Costa Rica Travel:
What can scare you,
what can hurt you,
and what can kill you


White water rafting and white water duckies (one or two persons inflated kayaks) or traditional whitewater kayaks (hard shell, with skirt closure) require moderate upper body strength, good balance, and the ability to work as a team. It is likely that some people will fall out of the boat, and it is possible that participants will get bruised, swallow a bit of river water, and generally get tossed about. This is part of the fun of white water rafting. Your white water raft guide will brief you on safety procedures, but you should be aware before committing to a white water raft trip that it is not unusual for people to fall out of the raft and sustain (minor) injuries… bruises, bumps, scrapes, blisters. For the river you need clothing that can get really wet, plus footwear that has closed toes and rubber or cork soles. (No coral-walking scuba shoes, Velcro-closed shoes or TIVA-style shoes. Tennis shoes or shoes made specifically for walking in white water ARE BEST). You’ll appreciate the closed toe shoes when we start hiking in the jungle where we may meet a few of the multi-legged natives. No blue jeans or heavy pants/sweatshirts on the rafts; if you want to wear long pants, be sure they are light weight, designed for river wear, and dry very quickly (wet suits are not required in our warm waters). You will be wearing a protective helmet, and many people like to wear the visors on the helmet (we provide) or a baseball cap under the helmet (you provide). Sunglasses are not as useful when you have a visor to protect your face. But don’t forget SUN SCREEN — even if it is cloudy you will get a serious burn! No sunscreen above the cheeks unless it is “baby face” for kids because it will get in your eyes and it stings.


Standard biking clothes are fine, but remember it will get very hot in the direct sunshine. When we are in dense forest the sun is blocked but so is the breeze. No loose pants legs for the biking! We have helmets and gloves and all the gear, but if you have your own that fits well, then bring it.

Costa Rica biking is quite steep. Don’t withhold information on your skill level. We can give even experienced road bikers a few life-saving pointers about mountain biking. It’s pretty common to tumble off the bike (usually when you are braking, going down something pretty steep). If you are not accustomed to clip pedals, don’t try to learn this here. Of all the activities Serendipity does— white water rafting, hiking, tree climbing , canyoning, rappelling, sea kayaking, horseback running, 4 wheel drive off the road, scuba, duckie surfing, etc., the one which has created the MOST injuries has been the biking. And, guess what, it has been when the bikes have been nearly completely stopped. So please, don’t withhold information on your skills, or your reluctance.


Hiking in Costa Rica can get pretty vertical, even in dense forest. You need to wear good protective boots (yes, they will get wet), plus a fanny pack or backpack to carry your own water and snack food. If it is a multi-day hike you’ll need your own (comfortable) backpack that can carry your own sleeping roll and sleeping sheet (we’ll provide these to you) and personal equipment. We’ll provide machetes and porters for the big equipment. Best to speak directly with your Serendipity leader when you are doing multi-day hikes with us. While hiking the opportunity to meet multi-legged or legless creatures is obviously increased many times over. We want you to know what to do when you encounter snakes, etc., before we start off into the forest. Serendipity does NOT carry snake antivenin, because the antivenin can kill as fast as the snake. But we do have training, multiple times, on how to handle snake bites. As of February 2015, we still have not needed to use our snake bite treatment training… please don’t break our record. Listen carefully to your guide on how to introduce yourself to a snake, and how to know which snake is which.


Shorts, T-shirt (fast drying materials), strong shoes (we have the helmets, harnesses ropes, carabiners, etc.). In the jungle the climbing is in trees, and insect repellant is really appreciated. Again, shoes that can get wet–tennis shoes are good. Tree climbing often puts you face-to-face with animals you are unlikely to encounter in your own garden. If you are prone to panic, please let us know. We use a double system of equipment for climbing and rappelling activities, but nothing works better than paying attention to the guide. So far, everyone who has gone up with Serendipity has returned to the earth safely. One client did pass out from insulin shock; she didn’t let us know her diabetic condition before the trip. But we rescued her, anyway, and now she enjoys climbing in a gym in Chicago.


For horses, LONG PANTS that can get wet, plus tennis shoes (everything gets WET when you swim rivers). Long sleeve lightweight light color loose-fitting shirts are most comfortable. Gloves (preferably leather) and a hat that protects the face and neck are your best option – the sun really beats on you. Don’t forget SUNSCREEN at least for the back of your neck and the backs of your hands (if you forgot the gloves…) second to mountain bikes, the horses present the biggest opportunity for injury. We provide helmets, if you decide not to use them it is at your own risk. The horses are well trained, but they can’t see gopher holes in fields and they can trip, just like you or me. So when you are riding with us, please, don’t run off ahead of the guide in an open pasture — we can run the horses where we know the tractors have smoothed all the gopher holes. For jousting, we select only wilted sugar cane, and no aiming at the head of your opponent.


