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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

It’s really heating up at Hacienda Guachipelin’s hot springs in Costa Rica

Hot springs Hacienda Guachipelin

For those looking to relax and detoxify their bodies, hot springs in Costa Rica are the “new, hot destination.”

Hot springs have been treasured for centuries by people all over the world for their therapeutic benefits. Luxuriant warm water rich in minerals like sulfur, silica, calcium, iron and magnesium are rejuvenating, detoxifying and relaxing. Not to mention great for stress reduction. Reported health benefits of hot springs include relief from arthritis, fibromyalgia, skin conditions, and high blood pressure.

Now hot springs in Costa Rica are even more accessible than ever with nonstop flights to Liberia, Costa Rica, in the northern Guanacaste region, from the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Less than an hour from the Liberia International Airport, the sprawling ranch of Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin at the foot of the magnificent Rincon de la Vieja Volcano features beautiful and relaxing volcanic hot springs at Rio Negro (“Black River”). The hot springs are heated naturally by this largest and most active volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. In and around the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, you can see steam vents, bubbling volcanic mud pits, thermal springs and waterfalls.

Hot springs mud bath fun at Hacienda GuachipelinSurrounded by thick forest, the pristine Rio Negro flows through 10 man-made pools that Hacienda Guachipelin has created to capture the steaming mineral-rich water. You access pools (of varying temperatures) on both sides of the river by two hanging bridges. Heated volcanic clay is available to smooth all over like a “spa body masque.”

There are changing rooms, bathrooms and lockers at the hot springs entrance. From there, you walk an easy trail less than a quarter-mile (350 meters) through the forest to the hot springs pools. Watch for monkeys, Blue Morpho butterflies and other wildlife along the way.

Hot springs at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa RicaThe Costa Rica eco-hotel offers tours to the hot springs with a fun horseback ride, or you can drive 15 minutes in your own vehicle from the hotel. The very popular One Day Adventure Pass and One Day Nature Pass at Hacienda Guachipelin also both include a visit to the Rio Negro Hot Springs.

  • Open: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily
  • Entrance is complimentary for hotel guests, or costs $20 for adult visitors; $15 for children (4-11 years).

Hot spring mud baths at Simbiosis Spa & Hot SpringsFor a more private spa experience, visit the hotel’s Simbiosis Spa & Hot Springs. On the banks of the Colorado River at the Hacienda Guachipelin Ranch, Simbiosis Spa features volcanic mud baths, volcanic clay water hot springs pools in the forest, a sauna, massages and body treatments, and a reception area with dressing rooms. Open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. Entrance is $15 for adults and $10 for children (4-11 years, and does not include massages or body treatments.

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa RicaHotel Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best hotels at Rincon de la Vieja. The adventure park at Hacienda Guachipelin offers the best adventure tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin will host The North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica endurance trail-running races at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano on May 28, 2016.

Article by Shannon Farley

Hacienda Guachipelin hosts North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica 2016

North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica 2016
Get ready! The intense ultra-trail running endurance race, The North Face Endurance Challenge, returns to Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica in May 2016.

For its 4th year, The North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica will be held on Saturday, May 28, 2016 on the slopes of Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Hundreds of runners from all over the world will challenge themselves and each other in four endurance trail-running races of 10 km, 21 km, 50 km and 80 km. All races are individual, with no team format.

Demanding trails cover beautiful yet difficult terrain around Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, spanning altitudes between 850 feet and 3,280 feet (260-1,000 meters). There will be aid stations along the routes.

Rincón de la Vieja is one of six active volcanoes in Costa Rica, and is the largest in the northwest province of Guanacaste. The towering ridge-shaped colossus holds several craters, and scrapes the sky at 6,286 feet (1,916m). Surrounding the volcano is Rincón de la Vieja National Park, filled with wild dry tropical forest, rivers, waterfalls and hot springs. The Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and National Park were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.

