Adventure touring at Hacienda Guachipelin has a way of working up a good appetite and our farm to table restaurant is here to satisfy! Waking up early for our high-energy activities means that you want to fuel up for maximum enjoyment. And for those who take pleasure in having healthy and hearty meals to fire up their day, our homestead restaurant at Hacienda Guachipelin has many fantastic options for even the most discerning eaters.
Our Hacienda Guachipelin restaurant has the goal to provide options for everyone at the table. We serve fresh and wholesome vegan, gluten free, and paleo meals, among other delicious and healthful options at our farm-to-table restaurant. Serve yourself to your fullest content with our breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets plus an a la carte menu during dinner.
Healthy Food in the Guanacaste Blue Zone
Did you know that Guanacaste is on the health-world map for being one of only five Blue Zones in the whole world? Nicoya in Guanacaste Province is one of the few places where you can find a number of centenarians alive today. Biologists have deduced that this is largely because of the way that locals traditionally eat, which is mostly natural.
Every ingredient is picked and processed by hand in many local kitchens. Making corn maize in particular is a time-honored tradition in which locals use a wood-fired oven and lime. This combination provides incredible medicinal properties that have long been known locally but are just being recognized today by modern science. Be on the lookout for the hand-prepared tortillas made fresh for every breakfast at our restaurant.
True Eco-Tourism Experiences at Hacienda Guachipelin
Many of the travel agencies from around the world who send their clientele to Hacienda Guachipelin are looking for a farm-to-table experience. Tourists in Costa Rica are hoping to experience authentic Guanacaste culture and food is a big part of that experience. Eco-tourists love to visit our Hacienda to learn about homesteading and the many foods we grow on site. Visitors are able to pick microgreens from our greenhouse and milk our grass-fed cattle in our dairy farm.
Hacienda Guachipelin’s Restaurant Menu
Waking up early is not just for the birds at Hacienda Guachipelin. Our daily tours begin at 8am so our restaurant opens bright and early at 7am for a full buffet breakfast with hot and cold options. Our heated menu includes roasted potatoes, vegetables, a range of meats, and traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto with eggs done how you like them. Try our fresh, chef prepared omelet bar. Finish off your hot meal with some fruit salad, yoghurt and a slice of one of the day’s cakes. Freshly-squeezed juices on tap, a gourmet coffee bar and herbal teas are all complimentary. And those who prefer to take things light have a choice of cereals, toast, jam, and fruit.
Lunch and dinner are comprised of an incredible assortment of hot buffet items prepared fresh every day with a delicious salad bar. All of our fruits and vegetables come from our property and our cheese and meat is sourced locally.
For those who prefer to order from a menu that is made to order, we have a wide selection of classic favorites that includes burgers, wraps, salads and soups. We also boast having the best woodfire oven pizza that is absolutely perfect, whether you get the regular or gluten-free crust. Just thin enough with a good amount of quality toppings, you might just keep coming back for the pizza!
More From Guachipelin’s Restaurant
Even if you have visited our restaurant before, Hacienda Guachipelin is always evolving and looking to offer the freshest traditional culinary experiences. Our newest addition is the BBQ station, which gives meat lovers a range of succulent options straight off the grill.
If you leave our restaurant feeling inspired by our menu, take note that we are now offering onsite cooking classes. Our traditionally-trained chefs teach guests how to make their favorite dishes from Guanacaste.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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’.”
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 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.
“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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
El duatlón es un deporte que reúne dos disciplinas deportivas como lo son el atletismo y el ciclismo. Esta es una modalidad del triatlón en la que se corre a pie, se practica ciclismo y se vuelve a correr a pie. En duatlón, el evento de mayor exigencia física se conoce como el “Powerman” (10 km de carrera a pie, 150 km de ciclismo y otros 30 km de carrera a pie), semejante a la mundialmente conocida carrera “Ironman” en el triatlón. El duatlón se disputa tanto en carretera como en montaña.
Con salida a las 7:00 am y a las 8:00 am del Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, se correrán las dos modalidades competitivas y recreativas. Con el formato 10/20/5 , los participantes competirán corriendo los primeros 10 kilómetros por los senderos 100% privados de la Hacienda, luego deberán montarse en sus bicicletas de montañas para recorrer 20 kilómetros de total aventura y exigencia física, para terminar con una vibrante competencia corriendo 5 kilómetros para llegar a la meta.
Las personas que deseen inscribirse en la modalidad recreativa disfrutarán de la exuberante flora y fauna del lugar, además de espectaculares vistas del volcán Rincon de la Vieja en modalidad 5/10. La ruta está diseñada de la siguiente manera: 5 kilómetros de carrera en campo traviesa y los últimos 10 kilómetros de exigente ritmo de pedaleo en bicicleta, siempre previendo que pueda ser una actividad recreativa para toda la familia.
