Cycle Nicaragua Costa Rica and Panama Trip Notes

Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama on a Central American cycling tour. Travel to Latin America and visit La Fortuna's Arenal Volcano, go sightseeing in Granada and relax in Bocas del Toro.

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    • QZXU
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    • Cycling
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There is an earlier version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2012 to Dec 31, 2014. View earlier Cycle Nicaragua Costa Rica and Panama .
There is a later version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2015 to Dec 31, 2016. View later Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama.
Print Version
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2014
Cycle Nicaragua Costa Rica and Panama
Trip code: QZXU
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Central America's narrow isthmus lends itself perfectly to exploration on two wheels. Starting in the graceful colonial city of Granada and ending in bustling Panama City, our route takes us into Costa Rica's steamy cloud forests, alongside several active volcanoes and to the tropical island paradise of Bocas del Toro. We visit the island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua, search for the Howler Monkeys as we take a boat trip on the Tenorio River and take some time out for snorkelling on Panama's reefs. A ride along the impressive Panama Canal is included at the end of the trip - a great climax to an unusual and interesting itinerary.
The operator for this trip is our experienced sister company Exodus. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxAlternate Finish point
ThemesImportant notesEmergency contact
MapGroup sizeEmergency funds
ItineraryYour fellow travellersVisas
Also available to purchaseSingle travellersIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationWhat to take
Culture shock rating MealsHealth
Physical ratingTransportSafety
Included activitiesGroup leaderTravel insurance
Optional activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel
Money ExchangeAlternate Joining point A couple of rules
Spending moneyArrival complicationsThe Intrepid Foundation
TippingFinish point Feedback
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Cycling
Map
Cycle Nicaragua Costa Rica and Panama
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Granada
Your trip normally begins at the hotel in the afternoon of day 1.
Oozing with colonial charm, Granada is the oldest city of the 'New World', having been founded in 1524. The city resides on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and its appearance is a mixture of Moorish and Andalusian. The surrounding countryside includes active volcanoes and lakes.
Following a short briefing in the evening, it is time to get some rest before we start cycling tomorrow.
After breakfast in the morning we have a briefing on the day's ride and make some final adjustments to the bikes before we set off to the shore of Lake Nicaragua. As we reach the lakeshore we enter into the Asese Peninsula Recreation Area, a beautiful protected area where traffic is kept to a minimum, and several species of exotic birds can be spotted. We'll stop to take a short boat trip on Lake Nicaragua.
After having lunch in a renowned fish restaurant, we head back west with stunning views of the large volcanic mass of Mombacho. After a short rest at the hotel we transfer to the market town of Masaya, famous for its handicrafts, where we have some time to look at the local products in the artisans' market. We then drive to the Masaya Volcano National Park. The road goes almost to the lip of the crater and it is possible to see bubbling lava and parakeets which make their nests in the crater despite the constant emissions of sulphuric gas. We drive back to Granada in time for a dip in the hotel pool, and there will be time in the evening for a stroll around the historic city centre.
Cycling distance: approx 22.5 km (50% paved)
Included Activities
  • Masaya Volcano National Park
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 3 Ometepe Island
After breakfast and a 30 minute drive, we stop to enjoy the beautiful view of Lake Nicaragua, Granada and the Mombacho volcano from the popular mirador at Catarina, situated just above pretty Laguna Apoyo. We then cycle through the rolling countryside which surrounds the famous 'pueblos blancos' (white towns). These are seen as the birthplace of Nicaraguan culture, as well as of General Sandino, the hero of the modern revolution. Each of the small towns is dedicated to different crafts and products, such as pottery, furniture and ornamental plants.
Following lunch in San Marcos we transfer to Jinotepe on the Pan-Am Highway, then continue to San Jorge on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. The transfer to the ferry dock takes about an hour and a half.
From San Jorge it's a relaxing 1-hour boat trip to Ometepe Island, and the views of its twin volcanoes (Concepcion and Maderas) are spectacular.
