In the north of the country we find the ranching region of Guanacaste, where breeding the local Costa Rican Criollo is both a passion and a long-standing tradition of the region. Here we have a based stay where both riders and non-riders alike will enjoy the relaxed environment on the 50 acre family-owned ranch, an oasis of giant tropical trees and dry forest flora and fauna and a short distance from the beach. Wake to monkeys calling from the trees and horses nickering in the pastures.
Additionally, from November to July, you are offered the opportunity to join groups of local riders and enjoy a traditional fiesta including a colourful horse parade and a reception for riders, including music, food, dancing and prizes; this is a real highlight of the holiday and not to be missed. Accommodation is in delightfully presented, self-contained apartments, all ensuite, with a boutique feel to them. Many of the much-loved horses were bred on the ranch.
For those with less time a 6 day/ 5night itinerary is also available, itinerary by agreement.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from VP of Poltimore, Exeter on 30/04/2019
Arrive at Liberia, transport to the finca, located just minutes from the beautiful Pacific beaches of Guanacaste. Accommodation in comfortable air conditioned casa or casita. Late afternoon, you will have a Ranch Orientation and a Criollo Horse Demonstration, then, meet your horse for your first short ride. When we reach the town of Portegolpe, we will tie up our horses and stop for a cold drink at a local Cantina in the small town of Portegolpe, later, ride back to the ranch at sunset. Dinner at the ranch. (D) Itinerary depends on arrival times.
After a full ranch breakfast, you will have a short introduction to riding the beautiful Spanish Criollo horses of Costa Rica known for their noble temperament and comfortable ride. Later in the morning, you will leave for the small cattle town of Tempate and travel the Old Spanish Trail through large haciendas, look for monkeys, tropical birds and dry tropical vegetation on this back country trail. Stop for cold drinks in Tempate at a typical cantina, and then continue your ride back to the ranch through a beautiful ranch with chances for canters. In the evening you will have the option to go to one of the colourful local fiestas to see the famous bull riding and cowboys showing off their lasso skills on quick criollo horses. For dinner, sample the local fare at the fiesta or dinner by arrangement at the ranch. (B,L)
After breakfast, you will be picked up to go the beautiful Hacienda Roble for the Sabanaro Cowboy Ride on the large cattle ranch and pick up your ranch horses to explore the working ranch and the wetlands. The horses are well-trained ranch horses. Lunch or your choice at a typical restaurant. (For earlybirds, we have a wildlife and bird watching ride option; for the adventurous take the exciting canopy zipline tour). In the afternoon go Flamingo Beach for a swim, massage on the beach or just relax before dinner at the beach. (B,L)
After breakfast we will do a ranch photo shoot before you mount your horses for The Taste of Guanacaste ride through beautiful ranch country and small village to one of our most popular family cantina stops, Chilito’s, in the small town of El Llano, sample their famous fried chicken and chip and a real taste of Guanacaste culture. Afternoon free relax or take a dip in the pool before dinner on the ranch; or watch our trainer work with young horses using Natural Horsemanship Techniques. (B,L,D) Other tours available for this day – take a surfing lessons or standup paddle boarding, take an estuary boat tour, or enjoy a massage on the beautiful Flamingo Beach.