Las inscripciones están abiertas desde el pasado jueves 9 de octubre y se mantendrán así hasta el próximo domingo 26 de octubre. El cupo es limitado y los precios de la inscripción empiezan desde los $35. La actividad está diseñada para el disfrute de todas las personas por lo que se han abierto 4 categorías: mayor, master A, master B y master C con rango de edad entre los 18 años en adelante.
Cada competidor en las dos diferentes modalidades recibirá camisa especial del evento para correr, número de competidor, cronometraje, póliza del INS, asistencia médica, equipo de rescate, fotografías, calcomanía oficial del evento, puestos de hidratación y medallas para los finalistas y premiación para los primeros puestos. Puede visitar la página oficial en Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Trail-Run-Bike/1566727173548505 y el sitio web del mismo www.costaricaecogreen.com
El Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin ofrece hospedaje para el evento, en uno de los hoteles más auténticos de la zona de Guanacaste, un lugar lleno de aventura, deliciosa comida, relajación en el corazón de una hacienda aún en funcionamiento. Puede ver las promociones especiales de temporada, con los cuales puede hacer que este evento se convierta en sus vacaciones inesperadas antes de fin de año. Para ver las promociones seguir este enlace: http://guachipelin.com/es/especial-de-temporada.html
Esperamos verlos a todos compitiendo y divirtiéndose de esta edición de la carrera “Pearl Izumi EcoGreen Train Run + Bike 2014”. Los esperamos.
Currently, Costa Rica produces 73% of its electricity fromhydroelectric power, 13% fromgeothermal sources, 4% from wind turbines, and 1% from biomass, for a total of 91% of its energy generated from renewable sources, according to the Costa Rica Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE). Hydroelectric power, however, is climate-dependent, and during the driest months of summer it is stretched to its limits when water reserves are low.
This is where Guanacaste’s vast plains, powerful volcanoes and dry, sunny climate come into play. The second largest province in the country is being tapped for the powerful resources of wind, solar and geothermal energy.
Solar energy companies are rapidly on the rise in Guanacaste. When the Miravalles Solar Plant opened on the slopes of the Miravalles Volcano in November 2012, thanks to a $10 million loan by the Japanese government, it was the first of its kind in Costa Rica and the largest solar project in Central America. Now there are several solar projects in the works for the region.
Guanacaste’s North Volcanic Mountain Ridge has been ideal for geothermal power generation, tapping the Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes. The Miravalles Geothermal Field opened in 1994 and produces nearly 14% of the National Electrical System’s (SEN) capacity. The Pailas Geothermal Power Plant opened in July 2011 just outside the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park and is also a key energy supplier. Last November, President Laura Chinchilla signed an agreement with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for a $560 million loan to build three more geothermal power plants near the famous Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste.
For things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, look no further than the Costa Rica adventure tours at Hacienda Guachipelin. Their adventure park offers you canopy zip lines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, nature trails, natural thermal springs, and tours into the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park.
I read once that in Costa Rica the best “all-terrain vehicle” for navigating the country is a horse. Costa Ricans love horses and their riding traditions – their equestrian roots coming from the Spanish who brought horses with them to Central America in the 16th century.
The heart and soul of Costa Rica’s equestrian life is the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Here, vast rolling plains run up into towering volcanoes and mountains of the Guanacaste Range. The sunny climate is dry and hot, creating the unique dry tropical forest habitat. For decades, Guanacaste has been dedicated to working the land, and cattle and horse ranching. Even though the region’s main economic activity is now tourism, the traditions of “sabanero” (cowboy) folklore, customs, music and dance are deeply rooted in the communities.
Settled in the golden savanna at the base of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Hacienda Guachipelin Hotel is a working horse and cattle ranch, in addition to being an active eco-tourism hotel. Originally founded in the 19th century, the immense Hacienda ranch once stretched from the tip of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Since 1975, Tomás Batalla Esquivel, a renowned cattle rancher and purebred Spanish horse breeder, has kept the ranching legacy alive with his family.
Today, the property measures nearly 3,400 acres. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin set aside 1,730 acres for the conservation of tropical dry forest, 1,025 acres are used as pastureland, and 625 acres are being reforested with endangered native tree species. Three rivers crisscross the ranch lands, creating an idyllic setting.
Hacienda Guachipelin offers seven different horseback riding tours riding the trusty ranch horses on scenic forest trails to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park or waterfalls or natural thermal springs. There is even a “Cowboy for a Day” tour, where you help out the real ranch cowboys in the stables and corral, milk cows, saddle and ready the horses, and ride out to herd cattle or other horses.
