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
Bird Count Rincon de la Vieja 2014 will be held June 14 to 16 at Hacienda Guachipelin, a top Guanacaste hotel for ecotourism and Costa Rica adventure tours located next to the Pailas section of the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The annual bird count is being co-hosted by the Costa Rica National Parks Association (SINAC), Ornithological Association of Costa Rica, Ornithological Union of Costa Rica and Neo Travel.
Professional birders and avid bird-watching fans will converge at Hacienda Guachipelin on June 13. The count will begin the morning of June 14 on the trails in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park and on the Hacienda’s enormous ranch. Space is still available for you to join in the annual bird count.
Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is becoming a favored bird-watching destination in Costa Rica. The national park is part of the World Heritage Site, the Guanacaste Conservation Area. Diverse micro-climates produce ecosystems with a wide variety of forest vegetation. Rincón de la Vieja National Park is home to approximately 300 bird species, including: the Crested Guan, Blue-crowned Motmot, Blue-throated Goldentail, Whitefronted Parrot, Spectacled Owl, Laughing Falcon, Lesser Ground Cuckoo, Red Slaty-tailed Trogon, Black-faced Solitaire, Curassow, Royal Flycatcher, Emerald Toucanet and the Montezuma Oropendola. For birding in Costa Rica, the still famous field guide is A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica by Stiles & Stutch.
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 while birding at Rincon de la Vieja. Afterward, one of the benefits of Hacienda Guachipelin is to enjoy a warm volcanic mud bath and soak in natural hot springs to relieve sore muscles.
In green season, you also can enjoy great Costa Rica travel deals at Hacienda Guachipelin. The Rincon de la Vieja hotel was recently awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014.
Article by Shannon Farley
Low season, also called “green season”, in Costa Rica is the best time for travel deals. Tourist crowds have gone home. Refreshing afternoon rains (not every day) have transformed the landscape into a vivid tapestry of green and brightly-colored tropical flowers. And many hotels and tours start offering great Costa Rica travel deals.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is no exception. The award-winning eco-hotel at the base of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, is currently offering three fantastic low season specials for 2014.
Offers are valid for the months of May, June, September and October, 2014.
Low Season Special #2: For reservations of one night only, get a 20% discount.
Low Season Special #3: Sundays are special – receive a 50% discount for hotel accommodations and adventure tours on Sundays (available for Costa Rica residents only).
Low Season 2014 discounts at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin include:
- Welcome cocktail
- Buffet breakfast
- Unlimited admission to the Río Negro Hot Springs and waterfalls
- Free shuttle to the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park and Hot Springs
- Special rates in transportation
Additionally, you can receive special discounts at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin when you pay with American Express or a BAC Credomatic network credit card.
Hacienda Guachipelin offers the best things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, including horseback riding, hiking in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, river tubing, natural hot springs and volcanic mud baths, waterfall rappelling, hikes to waterfalls, and the very unique Canyon Canopy Tour. Try the One Day Adventure Pass or the One Day Nature Pass to get the most out of Hacienda Guachipelin’s Costa Rica adventure tours.
Hacienda Guachipelin has been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014.
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.
- Canyon Canopy Tour
- Rio Negro Tubing Adventure
- Horseback Rides – choose one of many tours, or simply ride horses to get to Rio Negro.
- Volcanic mud bath and thermal hot springs at Rio Negro
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.
- Butterfly Garden, Serpentarium and Frog Habitats
- Walk to Look-out Point
- Visit the waterfalls and mineral 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 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
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
Costa Rica continues to be a magnet for adventure racing, high-endurance extreme sports and triathlons. Top international athletes travel to Costa Rica several times a year for sport competitions and events.
The north Pacific Guanacaste region is one of the most popular zones for extreme endurance events. In early March 2014, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) will hold the 2014 Pan American Cup at Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. The XTERRA off-road triathlon race comes to Costa Rica also in March, staging their major international competition March 29 and 30 at Playa Conchal in Guanacaste. Costa Rica’s top triathlete Leonardo Chacon took first place at the XTERRA USA competition last year in Hawaii, and is looking to repeat his win this year.
Last year in December, Costa Rica hosted the 2013 Adventure Racing World Championships, in which 60 teams from around the world competed non-stop crossing the country 850km north to south and east to west. In June 2013, the North Face Endurance Challenge, involving 80k, 50k, 21k and 10k adventure runs happened at Hacienda Guachipelin at the rugged Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste.
Coming again in 2014 to Rincón de la Vieja is the second annual Rincón de la Vieja Challenge mountain biking endurance race – on Aug. 23. Held last year for the first time, the 100-mile (160 km) adventure race was the first of its kind in Costa Rica and Latin America to circumnavigate an active volcano.
Like in 2013, elite riders from all over the world will test their stamina and skill riding around the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, the largest in Costa Rica’s northwest at 6,286 feet tall. The route travels over roads of gravel, red clay, smooth white calcium rock, and on single track, river and volcanic rock trails – with a total elevation gain of 10,862 feet (3,311 meters).
“One of the interesting aspects of Rincón de la Vieja for adventure racing is its different terrain and microclimates,” commented 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.”
Explore Rincón de la Vieja on your own adventure at Hacienda Guachipelin eco-lodge. The first-class lodge, right next to the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park, offers guests and visitors a complete adventure center with canopy ziplines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, mountain biking, nature trails, and natural volcanic hot springs.
Article by Shannon Farley