Today, take an early morning breakfast ride along the old Spanish oxcart trails, passing through beautiful wooded countryside, ranches and small typical villages. Along the way you may see Howler Monkeys, colorful tropical birds or other wildlife, while getting a glimpse of the traditional sabanero, cowboy culture, of the Guanacaste people. When you arrive at the the Rancho, tie up your horse for a typical Costa Rican breakfast cooked the traditional way over lena (firewood). In the afternoon you will have the option of a guided tour of Monkey Park Rescue Center to see local flora and fauna or a private lesson with our natural horsemanship trainer. Dinner at the ranch. (B,L,D)
After breakfast enjoy a free day, you have the option of being taken to Tamarindo Beach with shopping, swimming, surfing, or a catamaran sailing and snorkling tour or enjoy sunset and a dinner on your own in Tamarindo, then we will pick you up by arrangement. Or opt for one of the many other tours offered in the area including Canopy/Zip line, Monkey Park, Coco Beach, or all day tours to Arenal Volcano or Granada Nicaragua. (B - other meals by arrangement, payable on-site)
After breakfast, meet your horses in the small village of La Garita and ride secluded back country roads through dry tropical forest lined back roads to the beach. Stop at Puerto Viejo for a cold drink, then ride along the beautiful Pacific beaches of Pt. Viejo, Conchal and Brasilito. The horses will be trucked back to the ranch and you will have lunch at the beach at Don Brasilitos with an option to swim before you are taken back to the ranch. In the afternoon, choose from a private lesson or work with your own horse using Natural Horsemanship Training in the ring. (B,L,D) Sunset ride or dinner ride arranged depending on the tides.
After breakfast take your last photos before you are transferred to the airport, or next destination. (B or snack bag for the plane).
During Fiesta Season (November 20-May 1): In the evening you have the option to go to one of the colourful local fiestas to see the famous bull riding and cowboys showing off their lasso skills on quick, well trained, criollo horses and sample local food and drinks. Participate or watch Tope horse parades and fiestas available most Sundays during the fiesta season. Minimum 2 riders. Maximum weight 215lbs.
Days may vary depending on arrival times, fiestas and weather. Sequence of days may change depending on arrival day/time and beach ride times depend on low tides. Day 1 itinerary depends on arrival times, if late arrival the itinerary will be adjusted to include the activities.
You can add days with an additional all day ride or overnight at the beach, optional trips to Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud forest, Granada Nicaragua, National Parks, or Natural Horsemanship Training.
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
All the horses are well trained and much loved, most are 'gaited' offering an exceptionally smooth ride They have a noble character and are very willing and forward going The range between 14hh and 16hh.
The riding style is relaxed with neck-reining and light contact at all times. The riding pace is varied; walk, trot, and canter based on riders' experience and desires. On this ride you will cover country roads, back trails, beaches and coastal mountains.
Your guides, Esteban and Kay, are bilingual professional guides and naturalists. Additional lessons and training are available by arrangement.
Riders must have a secure seat at walk trot and canter and be comfortable riding over varied terrain
You can expect to ride for 2-5 hrs a day
There is a mounting block available at the ranch and help can be given out on trail
No walking beside horses is required
Some experience over steep/rough terrain is needed
An adventurous nature is recommended to enjoy the exciting riding and spectacular sights
Weight limit: 210lb for beginner riders, 225lb by arrangement for experienced riders
The weight limit for this ride is 210 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodations on the ranch is in a private house or 'casita', or beach hotel for extended beach rides. These rooms have queen, double and single beds with high quality linens, a private verandah, storage space, garden porch and outside bar with wifi. They all enjoy ranch and forest views. There is a splash pool for a refreshing dip after a ride and you will be able to relax in the peaceful surroundings with a host of natural sounds such as birds and monkeys.
Breakfasts are delicious and plentiful offering an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, free range eggs and various cold meats. Sample menu: Full ranch breakfast daily with many fresh tropical fruits and juices, home made breads, free range eggs as you wish, breakfast meats, oatmeal, special French toast, typical Costa Rican breakfast, yoghurt, or other special dishes.
Other meals offer a choice of salads, pastas, fresh fish, chicken or shrimp and rice, or others by arrangement. Some meals will be taken out at local restaurants – riders order from menu. Coffee, tea and juices available all day. Wine, spirits and sodas available for purchase.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request. It is recommended that when travelling to Costa Rica your passport is valid for at least 6 months, otherwise you may be refused entry.
British nationals do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica and can stay as visitors for six months.
