Looking for family summer vacation ideas? Costa Rica is the place to go this year! Not only is it one of the safest places to travel in 2016, it’s also perfect for family vacations. A notable stop on your Costa Rica family vacation for unforgettable adventure tours is Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.
Costa Rica is always a great place for families to travel with kids. You have incredible wildlife, rainforests and cloud forests, adventure tours, and live volcanoes. The country is known for its friendly people and good service, along with its commitment to the environment and to peace. Read the rest of this entry »
When you think of having a destination wedding, is the usual location of a picture-perfect beach in some exotic tropical setting what comes to mind? What about scenic countryside? Or a live volcano?
What if you and your betrothed, or your family and friends, are not really beach people? Luckily, beaches are not your only option for a destination wedding in Costa Rica. An equally romantic choice for where to tie the knot is at Hacienda Guachipelin by Rincon de la Vieja Volcano in the countryside of Guanacaste.
“People think of Costa Rica as having only beaches and rainforest and monkeys, but we have so much more,” said Larissa Banting of Weddings Costa Rica. “Guanacaste is known as being the cradle of Costa Rican culture – with its music, its cooking, etc. For couples who want more of an authentic Costa Rican experience, Guanacaste is the place.”
Guanacaste, Costa Rica is easy to get to. Direct flights from North America and Europe arrive right in Guanacaste’s Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia; you don’t have to go to the capital city of San Jose. Hacienda Guachipelin at Rincon de la Vieja is less than an hour from the Liberia International Airport. Additionally, the hotel is only an hour from gorgeous Guanacaste beaches if you do want some time on the coast for your Costa Rica honeymoon.
It is unique to get married by a live volcano … especially one that is named after a love story (see the legend of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano). And the area is full of archaeological history with ancient stone petroglyphs, adding a Romancing the Stone feel.
“It’s really powerful to get married in a place with a live volcano, and one with an ancient civilization. It’s a really special place … a very spiritual place,” said Banting of Rincon de la Vieja.
Set on a magnificent traditional Costa Rican ranch, Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best hotels at Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. Picture Mediterranean looking countryside and a Tuscan feel with stone walls, clay tile roofs, tall spreading shade trees, green grass and red earth. Add in dramatic tropical waterfalls, and pastoral ranch scenes with horses, and a traditional Costa Rican oxcart. All at the foot of a colossal live volcano.
Not only do you have a spectacular setting, you also can enjoy the hotel’s romantic natural volcanic hot springs and take advantage of the best adventure tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Just think: you have ready-made fun activities for bachelor and bachelorette parties, or group bonding before the wedding for you and your guests.
- Wedding coordination for the hotel
- Food and beverage. You can have your reception dinner in a private area by the swimming pool that accommodates up to 80 persons; or they have space for more persons in other areas.
- Audio visual equipment and set-up
- Live musicians and entertainment
- Transport to the hotel from the airport
- Accommodation at the hotel
- Activities for your wedding group
Article by Shannon Farley
For those looking to relax and detoxify their bodies, hot springs in Costa Rica are the “new, hot destination.”
Hot springs have been treasured for centuries by people all over the world for their therapeutic benefits. Luxuriant warm water rich in minerals like sulfur, silica, calcium, iron and magnesium are rejuvenating, detoxifying and relaxing. Not to mention great for stress reduction. Reported health benefits of hot springs include relief from arthritis, fibromyalgia, skin conditions, and high blood pressure.
Now hot springs in Costa Rica are even more accessible than ever with nonstop flights to Liberia, Costa Rica, in the northern Guanacaste region, from the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Less than an hour from the Liberia International Airport, the sprawling ranch of Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin at the foot of the magnificent Rincon de la Vieja Volcano features beautiful and relaxing volcanic hot springs at Rio Negro (“Black River”). The hot springs are heated naturally by this largest and most active volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. In and around the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, you can see steam vents, bubbling volcanic mud pits, thermal springs and waterfalls.
Surrounded by thick forest, the pristine Rio Negro flows through 10 man-made pools that Hacienda Guachipelin has created to capture the steaming mineral-rich water. You access pools (of varying temperatures) on both sides of the river by two hanging bridges. Heated volcanic clay is available to smooth all over like a “spa body masque.”
There are changing rooms, bathrooms and lockers at the hot springs entrance. From there, you walk an easy trail less than a quarter-mile (350 meters) through the forest to the hot springs pools. Watch for monkeys, Blue Morpho butterflies and other wildlife along the way.
The Costa Rica eco-hotel offers tours to the hot springs with a fun horseback ride, or you can drive 15 minutes in your own vehicle from the hotel. The very popular One Day Adventure Pass and One Day Nature Pass at Hacienda Guachipelin also both include a visit to the Rio Negro Hot Springs.
