Canyon Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica


Intermediate Canyon - Canyon Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica

Canyon in spectacular Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica in turquoise waters and incredible scenery. Enjoy wildlife tours, rafting or sight-seeing on rest days. This is an intermediate trip with strenuous approaches and exits to the canyons. An 8-week fitness plan is required leading up to the trip, and the minimum required canyon experience is not flexible. We’ll stay in air bnb’s in the small village of Bajos del Toro Amarillo, driving about 30-90 minutes round trip each day in rental vehicles. Leader Permission is required via linked application. Permission requests MUST come via application (form linked in description). No email requests. THE MEMBER FEE GIVEN IS FOR THE 50% DEPOSIT ONLY. See Leaders Notes for more price details.

  • Sun, Mar 17, 2024 — Sun, Mar 24, 2024
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Canyoning, Global Adventures
  • Adults
  • Intermediate Canyon
  • Challenging

Participants must arrive at SJO by 2pm on March 17. The trip leaders will have rented cars and will be at the airport to pick up participants. Participants are strongly encouraged to arrive Saturday March 16 (or earlier) to ensure arrival at the meetup time. For those able to arrive Friday, March 15, there are a wide variety of day tours leaving from San Jose averaging $100-$150/person, and the trip leaders can provide recommendations.

This trip will include four canyons, most of which have strenuous approaches and/or exits. We’ve built in two rest/buffer days which will allow us to flex our schedule to canyon on the best weather days. Options for our rest/buffer days include rafting with our friends at Selva Whitewater, visiting La Paz animal sanctuary, visiting La Fortuna, or adding another canyon to our itinerary, weather-dependent.

The preliminary schedule is:

March 17 - Arrival at SJO. On the way to Bajos del Toro, we’ll stop at a Maxi Pali and a Mega Super where participants can buy groceries and any toiletries they may have forgotten.

March 18 - Gata Media v3a3II- a great introduction to Costa Rican canyons. It’s a basic half-day canyon that will help the team get warmed up and moving efficiently.

March 19 - Mordor v4a3IV- a bucket list canyon that drops through volcanic layers on the Poas volcano. This is an intermediate canyon with a lot of rappels and a significant approach, making for a long day.

March 20 - Rest day. Option to relax in Bajos del Toro or visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Animal Sanctuary in the morning; raft the Sarapiqui with our friends at Selva Whitewater in the afternoon (these will be optional additional costs to the participants).

March 21 - Gata Fiera v4a3IV - another bucket list canyon that ends at the confluence of 3 creeks. Gata Fiera is the most technically complex of the canyons, including a 3-pitch sequence with hanging rebelays, and a 60m free-hanging rappel.

March 22 - La Vieja v3a3II - a short canyon with a big rappel that drops you into a deep gorge.

March 23 - buffer day. Because both Mordor and Gata Fiera require perfect weather for a safe descent, we’ve built in an extra day to provide flexibility. Options for this day, based on weather and group consensus, are a trip to La Fortuna (any wildlife tours, hot springs, or other attractions will be at participants’ expense) or an additional canyon.

March 24 - return to SJO

Time of year: Late March is prime time for these amazing canyons! And for PNW Canyoneers, it’s a great way to kick off the season!

Lodging: We will be staying at 3 air bnb’s, all located within walking distance from one another and from the small village of Bajos del Toro Amarillo. 

Food:  Participants will be responsible for their own food. We will stop at a MegaSuper (grocery store) and a MaxiPali (WalMart) on the way to Bajos del Toro, where participants can purchase food and any supplies. Bajos del Toro is a small village with a very small grocery store and 4 restaurants. Restaurants typically have (limited) vegetarian options, and can likely accommodate gluten-free needs; vegan may be more difficult. Participants should plan about $40/day for food, between groceries and eating out.

Leader’s experience:  Your primary leader will be Becca Polglase ( who has more than 200 canyon descents under her belt, and is an instructor for both the Basic and Intermediate Canyoning Courses. She’s been to Costa Rica twice, and has descended most of the canyons on the itinerary. She has additional experience throughout the PNW, California, Arizona, and Madeira Island. Becca will be assisted by two additional Canyon Leaders: Joe Cruikshank and Milo Cardenas. Both Joe and Milo are canyon leaders, and help teach the Basic and Intermediate Canyon Courses. They have extensive experience in both aquatic canyons including internationally. All of us have advanced canyon rescue training as well as Wilderness First Aid.

Participant requirements: Participants must have the Intermediate Canyoning Badge or equivalent experience.  An application must be submitted. Note: Application link will be available on this page by October 20. No applications will be accepted prior to that date.

