I read once that in Costa Rica the best “all-terrain vehicle” for navigating the country is a horse. Costa Ricans love horses and their riding traditions – their equestrian roots coming from the Spanish who brought horses with them to Central America in the 16th century.
The heart and soul of Costa Rica’s equestrian life is the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Here, vast rolling plains run up into towering volcanoes and mountains of the Guanacaste Range. The sunny climate is dry and hot, creating the unique dry tropical forest habitat. For decades, Guanacaste has been dedicated to working the land, and cattle and horse ranching. Even though the region’s main economic activity is now tourism, the traditions of “sabanero” (cowboy) folklore, customs, music and dance are deeply rooted in the communities.
Settled in the golden savanna at the base of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Hacienda Guachipelin Hotel is a working horse and cattle ranch, in addition to being an active eco-tourism hotel. Originally founded in the 19th century, the immense Hacienda ranch once stretched from the tip of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Since 1975, Tomás Batalla Esquivel, a renowned cattle rancher and purebred Spanish horse breeder, has kept the ranching legacy alive with his family.
Today, the property measures nearly 3,400 acres. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin set aside 1,730 acres for the conservation of tropical dry forest, 1,025 acres are used as pastureland, and 625 acres are being reforested with endangered native tree species. Three rivers crisscross the ranch lands, creating an idyllic setting.
Hacienda Guachipelin offers seven different horseback riding tours riding the trusty ranch horses on scenic forest trails to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park or waterfalls or natural thermal springs. There is even a “Cowboy for a Day” tour, where you help out the real ranch cowboys in the stables and corral, milk cows, saddle and ready the horses, and ride out to herd cattle or other horses.
Hacienda Guachipelín Hotel is an ideal place to stay at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano to experience authentic Guanacaste culture and enjoy an active vacation. The first-class ecotourism lodge has a thrilling adventure center offering canopy ziplines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, nature trails, mountain biking and thermal springs. 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