North Face Endurance Challenge in Costa Rica
Organized by The North Face outdoor gear and clothing company in the USA, The North Face Endurance Challenge is North America’s premier ultra-trail running series of endurance races. Launched in 2007, the races test experienced runners in beautiful scenic locations, while promoting a philosophy of minimum impact. Due to its great popularity, the Latin America series formed; and Costa Rica – a big destination for endurance races – held its first North Face Endurance Challenge in 2013.

Runners will start and finish at eco-hotel Hacienda Guachipelin – a major center for adventure tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica: zip lining, mountain biking, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, nature trails, and natural volcanic hot springs. The award-winning hotel next to the Rincón de la Vieja National Park is located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s main city of Liberia, with easy access from the Liberia International Airport.

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin at Rincon de la Vieja Volcano
More Adventure Races in Costa Rica at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin

The newest Costa Rica adventure race – 160K Rincon de la Vieja Mountain Bike Race – happens Aug. 20, 2016 at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin. Racers will compete in three distances: 160 km (100 miles), 100 km (62 miles), and 50 km (31 miles) by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.

The fourth annual Rincon de la Vieja Challenge extreme mountain bike race also happens at Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, on Sept. 3, 2016. Elite mountain bikers will circumnavigate the active volcano in a 100-mile (160 km) race. The Rincon de la Vieja Challenge is the first international chapter of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) of the USA.

Rincon de la Vieja Challenge

Article by Shannon Farley

Stargazing in Guanacaste Costa Rica

Night sky stargazing at Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste Costa Rica, image by Luis AlvaradoWhether or not you can name the constellations or planets, it is always fascinating to look up at a clear night sky and get lost among the stars.

Anyone can enjoy stargazing. The best places to go, of course, are where the sky is wide open and very dark, with no distracting city lights. Up in the mountains, or in the desert, or out on the open ocean; it is breathtaking to stare upwards at night at millions and millions of twinkling stars and planets in a blue black sky.

Guanacaste, Costa Rica is a superior stargazing location, especially now during Costa Rica summer (December through April). February and March are the best months for clear star-filled night skies.

Night sky stargazing at Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been named one of the top places in the world for stargazing by Travel & Leisure Magazine. Astronomy buffs will know that these months during Costa Rica’s dry season offer incredible opportunities to see in cloudless skies the constellations of the Southern Cross, Omega Centauri, the Magellanic Clouds, the Eta Carinae Nebula, and countless other spectacles in the Milky Way.

Astronomically, Costa Rica’s location at 10 degrees north latitude, just above the equator, allows you to easily see northern and southern hemisphere constellations, the moon and planets.

Night sky southern hemisphere constellations, by

Stargazers traveling to Costa Rica also get the added bonuses of watching the night sky in a warm tropical climate, and during the day enjoying spectacular natural scenery, abundant wildlife, fun adventure activities and friendly local people.

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin at the foot of the colossal, active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is one of the best places for stargazing in Guanacaste. There are no city lights near the family-owned hotel, set on a 3,460-acre ranch, to wash out the night sky. The unique surrounding dry tropical forest trees lose their leaves like in northern autumn and winter. These bare-branches open the sky even more to see stars. You can be inspired by an immense sky filled with millions of stars and listen to the symphony of tropical life at night.

Best times for stargazing in Costa Rica: from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. and again at 4:00 a.m.

Night sky stargazing at Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste Costa Rica

More stargazing opportunities: You can view the sky as seen from various cities around the globe at the Your Sky website. Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer that shows a realistic sky in 3D. If you are in San Jose, Costa Rica, visit the San Jose Planetarium at the University of Costa Rica.

For reservations at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, contact the hotel here.

Article by Shannon Farley

Life on a Costa Rican ranch at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin

Cowboy for a Day Tour at Hacienda Guachipelin

Life on the 3,400-acre ranch at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is full of surprises for guests interested in learning more about the cowboy traditions of Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

The family-owned Hacienda Guachipelin, by the active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, raises horses, cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys, and grows a wide variety of fruit trees as well as vegetables and herbs in gardens and a greenhouse. Most of the fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs, milk and dairy products that guests enjoy in the hotel restaurant are produced on the ranch.

You can get up early and watch the ranch hands handle the morning milking of the cows at 6:00 a.m. every day. You can even try your hand at it!

