Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is undoubtedly a destination with a lot of
diversity, and quite possibly the most multi-faceted place in Guanacaste.
It has the capacity to make unforgettable memories for novel adventures,
including intimate encounters with nature and unadulterated contact with the
real Costa Rica: the one known for the slogan “no artificial ingredients.”
is one of the 5 areas in the country with the greatest ecological diversity and
one of the National Parks that offers the widest variety of experiences. In
addition to extensive primary rain forest on northern side and tropical dry
forest in its southern area, Rincon de la Vieja National Park surrounds 2
active volcanoes (the Rincon de la Vieja volcano and the
Santa Maria volcano), six minor volcanic peaks, several
wells of boiling, bubbling mud (called pailas or pans),a volcanic lake and dozens of rivers, canyons and waterfalls. Within the park it offers visitors
beautiful hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails.
37 years ago, this conservation area protects rich and very complex ecosystems
that support spider monkeys, howler monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, cougars, coatis,
agoutis, toucans and motmots (plus 300 varieties of
birds), and at least 12,000 species of vegetables and hundreds of small mammals,
amphibians and reptiles.
visiting Rincon de la Vieja is not only about discovering a scenic range of
Costa Rican wildlife. It’s also about getting to know the human Costa Rica in
its traditional aspect, particularly the “sabanero”,which is the Costa Rican version of a cowboy. The surrounding area of this corner, or “rincón,”of Costa Rica is still truly rural country. The change in the pace of life can be felt immediately after
turning off the highway. Everything starts to move more slowly and the clock
goes into “fiesta” -
but considering that no one is paying attention to the time it lapses into a “siesta”.
Although time on these byways ticks at a very relaxed pace, the mind is
quickly filled with beautiful images and great memories.
if nature and the rural surroundings were not enough of an attraction, Rincon
has also become synonymous with adventures and innovative experiences.
There are a variety of options in the
area for canopy tours, kayaking, canyoning, tubing, rappelling and several
other activities ending in “ing,”all of which are very entertaining and stimulating.
The best part is that while
activities are pumped with adrenaline and a sense of extreme adventure, all are
very safe and have few age restrictions, allowing them to be equally enjoyed by both young and old.
available options for visitors to this area include hiking up to the volcano’s
crater, horseback rides through forests and plains, a 1.300 ft ride down the
longest waterslide in the country, several thermal centers and spas (volcanic
mud baths are classic), visiting a massive
botanical garden and butterfly farm, mountain biking or hiking on forest
thing that bears special mention is the warm hospitality and openness of the
people of these parts. It is always a pleasure to stop along the way to chat
with the locals.
of the hotels around here boast a rustic style with relatively few luxuries but
all the basic amenities of modern life. Thanks to the gentle personality of the locals, the area has become
known for their committed and outstanding service.
long ago, in our 28th edition, we told you about the northern, more rainy part
of Rincon and the Blue River Resort that resides there with its great
combination of thermal pools, butterfly farm, orchid garden, extensive
botanical garden with close to 1,000 varieties of plants, luxurious spa and the
gorgeous Rio Celeste (Blue river) with
its many waterfalls… You can read that article on this link (“Discovering
the hidden face of the Rincon de la Vieja”) or
clicking on this other link to go to page 18 of the Virtual Magazine, edition 28.
time, it is the south face
of the Rincon de la Vieja’s turn.
this trip we set out to discover the south face going on the road to Curubande(the closest entrance from Liberia). We went past
various hotels along the way and the diverse list of tours offered, and after
scanning all the options, we picked the second to last hotel on the road inside
the park. The hotel clearly
offered a wide variety of activities and had good rates. Right away we were pleasantly surprised
by the vast knowledge of the staff, and we knew we were going to leave with
very fond memories.
first special thing about Hacienda Guachipelin is revealed in its name. This was once an old time cattle ranch before it was
suddenly surrounded by protected lands when the National Park was created in
1973. The owners, finding their
ranching activities limited from one day to the next, developed a vision of
expanding its functions and creating activities and services to attract
tourists visiting the park.
