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A legend lives at Hacienda Guachipelin. For more than 50 years, Justo Pastor Sanchez Castillo – known affectionately to all at Hacienda Guachipelin as “Don Justo” – has made magic with his music on the marimba. He is a living legend playing a folkloric instrument that is fading into history.
You can’t visit Guanacaste, Costa Rica without listening at least once to the distinct resonant sounds of a traditional marimba. Considered a symbol of culture and tradition, especially in the province of Guanacaste, the marimba was declared the national musical instrument of Costa Rica by President José María Figueres in 1996.
The marimba is a percussion instrument consisting of a set of wooden bars, arranged like those of a piano, which when struck with mallets produce musical tones. Resonators (tubes, usually of aluminum) that hang below the bars amplify their sound with vibration.
In Central America and Mexico, a hole is often carved into the bottom of each resonator and then covered with a delicate membrane made with pig intestine to add a characteristic “buzzing” or “rattling” sound known as charleo. Marimba players often simultaneously use between two and four mallets in each hand, and often play with one or two other persons for more complicated songs.
The marimba was developed in Guatemala centuries ago, based on a type of xylophone from African slaves; the marimba is also the official national instrument of Guatemala. The historical musical instrument was brought to Costa Rica from Guatemala in colonial times by Franciscan priests, and spread in the region of Guanacaste and the Central Valley. In Costa Rica, marimba music is synonymous with Guanacaste.
You can listen to colorful marimba music every night at award-winning eco-hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Don Justo plays his legendary songs in the hotel’s bar and restaurant to entertain guests every night, like he has been doing for the past eight years.
“Our guests love listening to the traditional music of Guanacaste,” agreed the Hacienda Guachipelin reception staff.
At the base of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best places to stay in Guanacaste. The eco-tourism hotel is a working horse and cattle ranch and has some of the best adventure tours in Costa Rica. Hacienda Guachipelin received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014.
Article by Shannon Farley
Up coming for the week of January 15th we have lots of festivities in Santa Cruz, typical Costa Rican rural town, where people gather to celebrate with typical music, folkloric dancing and bullfighting to honor the Black Christ of Esquipulas. Since 1926 it’s celebrated in commemoration of their catholic religion when Christ suffered before being crucified.
In the corners of the main streets of Santa Cruz marimbas are located to brighten the atmosphere; while the bullfights are held where many people come to a roundabout on the main square to challenge the bulls.
During the week they also celebrate the famous horsemen activity “tope” where hundreds of people from all over the country come with their horses and typical costumes to the main streets of the city and parade. During this activity many tourists rent horses and participate in the festival.
Dancing in the park to the sound of marimba music is another traditional activity, among local meals prepared as part of the celebration including the “rosquillas”, sweet “tamal” and coyol wine.
Santa Cruz is a beautiful town filled with friendly and openhearted people who are always open to help tourists when needed. The town is also close to some of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica, which they have buses travelling back and forth almost each hour.
Between the last week of February and early March the “Fiestas Cívicas” of Liberia are held where folklore and traditions are celebrated with music, rides and concerts throughout Liberia.
The city of Liberia is located on the plains of the province of Guanacaste. It has a warm but dry climate characteristic of the area. Its name comes from the Latin “liber” meaning free and independent.
At just 13 miles away from Liberia and 72 from Santa Cruz, in the surroundings of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best places to stay in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Now for these celebration dates, you can also enjoy great Costa Rica travel deals at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin and enjoy Guanacaste’s festivities.
Costa Rica’s love for “fiesta” is contagious; taste the food, make friends, enjoy traditions and party with the ticos are musts you can’t miss during these dates in Guanacaste, activities you can enjoy at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.
By Maria Laura Charles
In Alaska, Mt. Pavlof volcano has been erupting since Nov. 12 sending ash clouds spewing 30,000 feet above sea level. In Hawaii, the lava flow from Kilauea Volcano advances slowly across the Big Island, continuing its 31 years of near-continuous eruptions and now threatening towns.
