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Waterfalls And Other Natural Wonders At Hacienda Guachipelin

Waterfalls And Other Natural Wonders At Hacienda Guachipelin

Have you been dreaming about hiking through green forests in search of beautiful, secluded waterfalls in Costa Rica? Guanacaste’s premiere adventure ecotourism destination is Hacienda Guachipelin in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. On this 3000 hectare wildlife preserve at the base of Costa Rica’s most active volcano, you will find the mighty Rio Negro. This river and its many tributaries host a number of magnificent waterfalls that inspire awe and wonder at the magic of nature.

The Las Pailas Loop

The hike to Las Pailas at Rincon De La Vieja National Park gives visitors the opportunity to spot some of the most magnificent waterfalls that this region has on display. Meaning “The Cauldrons” in Spanish, the Las Pailas area is a spectacular showcase of the awesome power of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. Steaming fumaroles, mini-geysers and bubbling volcanic mud pits offer a sensational experience of sights and sounds. 

The Las Pailas loop trail is about 2.5 miles (3.5 kilometers) of dry tropical forest path, with detours for some of the best views of the volcano. This dynamic, ever-changing region attracts a series of wildlife unlike any other in Costa Rica. Witness incredible feats of nature in the ever-present volcanic activity and wildlife. Hacienda Guachipelin’s bilingual expert naturalist guide will point out some of the 300 bird species that live here. Other possible animal sighting include capuchin, howler and spider monkeys, armadillos, collared peccaries, iguanas, snakes, or white-nosed coatis.

Oropendula Waterfall

As you finish the Las Pailas hike, you should be ready for a refreshing swim in the Oropendula Waterfall. This secluded waterfall is a short walk from the National Park’s entrance on a trail with varying terrain. The trek descends downward to a gorgeous canyon where you will be surrounded by towers rock walls covered in green. The Oropendula Waterfall plunges an impressive 82 feet (25 meters) to a sparkling turquoise pool within the lush canyon of the Rio Blanco. The Oropendula Waterfall is a truly picturesque tropical oasis.

Rio Negro Hot Springs

A visit to the Rio Negro Hot Springs is one of the most popular attractions at Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Surrounded by thick tropical dry forest, the Rio Negro flows through 10 man-made pools filled with steaming, mineral-rich volcanic waters. You can access to the pools on both sides of the river by traversing the two hanging bridges. These well-crafted feats of engineering are a thrilling way to pass over the Rio Negro as it roars through the canyon below. The rejuvenating pool areas offer heated volcanic clay masks. Like at the spa, visitors can smoothe the mineral-rich mud all over their bodies. 

The Red Pond

A walk to the Red Pond is a highly-recommended self-guided nature tour offered at Hacienda Guachipelin. This region is located on the Rio Blanco and features a very interesting lava rock formation in red and white colors that is created by the volcanic minerals present in the water.

The trail begins across from the lower parking area by Hacienda Guachipelin’s rooms & suites. The hike to the beautiful Red Pond is an easy 3/4 mile walk on a shaded forest path. Enjoy a swim in the pond’s refreshing water while you take in the natural surroundings.

Las Chorreras Waterfall

Close to Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, the Las Chorreras Waterfalls canyon is a beautiful place to relax in pristine nature. This stunning location is easily accessible, especially on a horseback riding tour from Hacienda Guachipelin. When you reach the clearing and hear the power of the waterfall, a stairway will welcome you to enjoy a swim in the tropical waterfall pool. Two side-by-side waterfalls cascade into a sky blue mineral water pool filled with rejuvenating properties. A tiny, shallow canyon of volcanic rock rings the waterfalls and pool, creating an intimate and private oasis for a sublime swimming experience.

Up above the waterfall is a magical forest clearing where a number of events take place throughout the year. It is a special location for weddings, receptions and other celebrations that deserve a one-of-a-kind backdrop. You won’t find another location like this in Costa Rica that can cater for your special day.

Victoria Waterfall

With a dramatic drop of 115 feet (35 meters), the stunning Victoria Waterfall descends into the Rio Negro at Hacienda Guachipelin. The surrounding canyon hosts unique vegetation and the topography is remarkable for drone footage. At the base of the waterfall, visitors can swim in the crystal clear pool. This is also the dramatic starting point for the incredibly fun Rio Negro Tubing Adventure. and it is the location of the Tarzan swing in Guanacaste Tours’ Canyoning Adventure.

La Cangreja Waterfall National Park

Hiking in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park is an adventure you must do while you are staying at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin. And when you do arrive, make sure to include a trip to the magnificent La Cangreja (Crab) Waterfall.

Falling 130 feet (40 meters) into a white ribbon of water that streaks through the vibrant green forest, La Cangreja forms a clear blue pool at its base. Dissolved copper minerals from the Rincon De La Vieja Volcano give the water its celestial blue color. 

The only way to get to this waterfall is by hiking 3 miles (5 km) into the Rincon De La Vieja National Park. Along this forest trail, you might see white-nosed coatis, armadillos, Central American agoutis and birds like the Blue-crowned Motmot or Emerald Toucanet.The guided tour even includes a lovely picnic lunch at the scenic waterfall.

