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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.
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
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
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
That’s why the One Day Adventure Pass or the One Day Nature Pass really is your best bet. If you stay for several days, you can go for both! You don’t necessarily have to be a hotel guest to enjoy the One Day Pass either – you can be a day tour visitor. An extravagant buffet lunch in Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin’s restaurant is included in both passes.
One Day Adventure Pass
You can do a few or all of these top Costa Rica adventure tours. It is completely feasible to do everything if you start by 8:00 a.m.
The Waterfalls Canyoning Tour may be included in the One Day Adventure Pass for an extra charge of $20 per person.
The Nature Pass is a softer day of adventure, focused on wildlife and the Rincon de la Vieja area’s natural beauty. This tour package is easily realized in a little over a half-day.
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 park is closed on Mondays.
At the base of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Hacienda Guachipelin is a top eco-tourism hotel and working horse and cattle ranch. Three rivers crisscross the 3,400-acre ranch, with waterfalls and natural thermal springs, creating an idyllic setting in the distinctive dry tropical forest.
Article by Shannon Farley
“We’re rescuing the cultural traditions of Guanacaste,” said Fernando Camacho Mora, archaeologist in charge of the project.
Not much is known about the first native peoples to live in the area of the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. What is understood is that a tribe known as the Chorotegas migrated south from Mexico through Nicaragua to Guanacaste in about 900 AD. They lived in places along the coast from Salinas Bay south to the Nicoya Gulf, but not in the interior. Archaeological findings show that a different people – probably who spoke a Chibchan language – lived on the inner lands of Guanacaste by the volcano from about 10,000 BC, explained Camacho.
“We don’t know the name of the people who lived here because they did not have a written language,” noted Camacho.
Helping to solve the mystery are 14 archaeological sites that have been found around Hacienda Guachipelin, which date from about 300 to 800 AD. “The archaeological sites around the Hacienda did not reach the year 900 AD, so the people living there were not Chorotegan at all. They might have had some contact with the Chorotegas – the archaeological findings indicate that – but they probably were another ethnic group, perhaps a Chibchan one,” said Camacho, who has studied archaeological sites in the area for several years.
Almost all of the discovered sites are cemeteries. Camacho said he is planning to do further research to uncover the living areas of the community. Petroglyphs and tomb markers with petroglyphs, dating to about 500 AD, have been found in river beds near Hacienda Guachipelin.
The hotel’s new archaeology tour will show off eight stations that give an introduction to the history of Guanacaste and Rincon de la Vieja, and a characterization of life in the indigenous society. The walking tour will start from the hotel Reception, stopping first at the hotel’s new hydroponic garden, and then visiting the exhibit of live snakes and frogs, and the small butterfly garden, until reaching the archaeological exposition.
Walking narrow paths through the tropical dry forest to a small clearing with a life-size statue of a hunter ready with his spear and a woman kneeling on the ground grinding corn, you can imagine what life may have been like for these ancestors of Costa Rica. A recreation of a burial tomb shows a replica skeleton and objects such as jade carvings and ceramic bowls to demonstrate burial practices and beliefs about the afterlife.
The 60 to 90-minute tour will open to the public toward the end of April.
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 lodge has the best Costa Rica adventure tours. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín is located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s main city of Liberia by the Pailas section of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.
Article by Shannon Farley
Along with the rest of the world, Costa Rica is actively exploring clean energy options that are sustainable and not harmful to the environment. Luckily, Costa Rica has many resources for energy – hydroelectric, wind turbine, geothermal, and now there are investigations into hydrogen energy.
Costa Rica currently produces about 90% of its electricity from mostly hydroelectric projects. However, hydroelectric power is weather-dependent, and during the driest months of summer it is stretched to its limits when water reserves are low. There is a plentiful resource however that is largely untapped – volcanic geothermal energy.
Geothermal power uses underground steam from volcanoes. The energy is harnessed by drawing hot water and steam from within the Earth’s crust, and then cooling it to move power turbines. An advantage of geothermal power is that it is continuously generated, and not dependent on weather conditions.
Costa Rica has plenty of volcanoes, and so far, the North Volcanic Mountain Ridge in the northwestern Guanacaste region has been ideal for geothermal power generation, with its Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes. The Miravalles Geothermal Field has been producing electricity since 1994, and the Pailas Geothermal Power Plant opened in July 2011 at the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano.
“Pailas” means cauldrons, and a hike in the Rincón de La Vieja National Park will show you why this 600,000-year-old volcano is so popular for geothermal energy; steam pours out of fumaroles, sulfur lagoons boil with minerals, and volcanic mud pits bubble and spit.
Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly currently is debating a bill that would allow exploration and production of geothermal energy inside the Rincón de la Vieja National Park. The Pailas Geothermal Power Plant is just outside the park’s boundaries.
When you visit Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, stay at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín. Located just 10 minutes outside the Pailas section of the Rincón de la Vieja National Park, the first-class ecotourism lodge is a leading center for adventure and nature tours, on a working horse and cattle ranch.
By Shannon Farley