Costa Rica also has had its share of volcanoes in the news. Costa Rica may be a small country but it has numerous active volcanoes steaming down the center. There are 10 major volcanoes; among the most active are Poás, Turrialba, Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja, and Irazú volcanoes.
The sudden eruption of Turrialba Volcano on Oct. 29 was the largest in 150 years, according to the National Seismological Network (RSN). The massive phreatic explosion spewed out ash and rocks from the 3,340-meter-high volcano, the easternmost of Costa Rica’s active volcanoes. Farmland covering the volcano’s flanks has been greatly affected.
Poás Volcano also erupted strongly, on Oct. 14, ejecting mud and water from its green acid crater lake more than 200 meters into the air to the observation platform. Rising above the city of Alajuela, northwest of the capital city of San José, Poás is one the most visited volcanoes in Costa Rica.
Irazú Volcano is located immediately east of San José and opposite Turrialba Volcano. At 3,432 meters, Irazú is Costa Rica’s highest volcano. Arenal Volcano is one of the major tourist attractions in Costa Rica. Since a major eruption in 1968 brought it to life, it has had near-continuous activity.
The largest and most active volcano in the Guanacaste Range in northwest Costa Rica is Rincón de la Vieja. At 15 kilometers wide, the approximately 9,000-year-old caldera, is sometimes called the “Colossus of Guanacaste” and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Rincón de la Vieja also recently increased activity, with phreatic explosions occurring from the main crater since Sept. 17. Its last magmatic eruption was in 1995.
You are ideally located to visit Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin. Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best Guanacaste hotels and received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014. The hotel offers Costa Rica adventure tours and hosts the annual North Face Endurance Challenge and the Rincon de la Vieja Challenge adventure races.
Article by Shannon Farley
The Rincon de la Vieja Challenge 100-mile mountain bike race at Rincon de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica is now the first international chapter of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE).
The NUE is a series of twelve 100-mile mountain bike races across the United States. Winner of the 2014 NUE series, Brenda Simril of Tennessee, also took first place in the Open Category for Women in the Rincon de la Vieja Challenge 2014 that was staged at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.
Called by pro mountain bikers the “most extreme 100-miler in the world,” the Rincon de la Vieja Challenge started in 2013 with 140 racers, and rose to 270 in 2014. Most were Costa Rican competitors. Villa says they are projecting up to 400 or 500 participants for 2015, with many more international racers.
“There are no 100-mile races south of the United States. We are the first 100-mile race in Latin America,” commented JuanCarlos Villa, founder and organizer of the Rincon de la Vieja Challenge. “I’m really excited about making the Rincon de la Vieja Challenge part of the NUE series. Traveling to participate in Rincon will be as easy and cost-similar to traveling from one state to another to participate in an NUE 100-miler. The nice thing is that participants will have a chance to do other activities and experiences, turning the trip into a race-vacation.”
“We’re a tough race and we’re really well organized,” said Villa, who was inspired from a training ride around the active volcano to create the race. “Costa Rica ranks high for mountain biking in Latin America because of the well-developed tourism infrastructure, good security and excellent topography.”
The only race to circumnavigate an active volcano, the unique competition goes around the massive Rincon de la Vieja Volcano in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, taking riders through five microclimates from the dry plains of Guanacaste up over the Continental Divide to lush cloud forests and back again. With roughly 12,000 feet of climbing over the 100-miles (160 km), on gravel roads, red clay tracks, river and volcanic rock trails, smooth white ash roads and “dog’s teeth” calcite rock trails, racers are pushed to the limits physically and mentally.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin has hosted the Rincon de la Vieja Challenge the past two years, and will again be the race headquarters on Aug. 22, 2015. The adventure and ecotourism lodge also staged the international North Face Endurance Challenge in 2013 and 2014 at Rincón de la Vieja.