Don’t miss out on some of the best day tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica! Hacienda Guachipelin organizes transportation to and from the Rincon De La Vieja National Park entrance. All tours are arranged at Hacienda Guachipelin’s Adventure Center, which is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to hotel guests and one day visitors.

Year-Round Birding at Hacienda Guachipelin

Year-Round Birding at Hacienda Guachipelin

The Guanacaste region where Hacienda Guachipelin is located has more than 600 resident avian species. More than 200 of the local species are migratory birds. Being a migrant myself, I am inspired by these birds who seek comfort in only the best climates. They are the groupies of nature, following her along as she blossoms from north to south and back again. The colorful natives that regularly inhabit this land are just as inspiring. All in all, the diverse bird population brings birdwatching visitors to stay with us no matter the time of year.

The great kiskadee, part of the tyrant flycatcher family, is an agile hunter

Visiting Hacienda Guachipelin during different seasons

There are a variety of natural bird habitats on the vast Hacienda Guachipelin grounds. Here, you will find wetlands, grasslands and a dry forest among the nearly 10 different habitats in this region. The Rio Negro runs through our 3500 acre land. During the rainy fall season, the ground water swells and creates a broad marsh area that attracts many migratory birds. And the ever-present abundance of fruit and nut bearing trees keep our locals happy throughout the year.

The extra water during rainy season can make it harder for people to get around. But taking a horseback ride through the less walkable areas makes it easy to sight the snowy white herons and roseate spoonbills coming to visit.

Traveling by horseback across the beautiful Hacienda Guachipelin grounds is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of this biodiverse region

During the dry season, the foliage shrinks back to reveal an incredible selection of bugs. There are about 10,000 insect species here, more than enough to feed the many bird species.

A few of the bird “residents”

The three-wattled bellbird is a funny little resident with long wattles off his bill. If you are here between March and September, you might hear his piercing call.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds buzz by our many flower bushes than line Hacienda Guachipelin’s central trails. There are around 30 different types of hummingbirds here. You’ll be amazed at the beautiful shades of their feathers, from shiny blues and purples to greens and yellows. Look for their small, cone-shaped nests among the foliage.

A private suite at Hacienda Guachipelin is a perfect hummingbird spotting location

Some of the native locals include parrots, the brown pelican, herons, eagles, cuckoos, owls, blue-throated toucanet and more. If we’re lucky, we may see the curassow, whose population is endangered. This bird is more than three feet tall and glossy black, with dark blue undertones and a bright yellow bill. The female looks more like a pheasant, with black tail feathers accented in white.

The turquoise motmot is one of six species that birdwatchers can find at Hacienda Guachipelin

Trogons are named after how they gnaw their nests from rotted wood. They don’t have strong bills, but they have managed to find a way to build their nests for their families. They are most vocal in spring and summer, and there are at least 10 species that you can spot while visiting Hacienda Guachipelin. Some include the gartered trogon, the black­-headed trogon, the slaty­-ailed trogon, and the orange­-bellied trogon.

A masked trogon perches in full-view near Hacienda Guachipelin’s visitor’s center.

Curious white­-throated magpie­ jays can often be seen visiting tourists for food. These birds are not shy and travel in large groups making lots of noise. They are large birds with a very long tail and curved feathers on the head. These birds like the many plantations for coffee that you will find in our region, including our own newly planted 100 acres of gourmet coffee plants.

Some of the favorite bird sightings at Hacienda Guachipelin

A native star of this region is the keel-billed toucan, whose body is black with a yellow breast and the most colorful bill anywhere. It’s a bright green with splashes of turquoise and orange leading to a tip covered in purple. If you have a good view, you’ll see his scarlet bottom and turquoise talons.

Black mandibled toucan eating Ylang Ylang berries

The resplendent quetzal captures every birder’s attention with its bright green back, deep red belly and prominent feathers. This is definitely one of the areas most unique birds with a very small body and an extremely long tail.

The blue-­crowned motmot is another of the most unique birds in all of Costa Rica. There are six species of motmot that call Costa Rica home as well but the blue­-crowned motmot stands out for its uniquely colored head, green body and a long tail. It can be observed up to 13 ft from the ground. Both the blue-crowned motmot and the resplendent quetzal can be found at Hacienda Guachipelin.

Fairy Tale Woodland Nuptials at Las Chorreras Waterfall, Hacienda Guachipelin

A unique and special destination wedding in Costa Rica

*See a video of this wedding at the bottom of this article

There are a few moments in life that are truly profound to witness. True love uniting under the natural archways of live trees with the Las Chorreras waterfall in the backdrop is one of those moments.

Reagan and Nathianial’s tropical woodland nuptials at Las Chorreras Waterfall, Hacienda Guachipelin

Our staff at Hacienda Guachipelin were lucky to host a unique and special wedding on January 9, 2019. And although we had only known this couple for a short time, each of us who witnessed the union of Reagan and Nathaniel Jackson had tears of joy in our eyes for the magic that we were privileged to share in alongside a select group of 33 guests.

The bride appeared a woodland princess as she walked down an aisle of meticulously laid jungle foliage. She relied on her instinct for natural décor and radiated in her white tulle gown and floral crown amidst the greenery of Guanacaste’s tropical dry forest. The outdoor venue had a glamorous yet simple and classic vibe created with strings of fairy lights and decorative pieces picked directly from Hacienda Guachipelin’s gardens. The couple carried their elevated tropical theme throughout every detail of the day, from the table settings to the palm-printed invites and greeting cards.