- Open: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily
- Entrance is complimentary for hotel guests, or costs $20 for adult visitors; $15 for children (4-11 years).
For a more private spa experience, visit the hotel’s Simbiosis Spa & Hot Springs. On the banks of the Colorado River at the Hacienda Guachipelin Ranch, Simbiosis Spa features volcanic mud baths, volcanic clay water hot springs pools in the forest, a sauna, massages and body treatments, and a reception area with dressing rooms. Open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. Entrance is $15 for adults and $10 for children (4-11 years, and does not include massages or body treatments.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best hotels at Rincon de la Vieja. The adventure park at Hacienda Guachipelin offers the best adventure tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin will host The North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica endurance trail-running races at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano on May 28, 2016.
Article by Shannon Farley
For its 4th year, The North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica will be held on Saturday, May 28, 2016 on the slopes of Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Hundreds of runners from all over the world will challenge themselves and each other in four endurance trail-running races of 10 km, 21 km, 50 km and 80 km. All races are individual, with no team format.
Demanding trails cover beautiful yet difficult terrain around Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, spanning altitudes between 850 feet and 3,280 feet (260-1,000 meters). There will be aid stations along the routes.
Rincón de la Vieja is one of six active volcanoes in Costa Rica, and is the largest in the northwest province of Guanacaste. The towering ridge-shaped colossus holds several craters, and scrapes the sky at 6,286 feet (1,916m). Surrounding the volcano is Rincón de la Vieja National Park, filled with wild dry tropical forest, rivers, waterfalls and hot springs. The Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and National Park were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
Organized by The North Face outdoor gear and clothing company in the USA, The North Face Endurance Challenge is North America’s premier ultra-trail running series of endurance races. Launched in 2007, the races test experienced runners in beautiful scenic locations, while promoting a philosophy of minimum impact. Due to its great popularity, the Latin America series formed; and Costa Rica – a big destination for endurance races – held its first North Face Endurance Challenge in 2013.
Runners will start and finish at eco-hotel Hacienda Guachipelin – a major center for adventure tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica: zip lining, mountain biking, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, nature trails, and natural volcanic hot springs. The award-winning hotel next to the Rincón de la Vieja National Park is located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s main city of Liberia, with easy access from the Liberia International Airport.
The newest Costa Rica adventure race – 160K Rincon de la Vieja Mountain Bike Race – happens Aug. 20, 2016 at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin. Racers will compete in three distances: 160 km (100 miles), 100 km (62 miles), and 50 km (31 miles) by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.
The fourth annual Rincon de la Vieja Challenge extreme mountain bike race also happens at Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, on Sept. 3, 2016. Elite mountain bikers will circumnavigate the active volcano in a 100-mile (160 km) race. The Rincon de la Vieja Challenge is the first international chapter of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) of the USA.
Article by Shannon Farley
Anyone can enjoy stargazing. The best places to go, of course, are where the sky is wide open and very dark, with no distracting city lights. Up in the mountains, or in the desert, or out on the open ocean; it is breathtaking to stare upwards at night at millions and millions of twinkling stars and planets in a blue black sky.
Guanacaste, Costa Rica is a superior stargazing location, especially now during Costa Rica summer (December through April). February and March are the best months for clear star-filled night skies.
Costa Rica has been named one of the top places in the world for stargazing by Travel & Leisure Magazine. Astronomy buffs will know that these months during Costa Rica’s dry season offer incredible opportunities to see in cloudless skies the constellations of the Southern Cross, Omega Centauri, the Magellanic Clouds, the Eta Carinae Nebula, and countless other spectacles in the Milky Way.
Stargazers traveling to Costa Rica also get the added bonuses of watching the night sky in a warm tropical climate, and during the day enjoying spectacular natural scenery, abundant wildlife, fun adventure activities and friendly local people.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin at the foot of the colossal, active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is one of the best places for stargazing in Guanacaste. There are no city lights near the family-owned hotel, set on a 3,460-acre ranch, to wash out the night sky. The unique surrounding dry tropical forest trees lose their leaves like in northern autumn and winter. These bare-branches open the sky even more to see stars. You can be inspired by an immense sky filled with millions of stars and listen to the symphony of tropical life at night.
Best times for stargazing in Costa Rica: from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. and again at 4:00 a.m.
More stargazing opportunities: You can view the sky as seen from various cities around the globe at the Your Sky website. Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer that shows a realistic sky in 3D. If you are in San Jose, Costa Rica, visit the San Jose Planetarium at the University of Costa Rica.