The British Embassy in Costa Rica can be found at British Embassy, Apartado 815-1007, Edificio Centro Colón, (Piso/floor 11), San José. Telephone: (506) 258 2025. Email: email@example.com.
Costa Rican representation in the U.K can be found at Flat 1, 14 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3LH. Telephone: (020) 7706 8844. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Foreign and Commonwealth office also provides travel advice on their excellent we site at www.fco.gov.uk
The best time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. May and June are also fairly nice along the West Coast. August through mid-November is known as the “Green Season”. Temperatures vary little from dry season to rainy season; the changing factor is the amount of rain. The elevated Central Valley has an average daytime temperature of about 72F (22C) and nights are cool, around 60 (15C). It is usually much warmer in the rainforest area with 100% humidity.
At Unicorn Trails, the health and safety of our customers is of paramount importance. While cases of the Zika Virus remain predominantly in Brazil and Ecuador, there have been reports of cases in Mexico, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cape Verde.
Whilst the symptoms of the Zika Virus are usually mild, customers are recommended to take the strict insect bite avoidance measures. This is particularly relevant if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, suffer from a severe, chronic medical condition, or have a medical condition that weakens your immune system.
Customers due to travel to the affected areas should monitor the World Health Organisation website for further updates and advice.
Customers planning to become pregnant should discuss travel plans with a healthcare provider to assess the risk of infection and receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures.
Customers who are already pregnant should inform their obstetrician or midwife if they have recently travelled to a country where Zika is known to occur.
There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and precautions must be taken. Rabies can also be a problem and any animal bites should be attended to immediately.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org. The department of health gives advice on www.dh.gov.uk
Riders should not have health concerns that limit their riding and must be aware that this a tropical country with higher temperatures than they may be accustomed to. No vacinations are needed in this area. Bring personal medications, other needs available at pharmacies near by.
The electricity in Costa Rica runs at 120V and a frequency of 60Hz as in the USA. Your appliances may need an adaptor as well as a plug converter, check before you go.
Wifi is available in the main house or garden porch. A computer is also available for email or Skype for international calls or video calls. Some phones work in the country, check with carriers. Don’t forget you camera and battery charger or extra batteries.
Comfortable light weight riding clothes and casual wear, closed shoes, long trousers, light rain/wind proof gear is needed in the rainy season, mosquito repellant, sunscreen, hat, and camera and battery charger. Some sizes of riding helmets are available (not compulsory if over 17). Binoculars are a good idea. Guide books are available.
This programme is available from November to September with flexible start dates, 8 days / 7 nights.
On request: November to July - High Season; August to Sept - Low Season
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,559|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,809|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,739|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||2,019|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,939|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||2,249|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||18,549|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||21,509|
Additional information on travel in Costa Rica can be obtained from the Costa Rican National Tourist Bureau in Miami, Florida. Telephone 800.327.7033, www.tourism-costarica.com. There are also several excellent guidebooks on Costa Rica available at bookstores.
Costa Rica Birds - Raymond Leung
Costa Rica - A Journey through nature - Adrian Hepworth
Costa Rica Culture and Traditions - Jack Donnelly
Costa Rica - History, Travel and Tourism - Samuel Ash
Full day tour to Granada, Nicaragua, Arenal Volcano and hotsprings, and 1/2 - 2 day Yoga/Spa Experience, as well as add on days. Immerse yourself in the beautiful nature and wildlife of Costa Rica by hiking, enjoying island cruises, bird watching and rain forest tours to name but just a few activities. More activities which can be booked on site include: yoga, spa, National Park tours, Turtles Tour, Canopy Tours, rafting, Zip-Line Tour, kayaking, sport fishing, sailing, crocodile and mangrove swamp tours.
This area of Costa Rica is the dry tropical forest ecosystem and contains rich biodiversity of tropical plants, birds, butterflies, insects and mammals. The ranch is an oasis of large tropical trees and lush pastures with tropical birds and howler monkeys in the trees. The ranch is located just 15 minutes from the Pacific ocean and an hour and a half from the spectacular volcanic mountain range with its own set of interesting wild life and vegetation.