About the newlyweds

Reagan and Nathaniel are from the US but have been living in a small town near Nosara for a number of years. They chose to move to Costa Rica so that they could live a simpler life, closer to nature. From their very first conversation, Reagan and Nathaniel bonded over their shared history, having both grown up in rural areas where they spent most of their childhoods outdoors. Their shared appreciation for nature was a major reason why they were drawn to live in Costa Rica and their wedding at Hacienda Guachipelin was a reflection of this passion for nature that brought them together.

The happy couple toasting to a bright future

The couple wanted to reflect their personal style in their wedding theme. However, they quickly realized that their style does not easily fit into any one category. They ended up with a theme that reflected their variety of their interests and made for a unique and special affair.

“We like modern and minimal design, with clean lines and geometric shapes; you can see that in the triangular ceremony backdrop, and the geometric candle holders on the reception tables,” says Reagan, who chose all of the décor alongside her now husband, Nathaniel, and their friends.

Choosing the Las Chorreras waterfall location

Although Reagan and Nathan both love the beach, they decided to opt for something different for their special day. The couple live in a beach town in Costa Rica and have seen their share of weddings on the beach.

“We live in a beach town in Costa Rica where almost all the weddings are on the beach,” says Reagan. “Nathan and I love the beach, but we prefer to be out in the jungle even more. So we decided on having the wedding at either a waterfall or a big magnificent tree.”

The bride, Reagan, in a private pre-wedding memorial ceremony at Las Chorreras Waterfall

They began searching for the perfect place for weeks, making lists of waterfalls and keeping note of trees that inspired them. This took the couple on a waterfall tour in Costa Rica where not only did they want an awe inspiring waterfall location, they also wanted a surrounding area that could accommodate seating for thirty-three guests. And when they finally arrived at Hacienda Guachipelin’s Las Chorreras Waterfall, they know they had found the perfect place.

“Las Chorreras was actually the last one on our list and I was growing a bit concerned about finding one that would work for us,” says Reagan. “The hike out there was a bit long and it was a hot day in July. I was tired from hiking to several other locations and feeling a bit discouraged. But when we arrived at Las Chorreras my heart skipped a beat. It was so beautiful and had a large, nearly flat area up on the cliff overlooking the falls. We knew instantly it was ‘the one’.”

Las Chorreras Waterfall is a sensational backdrop for a special occasion

The ceremony

The natural beauty of the waterfall was the couple’s favorite part to share with their guests. Their idea was to feature the area’s natural beauty, so they chose to be sparse with the décor and married under a simple, flower adorned triangle – a traditional symbol for spirit, earth and water. Reagan walked down a natural green isle and met her groom, with the powerful flow of the Las Chorreras Waterfall in the backdrop.

Reagan and Nathan say ‘I do’ next to the Las Chorreras Waterfall

Reagan wanted to reflect her typically low maintenance look. She chose to have her sister, Raven, create her hair and makeup for the occasion. Raven was able to add sparkle to Reagan’s everyday minimalist, natural style. Reagan’s friend, Nikki Cabrera, brought Reagan’s jewelry designs to life as a wedding gift to the bride. And bare feet made for the free-spirited finish and completed Reagan’s woodland princess look. She stood out spectacularly in her snow white gown, with pale-colored tropical flowers crowning her loose curls.

As a special honor to Nathan’s mother who passed several years before the couple met, Reagan gifted her soon-to-be husband with a touching gift. As the couple was having their ‘first touch’ during their private pre-ceremony photo shoot, Reagan gave Nathan an antique heron pendant that represented his mother’s deep connection to blue herons. The bride wanted her husband to carry his mother with him during their wedding and they honored her with a private ceremony, spreading some of her ashes into the river.

The couple’s first touch ceremony under a giant fig tree

“Nathan’s mother passed away several years before we met,” says Reagan. “She was a very spiritual person and always had a special connection with blue herons. As a wedding gift I gave Nathan a small, antique heron pendant during the first touch, so he could carry her with him during the wedding. We also honored her with a private ceremony in which we spread some of her ashes into the river.”

The couple’s shared southern background made it essential to bring some country aesthetic to the party. Hay bales were used for seating during the ceremony and wheelbarrows were used to hold coconut cocktails for after the ‘I dos’.

An impromptu game of Cornhole broke out directly after the ceremony. Nathan’s family are big fans of the traditional southern game and the couple had a custom board made by their friends at Raspa Design in Nosara for the occasion.

The reception

A soft romance began the evening when the married couple played on the tree twin during a post “I do” photo session. They were able to carve their initials and wedding date on the swing to commemorate their vows at the place where they spoke them.

Sweeping curtains of lights decorated the reception hall, where guests adjourned around tables adorned with handmade macramé runners and Monstera Deliciosa leaves as place mats. Cafe lights hung from the tree branches overhead, creating a beautiful dining ambiance in the al fresco setting.

The conscious couple made sure that their wedding could be as eco-friendly as possible. They strove to ensure that their wedding would be plastic-free and found a variety of natural materials to replace traditional disposable items. Mil Besos featured as the wedding planner, bringing an amazingly talented team. The bride was extremely pleased with how everything turned out and recommends them to future wedding parties.

