Category Archives: Costa Rica

BREAKING NEWS: 7.6 Earthquake Rattles Costa Rica

Today at 8:42 a.m. local time (14:42 UTC), a 7.6 earthquake hit the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The epicenter was Nicoya Península in Guanacaste Province, 80 kilometers (50 mi) from Liberia.


Preliminary reports cite electrical outrages and highway damage. The cell phone network has collapsed.  Thus far, two people have been reported missing.


It was also strongly felt in San José and other parts of Costa Rica, as well as in Nicaragua and Panama.


A tsunami alert is still in effect for Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. The warning was issued initially for the Pacific Ocean basin, as far north as Mexico and south to Chile, and for the Caribbean.

Tsunami Update: Galapagos, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile

Although the tsunami caused by the Japanese earthquake mostly spared Latin America severe damage, it did affect certain locations along Central America and South America’s coasts.


Photo Credit: Flurdy,

Waves Pummel the Coast of Galapagos

Although initial reports claimed that there was minimal damage to the islands, they appear to have been one of the hardest-hit areas in Latin America. A tip sent in to Lorraine Caputo reports that many businesses in Puerto Ayora were flooded, including the artisan market, though most have reopened. More distressingly, a number of homes in the Barrio Punta Estrada neighborhood were damaged.  The Ecuadorian government is sending assistance to those impacted by the waves.


In Osa harbor, on the southern Pacific coast, several boats were damaged or destroyed by the surging tide.


At least one person in Peru died as a result of the tsunami. A man trying to watch the tsunamis from the beach resort of San Bartolo, near Lima, fell on the rocks and died. Meanwhile, on the northern coast, a small boat carrying 10 fishermen has been missing since Friday. Finally, the towns of Pisco, Paracas and San Andrés, all devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 2007, received rather significant flooding on Friday night as a result of the tsunami waves. Video here.


215 houses were damaged in Chile early on Saturday morning, the vast majority of them in the settlement of Puerto Viejo, in the northern region of Atacama.

Latin America News Update: March 5th-11th


While the destruction in Japan appears catastrophic, it appears that Latin America might be spared major damage from the tsunami. While tsunami waves have reached the Mexican coast, they were not large enough to cause serious damage. Countries in Central and South America are bracing for the arrival of the tsunami waves on their Pacific coastlines this evening.

Thanks to Lorraine Caputo for compiling these other stories.


Bolivia’s controversial president, Evo Morales, has decided to keep the US Drug Enforcement Agency out of his country.


A Brazilian judge has reversed a lower court ruling, and it appears work will begin on the enormous Monte Belo dam after all.


The International Court of Justice has ordered both sides out of a disputed border region.


The US government has given permission to airlines to fly charter flights between Cuba and eight additional US cities.


Attempts to ban the screening of a documentary about the corrupt and inefficient Mexican justice system have backfired, as the film has become a major hit in the country.

Latin America News Updates: February 26th- March 4th

Thanks again to Lorraine Caputo.


A new film starring Matthew Rhys will highlight Patagonia’s Welsh roots.


Flooding and mudslides around La Paz have killed dozens, left thousands homeless and disrupted travel around Bolivia’s capital.


The planned dam at Belo Monte, in Brazil’s Amazonian basin, has been halted by a judge so that more environmental impact studies can be made.


Chile’s president faces tough questions about reconstruction one year after his country was struck by a devastating earthquake. For information about Chile’s tourism infrastructure after the quake, check out VIVA’s Chile guidebook.


A border dispute with Nicaragua has many in Costa Rica reconsidering their country’s commitment to fielding no standing army.


Billionaire Carlos Slim has opened a new art museum in Mexico City.


Cannons found in a Panamanian river might have belonged to the famed pirate Henry Morgan.


Archeologists working at the Inca site of Vilcabamba have uncovered tombs from a much earlier culture.

The Best Places in Latin America to Go Hiking//Trekking

By Allison Carlton, VIVA Editorial Intern

The Latin region is as vibrant as its culture. Vast plains and highlands, rugged mountains, active volcanoes, amazon rainforest and arid deserts have created a geography unique to each individual country that makes up Latin America. For the adventurous, hiking and trekking the rocky mountainsides at high altitudes is a favorite trip moment because of the vistas and panoramic views that greet them at the top. Here is a list of some of the best hikes in Latin America:


National Geographic rated Cerro Campanario as having one of the “Top 10 views in the World” and for good reason. Once you’ve hiked the short trail to the top, head to one of the lookouts for a panoramic view of the mountains and shimmering blue lakes beneath the sun before you. You should be well-rested after your hike up the mountain, which can get very steep, after spending a good amount of time taking in the view, but if not, head inside the cafe for a refreshment.


Serious and experienced hikers only for the challenging Illampu Circuit. This multi-day hike is a tedious 66 miles long and it is recommended that you be acclimatized and assisted by an alpaca or llama to carry your equipment and packs. Magnificent views treat you along the way as you make many ascensions at roughly 1,000 feet per day.

Costa Rica

You may get to see some wildlife during this trail through the rainforest. It is a short walk, roughly 10 minutes in and 20 minutse out, but gets pretty steep, giving your legs a good work out. However, the sound of the rushing Rio Fortuna waterfall in your ears will signal the end of this hike. The white water flows into a turquoise pool surrounded by rocks and boulders, which makes it a bit dangerous to swim in but there is calmer waters within the area.


