Rincon de la Vieja & Hacienda Guachipelin

Dec 31, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion

Happy New Year! The tropical dry forest was converted to farm and ranchland early in post-Columbian settlement, and still the dominant culture of this region is that of the sabanero, or “cowboy.” Dozens of the haciendas of yore still exist, and many of them now cater to a clientele seeking experiences in the progressive industry of ecotourism. Guests are lead on horseback, zipline, and long hikes through formerly cleared farm and ranchland that is returning to a natural state of vegetation. Tropical dry forest is one of the rarest ecoregions of the planet, with less than two percent of original cover remaining.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park and its volcanic features are part of the Cordillera de Guanacaste. Trails wend through epiphyte-adorned forests of fig and gumbo limbo trees, their boughs and buttresses brimming with branching epiphytes such as orchids, ferns, and pitahaya cacti. Venturing into a savanna-like landscape, we discover fumaroles, or steam vents, and pools of mud, burbling heat and noxious gases. Ever-vigilant, our naturalists help us to identify the resident wildlife of this protected region, including iguanas, howler monkeys, spider moneys, coatis and keel-billed toucans!

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About the Author

Sarah Keefer


Sarah’s fondest memories of nature are experiences she’s shared with friends—especially when those experiences involve spotting wildlife from the bow of a ship! She’s captivated by the wonders of the natural world, and it was the lure of expansive wilderness and exotic destinations that inspired her to study wildlife biology at both the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Hawai’i Honolulu. Sarah was first partial to mammalian studies, and it wasn’t until her first season as a field naturalist in Southeast Alaska that she began to truly appreciate watching birds and what they could teach us about patience, integrity, and hope.

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