But how did it feel for the bride? “Everyone warned me the day would fly by, and they were so right,” says Reagan. Oddly, I remember sitting down during the reception and just being in complete awe of how everything had come together. I literally pinched myself because it seemed like a dream.”

Reagan and Nathanial sharing their first dance as a married couple

Pre and post wedding activities

During their stay, the wedding party of 30 enjoyed the waterfalls, hiking and hot springs. Only six of the couple’s guests were visiting Costa Rica for the first time, but everyone enjoyed the stunning natural beauty and adventure activities at Hacienda Guachipelin. The diverse scenery at the foothills of the Rincon de la Vieja volcano are unparalleled and everyone was in awe of the spectacular activities available in the area.

In the days leading up to the wedding, the wedding party visited the many waterfalls on the Hacienda Guachipelin grounds. They would finish their days by soaking in the hot springs to relax, and the wedding couple even had a soak just before getting ready for their ceremony. The day after the ceremony, the whole group of family and friends enjoyed a day of horseback riding and a river tubing adventure!  “It was all so much fun,” says Reagan.

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, on your magical nuptials at Hacienda Guachipelin.

Watch a video of Reagan and Nathanial’s wedding ceremony at Las Chorreras waterfall:

Reagan and Nathaniel’s Wedding Team included:

Planning & Design & Coordination: Meghan Cox, Cata Ulloa & Sol Marinoni, Mil Besos

Photographer & Videographer – White Diamond

Catering & Venue –

Flowers – Flores de Campos

Rentals – Los Primos Designs

Music – DJ Mason Dunn

Experience A Unique Adventure At Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste Costa Rica

Visiting Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste Costa Rica is one of those rare, unforgettable, almost magical events that you will want to relive again and again. If you are looking for an adventure getaway in a peaceful, natural setting, Hacienda Guachipelin provides a full range of quality experiences that invite guests to let go and get away from the everyday. Everything about the property feels authentic and full of life. There is history in this land and the smiles from the huge ensemble of staff show that this is a family business that cares about the land and sharing its natural wonders with their guests.

Hacienda Guachipelin offers adventure tours in Guanacaste for a sensational array of experiences that will have you trade your stress or boredom for excitement! Release yourself into the expert hands of their friendly guides and indulge in the epic sensations that nature provides. The team of organizers and guides at Hacienda Guachipelin have a spectacular natural venue from which they curate some of the best experiences that Mother Nature provides in Costa Rica! Delight in the cold tingle and the roar of the river as it cascades down the canyon and over your body. Relish the heat of the thermal pools as you relax in a pristine jungle setting. There is an absolute abundance of reenergizing and regenerative activities to experience at this unique Costa Rica eco-tourism destination.

Canyon and canopy zip-lining tour with Hacienda Guachipelin

About the Hacienda

The Batalla Family are the long-time owners of this nearly 3500 acre parcel of land at the base of the Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. They have farmed this land consistently since 1975. They officially opened the Hacienda Guachipelin hotel in 1985 to serve a growing number of visitors to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. As one of two main entry points to the National Park, the Hacienda Guachipelin has hosted many thousands of guests since it opened its doors and it has been beloved in that time for the quality experience that it provides in its warm Guanacaste welcome.

Traditional painted ox cart at Hacienda Guachipelin is perfect photo opportunity

The tradition of farming this land dates back to 1880. Two generations of the Batalla family have been a part of that succession, showcasing their traditional ways to the world through the Hacienda Guachipelin. Since the property is the main gateway to the Rincon de la Vieja UNESCO heritage site, visitors from all over the world have been coming here for decades and asking to stay the night. Virtually everyone wants to spend at least a full day visiting the natural wonders in the area.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park hosts more than 70,000 visitors every year. People from all of over the world come to this region of Costa Rica to experience the spectacular hot springs, mineral-rich volcanic mud, treasured nature trails, and active craters. Hundreds of waterfalls can be found in the National Park and on the Hacienda Guachipelin grounds, with some notable ones like the Catarata Oropendola and the Catarata Victoria particularly attracting nature revelers from all over the globe.

The Oropendola Waterfall at Hacienda Guachipelin

The Hacienda’s accommodations include 79 rustic-inspired, comfortable rooms. Each room is designed with natural materials, adding warmth and richness to the true ranch-style experience. All rooms also include modern amenities like comfortable beds, A/C and satellite TV. But the greatest experience lies in walking the stunningly beautiful and peaceful grounds that surround the Hacienda Guachipelin. Flower gardens and ancient trees envelop the reception areas and rooms at the center of the sprawling property. Hundreds of species of enchanting tropical birds can be found flying in between. This is a perfect place to relax in the hammock outside of your cabin, where you can swing to the sound of purple doves cooing in a tree above you with the majestic vision of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano hanging in the distance.

What to do at Hacienda Guachipelin

Being in nature is about play and Hacienda Guachipelin has some excellent adventure tours on their property to take full advantage of the fun! The one-day adventure pass are the easiest way to experience their well organized adventure tour schedule that you can customize to your preference.

Maybe you choose to spend an adrenaline-filled day tubing, canyoning and mountain biking? Or perhaps you want to take an easier pace and enjoy birdwatching, horseback riding, butterfly gardens and a sauna + spa treatment all on the property.

