Rafael Gallo | Costa Rica


Rafael Gallo has pursued his passion for whitewater paddling from learning to paddle in the Great Smoky Mountains of the United States during college to founding and growing one of the best rafting companies in the world in his native Central America, based in Costa Rica. He has introduced thousands to the sport of paddling, led the fight to save the world-renowned Pacuare River from the first dam threat in the 1990s, purchased and protects 2000 acres of rainforest along the Pacuare and Rios’ eco-lodge, has planted almost 14,000 native tree species as part of the United Nations Environmental Program “Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign.” Rafael serves on several Costa Rican and international tourism, environmental, and paddlesports boards. As a founder and current President of the International Rafting Federation, he has helped increase international rafting standards, awareness, and promote the sport throughout the world. Rafael has helped to pioneer rafting and promote whitewater sports in other countries, including Argentina (1990), El Salvador (1996), Colombia (1997) and Jamaica (2000). These countries have experienced a huge growth in rafting as a result of Rafael’s foundational assistance. In 2009, Rafael will be assisting the Kingdom of Bhutan to establish best practices in rafting operations and sustainable adventure tourism development. The National Geographic Society coined a new term “Geotourism” in 2008 that best captures Rafael’s holistic approach to the whitewater paddlesports industry and how his advocacy has positively affected the whitewater rafting industry in particular.

• President and Founder, Rios Tropicales Foundation.
• Stopped proposed Pacuare Dam threat in 1990s in partnership with American Whitewater and Friends of the Rivers in California
• Founder, Pro-Rivers
• President, Por Defensa del Rio Pacuare-1988
• Director, Costa Rican Nature Reserves Network (Red de Reservas)

1989: Project Raft: Costa Rica Rafting Team Captain, Chuya River, Siberia
1990: Project Raft: Costa Rica Rafting Team Captain, Nantahala River, USA
1990: Team Member, Olympic Kayak World Championship, Poznan, Poland
1991: First Descent, Obihingo River, Tajikistan
1992: Kayak Coach for Costa Rica Olympic Kayak Team, Barcelona Olympic Games
1993: Costa Rica Rafting Team Captain, Choruh River, Turkey
1994: Costa Rica Rafting Team Captain, Aosta River, Italy

Member of Blue Flag Committee—helped create two new Blue Flag categories: Rivers, Natural Spaces
1986-2001: President, Asociacion Deportiva de Piraguismo de Costa Rica
1991: President, Organizing Committee of Costa Rica’s River Festival
1997: Founder, International Rafting Federation
1998: Organizing Committee Camel Whitewater challenge, Reventazon River, Costa Rica
1999: Chief Judge, World Championship, Orange River, Namibia
2000: Judge and Team Sponsor World Rafting Championship, Futaleufu River, Chile
2001: Judge, World Rafting Championship, Gauley River, USA
2003: Chief Judge, R4 European Championship, Vbras River, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2003
2005: Judge World Rafting Championship, Quijos River, Ecuador
2006-Present: President, International Rafting Federation
2007: President, World Rafting Championships, Incheon River, South Korea

1988: “The rivers of Costa Rica: A Canoeing, Kayaking, and Rafting Guide” by Michael W. Mayfield and Rafael Gallo, Menasha Ridge Press, Birmingham, Alabama.

• Finalist: Conde Naste World Savers Awards, 1994, 2008
• President, Rios Tropicales, winners of “Best Outfitters on Earth”, by National Geographic Adventure Magazine, 2007 and 2009
• President, Rios Tropicales, winners of the first ever Geotourism Challenge: Celebrating People and Place, sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Ashoka Change Makers, 2008
• President, Rios Tropicales, winners of Blue Flag for River with 2 Stars-2009, and the Blue Flag for Natural Spaces with 3 Stars-2009, by the Costa Rican Government
• Awarded $400 K International Grant for Costa Rica-Bhutan Sustainable Development Project by Fundecooperacion, NGO. Rafael will lead this collaborative project to train the Bhutanese in sustainable rafting and adventure travel operations. In Costa Rica he will lead the sustainable community development projects with the community members living adjacent to the Rios Tropicales lodge in the Pacuare rainforest watershed region.

1 Response to Rafael Gallo | Costa Rica

  1. Pingback: Sustainabilty – from rivers to reforestation « Envirothink

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