Hacienda Guachipelín Hotel is an ideal place to stay at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano to experience authentic Guanacaste culture and enjoy an active vacation. The first-class ecotourism lodge has a thrilling adventure center offering canopy ziplines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, nature trails, mountain biking and thermal springs. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín is located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s main city of Liberia by the Pailas section of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.
Nicoya geographically speaking was made of the lands located west from the Tempisque River to the Pacific Ocean, and then north of the river El Salto all the way into the river La Flor and Lake Nicaragua, which was the border with the Province of Nicaragua.
This territory enjoyed considerable autonomy, even in civil and administrative depended on Guatemala, the Captaincy. However, by the closeness with the Province of Costa Rica, specifically with towns of Puntarenas, Bagaces and Las Cañas, it established business relationships and closeness with the lifestyle of Costa Ricans.
Therefore, Nicoya, during the Colony, held a very special status. It was a territory that belonged neither to Nicaragua nor to Costa Rica. Commercially speaking, important links existed with Costa Rica.
In 1812 the Province of Costa Rica needed to send a deputy to the courts of Cadiz. Since the Costa Rican population was small, the Province had Nicoya joining temporarily, so that the minimum population required to appoint such a representative was achieved. With this union the priest Florencio del Castillo became the representative for the Province of Costa Rica in the Courts of Cadiz.
When independence was declared in Central America, on September 15, 1821, Nicaragua turned its interest in Nicoya. Since Nicaragua was a country with many internal problems, becoming a part of Nicaragua was not appealing to Nicoya, forcing Nicoya to make a decision as to what country to be a part of. Therfore, Costa Rica was the best option.
The relationship with Costa Rica favors the union made with this territory since commercial ties were very favorable and integration complemented the economic policy, which was developed years before that.
Under this situation , the inhabitants of Nicoya agreed to hold an open meeting to define their situation. They therefore decided to join the Province of Costa Rica on July 25, 1824, under the motto “From the Homeland by our will”, as they were the inhabitants of Nicoya who decided to annex the province of Costa Rica.
Therefore, it should always be the Annexation of Nicoya to the Province of Costa Rica, never the annexation of Guanacaste.
I lace up my boots and clip snake-gators around my shins. I pull my machete from the leather sheath and whet it across the sharpener as the sky shifts from pale orange to blue. The iguana that lives in the roof, discontented with my noise; shuffles above me, his long toes scratching the tin. I glance over at the field bags and go through a mental check list of the equipment to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything: datasheets, compass, soil samplers, flagging, ziplocks, sharpies, caliper, DBH tape. Check, check, check. My research assistant, Juan, and I load the field equipment into the car and head down the bumpy dirt road.
I am in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, and it is nearing the end of the dry season. It hasn’t rained since November. Occasionally a wispy cloud will dampen the sun’s strength and I’ll look up, confused. The dry season feels like a washed-out photo; everything is overly bright and I squint in search of contrast. My car’s dash board is covered in a thick film of dust from driving on farm roads. Waves of dusk billow up from the roads and pass through the window in sets so consistent a surfer could set her watch by it.
Guanacaste province gleaned it’s named from the wide-canopied dry forest tree with seedpods shaped like ears. Guanacaste is one of the larger provinces in Costa Rica, bordered on the north by Nicaragua and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. I am here studying tropical dry forests; one of the earths most endangered ecosystems.
For part of the year in Costa Rica, moisture-laden warm air flows off the Caribbean Ocean. The warm air pushes up against Costa Rica’s volcanic spine, cooling as it rises, until it reaches the dew point and rain falls on the windward slope, creating a rain shadow on the other side of the mountain. The leeward slope, then, is haunted by intense dry winds. During the other half of the year, the winds come off the Pacific Ocean, bringing the rains. Tropical dry forest fauna and flora have evolved to cope with the strong seasonality to the rainfall.
When I arrived last September, the forest was as green as a summer garden. Leaves broad, full, verdant. The drought-deciduous trees species began to lose their leaves when the rains stopped. Now in April, a mountaintop view looks not unlike a temperate winter landscape—if you replace the thin-needed pines with broad-leaf evergreens, subtract the snow, and spin the thermostat up to 95 degrees F. Okay, so they are quite different: no coat required. Also, many TDF trees flower during the dry season so, amidst the mostly nude forest, bouquets of yellow, pink, purple dot the landscape.
The car windows are wide open and the wind rolls through carrying a campfire smell. The air often smells burnt during the dry season, especially in the last couple months. Before people settled in Guanacaste, the main source of fire would have been lightning—in the wet season. People have introduced a fire regime that peaks in the driest months. I drive out of the trees and notice the smoke on the road ahead. The dry, reedy pasture grass on farms on either side of the road is aflame. I have worked on both of these farms. I can see a few trees burning and a wall of hazy smoke across the asphalt. My car hits the smoke and it swirls off the car in tornados.