However you choose to plan your day, everyone should end their day with a volcanic mud bath and a dip in one of their fourteen thermal pools. The expert groundskeepers use natural geo-thermally heated water that is filled into stone pools beautifully built into the natural forest landscape. A series of wooden bridges hang over the breathtaking canyons that surround these thermal pools for additional natural healing therapy. Your mind will inevitably melt away and as the sun sets, you won’t want to leave this invigorating setting.

Thermal heated pools in the forest at Hacienda Guachipelin

Those who come regularly to the Hacienda Guachipelin feel their body immediately release as the pace of ‘everyday life’ slows down and the gentle pace of nature takes over. The team of expert staff is here to catch you and provide the experiences you need to get back to nature.

Horse rancher getting ready to give a horseback tour of the Hacienda Guachipelin property

You don’t have to think much about looking after yourself while you are here because Hacienda Guachipelin truly has all of the amenities you need. This includes an incredible buffet spread for breakfast, lunch and dinner, made fresh every day with ingredients directly from the property’s ranch and gardens. Fresh milk and eggs are gathered every morning and all of the vegetables are sourced from one of the many greenhouses. The quality organic meals that the chefs prepare are the perfect sustenance to keep your energy up and to nourish the soul.

Freshly carved meat served with housemade sauces and extras at the Hacienda Guachipelin restaurant

So check in, kick back, and let this experienced team of nature lovers take you on a sensational ride. Book your stay with Hacienda Guachipelin at Rincon de la Vieja National Park to experience your perfect Costa Rica hosts for your getaway from the everyday. I personally cannot wait to go back and relive one of the most relaxing night’s sleep I have ever had after a day of fresh air, fun and adventure touring this spectacular property in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Cheers to a great stay at Hacienda Guachipelin!

Article by Alexandra Luty

Alexandra is a nomadic travel writer and content creator working out of her mobile office (aka laptop). She can sometimes be found writing about nature and alternative lifestyles in the forests of northern Ontario or in the jungles of Costa Rica. You can contact her at

Guachipelín fresh handmade pizza

Eating pizza will always make you spend happy and fun moments with those you love and even more when it is a handcrafted pizza. Its unique flavor and texture will fascinate you and make you feel at home. In Hacienda Guachipelín you will taste the best handmade pizza during your vacations in Costa Rica.

If you’re a pizza lover you can’t miss the incredible taste of Hacienda Guachipelín’s handmade pizzas.

Article by Ana Laura González

The handmade pizza has a crunchier texture and has no preservatives or saturated fats. It is kneaded by hand and made in a stone oven and all the ingredients are totally natural. In Hacienda Guachipelín you will taste the delicious pizza made by Chef Gerardo.

The bread is all made by chef to get that unique crunchier texture.


As you all know, the restaurant’s menu is known for its farm to table freshness. To prepare the pizzas Chef Gerardo uses the vegetables and species that grow in our organic garden, and the cheese comes right from our farm.

You can get to try the Supreme, Hawaiian, Pepperoni, Ham, and Cheese or ask the chef to use your favorite ingredients.  

Every ingredient is fresh from the farm and tomatoes right from the organic garden.


According to Chef Gerardo, every guest and visitor at Guachipelín that tries the handmade pizza has a positive review. They stay to see the spectacle of every phase of the preparation from the start when he goes to get the vegetables and ingredients in the farm until the bread preparation and the baking.

Pizzas are cooked in a traditional stone oven to get the perfect cooking point.


The final step for the perfect pizza is baking. A stone oven will give the pizza a unique bread texture and will get the vegetables on point. Your pizza is ready, waiting for you to try it at Hacienda Guachipelín.


The perfect end for an adventurous day in Rincón de la Vieja is the delicious and fresh flavor of a handmade pizza. The unique flavors will make never forget Hacienda Guachipelín for its unique handmade pizzas.

Make 2019 your year for an adventure vacation in Costa Rica

Adventure vacation at Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica
Go for an exciting adventure vacation at Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica.

Article by Shannon Farley

Adventures are what dreams are made of.

Don’t waste your precious vacation days on ho-hum places and doing the same old kinds of things. Instead, make 2019 your year for new and exciting travel experiences with a Costa Rica adventure vacation.

There is no place on earth exactly like Costa Rica. Its fantastic mountains, volcanoes, rainforests, beaches, and breathtaking natural beauty are so popular it’s why nearly 2.5 million people have visited Costa Rica so far in 2018. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t find uncrowded places off the beaten path that are full of exhilarating adventures.

The active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, is one of those places. It’s a destination full of wonders – rare tropical dry forest, national parks and conservation areas, wild rivers, beautiful waterfalls, golden savannas, and exotic wildlife like monkeys, armadillos, coatis, and more than 300 kinds of birds. Mostly sunny, warm weather makes Guanacaste a great destination for adventure vacations in Costa Rica.

costa rica adventure vacation
Horseback riding on the Hacienda Guachipelin ranch by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is just one of the many things you can do on a Costa Rica adventure vacation.

And you don’t have to be a daredevil or a twenty-something to go. If you’re healthy, young at heart and energetic, we have an adventure vacation for you.