Balloon flights in Costa Rica are made at sunrise because the air is most stable at this time. It also happens to be the most beautiful time of the day, when the world is still very fresh and animals are just waking up. The flight will last from 45 minutes to one and a half hours. The balloon flight is very serene, but the start and the end can be somewhat more eventful. It is probable that at the end of the flight the basket will tip on its side, requiring all passengers to “hang on” as the envelope (fabric part) of the balloon deflates. The pilot briefing will go over the procedures to follow. Also, sunrise can be chilly (but it doesn’t get cooler in the air than it was at the take-off field — per aviation regulations we can’t fly high enough to get jet stream effect). Wear clothes in layers; once the sun is shining brightly it gets HOT in the balloon. Light weight, light colored clothing is advised, but long sleeves offer better protection from the sun and, when off the beaten path, against insects and foliage (sugar cane leaves are similar in abrasiveness to corn leaves). Strong shoes (tennis shoes are sufficient) that offer full foot protection are mandatory; socks and long pants are strongly recommended (because of insects): the landing is rarely on cut grass. Long pants and strong shoes also are your best protection against the many-legged or legless ones in the fields. Balloons are traditionally little-old-lady conveyances but sometimes the landings get, well, exciting. If you have any problems with altitude (including — have you been scuba diving yesterday?), nervousness with altitude (we don’t want you deciding to jump), vertigo, or any problem following pilot orders, or incapacity in your arms or legs which may make it difficult to hold on and support your weight with your arms during the landing, then let us know before booking the trip. You will need to get yourself into and out of the basket (over the wall, so to speak — about 1 meter/40 inches high) without help — so be prepared — no tight-fitting evening dresses or even too tight blue jeans!


From sea kayaking to Duckies on a gentle river, from eating shellfish to bee stings. We need to know if you have any medical problems, or can’t swim, or basic fears that might make you panic. IN GENERAL…

DON’T FORGET sun block, insect repellent, a few bandages & antibiotic cream, anti-itch cream (like Cortaid), small flashlight, a (baseball) cap or hat, and, if you wear glasses or sunglasses, a strap to keep them in place (preferably one that also floats). If you wear contacts, bring an extra pair of the disposable type. If you want to bring a camera on the raft or horseback or hiking, investigate the underwater/waterproof bags available from good camera shops, or get the disposable waterproof cameras. Everything will get WET on many of the adventures, no matter how many plastic bags you put things in. Camera bags need desiccant to keep condensation out of the mechanism (and you can’t buy that in Costa Rica and elsewhere you can find it only in good camera shops)…

Not scared off by the above? The first step to enjoying a Serendipity adventure is to contact us.

Once you decide to join Serendipity Adventures in Costa Rica, you’ll want to read details about traveling with Serendipity, including what you need to know to make it through immigration and customs and meet up with your Serendipity guide.


While Serendipity Adventures avoids unnecessary risk, there is nonetheless risk involved. Please understand that our Costa Rican insurance covers injuries sustained in our operation, under the National Health Plan. We recommend that you also check your personal medical insurance for coverage outside the United States.

Car theft is EXTREMELY COMMON all over Costa Rica. Please avoid carrying extra “things” and then leaving them in the car when away from your hotel. Serendipity is not able to buy insurance in Costa Rica on vehicle contents or mysterious disappearance from vehicles, hotels, etc. Serendipity must therefore limit its liability to no more than $100 per person for loss of personal possessions.

Serendipity recommends travel insurance for lost or stolen luggage, trip cancellation and medical emergency available thru your travel agent or Travel Insurance Services, (800) 937-1387 or (925) 932-1387 or or

All participants will be required to sign and return this or a similar release form prior to departure.

What can hurt or kill you

Serendipity Adventures, Inc. and Serendipity Costa Rica, S.A. have advised me that there are risks and dangers involved in participating in their adventure expedition. The dangers include possible injury or death caused by any of the activities provided, including but not limited to biking or driving on public roads, biking or driving off public roads, hiking, swimming, scuba, balloon flight and landing, paragliding, all-terrain vehicle accidents, white water rafting, rubber duckies, kayaking, horseback riding, tree ascents, rock and hill climbing, rappelling, insect and snake bites, power boating, animal bites, sailing, hiking on or near volcanoes, food poisoning, fishing, surfing, and windsurfing. I participate in these activities of my own free will, recognize that the element of risk is a necessary part of the enjoyment of this trip, and I hold Serendipity Adventures, Inc. and Serendipity Costa Rica, S.A. harmless for my safety beyond normal due care.

Signed __________________________________________

Dated ______________ (guardian)
If under 21, this release needs to be signed as well by a legal guardian.