Costa Rica's climate and geography are great for supporting a wide variety of wildlife. Sometimes known as the "biological crossroads" of the world, Costa Rica's inhabitants are made up of more than 500,000 species of animal.
Ecotourism is one of Costa Rica’s primary economic resources, and the country's butterflies add a lot to that. They bring life to rainforests, not only with the diversity in colour, but with the magnificence of the flowers that they help pollinate.
Birds of Costa Rica
Although Costa Rica is a small country, it is in the birdrich neotropical region, and has a huge number of species for its area. 894 bird species have been recorded in the country (including Cocos Island), with seven endemics. 19 species are globally threatened. Costa Rica's national bird is the ubiquitous Clay-colored Robin.
Some common butterflies and moths in Costa Rica include:
Green Page Moth
Costa Rica is a tranquil haven of democracy – known as the ‘Switzerland of Central America’. It has no army, excellent hospitals, well-educated people and a great respect for human rights. This little country, roughly the size of Scotland, has an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. There is a great deal to explore in Costa Rica; from active volcanoes to palm-fringed beaches. Twelve percent of the land has been set aside as national reserves to protect the astonishing number of plants, birds, reptiles, insects and mammals.
Ticos, as the Costa Ricans are known, are a friendly, helpful and tolerant people. They favor moderation, and therefore have managed to avoid the political fanaticism of their neighbors.
Manuel Antonio National Park
With the establishment of Manuel Antonio National Park in 1972, the people of Costa Rica decided to preserve, for future generations, one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse areas in the world. Although it is the country's smallest national park, the stunning beauty and diversity of wildlife in its 683 hectares is unequaled. Manuel Antonio contains a charming combination of rain forest, beaches and coral reefs. The beaches are the most beautiful in the country, lined with lush forest, and the snorkeling is excellent. The forest is home for sloths, iguanas, the rare and adorable squirrel monkeys and millions of colorful little crabs. And the trail that winds around Punta Catedral offers some spectacular views.
Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
Santa Elena Reserve is one of the first community managed reserves in the country. With the help of Youth Challenge International, a Canadian Non-profit Organization, the Costa Rican government, and the Santa Elena Community, the Reserve officially opened in March 1992. The philosophy of the Reserve is unique in that long term sustainability is not only a concern of the Reserve, but of the community as a whole. Proceeds from entrance fees, guided tours and the souvenir shop are either reinvested in the management of the reserve or are channeled to a local high school to help upgrade technology, and fund courses in environmental education, biology, agriculture, languages and tourism. In using the Reserve as a natural classroom, students and teachers harness an unlimited educational resource that can be used for anything from studying tropical plant ecology to leading tours. Conservation efforts in the area are concentrating on establishing forest corridors radiating from the central conservation area down to lower altitudes as many of the forest fauna, such as the Resplendent Quetzal, American Pumas, Jaguars, Ocelots, and Red Brocket Deer require large territories in which to forage and breed.
Costa Rica is a tranquil haven of democracy – known as the ‘Switzerland of Central America’. It has no army, excellent hospitals, well-educated people and a great respect for human rights. In 1948 Costa Rica was the first country in the modern world to abolish its army. In that tradition, efforts to establish the University for Peace began at the United Nations under the leadership of the President of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Carazo.
This little country, roughly the size of Scotland, has an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. There is a great deal to explore in Costa Rica; from active volcanoes to palm-fringed beaches. Twelve percent of the land has been set aside as national reserves to protect the astonishing number of plants, birds, reptiles, insects and mammals.
Ticos, as the Costa Ricans are known, are a friendly, helpful and tolerant people. They favour moderation, and therefore have managed to avoid the political fanaticism of their neighbors.
Costa Rica is six hours behind GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.