Hacienda Guachipelin is an adventure hotel by Rincon de la Vieja National Park that gives guests of all ages unforgettable memories with more than 20 Costa Rica adventure tours and nature tours.

“Hacienda Guachipelin is an excellent hotel for visitors to Costa Rica. There are so many activities available at the Adventure Center and it is located right by the Rincon de la Vieja National Park! The guides were exceptional, and the activities were fun! Overall – my family loved this part of our vacation the most,” wrote a guest from Massachusetts on TripAdvisor.

River Tubing Adventure at Hacienda Guachipelin, Costa Rica
The river tubing adventure at Hacienda Guachipelin is a lot of fun.

It’s a good New Year’s goal to try something new every day. You can easily do that at Hacienda Guachipelin with exciting zip lining, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, waterfall rappelling and river tubing tours. The Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is just as thrilling. When was the last time you hiked past bubbling volcanic mud pits and steaming fumaroles, saw monkeys swinging in the trees, or soaked in natural hot springs?

An adventure vacation doesn’t mean you have to rough it. Hacienda Guachipelin has comfortable accommodations, a farm-to-table restaurant, bar with live music, a spa, and a swimming pool.

Whether you are an adventure junkie, outdoor enthusiast or nature lover, make 2019 your year for an adventure vacation in Costa Rica at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.

Adventure vacation at Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica.

Live life to its fullest and check off some of the big items on your adventure wish list with an adventure vacation at Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica.

Mountain biking at Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica
Mountain biking on an adventure vacation at Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica.

Article by Shannon Farley

When was the last time you had a big adventure vacation? Or did something for the first time?

Don’t let 2018 end without living life to its fullest and checking off some of those big items on your wish list.

Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste, Costa Rica can help you end the year on a high note with dozens of thrilling adventure tours.

Guanacaste is a great year-round destination for adventures in Costa Rica. The mostly sunny, warm weather makes it an amazing playground for outdoor enthusiasts. The exotic dry tropical forest and rugged terrain around Hacienda Guachipelin, at the foot of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, is one of the best places for zip lining, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, waterfall rappelling and river tubing. The active volcano gives the bonus of natural hot springs. Hacienda Guachipelin’s Adventure Center is open daily for both hotel guests and day visitors.

Zip line adventure tour hacienda guachipelin
Zip line adventure tour at Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica.

Zip lining

Going on a Costa Rica zip line tour is possibly one of the most exhilarating things you can do. Soaring through the air over breathtaking landscapes will have your adrenaline pumping. The Canyon Canopy Tour at Hacienda Guachipelin uses professional safety harnesses and equipment, traversing steel cables that can support at least 5,000 lbs. of weight. More than only zip lines, the Canyon Canopy Tour includes rock climbing, a controlled rappel, Tarzan swings and hanging bridges.

Horseback riding in Guanacaste Costa Rica at Hacienda Guachipelin
Horseback riding in Guanacaste, Costa Rica at Hacienda Guachipelin.

Horseback riding

Fulfill your cowboy or cowgirl dreams on a fun horseback ride along scenic forest trails on Hacienda Guachipelin’s ranch. Six different horseback riding tours go to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, waterfalls and natural hot springs. You can also try a “Cowboy for a Day” tour.

River Tubing Adventure at Hacienda Guachipelin, Costa Rica
River Tubing Adventure at Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica.

River tubing

Splash through the watery rollercoaster of the Rio Negro (Black River) rapids on a river tubing adventure. You ride in a big inflatable river tube along the narrow and shallow river, and adventure guides accompany tour participants to keep everyone safe.

Adventure tour waterfall canyoning at Hacienda Guachipelin
Waterfall canyoning adventure tour at Hacienda Guachipelin.

Waterfall rappelling

The exhilarating adventure of Hacienda Guachipelin’s Waterfalls Canyoning Tour has you rappel down a powerful, gushing waterfall and finish with a splash into the pool below.

Mountain biking tours at Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica
Mountain biking tours at Hacienda Guachipelin.

Mountain biking

Experience thrilling mountain bike tours at Hacienda Guachipelin riding trails through the rugged terrain by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. It’s the only mountain bike tour in Costa Rica on an active volcano. Singletrack trails and dirt roads lead you through beautiful forest and to waterfalls.

Hacienda Guachipelin also offers new electric power-assisted mountain bikes to open the sport of mountain biking to everyone. You still have to pedal and do physical exercise to put an electric bike in motion, because the motor only kicks in once you start pedaling. Then you can set the level of power assistance that you want.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Costa Rica
See live volcano activity when hiking in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park by Hacienda Guachipelin.


Always wanted to hike by a live volcano? You can do that in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park by Hacienda Guachipelin. The Las Pailas (“The Cauldrons”) loop trail takes you 2.5 miles (3.5 km) through unique dry tropical forest and shows off the awesome power of the live Rincon de la Vieja Volcano with steaming fumaroles, mini-geysers, bubbling volcanic mud pits, and sulfur-smelling hot springs.

Hot springs at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica
Hot springs at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica.

Hot springs

You can enjoy beautiful and relaxing volcanic hot springs at two locations at Hacienda Guachipelin. The Rio Negro (“Black River”) hot springs have 10 man-made pools that capture the steaming mineral-rich water heated naturally by the largest volcano in Guanacaste.