Article by Shannon Farley
September in Costa Rica is a month full of colorful celebrations, commemorating the country’s Independence Day on Sept. 15. For the Mes de la Patria, or “Month of the Nation,” buildings, businesses and even cars are festooned with blue, white and red Costa Rican flags, streamers and decorations.
Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are all celebrating 193 years of independence from Spain this month. On Sept. 15, 1821, a Central American congress signed “The Act of Independence,” which asserted they were free of the Spanish Empire.
Unlike other independence declarations in the Americas, the Central American states did not have to fight for their liberation. Spain, exhausted by the war with Napoleon Bonaparte and other Latin American wars, actually supported Central American independence because the region had become a burden for the empire.
Although Sept. 15 is the day when independence was declared, news of Costa Rica’s new freedom did not reach the territory until almost a month later on Oct. 13, because a messenger had to travel on horseback from Guatemala. Costa Rica finally became a completely independent state in 1838, when it separated from the Central American republic.
Flags from all five Central American countries are hanging at the presidential offices of Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís through the end of September.
Festivities will really get going this weekend all over the country with festivals, parades, lantern ceremonies, traditional music and dancing. Monday, Sept. 15, is a national holiday and businesses, banks and government institutions will be closed.
Liberia, the capital city of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, traditionally celebrates Independence Day with huge events.
On Sunday, Sept. 14, the patriotic party begins at precisely 6:00 p.m. with the Costa Rica National Anthem broadcast nationally on TV and radio. Following the anthem is the traditional nighttime lantern parade (Desfiles de Faroles) reenacting the “freedom torch” that notified Costa Rica of its freedom. Children carrying colorful homemade paper lanterns in the shape of little houses and other objects will parade with their families in town squares. There are usually typical dances and fireworks.
Monday morning, Sept. 15, school bands march through the town streets playing drums, lyres and other instruments. Dancers wearing traditional costumes move to the beat. Traditional foods are usually sold by street vendors. The celebrations are well-attended by families and are a lot of fun.
Just 13 miles from Liberia, in the foothills of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best places to stay in Guanacaste. The adventure eco-tourism hotel is also a working horse and cattle ranch, and received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014. Now in green season, you can enjoy great Costa Rica travel deals at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.
Article by Shannon Farley
Four major waterfalls flow at Rincon de la Vieja by Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, and all of them have pools where you can swim in refreshing, pure water. Getting there is an adventure – either by hiking or horseback riding. Almost all waterfall tours from the Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Center last two to three hours, and are available between 7:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Located near the Las Pailas entrance to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, the Oropéndola Waterfall plunges an impressive 82 feet (25 meters) in a beautiful canyon of the Rio Blanco (White River). The sparkling turquoise pool below makes for a refreshing swim.
How to get there: A 45-minute each-way horseback ride on a scenic trail, and short walk to the waterfall; or a 1.5 hour each-way scenic hike; or a 15-minute drive and short walk.
Two waterfalls cascade into a beautiful sky blue mineral water pool in this amphitheater canyon at Chorreras Waterfall. It is an excellent place for a cooling swim, or just to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
How to get there: A 25-minute each-way horseback ride on a scenic trail, and short walk to the waterfall; or a 45-minute each-way scenic hike on the same trail.
The 115-foot (35-meter) Victoria Waterfall on the Rio Negro (Black River) is where the river tubing trips start their adventure downriver. The surrounding canyon has unique vegetation and topography, and you can swim in the pool at the waterfall’s base.
How to get there: A 45-minute each-way horseback ride on a scenic trail, and a short, steep descent to the waterfall; or a one hour each-way scenic hike on the same trail.
The Cangreja Waterfall is located inside the Rincon de la Vieja National Park forest. Spilling 130 feet (40 meters) in a white ribbon of water out of the green forest, the waterfall forms a celestial blue pool at its base; its color comes from dissolved copper minerals from the volcano. The only way to get to this waterfall is by hiking 3 miles (5 km) into the national park; along the trail you might see wildlife like white-faced or howler monkeys, coatis, armadillos, Central American agoutis, iguanas, and birds like the Blue-crowned Motmot or the Emerald Toucanet.