restaurant and the first tours became a success, so much so that the next step
was to transform the old family “hacienda” into a hotel. The old porches
sprung hammock after hammock, and along with the saddles and stirrups, countless
harnesses, pulleys, biners, helmets, rafts and ores, increased the hacienda’s
doubt the horses were the happiest with these changes,
as in addition to getting an Extreme Makeover of
their stables, they became VIP or rather, VIE (Very
Important Equine), which included halving the amount of
work they were used to and featured daily spa treatments for everyone (showers,
array of possible activities in this Hacienda is impressive and if you want to
do everything it would require either a several day visits or several different
visits. The good part of this is
that if you only plan a day visit, there will always be new activities for your
next trip and if you stay for a week, you won’t run out of new activities by
the fourth or fifth day.
2 canopy tours owned by Guachipelin (some other hotels in
the area offer canopy but send their guests here),
are original and very scenic. Because of this pictures taken here often become
part of promotional images of Costa Rica seen around the world. In addition to
cables running amongst the trees, there are sections where you fly over a river
inside a beautiful canyon, climb 90° walls, descend on a free fall towards the
river and cross from one platform to another balancing just like Tarzan of the
very special experience is
the educational and well-guided bird observation tour. We also recommend partaking in the
incredibly fun “tubing” experience (floating as a group
in individual rafts through a narrow but very restless river),
a horseback ride to the foothills of the volcano or a rappelling tour (ascending
and descending several rock walls, cooling off in the baths of waterfalls or
the landing in the river).
should also be sure to go to the top of the volcano, visit the natural hot
water springs at Rio Negro and end the day with a trip to the SymbiosisSpa where you can play like a child covering yourself or your friends with
thermal mud from head to toe. Then
spend a few minutes in the sauna before “trying
out” each of the several thermal pools hidden in
you want to give yourself a special treat?
Get a massage on the margin of the
The perfect ending to a great day.
the list is not finished yet. I
still haven’t told you about one of the most special features of
Guachipelin: Every morning guests
can participate in the daily activities of the ranch and learn how to milk a
cow, ride a horse through grazing fields to drive cattle to the corral or help
brush a couple of majestic and very photogenic white oxen – some of the other
VIP animals in the hacienda.
I have to give a special mention to the three cute little donkeys that like to
walk by the Adventure Center. They love people! When someone gets close to them, they gently lower their
heads and look sideways as if to say, “Would
you scratch my ear, please?”
While not part of the official menu of Guachipelin
attractions, they definitely delight tourists. In particular, the children usually cannot contain their
rapture at being able to hug such famously stubborn, albeit laid back, equines.
interesting note for national and foreign residents: on Sundays, Guachipelin
offers a 50% discount on tours and rooms for the night.
Saturday mornings are also special at this hotel. A day of fiesta and traditions in which guests and the staff
gather at the “redondel” (corral) to watch the skillful “sabaneros” (cowboys) show off their abilities
with the lasso. Proud horse riders demonstrate the picturesque walking and
dancing of their mounts and then cheer the courageous “montadores”(bull riders) in
their challenge against the brave bulls.
could continue filling several more pages talking about the numerous adventures
available at Rincon, but there is no space left in this edition, so you’ll have
to go out and experience it for yourself.
conclusion...Rincon de la Vieja is a volcano and a national park that cannot be
is chock full of beauty and activities for all tastes.
an intense and multi-faceted
experience that won’t disappoint!
How to get there?
Park is located Northeast of Liberia, approximately 25 minutes by car (see
map on page 54). From Liberia take the highway towards
Nicaragua and after 5 Km take a right turn toward the Park and most of the
hotels (this road is called the road to Curubande).There are 2 other entrances available (Road to Cañas Dulces
12 Km from Liberia) and towards Quebrada Grande (24
Km from Liberia) which will take you to other beautiful
corners of the area, such as to Rio Celeste, and to interesting hotels such as
Borinquen, Buena Vista Lodge or Blue River Resort.
contrast to some years ago, all these roads are in very good condition so you
are able to get there in any type of vehicle without problem. Beware though, that this statement
holds true for the dry season, but during the rainy season it is safer to go on
a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Where to stay?
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