For reservations at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, contact the hotel here.
Article by Shannon Farley
The family-owned Hacienda Guachipelin, by the active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, raises horses, cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys, and grows a wide variety of fruit trees as well as vegetables and herbs in gardens and a greenhouse. Most of the fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs, milk and dairy products that guests enjoy in the hotel restaurant are produced on the ranch.
You can get up early and watch the ranch hands handle the morning milking of the cows at 6:00 a.m. every day. You can even try your hand at it!
Buckets of the steaming, frothy fresh milk are brought to the hotel restaurant kitchen for processing each morning, and used to make homemade farmer’s cheese, desserts, and even that milk in your coffee or tea.
Learn about ranch activities and see what kind of cowboy or cowgirl you’d be on the Cowboy for a Day Tour at Hacienda Guachipelin.
One of the most popular activities at Hacienda Guachipelin is horseback riding on trusty ranch horses on scenic forest trails to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, waterfalls and natural hot springs. There are six different Costa Rica horseback riding tours offered.
When you are around the hotel, don’t miss seeing the traditional Costa Rican oxcart making its rounds daily at the noon hour by the Adventure Center. Brightly hand-painted wooden carts pulled by a team of oxen are an important tradition in Costa Rica and are named a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage. And you can’t help loving the faithful ranch dogs that seem to befriend everyone.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin
Hacienda Guachipelin is a unique eco-tourism destination in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, spectacularly located at the foot of the active Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. Stay overnight in comfortable ranch-style accommodations, or enjoy the best adventure tours in Guanacaste as a day visitor. Located only 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s main city of Liberia, the hotel is easily accessible from the Liberia International Airport.
Article by Shannon Farley
Fun facts about Guanacaste, Costa Rica:
1. The name “Guanacaste” derives from the indigenous word “quahnacaztlan” for the Guanacaste Tree, indigenous to tropical areas of the Americas. Also known as the “Elephant Ear Tree” (Enterolobium cyclocarpum) for the shape of its dark brown seed pods, it was named the national tree of Costa Rica in August, 1959. Guanacaste trees provide excellent shade under the burning tropical sun with their wide umbrella branches.
2. Guanacaste’s name actually dates back to a real tree from the middle of the 17th century, which grew in the intersection between the roads that take you to Nicoya and Bagaces in Costa Rica, and Rivas in Nicaragua. Today, the park across from the Catholic Church of Liberia occupies the spot where the historical tree stood.
3. The first humans came to what is now Costa Rica thousands of years before Europeans arrived in the Americas. A tribe known as the Chorotegas migrated south from Mexico to Guanacaste in about 900 AD. They lived along the coast and Nicoya Peninsula. Archaeological findings show that a different people – probably who spoke a Chibchan language – lived in the interior of Guanacaste from about 10,000 BC.
4. Most of the population in Guanacaste descends from a mix of indigenous peoples and Spaniards, with a significant African influence from a large number of slaves during the Spanish colonial period.
5. During colonial times, Guanacaste was not part of Costa Rica. Inhabitants of the territory chose to annex to Costa Rica rather than Nicaragua on July 25, 1824 – still celebrated as the nationwide holiday of Guanacaste Day.
6. Guanacaste’s climate is unique in the country. Known as the “sunny side of Costa Rica”, Guanacaste receives little rain and consistent heat from November to May, resulting in its ubiquitous tropical dry forest. The region typically records less than 130 days of rainfall annually. If you are escaping northern winter, this is the time to come to Guanacaste.
7. It may be hard to imagine, but Guanacaste was once heavily forested. Its precious hardwoods were cut down to satisfy great demands for export. The result left rolling savannah grasslands and contributes greatly to the region’s sparse rainfall.
8. The largest and most active volcano in Guanacaste is Rincón de la Vieja. At 6,286 feet (1,916 meters) high and 15 kilometers (9 miles) wide, the approximately 9,000-year-old caldera is called the “Colossus of Guanacaste”. The giant bridges the Continental Divide and holds at least nine contiguous craters. Its last big eruption was in 1998. Rincón de la Vieja means “Corner of the Old Woman” after an indigenous legend about a girl whose lover was thrown into the crater by her father; she became a recluse living on the mountain, and was credited with powers of healing.
9. Historically, the main source of income in Guanacaste was cattle ranching of Brahman cattle and related breeds. For the past two decades, tourism has become the top economic activity.
10. Guanacaste’s famous cowboys are called “Sabaneros”, which literally translated, means “Savannah Dweller” for the grasslands found here.
