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
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.
There are so many fun Costa Rica adventure tours that you may have a hard time trying to choose: zip-lines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, mountain biking, nature trails, waterfall swimming, natural volcanic hot springs, an archeology tour, and guided hikes in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
That’s why the One Day Adventure Pass is your best bet. With the One Day Adventure Pass, you can fill your day at Rincón de la Vieja with adventures you choose and go at your own pace. An extravagant buffet lunch in Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin’s restaurant is included. The tour prices are incredibly reasonable for all that you get: USD $85 adults (18+ years); USD $80 students (13-17 years); and USD $75 children (4-12 years).
You can do as many or all of these adventure tours as you want on the One Day Adventure Pass. It is possible to do everything if you start between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. For $20 more per person, you can add the Waterfalls Canyoning Tour to your One Day Adventure Pass.
Canyon Canopy Tour: Get an incredible adrenaline rush on this one-of-a-kind canopy zip line tour in Costa Rica. You will zip line, rappel, rock climb, cross hanging bridges, and ride Tarzan swings in a steep rock canyon over a turbulent river. Tour duration: 2 hours.
Rio Negro Tubing Adventure: Bouncing and splashing down a frothing tropical river is incredible fun. Starting at the foot of a waterfall, you will ride special individual river tube rafts down the rapids of the Rio Negro (Black River). Guides go with you and ensure your safety. To get to the river tour from the Adventure Center, you can choose to go by horseback ride or by vehicle. Tour duration: 2.5 hours (with horseback ride).
Volcanic hot springs at Rio Negro: One of the things most talked about by visitors to Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin are the hot springs. Beautiful and relaxing, the natural hot springs at Rio Negro flow from the largest volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica – Rincón de la Vieja. At Rio Negro, there are thermal pools, volcanic mud baths, trails, changing rooms, restrooms and lockers.
Waterfalls Canyoning Tour* (extra charge applies): This is the ultimate adventure tour in Guanacaste. Canyoning involves thrilling rappels down waterfalls, guided rock climbing, and navigating through pools in the river canyon. To get to the tour, you can go by horseback or by vehicle. Tour duration: 2.5 hours.
There is also a One Day Nature Pass if you want a softer day of adventure, focused more on nature, wildlife and the Rincon de la Vieja area’s scenic beauty. This tour package is easily realized in a little over a half-day. The same sumptuous buffet lunch in Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin’s restaurant is included in the One Day Nature Pass. Tour Prices: USD $55 adults (11+ years) and USD $45 children (4-10 years).
- Butterfly Garden, Serpentarium and Frog Habitats
- Walk to a Look-out Point where you can see the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Guanacaste Mountain Range, and the Pacific Coast.
- Visit the waterfalls and natural volcanic hot springs at Rio Negro (transport by vehicle)
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 tours in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park do not include the park admission fee ($10/person), and that the national park is closed on Mondays.
Award-winning hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is located next to the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The hotel is 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s main city of Liberia.
Article by Shannon Farley
It started 23 years ago with the start of the annual “La Ruta de los Conquistadores” (The Route of the Conquistadors), one of the toughest mountain bike races in the world, crossing Costa Rica from the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean in only three days.
Mountain biking in Costa Rica has taken off from there – increasing in popularity and attracting mountain bikers from around the world to ride the Central American country’s roads, tracks and trails, and to compete in annual races.
The rugged dry terrain of Guanacaste, Costa Rica has developed into a center for mountain biking. Now in its third year, the annual Rincón de la Vieja Challenge extreme mountain bike race circumnavigates the active Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste for a 100-mile (160 km) ride in 12 hours. This year’s race happens on Aug. 22, 2015 at eco-adventure hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.
For travelers in Costa Rica who want to experience the unparalleled adventure of mountain biking in Costa Rica, but not at the extreme race level, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin has created the Iron-Horse Downhill Mountain Bike Tour.
The award-winning hotel is located next to the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park and offers the best Costa Rica adventure tours – zip-lines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, mountain biking, nature trails, and natural volcanic hot springs.
The brilliant and unique aspect about the Iron-Horse Downhill Mountain Bike Tour is that it includes horseback riding, waterfalls, mountain biking, river tubing and zip-lines all in one full-day tour. A shortened half-day tour also is available.
You start out riding Hacienda Guachipelin’s ranch horses up the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano slopes into higher elevation rainforest to a waterfall where you can go for a quick swim. Then you’ll descend the volcano by mountain bike, riding tracks and dirt roads through the forest, crossing rivers and open fields. When you get to the Negro River, you’ll jump into river tubing right away, a really fun and refreshing adventure. Then it’s back to the hotel for a sumptuous lunch, and an afternoon of flying through the trees on zip-lines to finish a day you’ll never forget.
The tour requires two persons minimum, ages 16 years and older. Difficulty level is medium. Tours include: Full suspension bike or hard tail bike, helmet, gloves, assistance vehicle, hydration, backup equipment (extra bicycles), and bilingual mountain biking guides (English-Spanish).
Article by Shannon Farley
Once belonging to Nicaragua, the province united with Costa Rica on July 25, 1824, celebrated as the Annexation of Guanacaste Day. The region’s residents are proud to be Costa Rican. Their motto is “de la patria por nuestra voluntad”, which means “part of this country by our own choice”.
Guanacaste in Costa Rica is known for its rolling grassy plains, “Gold Coast” beaches, towering mountains and volcanoes, sunny dry climate and unique dry tropical forest. For generations “Guanacastecos,” as the residents here are called, have been dedicated to farming, cattle and horse ranching. The “sabanero” (cowboy) traditions, folklore, music and dance are deeply rooted in the country’s culture.