If we arrive early enough, we will have the option to ride the 8 miles to the hotel, but this is dependent on the notoriously erratic ferry schedules, and we may need to complete the journey by minibus (approx. 20 mins). If we do ride this section, then it is almost all flat, with just one short climb near the end. We spend the night close to the wildlife-filled Charco Verde Lagoon.
Beautifully located within Lake Nicaragua, Ometepe Island is formed by two volcanoes which rise from the lake. In fact 'Ometepe' literally means two volcanoes in the Nahuatl language. The island's hourglass shape is home to great beaches and a deep jungle. Wildlife abounds here and as well as monkeys and green parrots, and the lake itself is famous for the world's only species of freshwater shark. A great experience is sitting on the shore of the lake when the fishermen come back from their long day bringing in what they have caught.
Cycling distance: approx 40 km (95% paved)
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 San Juan del Sur
For those wanting an early start, there is time this morning to hike some of the trails around the lagoon to spot more wildlife or to relax on the beach and enjoy the view. We depart the hotel at about 10am to cycle to Moyogalpa, from where we get the ferry back to the mainland. We then jump back in the saddle for a ride to Rivas and then along La Chocolata Road to San Juan del Sur, a Pacific beach town. The road takes us through dry forest where we may see howler monkeys and large iguanas, and we also pass through several small villages. If you wish, the small rural schools we pass appreciate donations of pencils, pens and crayons.
San Juan del Sur is a perfect crescent shaped bay with outstanding seafood, a festive atmosphere and good lodgings. This is a popular beach for Nicaraguan families on holiday, so you'll get a chance to observe the locals at play. Join them for a cold Toña beer or Macua, a delicious rum cocktail.
Cycling distance: approx 48 km (10% paved)
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Canas
We have an early breakfast and then transfer by bus to the border with Costa Rica. After clearing immigration (which can take a while at the Nicaragua border post) we’ll have a brief lunch stop and then transfer to Bijagua for a bike ride through the valley, taking in the beautiful rainforest views and the Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes. Our aim is to arrive at the hotel in the middle of the afternoon to have some free time to enjoy the facilities and wildlife viewing opportunities in the lush grounds.
Cycling distance: approx 40 km (100% paved)
The next morning we get out of the saddle for a 2-hour float down the Tenorio River, a haven for birds and wildlife. As our raft takes us gently along the river, we can expect to see several species of monkey, iguanas, coatis, and a wide range of birds. There are also crocodiles along the lower stretch of the river, and our experienced guides will not only handle the oars but will also point out as many species as possible.
We cycle back to Canas for lunch, then drive to the hilly region surrounding Lake Arenal for our afternoon biking stage. This is quite a challenging section and although the distance is short there are several climbs and it can also be rather windy. The rewards are the spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding hills.
Cycling distance: 47 km (50% paved)
Included Activities
  • Tenorio River float
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 7-8 La Fortuna
After breakfast we set off on our bikes towards La Fortuna. This is one of the most spectacular cycling stages, starting in lush agricultural land which gradually gives way to thick rainforest as we approach the dam which forms Lake Arenal. Watch out for monkeys, toucans and the amazingly colourful neon-blue Morpho butterflies as we cycle. If it's clear the dam is a great place to take a break for a wonderful view of Arenal Volcano.
We spend the night in a hotel in the centre of La Fortuna which has observation decks for night time volcano watching (when the mountain is at its most impressive), as well as pools and pretty gardens.
La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes away from Costa Rica's most famous volcano - the majestic Arenal. The views here are spectacular as the volcano is reflected on the lake for postcard perfect photos. Besides the panoramic views the town offers a range of other activities such as the 70 metre high La Fortuna waterfall, stunning lush forest, rare plants, animal watching and watersports on the lake.
Cycling distance: approx 63 km (95% paved)
The following day we ride a circular route through the region surrounding La Fortuna, taking in a great variety of terrain and ecosystems. Starting with a fast descent to the town of El Tanque, we pass through agricultural land devoted to bananas and sugar cane before heading into a rugged hilly zone leading back towards rainforest near the small town of La Tigre. Toucans are especially common here and there are some incredible views of the jungle and Arenal Volcano. As we approach La Fortuna again, there is one final steep climb before we reach our hotel.