Discover Guanacaste’s history
Take the archaeology tour at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin to learn how indigenous peoples lived near the massive Rincon de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste. More than 14 archaeological sites – mostly cemeteries, petroglyphs and tomb markers – have been found around Hacienda Guachipelin, dating from about 300 to 800 AD.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín is an ideal place at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano to experience authentic Guanacaste culture and enjoy an active vacation. The ecotourism hotel has the best Costa Rica adventure tours.
Article by Shannon Farley
Zip lines in Costa Rica are pretty popular nowadays, being one of the all-time favorite adventure tours in Costa Rica for visiting tourists. There are dozens of zip line tours – more often called “canopy zip line tours” or simply “canopy tours” – all over the country. The first commercial canopy zip line tour came into being in Costa Rica in 1997 – the Original Canopy Tour in Monteverde – and the adventure tour’s popularity has soared since then. The distinctive factor about the Canyon Canopy Tour at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is that it has so much more than zip lines. You get to fly high above the treetops and back and forth between narrow canyon walls over the White River (Rio Blanco) on seven zip lines. You get to cross three hanging bridges and have fun on two Tarzan swings. There is a controlled 20-meter (65-foot) rappel, and two routes on a natural rock climbing wall to come back up those same 20 meters. And finally, there are three via ferrata traverses and climbs. Overall, you will travel to 21 platforms on the whole tour, which takes about 90 minutes to two hours to complete.
The spectacular setting alone is worth going on the Canyon Canopy Tour. You are deep in the dry tropical forest – a unique ecosystem in Central America – by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. The tour starts off with the longest zip line, crossing a wide canyon high above the trees. A couple more zip lines later and now suddenly you are in a narrow, densely forested, rock canyon above the rushing White River. Simply beautiful!
The one-of-a-kind canopy zip line tour in Costa Rica was created at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in 2000 by Costa Rican architect Jose Manuel Pizarro, owner of the Costa Rica zip line design and vertical training company, Linea Vertical. You can enjoy the Canyon Canopy Tour and a whole host of other adventure tours at Hacienda Guachipelin’s Adventure Center, home of some of the best adventure tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The Adventure Center is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for both hotel guests and day visitors.
Besides the zip line tour, you can go horseback riding, river tubing, waterfall rappelling, mountain biking, hiking in the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park, and soak in natural volcanic hot springs. For the best day of Costa Rica adventure tours, get the One Day Adventure Pass, which includes four tours and a delicious lunch. A little history of zip lines Zip lines were first invented in Costa Rica. Back in 1974, U.S. resident and California State University, Northridge graduate student, Donald Perry, pioneered the new method for climbing into and moving around the Costa Rica rainforest canopy, the world’s most complex living community, for his field work. It is in the tree canopy where upwards of 40 percent of all life on earth exists. Perry used a crossbow to shoot a rope into the branches of a 120-foot tree in the Osa Peninsula, and then climbed it using mountaineering ascenders. He later strung webs of ropes and pulleys between trees to move freely in the canopy without having to return to the ground. This led to the invention of the commercial canopy tour — a billion-dollar industry that has been reproduced all over the world. You can read about Perry’s adventures in his book, “Life Above the Jungle Floor,” published in 1986.
Article by Shannon Farley
I had one of the best lunches in a long time in Costa Rica the other weekend. It wasn’t at a sophisticated, high-priced, trendy eatery in the capital city, but rather out on a sprawling ranch in the middle of dry tropical forest at the base of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. My mouthwatering lunch at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, presented beautifully, was fresh grilled tilapia filet with an avocado cream sauce, served over perfectly al dente broccoli, carrots and green beans alongside fluffy white rice. Delicious! The renowned Costa Rica eco-adventure hotel recently renovated its restaurant and kitchen to be bigger, better and fresher! They only serve freshly-made meals made with locally-sourced ingredients, vegetables picked that same day, sauces that don’t come from a jar or can, bread hot out of the oven, juices that only a moment ago were whole fruit, and desserts loving crafted by an on-site pastry chef.
Known in the USA as “Farm-to-table” style, this is the real deal at Hacienda Guachipelin, using ingredients found in Costa Rica and always freshly made. How fresh is fresh? A large portion of Hacienda Guachipelin’s fruit, vegetables, spices, eggs, milk and cheese are harvested daily from the working horse and cattle ranch’s 3,400-acre farm. Eggs come from 300 free-range chickens in a huge henhouse. Milk arrives in the kitchen at 6:30 every morning, hot and steaming from just-milked cows at the cow barn. Kitchen staff makes its own farmer’s cheese, served at breakfast. The restaurant also keeps almond milk and soy milk for persons with lactose allergies.