A brief history of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Most of Central America once belonged to Spain. In 1821, when Central America declared its independence from Spain, the area was divided into five provinces which later became republics: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The region of Nicoya, now called Guanacaste, was part of Nicaragua.
However, Nicaragua was involved in many civil wars at the time and was somewhat hostile to the Nicoyans. Costa Rica was stable politically and had a trading relationship with Nicoya. So when the Costa Rica government invited Nicoya to join their country, the Nicoyans agreed. The Central American Federation approved the annexation on July 25, 1824.
The region officially became a Costa Rican province in 1848 and was renamed after Costa Rica’s national tree the Guanacaste. The province of Guanacaste covers 3,915 square miles with 11 counties; the capital of the province is Liberia. The Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia (LIR) is the principal airport for Guanacaste.
Celebrate Guanacaste Day with Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin
July 25 is a nationwide public holiday (banks, schools and government offices are closed). There will be big “fiestas” in Liberia all that holiday weekend with parades, concerts, folk dances, cattle and horse shows, fireworks and traditional foods. Costa Rica’s national instrument, the marimba, will feature prominently.
Enjoy the Guanacaste Day holiday weekend at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin by the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park. Liberia is only 13 miles away to attend the festivities. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin offers the best Costa Rica adventure tours, and has been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
Article by Shannon Farley
The 3rd edition of The North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica will be held on May 30, 2015 at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Costa Rica’s northern Guanacaste region. Organized by The North Face outdoor gear and clothing company in the USA, hundreds of runners from all over the world will compete in four endurance trail-running races of 10km, 21km, 50km and 80km. The race courses vary in difficulty and terrain, spanning altitudes between 850 feet and 3,280 feet.
“One of the interesting aspects of Rincón de la Vieja for adventure racing is its different terrain and microclimates,” commented Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin owner, Jose Tomas Batalla. “There is savannah, tropical forest, desert, and cloud forest, and the weather changes as you go up in elevation.”
Rincón de la Vieja is the largest volcano in Costa Rica’s northwestern Guanacaste province. It is a ridge-shaped massif, with several craters and peaks, lying along a northwest-southeast axis within the Rincón de la Vieja National Park. The highest point is 6,286 feet (1,916m). Rincón de la Vieja is one of six active volcanoes in Costa Rica, and has a large number of fumaroles and hot springs on its slopes. The Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and National Park were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
Originating in North America, The North Face Endurance Challenge Series features annual two-day, ultra-trail running events in six locations, culminating with the championship in San Francisco in December. The competition also has become one of the most popular International trail-running events in Latin America, with races held in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, in addition to Costa Rica.
Also coming again to Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin on Aug. 22, 2015, is the third annual Rincón de la Vieja Challenge mountain biking endurance race. The 100-mile (160 km) extreme adventure race is the first of its kind in Costa Rica and Latin America to circumnavigate an active volcano.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is a top destination for adventure and nature lovers, offering the best Costa Rica adventure tours – canopy ziplines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, mountain biking, nature trails, and natural volcanic hot springs. The award-winning hotel next to the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park in Guanacaste, Costa Rica is located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s principal city of Liberia.
Article by Shannon Farley
When Costa Rica celebrates its national holiday Juan Santamaria Day on April 11, it will be to remember defining moments in the nation’s history that took place in and near our province of Guanacaste.
On this day in 1856, a drummer boy in Costa Rica’s national army gave his life in a heroic act in a decisive battle that ensured Costa Rica remained a free country. Costa Rica celebrates Juan Santamaria’s courage and the country’s freedom and national pride with parades and events all over the country on this day, especially in Alajuela, where Santamaria lived. Costa Rica’s main airport by San Jose is named after the hero – the Juan Santamaria International Airport.
Only 18 years after Costa Rica finally became a completely independent state from the Central America Republic (1838), after gaining independence from Spain in 1821, the tiny nation was being threatened by a mercenary army led by U.S. filibuster, William Walker.
When civil war broke out in Nicaragua in 1854, filibuster William Walker, from Tennessee, U.S., took advantage of the political instability to take over the government of Nicaragua and attempt to conquer the other nations in Central America. Costa Rican president Juan Rafael Mora Porras called upon the general population to take up arms and march north to Nicaragua to fight. Juan Santamaría (August 29, 1831 – April 11, 1856), a poor laborer from Alajuela, joined the army as a drummer boy.
After successfully beating a small group of Walker’s soldiers at Santa Rosa, Guanacaste, the Costa Rican troops chased them north to the city of Rivas, Nicaragua, near the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border. The battle that began on April 8, 1856 is the Second Battle of Rivas. Fighting was fierce and the situation did not look good for the Costa Rican soldiers. They couldn’t flush Walker’s men out of a hostel near the town center from which they commanded an advantageous firing position.
According to historic accounts, on April 11, Salvadoran General José María Cañas asked that a soldier go set the hostel on fire to drive Walker’s men out. Some soldiers tried and failed; then Santamaría volunteered. He advanced with his torch, and although he was mortally wounded by enemy fire, he succeeded in setting fire to the hostel before dying. The enemy was defeated, and April 11 became a Costa Rica national holiday to commemorate Santamaría’s death and remember the major turning point for freedom.
What happened to William Walker? He ruled Nicaragua until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies. He eventually was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, an award-winning hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, is close to the Santa Rosa National Park and Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. The adventure park at Hacienda Guachipelin offers the best Costa Rica adventure tours and an authentic Guanacaste, Costa Rica cultural experience on their working horse and cattle ranch.
Article by Shannon Farley