This evening we include a visit to the Eco-Termales Hot Springs to soothe any aching muscles, the best hot springs in the area. If the weather is clear, we can head closer to the volcano for a better view.
Cycling distance: approx 48 km (100% paved)
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 9 Cahuita
Another early start today as we head east into the rolling terrain of the San Carlos plains, riding though rich agricultural zones, sugar cane and pineapple plantations and rural villages. We are generally descending on this leg, although there are some short climbs later in the morning when the heat becomes more noticeable. Watch out for toucans as we make water crossings. Our initial destination today is Aguas Zarcas, from where we transfer approximately 2 hours to Siquirres for lunch. We continue by bus on to Limon (1 hour) where, time permitting, we start a beautiful ride along the Caribbean coast road to Cahuita.
Cahuita is a typical Caribbean town, complete with a lively reggae music culture and spicy cuisine.
Cycling distance: approx 43.5 km (100% paved) or 75 km if we are able to ride along the coast
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Bocas del Toro
Today we begin biking south at the base of the towering Talamanca Mountains. We follow the main coast road at first, before turning off to the indigenous community of Bri-Bri, home to members of the Guaymi tribe. We may see some of the traditionally dressed women in flowing embroidered dresses as we pass through this area. The ride continues through vast banana plantations to the border crossing on the banks of the Sixaola River.
After a quick lunch, we leave Costa Rica and walk across the derelict bridge which takes us to Guabito,the Panamanian port of entry on the Sixaola. The crossing can be a little challenging as the bridge is not in great condition, so caution is required. After the border formalities, we board the bus through the frontier town of Changuinola and then through steep rainforest hills which are inhabited by indigenous people. We hit the coast and board a private boat transfer to cross into the Caribbean to the wonderful Bocas del Toro Islands, our home for the next two nights.
Cycling distance: approx 53 km (100% paved)
The following day is free to explore the beautiful Bocas del Toro Islands, which are rapidly becoming a popular destination in the Caribbean. Today you will get a chance to see why: spectacular palm-shaded white sand beaches, crystal clear water, wonderful snorkelling and diving, lots of wildlife, kayaking and even great surfing are all available. It's also possible to take boat trips to the other islands, or go on dolphin watching tours. All of these optional activities can be arranged through the hotel or nearby tour agencies whom we have long-established relationships with. For those who want to ride today, biking is available on the island and the 20-mile round trip to Bocas del Drago on the island's western tip is recommended. Bikes can be hired locally, as our bikes will stay on the mainland at Almirante.
Optional Activities
  • Dolphin watching and snorkelling boat trip - USD25
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 12 Santiago
After taking a private boat back to the mainland we drive for about two hours up into the mountains that separate Panama's two coastlines. The change in temperature, humidity and eco-systems is significant as we gain altitude. At the top of the pass we find beautiful Lago Fortuna, set in a rainforest-clad tropical valley. We then have a fast downhill ride with great mountain views and several river crossings to Gualaca and the Pan-Am Highway beyond. At the junction we stop for lunch and then board the minibus for the drive to the colonial town of Santiago. It is quite common to see indigenous women in traditional dress on this section of road, especially near the town of Tole.
Cycling distance: 40 km (100% paved)
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 13-15 Panama City
An early start today as we avoid the heat and traffic on our ride through the Panamanian countryside. We have a short drive to the start point at the small town of San Francisco. Some of the morning's ride takes us along remote back roads past large sugar plantations and through dry tropical forest. We finish biking close to the town of Jaguito, where we have lunch, then board the bus for the drive to Panama City (approx. 2 hours). We cross the famous canal where we're very likely to see huge ships as they make the journey between the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Our hotel is located in the suburb of Albrook, where many opulent residences are testament to the days when US military officers and Canal Authority officials lived in the city.