Along the banks of the bubbling Colorado River, the Simbiosis Spa features pools of thermo-mineral water, a wood-heated sauna, and facilities for massages and spa treatments like warm, healing, volcanic mud baths.

Adventure Center Hacienda Guachipelin
The Adventure Center at Hacienda Guachipelin is open to day visitors and hotel guests.

One Day Adventure Pass

Go for the ultimate adventure vacation buzz by combining several of the best Costa Rica adventure tours on the One Day Adventure Pass at Hacienda Guachipelin.

You can’t beat the fun of Costa Rica zip line tours!

Add some adventure to your life on Costa Rica zip line tours at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.

Costa Rica zip line tours at Hacienda Guachipelin
Costa Rica zip line tours at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste.

Article by Shannon Farley

Few things beat Costa Rica zip line tours. Soaring through the air over breathtaking landscapes – your adrenaline pumping – is possibly one of the most exhilarating things you can do.

Costa Rica is renowned for the beauty of its forests, its impressive volcanoes and dazzling beaches. But have you tried seeing the scenery from a bird’s eye view? Combine it all on a zip line adventure tour.

In brief, a zip line consists of a pulley fixed to a cable – usually either stainless steel or the newer, more ecological carbon fiber cables. The user is connected to the pulley with a safety harness and safety line, and is propelled by gravity from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable. Zip-lines come in many forms – short and low to the ground, long and hundreds of feet high, spanning deep chasms or rivers, or strung through the middle of the forest tree canopy using platforms hung in the trees.

Tree to tree zip lines were originally invented in Costa Rica. In 1974, U.S. biologist Donald Perry pioneered the new method for climbing into and moving around the Costa Rica rainforest canopy without having to return to the ground to study each new tree. It is in the rainforest treetops where more than 40 percent of all life on Earth exists.

The first commercial zip line adventure tour ever came into being in Costa Rica in 1997, and has taken off to become a billion-dollar global industry. Now, you can take zip line vacations all over the country and across the world.

zip line adventure tour in Costa Rica
The Canyon Canopy Tour at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is incredibly fun and full of adrenaline-charged moments.

The Canyon Canopy Tour at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is probably one of my all-time favorite Costa Rica zip line tours. Designed and built by Costa Rican architect Jose Manuel Pizarro, owner of the Costa Rica zip line company Linea Vertical, the distinctive tour is much more than zip lines.

Incredibly fun and full of adrenaline-charged moments, you fly high above the dry tropical forest and back and forth between narrow stone canyon walls over the White River (Rio Blanco) on seven zip lines. In the middle of the tour, there is an optional controlled 20-meter (65-foot) rappel down into the river canyon; and then two routes on a natural rock climbing wall to come back up. You get to cross three hanging bridges and have fun on two Tarzan swings. And finally, there are three “via ferrata” traverses and climbs. Overall, you travel to 21 platforms on the whole guided zip line adventure tour, which takes about 90 minutes to two hours to complete.

costa rica zip line tours
The Canyon Canopy Tour is much more than zip lines. You can rappel, rock climb, Tarzan Swing, and cross via ferrata traverses like this one.

The spectacular scenery alone is worth going on the tour. You are deep in the dry tropical forest – a unique ecosystem in Central America – by the active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. If you’re lucky, you may spot a sloth, monkey or toucan up close. The tour starts off with the longest zip line, crossing a wide canyon high above the trees. A few more zip lines later and suddenly you are in a narrow, densely forested, rock canyon above the rushing White River. Simply beautiful!

Hacienda Guachipelin operates some of the best adventure travel vacations in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Their Adventure Center is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for both hotel guests and day visitors.

The Story Behind the Tradition of Oxcarts in Costa Rica

Oxcarts may be used all over the world, but the oxcarts in Costa Rica are famous for their bright colors and rich decorations. Find out the story behind the tradition and how Costa Rica’s oxcarts got their colors.

Oxcarts in Costa Rica, photo by Shannon Farley
Oxcarts in Costa Rica, photo by Shannon Farley

Article by Shannon Farley

Once the main form of transportation across a mountainous country that depended on agriculture for its survival, oxcarts in Costa Rica today are mostly used for celebrations and are considered a traditional and cultural icon in the country.

The colorfully-painted wooden oxcarts (called carretas in Spanish), their teams of matched oxen, and their oxcart drivers are known around the world. In 2005, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) proclaimed Costa Rica’s vibrantly painted, traditional oxcarts to be an Intangible World Cultural Heritage. Since 1988, the oxcart has been the National Labor Symbol for Costa Rica.

Oxcarts are not only used in Costa Rica but in many rural areas around the world. However, the Costa Rican kind are famous for their unique and colorful painted designs on the cart, wheels and oxen yoke that include geometric patterns, flowers, animals, landscapes, and even sometimes portraits.

No two oxcarts in Costa Rica are painted exactly the same. The fine art of oxcart painting has been passed down in families from generation to generation, especially in the Central Valley town of Sarchi – located west of San Jose. In that town’s central park, you can also see the “World’s Largest Oxcart” – built in 2006.

It was in Sarchi that the tradition of painting oxcarts in Costa Rica all began.

