Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Santa Maria crater

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste Costa Rica

Guanacaste, Costa Rica is one of the most popular areas in the country and a preferred Costa Rica vacation destination. But did you know these interesting details?

Fun facts about Guanacaste, Costa Rica:

1. Try to pronounce the indigenous word “quahnacaztlan” and you will find that Guanacaste is a lot easier. The province is named after the beautiful tree indigenous to tropical areas of the Americas. Also known as the “Elephant Ear Tree” (Enterolobium cyclocarpum) for the shape of its dark brown seed pods, it was named the national tree of Costa Rica in August, 1959.

Guanacaste tree in Costa Rica

2. Guanacaste’s name actually dates back to a real tree which grew in the intersection between the roads that take you to Nicoya and Bagaces in Costa Rica, and Rivas in Nicaragua, back in the middle of the 17th century. Today, the park across from the Catholic Church of Liberia occupies the spot where the historical tree stood.

3. Known as the sunny side of Costa Rica, Guanacaste’s climate is unique in the country. Guanacaste receives little rain and consistent heat from November to May, resulting in its ubiquitous tropical dry forest. The region typically records less than 130 days of rainfall annually.

Rincon de la Vieja, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

4. It may be hard to imagine, but Guanacaste was once heavily forested. Its precious hardwoods were cut down to satisfy great demands for export. The result left rolling savannah grasslands and contributes greatly to the region’s sparse rainfall.

5. The largest and most active volcano in Guanacaste is Rincón de la Vieja. At 6,286 feet (1,916 meters) high and 15 kilometers (9 miles) wide, the approximately 9,000-year-old caldera is called the “Colossus of Guanacaste”. The giant bridges the Continental Divide with at least nine contiguous craters. Its last big eruption was in 1998. Rincón de la Vieja means “Corner of the Old Woman after an indigenous legend about a girl whose lover was thrown into the crater by her father; she became a recluse living on the mountain, and was known as being a healer.

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Santa Maria crater

6. The first humans came to what is now Costa Rica thousands of years before Europeans arrived in the Americas. A tribe known as the Chorotegas migrated south from Mexico to Guanacaste in about 900 AD. They lived along the coast and Nicoya Peninsula. Archaeological findings show that a different people – probably who spoke a Chibchan language – lived in the interior of Guanacaste from about 10,000 BC.

Chorotega indigenous people in Costa Rica

7. Most of the population in Guanacaste descends from a mix of indigenous peoples and Spaniards, with a significant African influence from a large number of slaves during the Spanish colonial period.

8. Ever wonder what the Costa Rican holiday of Guanacaste Day is all about? During colonial times, Guanacaste was not part of Costa Rica. Inhabitants of the territory chose to annex to Costa Rica rather than Nicaragua on July 25, 1824 and the country celebrates that event every year.

Guanacaste Costa Rica

9. Cattle ranching, of Brahman cattle and related breeds, was historically the main source of income in Guanacaste. For the past two decades, tourism has become the top economic activity.

10. Guanacaste’s famous cowboys are called “Sabaneros”, which literally translated, means “Savannah Dweller” for the grasslands found here.

Guanacaste cowboy rides off into the sunset in Costa Rica

Discover Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Take the archaeology tour at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin to learn more about Guanacaste history and the indigenous peoples who lived near the massive Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. More than 14 archaeological sites – mostly cemeteries, petroglyphs and tomb markers – have been found around Hacienda Guachipelin, dating from about 300 to 800 AD.

Archaeology Tour at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste Costa Rica

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín is an ideal place to experience authentic Guanacaste culture and enjoy an active vacation at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. The ecotourism hotel has the best Costa Rica adventure tours. 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.

Article by Shannon Farley

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