Pack your warm clothes for this day hike from Quilotoa to Chugchilan that leads you by a volcanic crater, down a valley, through a town and up a canyon. The wind blows and the altitude makes for a much cooler temperature, so breathing may become difficult. It should take 5 hours to complete the 7.5 mile hike, more or less, depending on how often you stop to look at the beautiful sites along the way.


The Cordillera Blanca is a mountain range in the Andes where the country’s highest mountain is located, as well as the world’s most beautiful mountain. With more than 30 peaks over 18,000 ft in altitude and more than 110 miles long, the Cordillera Blanca sits behind Asia for having the world’s highest mountain range. The Santa Cruz hike is a favorite, and probably most popular, among many in the area because of the terrain you get to see during the 31 miles you hike over four days, such as wildflower meadows, lakes, glaciers, trees, views of snow-capped peaks and a statue of Jesus at the end. Acclimatization is recommended before attempting this hike.

Latin America Events Calendar: September 20th-26th

Every week, VIVA Travel Guides will be bringing you a rundown of the biggest, most important events in Latin America.

Monday, September 20th: Fiestas Patrias, Santiago, Chile

Today is the end of the four-day weekend marking the bicentennial of Chile’s independence. Major events are planned in Santiago, specifically in Parque Alberto Hurtado and the Estadio Nacional.

Tuesday, September 21st: Independence Day, Belize

Parties can be found just about everywhere in the country, as Belize celebrates its independence from the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, September 22nd: Al Trabajo en Bici, Montevideo, Uruguay

Wednesday is Car-Free Day, celebrated in many cities around the world. In Montevideo, workers and students will be encouraged to bike to work. Cyclists will gather at the Monumento al Gaucho at 6 pm.

Thursday, September 23rd: Autumn Equionox, Chichen Itza, Mexico

The Maya mastery of astronomy and architecture becomes most apparent in Chichen Itza on the first day of autumn. On this day, thousands gather to watch the sun cast the long shadow of a serpent on the flank of the main pyramid.

Friday, September 24th: La Semana del Arte, Buenos Aires, Argentina

This is the last night of this annual festival, which highlights the best of Buenos Aires’ ever-expanding art scene. Gallery nights, museum tours and other activities are on offer all week. Check out the festival’s Spanish-language website for more info.

Saturday, September 25th: South American Music Conference, Quito, Ecuador

One of Latin America’s most important house and electronica events swings through Quito this year. The highlight of SAMC 2010 is a concert Saturday night at Cemexpo, featuring DJs from around the region and headlined by Paul Oakenfold.

Sunday, September 26th: VIVA Travel Guides Boot Camp, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

VIVA editors head to beautiful Tamarindo to give a crash course on how to be a travel writer, from September 26th-October 1st. For more information about applying, check here.

Military Coup Ousts Honduran President

Talk about a wake-up call: Early Sunday, soldiers in Honduras marched into the home of president Jose Manuel Zelaya, arresting and exiling him to Costa Rica, marking the first successful military coup in Central America in over 16 years. Congress appointed Roberto Micheletti to serve the rest of Zelaya’s term, which ends in January. The coup took action after Zelaya disregarded the Supreme Court’s ruling and Congress’ vote against holding a referendum he was pushing that would allegedly extend his rule.

For many, this signifies both a disruption in democracy and hope, as sad memories resurface of military dictatorships that once dominated Central America. In Nicaragua Zelaya met with nine leftist nations who agreed to remove their ambassadors from Honduras until Zelaya’s return, and will reject all new diplomats from the replaced government. Government leaders all over North, Central and South America are reacting to the coup, with most siding with Zelaya.

Thousands of protestors surrounding the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa were met with tear gas and shields. Armed forces set up roadblocks to the capital city and the coup has temporarily shut down all media outlets. However, most of the city experienced a typical — albeit cautious and tense — Monday, with most businesses open and operating.

James Goller from Viaventure reported to VIVA Travel Guides that tours and tourist services have remained unaffected, but will notify us of any updates.

Rachel Anderson is a staff writer/editor for VIVA Travel Guides.

Quake Rocks Costa Rica

An earthquake that measured 6.1 on the Richter Scale shook parts of Costa Rica last week, including the capital city of San Jose. Hardest hit were some mountain villages near Poas Volcano, and at least 18 were killed, mostly by mudslides. Some tourists were cut off when a road was destroyed. San Jose suffered minor damage but no major injuries or destruction was reported. For now, the quake probably shouldn’t inconvenience visitors very much, but check the news because earthquakes occasionally come in groups.

V!VA Travel Writing Boot Camp Costa Rica a Success

On August 25th to 29th, V!VA Travel Guides hosted a Travel Writing Boot Camp in San José, Costa Rica. Instructor Paula Newton reports that the writers who took part learned a great deal, enjoyed Costa Rica and all graduated. Monica Tobin, Dallas Boyd, Juliette Acker, Ruth Bell, Chantelle du Plessi and Maria Lundgren will all join V!VA as roving freelance contributors. Look for their work coming soon to the best travel website in Latin America! Congratulations!