World's largest oxcart in Sarchi
World’s largest oxcart in Sarchi, Costa Rica, by Crsoccer08 – Pablo A, wikimedia commons

The Story Behind the Tradition

Originally, Spanish colonizers to Costa Rica brought oxcarts to be used for transportation and farm work. But their original European design of spoked wheels kept getting stuck and breaking in the rugged, muddy Costa Rican terrain. So, during the mid-19th century, a new design based on the indigenous Aztec disc was incorporated into a solid wood wheel bound by a metal ring that could cut through mud without getting stuck.

Dating from about 1840, oxcarts were used to transport coffee beans, sugar cane, corn and other goods from Costa Rica’s Central Valley over the mountains to the Pacific Coast port of Puntarenas or the Caribbean port of Limon for export. The journey would take 10 to 20 days crossing jungle-covered mountains, rivers, swamps and beaches. Now you can drive that same route in a little over an hour to the Pacific and in about two hours to the Caribbean.

Oxcart tradition in Costa Rica
A traditional oxcart in Costa Rica hauling coffee beans. Photo courtesy of the Joaquin Chaverri family.

The earliest oxcarts in Costa Rica were simple and functional plain wood. The tradition of painting and decorating oxcarts started in the early 20th century at the Joaquin Chaverri Oxcart Factory, which began in 1902 in the artisan town of Sarchi. Farms near Sarchi have been producing some of the country’s best coffee beans for over 100 years. The demand for oxen-pulled carts was born of the need for a sturdy way to transport this precious cargo to the coastal ports.

The story, handed down in the family of Joaquin Chaverri, says that Joaquin decided to beautify his oxcart to take his family on outings in the cart on Sundays. He painted his first oxcart bright orange because that was the only color he had available, according to his family. Orange and red have since become known as the most traditional colors for cart painting. Joaquin used powdered pigment mixed with linseed oil to deeply soak into the wood, making it more durable and long-lasting.

Oxcart painter Carlos Chaverri
Oxcart painter Carlos Chaverri, son of Joaquin Chaverri, in the family factory. National Geographic Magazine, July 1965.

The designs and colors in the decorations are based on Costa Rican plants and flowers. Curlicues, for instance, are modeled after chayote (squash) and ayote (pumpkin) vines. The iconic star shapes on the wheels were inspired by spear tips. The Chaverri family tells that Joaquin wanted the designs to be different from any other kind of art at the time. Not having any ready-made brushes, he fashioned them from dogs’ hair.

When the practice of painting oxcarts in Costa Rica spread, different regions – and sometimes even individual families – developed their own particular design and color scheme. At one time, it was said that you could tell where a farmer was from just by looking at how his oxcart was painted.

Oxcarts in Costa Rica
Varied designs and colors decorate oxcarts in Costa Rica from different regions, photo by Shannon Farley.

Oftentimes, oxcarts were a family’s only means of transport, and they served as a symbol of social status. Very elaborately painted carts meant the owner was wealthy and had the money to pay a talented painter. Each oxcart also was designed to make its own “music,” a unique chime produced by a metal ring striking the hubnut of the wheel as the cart bumped along.

Once the oxcart became a source of pride for people, greater care was taken when crafting them like selecting the highest-quality wood. Eventually, contests were held to award the “most creative and inspiring oxcart designs” – a practice that continues today.

Oxcarts in Costa Rica
Oxcart parades are common celebrations in Costa Rica. This photo was taken in Atenas, Costa Rica; photo by Shannon Farley.

Costa Rican Oxcarts in Modern Times

Although trucks, tractors and other motorized vehicles have mostly replaced oxcarts in Costa Rica in everyday life, some farmers still stick to the old ways by using them during harvest season or when places are too rough for modern vehicles. Oxcarts in Costa Rica remain strong symbols of the country’s rural past and still feature prominently in parades, festivals, and other celebrations.

Oxcart at Hacienda Guachipelin
Traditional oxcart at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.

The bright orange, richly-decorated traditional oxcart at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, pulled by its team of matching white oxen, comes from the famous Joaquin Chaverri Oxcart Factory in Sarchi. It is one of the many symbols of Costa Rica’s rich ranching traditions at the 138-year-old Hacienda Guachipelin. See the oxcart every day at noon at the hotel’s Adventure Center or at Cowboy Saturdays events.

Oxcart at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica
See Hacienda Guachipelin’s traditional oxcart in Costa Rica in daily appearances at the hotel.

Hidden History of Hacienda Guachipelin Found in 1917 Book

The Hacienda Guachipelin ranch in Costa Rica in the early 1900’s was a wild place next to the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. A 1917 natural history book unveils a piece of hidden history about Hacienda Guachipelin.

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica
Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica dates back to 1880.

Article by Shannon Farley

Discovering old historic documents about a place is like finding hidden treasure in a forgotten attic or cellar.

That’s how it was for Jose Tomas Batalla, owner of Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, when a colleague sent him the online link to a 1917 book entitled A Year of Costa Rican Natural History. Written by the husband and wife scientific team of Amelia Smith Calvert, Sometime Fellow in Biology from Bryn Mawr College, and Philip Powell Calvert, Professor of Zoology at the University of Pennsylvania and Editor of Entomological News, the 577-page book describes a long account of the Calverts’ travels and observations of nature in Costa Rica including a visit to Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste.

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