Participants are required to have the following skills and experience:

  • Proficiency in rappelling with a variable friction descender, including the knowledge of how to adjust friction and lockoff while on rope
  • Single-strand ascent using a mechanical ascender
  • An understanding of communication systems used in aquatic canyons
  • Training in small-party canyon rescue
  • Ability to swim 50 feet unassisted in light current
  • Experience successfully completing a minimum of 10 aquatic canyons in the past 2 years, including at least two rated V4

Participants are required to carry international emergency medical and evacuation insurance. We also highly recommend trip cancellation insurance.

Participants must attend a pre-trip planning meeting on Friday, January 19, 2024 at the Seattle Program Center. This is an in-person meeting, but remote accommodations may be made for participants who otherwise meet the trip requirements but cannot arrange their schedules to attend in-person.

Fitness Difficulty and Participant training requirements:

Strenuous. Canyons will require approximately 5 miles per day of a mix of on-trail and off-trail hiking with a 25-lb backpack. All teammates are expected to carry their own personal canyon gear plus up to 10lbs of group gear and 2-3 liters of water (Note that water cannot be filtered in most canyons). Daily elevation gain and loss is expected to be between 500 feet and 2000 feet. The canyons in Costa Rica are in deep ravines, and exit trails often include high-steps, many flights of stairs, and steep grades. Participants should be in excellent shape, and are expected to follow a fitness plan beginning January 21, which includes 1 hike/week minimum 1600’ gain, average 2250’,  and 2x strength training days per week, during the 8 weeks leading up to the trip or similar training plan that includes both strength and endurance on a weekly basis. Participants must submit their fitness plan to the trip leaders for approval, and commit to following it. Failure to follow the fitness plan may result in cancellation without refund at the leaders’ discretion.

Trip Price Detail:  $2600 includes all air bnb costs, ground transportation, parking fees, and guide fees. It also includes all group canyon gear including ropes, making travel much easier. Does not include any airfare (~$1000), meals (~$320), rafting fees (~$75), wildlife tours (~$60) or trip insurance (~$150). Five is the minimum required to run the trip, with a maximum of six.

Registration Instructions:  Leader approval of application is required prior to registration. At registration, a $1300 deposit is required to hold your spot on the roster The remaining balance of $1300  is due on March 1, 2024. If fewer than 5 participants register, the trip will be canceled.

Application     Trip Agreement     Release

Supplemental Information

Cancellation Policy:  If you cancel for any reason, you may receive a refund less expenses incurred and a $100 administrative fee. If your place is taken by a new person, the expenses incurred could also be refunded, after the new person is fully registered.

COVID-19 Policy:  You must be fully vaccinated, symptom-free, and test negative on a rapid test the day before departure in order to participate. If you have been in close contact with anyone who has contracted COVID-19 in the week prior to the trip, we will ask you to mask anytime you are in close contact with others indoors. Anyone who contracts COVID-19 will be required to quarantine and will be responsible for all associated costs. Participants are required to bring a COVID-19 rapid test kit with them.


Canyon Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

  • Canyon Gear

    Participants will be responsible for bringing their own personal canyoning gear, which includes:

    • Harness
    • Helmet with whistle attached
    • Wetsuit 
    • Rain shell (optional)
    • Descender
    • Canyon boots
    • Neoprene socks
    • Gloves
    • Warm hat
    • Canyon pack
    • Dry storage
    • Safety tethers
    • Locking carabiners
    • Figure 8
    • Ascending system
    • Sling - 60cm 
    • Rescue knife
    • Headlamp
    • Water bottles (3L capacity required as some canyons do not have safe water to filter)
    • Water filter (optional)
    • Snacks / lunch
    • Webbing
    • Quicklinks
    • Surf Hoodie
    • IKEA bag and/or tarp

    Leader and Assistant Leaders will review the gear list during a pre-trip planning video call and will conduct a group gear check on the first morning of the trip, prior to entering any canyon.  Participants are responsible for knowing how to use their gear properly, for maintaining their gear and for inspecting their gear prior to using it.

    Group Gear

    Leader and Assistant Leaders will bring group gear, including:

    • Ropes
    • Rope bags
    • In-Reach satellite communicators
    • First aid kits

    Additional gear

    Participants should bring the following 

    • Long pants for hiking/climbing (leggings or hiking pants)
    • Long sleeve shirts
    • Short sleeve shirts
    • Bathing suit(s)
    • Sleeping clothes
    • Sweatshirt
    • Light puffy jackets to layer
    • Shorts
    • Sun Hoodie for rafting
    • Hiking shoes
    • Flip flops
Trip Reports