for families: Green Vacations (—who we booked with!)
🛶 Kayak version: Canoa Aventura
Green Vacations Costa Rica
After our experience with Raúl from Green Vacations Costa Rica, I’m convinced there was no one more suitable for our travel party of three (including my mom and sister).
From the get-go, we could tell the day was going to be fun.
Raúl has a contagious upbeat energy iconic of “Pura Vida” vibes, and you could tell that, even though he floats down that river nearly every day, he was truly excited to introduce and share this experience with us.
If you book with Green Vacations, I am sure you will feel this sense of pura vida, too, even if your guide for the day isn’t Raul.
We spotted tons of birds and notable wildlife during the relaxing 2-hour float.
What I really appreciated was that Raúl took the time to paddle to the shore whenever there were howler monkeys or toucans in the trees so we could take pictures and get a better look.
One of the highlights of our experience was coming across a tayra, or weasel, that was trying to attack an enormous iguana. We must have caught the weasel’s eye because he scurried right down from the branches to get a closer look at us near the shore. 👀
After such an informative and exciting yet relaxing float, we docked our inflatable raft and, finally, after two hours, saw a sloth!
He was sleeping in a tree, but we got pretty close to him! Apparently he had been there all day. 🦥
After gawking at our first wild sloth encounter, we ducked inside an outdoor café at a local farm to feast on homemade treats (the cheese, fried plantain, and banana bread were so delicious). We got to pet the racehorses, too!
Ultimately, I think what makes the Peñas Blancas safari float special is that no two experiences are alike, so make sure to go with a watchful eye, and an open mind! 🦅
The takeaway? This tour ended up becoming one of the favorites from our entire week in Costa Rica!
👉 Book your Peñas Blancas Safari Float here
Peñas Blancas Safari Float FAQs
How Much Does the Raft Safari Tour Cost?
The average tour price for this experience costs about $65 USD per person.
For our party of three, we paid a total of $199 USD — and it was well worth it! It is still my mom’s favorite memory of our Costa Rica trip.
When Is the Best Time to Go on the Wildlife Rafting Tour?
Most of the outfitters who offer the safari float tours in Arenal have two departure times—at 7 AM or 1 PM (just check in advance).
Since we had the North Fields Coffee/Chocolate Tour in the morning, we ended up booking our Peñas Blancas tour for 1 PM and it worked out perfectly.
The morning tours are typically said to feature more wildlife. That makes sense, I suppose, seeing as it is the quiet early hours.
However, that doesn’t mean you will see less/more wildlife in the morning versus the afternoon or vice versa. So don’t base your decision on that alone.
Instead, think about how you’d like to organize your day in La Fortuna / Arenal.
Consider the weather too; it will be cooler in the mornings than in the afternoon.
Also, consider that this tour is a half-day excursion, so you can expect it to last around four hours including travel time.
What’s Included in the Wildlife Safari Tour?
- ✅ Transport and pick-up/drop-off
- ✅ Professional guide
- ✅ Snacks/drinks
- ❌ Tips
Most, if not all, tours include pick-up/drop-off at a hotel within the immediate La Fortuna area.
Beyond that, you will need to drive yourself to the meeting point (such was the case for us).
Shuttle/van transport is then provided to reach the Peñas Blancas River and back.
Your driver and raft guide will set up your inflatable raft or separate kayaks. Meanwhile, you can apply sunscreen and eco-friendly mosquito spray (you might need it).
After about a 2-hour lazy float down the river (some light paddling required), you will exit the raft and fuel up at the nearby local farm where snacks and juice are provided. For some tours, beer/alcohol is offered.
The tour concludes with a trip back to your vehicle at the meeting point or your chosen drop-off point!
What to Bring/Wear for the PeñAs Blancas River Tour?
Since you will be out in nature, go prepared! That includes packing a day backpack or dry bag with the essentials:
- Sun hat
- Insect repellant
- Water shoes — I wore my Teva sandals (to get in/out of the raft)
- Camera — I took my SonyA7II with the 24-105mm f/4 lens
- Reusable water bottle (PS — the water is safe to drink in Costa Rica!)
🌿 Please be conscious of Leave No Trace principles and be mindful of your environmental impact not only on this safari float but wherever your adventures in Costa Rica take you!
I hope you have the most wonderful time as we did on the safari float!
No matter which tour company you choose, I am confident you will leave the country with this experience as one of your favorite memories.
Ready to have this experience?!
➡️ Book your Costa Rica Safari Float here
Please feel free to circle back and let me know how your experience goes in the comments. ☺️
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