How to get there: 15-minute drive to the national park entrance and then hiking.
One of the best times to visit Rincon de la Vieja is now in the green season (May to November) when the active volcano’s fumaroles and boiling mud pots are most active. The hiking is fantastic and Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin has the best Costa Rica adventure tours. Afterward, you can enjoy a warm volcanic mud bath and soak in Hacienda Guachipelin’s natural hot springs.
In green season, you can enjoy great Costa Rica travel deals at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014 winner.
Article by Shannon Farley
The competition, set for Aug. 23, 2014, is a unique adventure race – the only 100-mile mountain bike race in Latin America, and the only race in the world to circumnavigate an active volcano, according to press information.
Located in Costa Rica’s northwestern Guanacaste province, Rincón de la Vieja is the largest volcano in the region. Standing 6,286 feet tall, its caldera is nine miles (15 km) wide. The adjacent dormant Santa Maria Volcano stands even taller at 6,307 feet. The Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and National Park were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
Mountain bikers from all over will test their stamina and skill riding 100 miles (160 km) clockwise around the volcano through five microclimates – from the Northern Pacific dry plains of Guanacaste up over Costa Rica’s Continental Divide to lush cloud forests, across rivers, around the smoldering Rincón de la Vieja Volcano to where it meets the Miravalles Volcano, and back to the finish line.
Starting at 5:30 a.m. from the Las Pailas entrance to the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park, competitors have 12 hours to ride gravel roads, red clay tracks, river and volcanic rock trails, smooth white ash roads and “dog’s teeth” calcite rock trails – with close to 11,000 feet of elevation gain – to reach the finish.
Race entrance information can be found at Rincon de la Vieja Challenge. Event headquarters will be at Rincon de la Vieja hotel Hacienda Guachipelin. You can make reservations online. The Guanacaste hotel is located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s principal city of Liberia.
Article by Shannon Farley
According to the 2013 World Energy Performance Index, Costa Rica is among the top 10 countries in the world with the best energy performance; and without question the northwestern province of Guanacaste has become a focal point for alternative and renewable energy.
Currently, Costa Rica produces 73% of its electricity from hydroelectric power, 13% from geothermal sources, 4% from wind turbines, and 1% from biomass, for a total of 91% of its energy generated from renewable sources, according to the Costa Rica Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE). Hydroelectric power, however, is climate-dependent, and during the driest months of summer it is stretched to its limits when water reserves are low.
This is where Guanacaste’s vast plains, powerful volcanoes and dry, sunny climate come into play. The second largest province in the country is being tapped for the powerful resources of wind, solar and geothermal energy.
In Guanacaste Costa Rica – one of the windiest locations in the world – international and Costa Rican companies are harnessing the power of the wind with huge wind turbine farms. There are currently 11 wind energy projects in Costa Rica, most in Guanacaste, and also by Volcano and Lake Arenal and in the Central Valley. Spanish wind engineering firm Gamesa is building a new wind farm in Guanacaste, set to be generating electricity by 2015.
Solar energy companies are rapidly on the rise in Guanacaste. When the Miravalles Solar Plant opened on the slopes of the Miravalles Volcano in November 2012, thanks to a $10 million loan by the Japanese government, it was the first of its kind in Costa Rica and the largest solar project in Central America. Now there are several solar projects in the works for the region.
Guanacaste’s North Volcanic Mountain Ridge has been ideal for geothermal power generation, tapping the Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes. The Miravalles Geothermal Field opened in 1994 and produces nearly 14% of the National Electrical System’s (SEN) capacity. The Pailas Geothermal Power Plant opened in July 2011 just outside the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park and is also a key energy supplier. Last November, President Laura Chinchilla signed an agreement with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for a $560 million loan to build three more geothermal power plants near the famous Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste.