TDF have been disproportionately settled because it has relatively nutrient-rich soils and a climate favorable for growing crops and raising livestock. And if you’ve ever lived in a tropical rain forest or cloud forest—you’ll know that even freshly laundered T-shirts, folded and put away in a clean dresser begin to smell like the musty back corner of a forgotten part of your garage within a few days. It’s no wonder people preferred sunshine.
I glance in the rearview mirror and can still see the smoke lifting from the fire we passed. Although management patterns are changing, some people still use fire to “clean” pasture. They burn pastures to clear out early forest successional growth and entice new pasture grass to sprout for hungry livestock. Also, crops like sugar cane are burned after the harvest to remove crop residues. Landowners can apply for a burn permit with the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment but illegal burns are common. Regardless of the source or legality of the burn, once a fire escapes, landowners face another problem; there are not enough resources to fight forest fires on private farms. There are fire fighters. Area de Conservación de Guanacaste (ACG), with upwards of 290,000 acres of land, has a trained team firefighters that are kept busy protecting both the immense park and bordering forests on private farms. City fire fighters, on the other hand, must focus their efforts on fires that encroach upon buildings, towns, and roads. Basically, there are not enough resources to fight all the fires on private farms. If the landowner has employees and equipment, they will often fight the fires. But, frequently, the private forests just burn. I drive past the road that runs up the flanks of Rincón de la Vieja volcano. When I was hiking there last week, I stopped at a lookout point and counted seven fires. They looked like industrial smokestacks scattered in the forested landscape.
Guanacaste is in the middle of a forest transition. In the 1970s and 1980s deforestation rates were high, but beginning in the mid-1980s Guanacaste has had high rates of forest regeneration. Importantly, the overwhelming majority of that regeneration has occurred on private lands. What I’m trying to find out is who owns these regenerating forests and how ownership might influence the ecology and management.
I am interested in coupled human-natural systems—intrigued by the links between society and environment. Here in Guanacaste I am looking at how tree biodiversity and carbon storage are influenced by socioeconomic variables such as land ownership. I am interested in how the choices landowners make could influence forest regeneration processes. For example, ranchers retain certain tree species on their lands for the shade or fruit provided for their cattle. Landowners often select particular species such as indio desnudo (Bursura simaruba) to use as live fence posts—fences made of living trees connected by lines of barbed-wire. Indio desnudo is a great live fence post tree because it resprouts so easily: You can cut off a branch, plunk it in the ground and, viola, you’ll get a tree. Landowners may also be more likely to remove ‘weedy’, fast growing species from their pastures and retain valuable timber species such as mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). These choices may influence the forest biodiversity and carbon stocks in private forests. After completing forest inventory plots on private farms, I will compare my data to a dataset from public forests collected by my adviser. We will use these datasets to test the hypotheses that private forests contain less biodiversity and carbon stocks than public secondary forest of similar ages and soil conditions.
Juan and I arrive at our new farm site. I stop briefly to talk with the farm manger; he is sitting atop a big tractor outfitted with a water container to fight the fires that are on the upper border of the property. Juan and I will work on the lower border of the property to avoid the fires. We drive to the lower part of the property and Juan hops out to struggle with the gate—five wrist-thick branches strung together with barbed-wire. The car lumbers down the road through the pasture and we arrive at a patch of forest. In the forest plot today, we will identify tree species to assess tree biodiversity. For carbon estimates, we’ll measure tree diameter at 1.3 m take species-specific wood density samples to plug into allometric equations. Within the plot, we will also collect soil samples to assess soil physical and chemical properties. We heft on our backpacks and swing the field bags over our shoulders. I rope the machete around my waist in case I need to give the spiked bromeliads in the forest plot a haircut.
If you like horses I strongly recommend the whole day horseback riding you can do here at Hacienda Guachipelin. You don’t have to be good on horseback riding to do this tour!
I do my internship here at Hacienda Guachipelin and works with the horses every day, and this tour is my favorite because you get to see the best sides of GuanacasteCosta Rica. You get to see everything from dry jungle to rain forest. You get the chance to ride in rivers, up on hills and around the area of other farms. Maybe the monkeys jump over your head as you ride in the forest. You will probably see a lot of beautiful birds and other animals.
The adventure tour starts at 8 am and the ride goes to Oropéndola witch is a big and beautiful waterfall where you got the opportunity to jump from the cliffs and swim in the clear water.
After the visit to Oropéndola you get up on the horses again and start the ride to Rio Negro hot springs, when we are arriving at Rio Negro you get to see the beautiful hot springs where you get painted in mud from the volcano. You can sit and relax in the hot springs where the water comes directly from the volcano. There are different pools with different degrees in it, so you can chose the one that fits you best. After the relax at the hot springs you start to ride again.
More bathing and refreshing surprises will be discovered under the day.