Cycling distance: approx 54 km (100% paved)
The following day, our last day of cycling, is a memorable one as we bike along the Panama Canal. Access is currently suspended at the Caribbean coast so we can't presently cycle the entire length, but we are monitoring this and hope to be able to in the future. We start from our hotel, close to the Pacific end of the Panama Canal and transfer with the bus (15 minutes) to the Miraflores Locks to view the process of raising and lowering the traffic. Entrance to the Visitor Centre is included. Departing Miraflores, we bike through Soberana National Park which spans nearly the entire width of the country along the east side of the canal. We have a great lunch stop with views of the passing ship traffic from the peace of Gamboa Rainforest Resort. After lunch we return to our hotel, leaving us some free time, perhaps to explore Casco Vieja, the historic old town of Panama City. This evening we'll have our last meal in a great restaurant situated in the vibrant Calle Uruguay district.
Cycling distance: approx 16 km (100% paved)
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • QZXU Local Bike Hire - Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama - Exodus (QZXU)
  • QZXU Single Supplement (QZXU)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
    Routes follow mainly quiet back roads and can be potholed. This tour covers some remote parts of the island. Though many of the roads are in good condition you should expect potholes and poor road conditions on some sections. The roads are generally free of heavy traffic, except in the towns. The route is 80% on tarmac, and 20% on dirt roads. We cycle an average of about 45 km (28 miles) per day, over 12 days of cycling.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency of Nicaragua is the Gold Cordoba (NIO).
    The official currency of Costa Rica is the Colon (CRC).
    The official currencies of Panama are the Panamanian Balboa (PAB) and the US dollar (USD).
    With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
    Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to US$100 per day.
    It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
    VERY IMPORTANT:
    US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
    Restaurants: Tipping is not expected in local markets and basic restaurants. However if you wish to tip, round your bill up to the nearest 5%. In more up-market restaurants we suggest up to 10%-12% of your bill. Some restaurants already include tipping on the final amount, which should be shown on the bill as: propina, servicio or cubiertos.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2 per person per day for local guides.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per day is generally appropriate.
    Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$1-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    Departure tax
    Departure tax of US$45 from Panama is usually included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    LOCAL PARTNER:
    This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Exodus.
    AGE RESTRICTIONS:
    The minimum age of clients on this trip is 16 years. Please note that teenagers aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
    HURRICANE SEASON:
    Please note that Hurricane season in this region is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
    COSTA RICA TOURISM INDUSTRY:
    Costa Rica has done a great job of looking after its natural wonders yet maximising their potential as tourist attractions. As a result, you should expect to pay for nearly every optional activity available. This allows everyone to individually have the choice of deciding on which activities they particularly want to participate in - from white water rafting to hiking. This also means high standards of service, well maintained gear, clear paths and signalling and well trained local guides that allow you to make the most of every activity.
    Group size
    Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (14 nts)
    We use a variety of good quality, comfortable colonial-style and modern hotels, all with en suite facilities.
    Meals
    14 Breakfasts
    There are some simple breakfasts included on this trip which are comprised simply of bread, butter, jam, coffee / tea and juice (or similar).
    Transport
    Bicycle, Support vehicle, Ferry
    The support vehicle will carry all your luggage and personal belongings. The vehicle will follow the riders all of the time, allowing you to cycle as much or as little as you like (although not everyone may be able to travel in the support vehicle at once).
    Mountain bikes are ideal for this trip and flat bars are preferable, but a good strong tourer will suffice (though make sure you have suitably low gearing). If you wish to hire a bike, we use Haro Escape or Cannondale bikes with front suspension. Bike hire should be arranged at time of booking. Very occasionally a bike of your size may not be available. We may be able to offer you a bike of a different but acceptable size, or otherwise you must bring your own bike.
    Please note that transit police in Nicaragua now request ownership documents for all bikes on this trip. If you are bringing your own bike, you should take a receipt or guarantee document for your bicycle with you to prove that you are the owner. If you cannot provide this, then a repair or service invoice from your bike shop should be sufficient to establish ownership. If the group is stopped by the police and this documentation cannot be provided, you may be liable for an on-the-spot fine.
    Group leader
    There will be a local leader and drivers and local guides where needed. An experienced English-speaking cycle guide and local driver will accompany all groups.
    If the group is full, it will be accompanied by a leader, driver and two additional guides/bike mechanics.