Buckets of the steaming, frothy fresh milk are brought to the hotel restaurant kitchen for processing each morning, and used to make homemade farmer’s cheese, desserts, and even that milk in your coffee or tea.

Hacienda Guachipelin restaurant fresh milk

Learn about ranch activities and see what kind of cowboy or cowgirl you’d be on the Cowboy for a Day Tour at Hacienda Guachipelin.

Cowboys of Guanacaste, Costa Rica

One of the most popular activities at Hacienda Guachipelin is horseback riding on trusty ranch horses on scenic forest trails to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, waterfalls and natural hot springs. There are six different Costa Rica horseback riding tours offered.

Horse Riding through the forest by Rincon de la Vieja VolcanoWhen you are around the hotel, don’t miss seeing the traditional Costa Rican oxcart making its rounds daily at the noon hour by the Adventure Center. Brightly hand-painted wooden carts pulled by a team of oxen are an important tradition in Costa Rica and are named a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage. And you can’t help loving the faithful ranch dogs that seem to befriend everyone.

Costa Rica oxcart at Hacienda Guachipelin

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin

Hacienda Guachipelin is a unique eco-tourism destination in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Cows waiting to be milked at Hacienda Guachipelinspectacularly located at the foot of the active Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. Stay overnight in comfortable ranch-style accommodations, or enjoy the best adventure tours in Guanacaste as a day visitor. Located only 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s main city of Liberia, the hotel is easily accessible from the Liberia International Airport.

Article by Shannon Farley

Juan Santamaria Day celebrates Costa Rica and Guanacaste history

Juan Santamaria of Costa Rica
When Costa Rica celebrates its national holiday Juan Santamaria Day on April 11, it will be to remember defining moments in the nation’s history that took place in and near our province of Guanacaste.

On this day in 1856, a drummer boy in Costa Rica’s national army gave his life in a heroic act in a decisive battle that ensured Costa Rica remained a free country. Costa Rica celebrates Juan Santamaria’s courage and the country’s freedom and national pride with parades and events all over the country on this day, especially in Alajuela, where Santamaria lived. Costa Rica’s main airport by San Jose is named after the hero – the Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Juan Santamaria Day parade, image by Tico Times
Only 18 years after Costa Rica finally became a completely independent state from the Central America Republic (1838), after gaining independence from Spain in 1821, the tiny nation was being threatened by a mercenary army led by U.S. filibuster, William Walker.

When civil war broke out in Nicaragua in 1854, filibuster William Walker, from Tennessee, U.S., took advantage of the political instability to take over the government of Nicaragua and attempt to conquer the other nations in Central America. Costa Rican president Juan Rafael Mora Porras called upon the general population to take up arms and march north to Nicaragua to fight. Juan Santamaría (August 29, 1831 – April 11, 1856), a poor laborer from Alajuela, joined the army as a drummer boy.

Santa Rosa La Casona national monumentAfter successfully beating a small group of Walker’s soldiers at Santa Rosa, Guanacaste, the Costa Rican troops chased them north to the city of Rivas, Nicaragua, near the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border. The battle that began on April 8, 1856 is the Second Battle of Rivas. Fighting was fierce and the situation did not look good for the Costa Rican soldiers. They couldn’t flush Walker’s men out of a hostel near the town center from which they commanded an advantageous firing position.

According to historic accounts, on April 11, Salvadoran General José María Cañas asked that a soldier go set the hostel on fire to drive Walker’s men out. Some soldiers tried and failed; then Santamaría volunteered. He advanced with his torch, and although he was mortally wounded by enemy fire, he succeeded in setting fire to the hostel before dying. The enemy was defeated, and April 11 became a Costa Rica national holiday to commemorate Santamaría’s death and remember the major turning point for freedom.

What happened to William Walker? He ruled Nicaragua until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies. He eventually was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.

In Guanacaste, Costa Rica, you can visit the first original battle site of Santa Rosa, now protected in the Santa Rosa National Park and Guanacaste Conservation Area World Heritage site.

