For those looking to relax and detoxify their bodies, hot springs in Costa Rica are the “new, hot destination.”
Hot springs have been treasured for centuries by people all over the world for their therapeutic benefits. Luxuriant warm water rich in minerals like sulfur, silica, calcium, iron and magnesium are rejuvenating, detoxifying and relaxing. Not to mention great for stress reduction. Reported health benefits of hot springs include relief from arthritis, fibromyalgia, skin conditions, and high blood pressure.
Now hot springs in Costa Rica are even more accessible than ever with nonstop flights to Liberia, Costa Rica, in the northern Guanacaste region, from the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Less than an hour from the Liberia International Airport, the sprawling ranch of Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin at the foot of the magnificent Rincon de la Vieja Volcano features beautiful and relaxing volcanic hot springs at Rio Negro (“Black River”). The hot springs are heated naturally by this largest and most active volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. In and around the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, you can see steam vents, bubbling volcanic mud pits, thermal springs and waterfalls.
Surrounded by thick forest, the pristine Rio Negro flows through 10 man-made pools that Hacienda Guachipelin has created to capture the steaming mineral-rich water. You access pools (of varying temperatures) on both sides of the river by two hanging bridges. Heated volcanic clay is available to smooth all over like a “spa body masque.”
There are changing rooms, bathrooms and lockers at the hot springs entrance. From there, you walk an easy trail less than a quarter-mile (350 meters) through the forest to the hot springs pools. Watch for monkeys, Blue Morpho butterflies and other wildlife along the way.
The Costa Rica eco-hotel offers tours to the hot springs with a fun horseback ride, or you can drive 15 minutes in your own vehicle from the hotel. The very popular One Day Adventure Pass and One Day Nature Pass at Hacienda Guachipelin also both include a visit to the Rio Negro Hot Springs.
- Open: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily
- Entrance is complimentary for hotel guests, or costs $20 for adult visitors; $15 for children (4-11 years).
For a more private spa experience, visit the hotel’s Simbiosis Spa & Hot Springs. On the banks of the Colorado River at the Hacienda Guachipelin Ranch, Simbiosis Spa features volcanic mud baths, volcanic clay water hot springs pools in the forest, a sauna, massages and body treatments, and a reception area with dressing rooms. Open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. Entrance is $15 for adults and $10 for children (4-11 years, and does not include massages or body treatments.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best hotels at Rincon de la Vieja. The adventure park at Hacienda Guachipelin offers the best adventure tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin will host The North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica endurance trail-running races at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano on May 28, 2016.
Article by Shannon Farley
For its 4th year, The North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica will be held on Saturday, May 28, 2016 on the slopes of Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Hundreds of runners from all over the world will challenge themselves and each other in four endurance trail-running races of 10 km, 21 km, 50 km and 80 km. All races are individual, with no team format.
Demanding trails cover beautiful yet difficult terrain around Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, spanning altitudes between 850 feet and 3,280 feet (260-1,000 meters). There will be aid stations along the routes.
Rincón de la Vieja is one of six active volcanoes in Costa Rica, and is the largest in the northwest province of Guanacaste. The towering ridge-shaped colossus holds several craters, and scrapes the sky at 6,286 feet (1,916m). Surrounding the volcano is Rincón de la Vieja National Park, filled with wild dry tropical forest, rivers, waterfalls and hot springs. The Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and National Park were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
Organized by The North Face outdoor gear and clothing company in the USA, The North Face Endurance Challenge is North America’s premier ultra-trail running series of endurance races. Launched in 2007, the races test experienced runners in beautiful scenic locations, while promoting a philosophy of minimum impact. Due to its great popularity, the Latin America series formed; and Costa Rica – a big destination for endurance races – held its first North Face Endurance Challenge in 2013.
Runners will start and finish at eco-hotel Hacienda Guachipelin – a major center for adventure tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica: zip lining, mountain biking, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, nature trails, and natural volcanic hot springs. The award-winning hotel next to the Rincón de la Vieja National Park is located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s main city of Liberia, with easy access from the Liberia International Airport.
The newest Costa Rica adventure race – 160K Rincon de la Vieja Mountain Bike Race – happens Aug. 20, 2016 at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin. Racers will compete in three distances: 160 km (100 miles), 100 km (62 miles), and 50 km (31 miles) by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.
The fourth annual Rincon de la Vieja Challenge extreme mountain bike race also happens at Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, on Sept. 3, 2016. Elite mountain bikers will circumnavigate the active volcano in a 100-mile (160 km) race. The Rincon de la Vieja Challenge is the first international chapter of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) of the USA.
Article by Shannon Farley
Anyone can enjoy stargazing. The best places to go, of course, are where the sky is wide open and very dark, with no distracting city lights. Up in the mountains, or in the desert, or out on the open ocean; it is breathtaking to stare upwards at night at millions and millions of twinkling stars and planets in a blue black sky.
Guanacaste, Costa Rica is a superior stargazing location, especially now during Costa Rica summer (December through April). February and March are the best months for clear star-filled night skies.
Costa Rica has been named one of the top places in the world for stargazing by Travel & Leisure Magazine. Astronomy buffs will know that these months during Costa Rica’s dry season offer incredible opportunities to see in cloudless skies the constellations of the Southern Cross, Omega Centauri, the Magellanic Clouds, the Eta Carinae Nebula, and countless other spectacles in the Milky Way.
Stargazers traveling to Costa Rica also get the added bonuses of watching the night sky in a warm tropical climate, and during the day enjoying spectacular natural scenery, abundant wildlife, fun adventure activities and friendly local people.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin at the foot of the colossal, active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is one of the best places for stargazing in Guanacaste. There are no city lights near the family-owned hotel, set on a 3,460-acre ranch, to wash out the night sky. The unique surrounding dry tropical forest trees lose their leaves like in northern autumn and winter. These bare-branches open the sky even more to see stars. You can be inspired by an immense sky filled with millions of stars and listen to the symphony of tropical life at night.
Best times for stargazing in Costa Rica: from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. and again at 4:00 a.m.
More stargazing opportunities: You can view the sky as seen from various cities around the globe at the Your Sky website. Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer that shows a realistic sky in 3D. If you are in San Jose, Costa Rica, visit the San Jose Planetarium at the University of Costa Rica.
For reservations at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, contact the hotel here.
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
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