    Joining point
    Patio del Malinche
    Calle El Caimito de Alcaldia 2 1/2 cuadras al lago
    Granada
    NICARAGUA
    Phone: +505 25522235
    Alternate Joining point
    For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
    15 Nov 2014 (QZXU141115)
    Hotel Casa Vivaldi
    Calle El Caimito
    Granada
    NICARAGUA
    Phone: +505 2552 7567
    Alternate Joining point
    For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
    01 Nov 2014 (QZXU1411013)
    Hotel Plaza Colon
    Front of Central Park
    Granada
    NICARAGUA
    Alternate Joining point
    For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
    06 Dec 2014 (QZXU141206)
    Hotel La Pergola
    Calle el Caimito, de la Alcaldia Municipal 3 Cuadra al Lago
    Granada
    NICARAGUA
    Phone: +505 2552 4221
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
    Finish point
    Albrook Inn
    Calle Las Magnolias No.14
    Panama City
    PANAMA
    Alternate Finish point
    For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
    01 Nov 2014 (QZXU1411013)
    Hotel Country Inn & Suites Amador
    Amador Ave. &, Pelicano Ave
    Panama City
    PANAMA
    Emergency contact
    In the case of genuine crisis or emergency please call our partner EXODUS on their 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1582 644 100.
    For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    NICARAGUA:
    Australia: Not required
    Belgium: Not required
    Canada: Not required
    Germany: Not required
    Ireland: Not required
    Netherlands: Not required
    New Zealand: Not required
    South Africa: Not required
    Switzerland: Not required
    United Kingdom: Not required
    USA: Not required
    Please note that although a visa is not required, holders of British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and most EU passports are now required to pay US$10 for a tourist card on arrival.
    COSTA RICA:
    Australia: Not required
    Belgium: Not required
    Canada: Not required
    Germany: Not required
    Ireland: Not required
    Netherlands: Not required
    New Zealand: Not required
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Not required
    United Kingdom: Not required
    USA: Not required
    PANAMA:
    Australia: Yes - on arrival
    Belgium: Not required
    Canada: Yes - on arrival
    Germany: Not required
    Ireland: Not required
    Netherlands: Not required
    New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Not required
    United Kingdom: Not required
    USA: Yes - on arrival
    The cost of a tourist card on arrival varies by nationality.
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes).
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    TRAVEL DOCUMENTS:
    On this trip we cross several borders. In order to ensure a smooth passage it is essential that you have proof of your onward travel arrangements - please take a printed copy of your flight itinerary, along with 3 copies of your passport.
    BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE:
    Plenty of people choose to bring their own bikes on our cycle trips. If you wish to bring your own bike, please note that we cannot guarantee against small scratches and paintwork damage involved in the loading and unloading from support vehicles.
    HELMETS:
    Please note that helmets must be worn when riding on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
    EXTRA BIKE BITS:
    You may like to bring your own saddle (excluding the seat post), or over gel cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it's your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle at the end of the trip. We can't guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.
    PERSONAL EQUIPMENT::
    A helmet, eye-protection (sunglasses), cycling gloves and water bottles or hydration system (e.g. camelbak). Please note that helmets must be worn when riding off-road on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
    RECOMMENDED CYCLING CLOTHING::
    Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof / windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting day pack.
    FIRST AID KIT:
    You should bring a small, personal first aid kit with you including items such as high factor sunscreen, lip balm and chamois cream if required.
    COSTA RICA SAFETY REQUIREMENTS:
    In Costa Rica it is compulsory for all cyclists to wear helmets and, after 6pm, reflective high-visibility vests must be worn. Vests will be provided by our local partners, so you do not need to take these on the trip, but you must take your own helmet and ensure that you wear it at all times when on the roads in Costa Rica. The tour leader will not start a day's ride unless all clients comply with this legislation.
    Health
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    Safety
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
    When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Feedback
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We realise that our partner company may ask you to complete paper or online feedback following your trip, however we would also like to know what you thought and encourage you to submit your feedback to us too. We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
    Once you’ve left your feedback with us you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.