For things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, look no further than the Costa Rica adventure tours at Hacienda Guachipelin. Their adventure park offers you canopy zip lines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, nature trails, natural thermal springs, and tours into the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park.
Article by Shannon Farley
According to data from the Costa Rica Bureau of Immigration and the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT), during the first six months of 2013 about 44,000 Canadians flew into the Daniel Oduber International Airport at Liberia (LIR) – representing 49% of all Canadians entering Costa Rica during that time. Approximately 30% of all tourists from the USA to Costa Rica – about 143,000 visitors – also preferred to arrive in country via Liberia rather than the Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela (SJO).
While the Juan Santamaria International Airport still receives the lion’s share of international arrivals – flights to 43 destinations operated by 24 airlines – the Liberia International Airport is steadily growing in popularity for visitors seeking the Guanacaste Province’s legendary sun.
Guanacaste is known as the “sunny side” of Costa Rica. The northwestern province is named after Costa Rica’s national tree, the Guanacaste. The nearly-always sunny climate is dry and hot, creating its unique dry tropical forest habitat. Vast rolling plains, foothills, low coastal mountains and the towering Cordillera de Guanacaste mountain range create an interesting topography and micro-climates rich with biodiversity.
Guanacaste has quickly changed from a forgotten corner of Costa Rica into one of the most visited areas in the country by national and international tourists. The region is home to seven national parks, and the Guanacaste Pacific Coast is known as the “Gold Coast” or “Costa Rica’s Riviera” for its spectacular beaches.
Discover another side of Guanacaste at the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano
The beautiful forest, waterfalls, rivers, natural volcanic hot springs and bubbling volcanic mud pits of the very active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano are a top attraction in Guanacaste. Located right near the Las Pailas entrance to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, in the midst of all of these natural wonders, is Hacienda Guachipelin Hotel.
Hacienda Guachipelin is a working horse and cattle ranch and an eco-tourism hotel for adventure travel. They offer thrilling canopy ziplines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, nature trails, mountain biking, thermal springs and an authentic experience of Guanacaste culture.
Article by Shannon Farley
Nicoya geographically speaking was made of the lands located west from the Tempisque River to the Pacific Ocean, and then north of the river El Salto all the way into the river La Flor and Lake Nicaragua, which was the border with the Province of Nicaragua.
This territory enjoyed considerable autonomy, even in civil and administrative depended on Guatemala, the Captaincy. However, by the closeness with the Province of Costa Rica, specifically with towns of Puntarenas, Bagaces and Las Cañas, it established business relationships and closeness with the lifestyle of Costa Ricans.
Therefore, Nicoya, during the Colony, held a very special status. It was a territory that belonged neither to Nicaragua nor to Costa Rica. Commercially speaking, important links existed with Costa Rica.
In 1812 the Province of Costa Rica needed to send a deputy to the courts of Cadiz. Since the Costa Rican population was small, the Province had Nicoya joining temporarily, so that the minimum population required to appoint such a representative was achieved. With this union the priest Florencio del Castillo became the representative for the Province of Costa Rica in the Courts of Cadiz.
When independence was declared in Central America, on September 15, 1821, Nicaragua turned its interest in Nicoya. Since Nicaragua was a country with many internal problems, becoming a part of Nicaragua was not appealing to Nicoya, forcing Nicoya to make a decision as to what country to be a part of. Therfore, Costa Rica was the best option.
The relationship with Costa Rica favors the union made with this territory since commercial ties were very favorable and integration complemented the economic policy, which was developed years before that.
Under this situation , the inhabitants of Nicoya agreed to hold an open meeting to define their situation. They therefore decided to join the Province of Costa Rica on July 25, 1824, under the motto “From the Homeland by our will”, as they were the inhabitants of Nicoya who decided to annex the province of Costa Rica.
Therefore, it should always be the Annexation of Nicoya to the Province of Costa Rica, never the annexation of Guanacaste.