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
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
In the foothills of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, just 13 miles from Liberia, 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 received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014.
“I love the typical authentic flavor of this traditional Costa Rican hacienda located at the active volcano and national park of Rincon de la Vieja,” commented Daniel Chavarria, founder of Enchanting Hotels Costa Rica.
The spacious new Superior rooms have beautiful views, and are located near the stables from where the horse tours depart. Ten new rooms are equipped with two queen beds or one king-size bed, Wi-Fi, TV, phone, safe box, fan and air-conditioning. Two of the rooms are specially equipped for disabled travelers.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin offers 64 comfortable ranch-style rooms and suites, well-appointed with traditional wood furniture. All rooms have views of the volcano and the Hacienda. Wide and inviting verandas welcome you to relax and meet fellow travelers. A grand breakfast buffet and entrance to the hotel’s natural volcanic hot springs are complimentary for all guests at Hacienda Guachipelin.
The adventure park at 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 Pass to get the most out of Hacienda Guachipelin’s Costa Rica adventure tours.
Article by Shannon Farley
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
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
Here’s a bit of a different Costa Rica vacation for you: Travel the entire country from coast to coast and north to south, but only under your own steam on mountain bikes, kayaks, rafts, zipline cables, and your feet. Sleep under the stars wherever you may be – mud, sand, grass field, rocky stream bed – but only for a few hours at a time. Brave the thrills of mosquitoes, venomous snakes, crocodiles, rain, boiling sun, and sweltering rainforest. Do that for about six days straight with three of your friends, but with the added adrenaline surge of trying to outrace 64 other groups like you all trying to get to the same final destination first.
Sound like fun? Maybe not for the average person, but if you are one of the world’s best endurance athletes, it’s right up your alley … or trail, as it were.
This unforgettable “vacation” is actually the 2013 Adventure Race World Championships (ARWC), coming to Costa Rica from Nov. 29 to Dec. 12. Sixty-five teams from 26 countries will compete for more or less 140 hours non-stop on adventure challenges, covering over 700 km from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and across Costa Rica border-to-border from Nicaragua to Panama. Teams of four competitors will traverse a wide variety of terrain, from long beach walks to high ascents over rugged mountains. They will raft, kayak (ocean and river), mountain bike, trek, climb and rappel, and cross canopy ziplines, among other events. Race organizers estimate that it will take the winning team approximately 120 hours in five to six days to finish. The race will be open a total of nine days (216 hours).
The epic adventure is also the fourth Adventure Race Costa Rica (ARCR), which joined the Adventure Race World Series (ARWS) in 2010. The AR World Series is an international circuit of premier adventure races that since 2001 culminate every year in the AR World Championships. To get to the ARWC, teams have competed all year long in eight adventure races in different countries, leading up to the finals in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches and rainforests, and is also gaining international fame for endurance sports. The “La Ruta de los Conquistadores” (The Route of the Conquistadors) top world endurance mountain bike race celebrated its 20th anniversary Oct. 24-26 in Costa Rica. Hundreds of the best mountain bikers and endurance racers have been crossing 192 miles (310 km) from the Pacific to the Caribbean over these three days.
In June, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín, at the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Costa Rica’s northern Guanacaste region, hosted the international North Face Endurance Challenge. Competitors ran 80k, 50k, 21k and 10k races over rugged ground at the volcano. The eco-hotel then staged the 100-mile (160 km) Rincón de la Vieja Challenge mountain bike race in August. The adventure race was the first of its kind in Costa Rica and Latin America to circumnavigate an active volcano.
Not an endurance athlete, but still looking for an adventure vacation in Costa Rica? Hacienda Guachipelín, a first-class eco-lodge, is a prime destination for adventure and nature lovers – offering canopy ziplines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, mountain biking, nature trails, and thermal springs – all on a working horse and cattle ranch. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín is located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s principal city of Liberia.
Article by Shannon Farley
Costa Rica is a popular, easy and fun destination for Friends’ Trips, especially for adventure travel enthusiasts. Planning a bachelor or bachelorette party? A guys’ trip? Girlfriends getaway? Or simply looking for some place different to go with your group of friends? Costa Rica delivers all you could want for a no-stress exotic vacation.
Get your friends, get your tickets, and escape to Costa Rica!
Top 5 Adventure Tours for a Costa Rica Friends’ Trip
1. Canopy Zip-Lines
2. Rafting Trip
3. Waterfall Rappelling / Canyoning
4. Jungle Hiking
All five of Costa Rica’s top adventure tours can be enjoyed at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin at the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. Only 15.5 miles northeast of Guanacaste’s principal city of Liberia, the first-class ecotourism lodge is a leading adventure and nature tours vacation destination.
Article by Shannon Farley
Rincon de la vieja volcano is one of several active volcanoes in Costa Rica. This volcano reaches more than 6000 feet above sea level and it’s the third most active volcano in the country.
The first time I tried to hike up this volcano there was a storm that prevented us from going to the top. This second time we were determined to reach the crater. I did this hike together with Mel, a friendly guy from the UK and our guide Oscar. We started our hike early in the morning to make sure that we had enough time. The trail is well marked and easy to follow and because it’s in the National park you have a good chance of spotting some wildlife. On our way up we saw some spider monkeys, tapirs and many birds.
I would be lying if I said it was easy, this hike is no joke. It takes a lot of energy to get to the top. The trail is eight kilometers long and when you get to the final two kilometers it gets really steep. The amazing views you get on a clear day makes it all worth it though. From here you can see the Pacific Ocean and all the way to the Caribbean Sea. We reached the top but our goal was the crater so we had to keep walking further, now on a very narrow trail. By this time a cloud covered the top of the volcano so the weather changed quickly, from sunny to wet. The view of the crater was majestic even though it was cloudy, with its bright blue almost turquoise color. It was definitely bigger than I thought and we could see some activity. We stopped for lunch and then it was time to head back down. We ended up back at the car tired, happy and proud that we got to experience this highlight of Guanacaste.