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin at Rincon de la Vieja Volcano
Where to stay in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, an award-winning hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, is close to the Santa Rosa National Park and Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. The adventure park at Hacienda Guachipelin offers the best Costa Rica adventure tours and an authentic Guanacaste, Costa Rica cultural experience on their working horse and cattle ranch.

Article by Shannon Farley

Legendary marimba music alive at Hacienda Guachipelin

Hacienda Guachipelin marimba player Don Justo

A legend lives at Hacienda Guachipelin. For more than 50 years, Justo Pastor Sanchez Castillo – known affectionately to all at Hacienda Guachipelin as “Don Justo” – has made magic with his music on the marimba. He is a living legend playing a folkloric instrument that is fading into history.

You can’t visit Guanacaste, Costa Rica without listening at least once to the distinct resonant sounds of a traditional marimba. Considered a symbol of culture and tradition, especially in the province of Guanacaste, the marimba was declared the national musical instrument of Costa Rica by President José María Figueres in 1996.

Hacienda Guachipelin marimbaThe marimba is a percussion instrument consisting of a set of wooden bars, arranged like those of a piano, which when struck with mallets produce musical tones. Resonators (tubes, usually of aluminum) that hang below the bars amplify their sound with vibration.

In Central America and Mexico, a hole is often carved into the bottom of each resonator and then covered with a delicate membrane made with pig intestine to add a characteristic “buzzing” or “rattling” sound known as charleo. Marimba players often simultaneously use between two and four mallets in each hand, and often play with one or two other persons for more complicated songs.

The marimba was developed in Guatemala centuries ago, based on a type of Hacienda Guachipelin marimba player Don Justoxylophone from African slaves; the marimba is also the official national instrument of Guatemala. The historical musical instrument was brought to Costa Rica from Guatemala in colonial times by Franciscan priests, and spread in the region of Guanacaste and the Central Valley. In Costa Rica, marimba music is synonymous with Guanacaste.

You can listen to colorful marimba music every night at award-winning eco-hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Don Justo plays his legendary songs in the hotel’s bar and restaurant to entertain guests every night, like he has been doing for the past eight years.

“Our guests love listening to the traditional music of Guanacaste,” agreed the Hacienda Guachipelin reception staff.

At the base of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best places to stay in Guanacaste. The eco-tourism hotel is a working horse and cattle ranch and has some of the best adventure tours in Costa Rica. Hacienda Guachipelin received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014.

Article by Shannon Farley

New rooms for Christmas at Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica

New rooms at Hacienda Guachipelin 2014
Just in time for Christmas, award-winning eco-hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Costa Rica presents cozy new guest rooms.

Guanacaste Mountain Range at Hacienda Guachipelin HotelIn the foothills of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, just 13 miles from Liberia, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best places to stay in Guanacaste. The eco-tourism hotel is a working horse and cattle ranch, and received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014.

“I love the typical authentic flavor of this traditional Costa Rican hacienda located at the active volcano and national park of Rincon de la Vieja,” commented Daniel Chavarria, founder of Enchanting Hotels Costa Rica.

New rooms at Hacienda Guachipelin 2014The spacious new Superior rooms have beautiful views, and are located near the stables from where the horse tours depart. Ten new rooms are equipped with two queen beds or one king-size bed, Wi-Fi, TV, phone, safe box, fan and air-conditioning. Two of the rooms are specially equipped for disabled travelers.

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin offers 64 comfortable ranch-style rooms and suites, well-appointed with traditional wood furniture. All rooms have views of the volcano and the Hacienda. Wide and inviting verandas welcome you to relax and meet fellow travelers. A grand breakfast buffet and entrance to the hotel’s natural volcanic hot springs are complimentary for all guests at Hacienda Guachipelin.

Hacienda Guachipelin waterfall rappelling tour, Costa RicaThe adventure park at Hacienda Guachipelin offers the best things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, including horseback riding, hiking in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, river tubing, natural hot springs and volcanic mud baths, waterfall rappelling, hikes to waterfalls, and the very unique Canyon Canopy Tour. Try the One Day Pass to get the most out of Hacienda Guachipelin’s Costa Rica adventure tours.

Article by Shannon Farley