Lettuce, basil, cilantro, jalapeno chilies and cucumbers fill an organic hydroponic greenhouse. Out in the aromatic spice garden in front of the greenhouse you can find dill, parsley, lemongrass, mint, rosemary, turmeric, ginger, and two kinds of oregano. In a large area of fields and livestock enclosures, long rows of tomatoes, bell peppers and celery grow organically in the sunshine.
Natural juices and marmalade jams are made fresh at the hotel from oranges, lemons, guanabana fruit, cas, guayaba, passion fruit, watermelon, papaya and pineapple that is either grown on the property or bought from small regional farmers. They don’t use any processed sauces from jars or cans, no MSG, and no boxed juices or pre-prepared foods. Breads and desserts are made on site by Hacienda Guachipelin’s pastry chef. The restaurant even has many gluten-free bread options for people with gluten allergies, including gluten-free pizzas. And all of it is baked in wood-burning ovens (the wood comes from the farm). At breakfast, corn tortillas are handmade in the traditional Costa Rican style.
Coffee served in the restaurant comes from a small farm in Naranjo, Costa Rica that is owned by a friend of Hacienda Guachipelin owner, Jose Tomas Batalla. Tilapia fish comes from a local farm in the nearby town of Canas. Hacienda Guachipelin has its own bees and is producing honey. And all drinking water at the hotel is natural spring water produced on the property. “We don’t cut corners. We make as much as we can homemade,” commented hotel owner, Jose Tomas Batalla. “We want to run our hotel with mindfulness.” Hacienda Guachipelin focuses especially on using typical Costa Rican fruits, vegetables, breads and meals. “We want to give people an authentic experience of being in Guanacaste and Costa Rica,” said Batalla. “We are rescuing the culinary traditions of Costa Rica and Guanacaste.” The Hacienda Guachipelin restaurant has been expanded to seat 250 persons, with a dedicated area for groups, hotel guests and day tour visitors. When the hotel is busy, meals are served buffet style; however, there is always an a la carte menu available.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin You can dine at the best restaurant in Rincon de la Vieja when you visit award-winning eco-hotel Hacienda Guachipelin. Recipient of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence 2015, Hacienda Guachipelin offers some of the best adventure tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica and nature tours at Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.
Article by Shannon Farley
At Hacienda Guachipelin, it’s not all about adrenaline-charged adventure tours. The award-winning eco-hotel also has some of the best nature tours in Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica. You can visit waterfalls and natural volcanic hot springs, go hiking in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, learn about ancient cultures on an archaeology tour, and see exotic wildlife. The dry tropical forest surrounding Hacienda Guachipelin and the western side of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano creates an interesting ecosystem for many different animals and plants than you would see elsewhere in Costa Rica. You can learn about some of the wildlife of the area on a nature tour to Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin’s Butterfly Garden, Serpentarium & Frog Exhibit. The Butterfly Garden shows three of the major families of butterflies in Costa Rica: Pieridae, Papilionidae and Nimphalidae. The Serpentarium and Frog Exhibit presents 23 kinds of snakes, including 11 that are poisonous; six species of frogs and two types of basilisk lizards – in glass and wood habitat cases. The tour guide will explain details about each animal. The tour also visits the ranch’s Look-out Point, where you can see the Rincón de la Vieja and Santa Maria volcanoes as well as the Pacific Coast of Guanacaste.
- Nature Tour times: 8:00 AM / 10:00 AM / 1:30 PM / 2:30 PM
- Tour duration: 1.5 hours
- Tour Prices: USD $20 adults (11+ years) / USD $15 children (4-10 years)
Choose the One Day Nature Pass and you will have included buffet lunch in Hacienda Guachipelin’s Restaurant, and a visit to the natural volcanic hot springs at Rio Negro (transport by vehicle). Tour Prices: USD $55 adults (11+ years) and USD $45 children (4-10 years). Another interesting nature and cultural tour at Hacienda Guachipelin is the Archaeology Tour. Created by an archaeologist with the University of Costa Rica, eight stations give an introduction to the history of Guanacaste and Rincon de la Vieja, and bring to life the mysteries of the indigenous peoples who lived near the massive Rincon de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste. Hacienda Guachipelin’s Adventure Center is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You should note that the Rincon de la Vieja National Park is closed on Mondays. For the best day of Costa Rica adventure tours, get the One Day Adventure Pass at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin. It includes canopy zip lines, horseback riding, river tubing, and natural volcanic hot springs. Not only hotel guests get to enjoy Hacienda Guachipelin’s Adventure Park; many day visitors staying in other Guanacaste locations come to the popular eco-adventure hotel for tours.
Article by Shannon Farley