Quito to Antigua Trip Notes

Quito to Antigua

Last Modified: 15 Nov 2013
Quito to Antigua
Trip code: GDBAC
Validity: 01 Jan 2013 to 31 Dec 2013
As far as ultimate American adventures go, this trip from Quito to Antigua ticks all the boxes. Starting in Quito, Ecuador, the tour ventures up through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and finally ends in Antigua, Guatemala. Loaded with culture, history, architecture and bountiful nature, this incredible American adventure will leave you breathless. This exciting itinerary may be full of trekking up volcanoes, exploring vibrant cities, kayaking down emerald rivers, snorkelling over reefs and taking part in all manor of outdoor and cultural activities, but there is also a great balance of down time too, with beaches, forests and unspoilt nature to be enjoyed and relaxed in. So if you’re after a life-affirming, awe-inspiring and never-to-be-forgotten adventure, then this epic trip is it.
Warning - this is a new trip for us!
While we have thoroughly researched this area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is a relatively new trip for us. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but the warning is sincere. If it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year until we get any bugs ironed out.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesEmergency funds
ThemesGroup sizeVisas
ItineraryYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersWhat to take
Culture shock rating AccommodationHealth
Physical ratingMeals introductionSafety
Physical preparationMealsTravel insurance
Included activitiesTransportResponsible Travel
KittyGroup leaderA couple of rules
Optional activitiesJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsResponsible Travel projects
Spending moneyArrival complicationsFeedback
TippingFinish point
Departure taxEmergency contact
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Overland
Itinerary
Day 1 Quito
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador.
The trip begins with a group meeting at 6pm.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Sitting at an altitude of 2,850 m under the gaze of Volcan Pichincha, Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America. Long and incredibly thin, the city stretches along a central valley formed by the east and west ranges of the Andes. Although compact, Quito's Old Town is full of historic buildings - there are more than 30 churches to explore, not to mention the fascinating museums.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
Optional Activities
  • El Teleferico cable car - USD4
  • Museo de la Ciudad - USD2
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Otavalo
In the morning we will drive 140 km to the Indian market town of Otavalo where we stay in a friendly hotel. En route we will stop at the Equator for the must-have photos.
Nestled in beautiful surroundings a short distance north of Quito, Otavalo is a small town famous for its market - one of the most important indigenous markets in Ecuador. Villagers from the surrounding countryside descend on the town once a week to sell everything from handmade goods to livestock, fruit and vegetables. Many of the local indigenous communities in this area still wear their traditional clothing made from intricately woven and decorated fabrics, and the men tend to wear their hair in long ponytails.
Included Activities
  • Mitad del Mundo
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Ipiales
Today we cross the border into Colombia to the town of Ipiales where we stay in a local hotel.
Ipiales is the border town on the Colombian side of the Colombia/Ecuador frontier. The town has some pleasant plazas and the sight of locals using a horse and cart gives it a quaint, countryside feel.
The star attraction of Ipiales, 7 km outside of town, is the famous Santuario de Las Lajas, the site of many a miracle and apparition over the years. Set amid breathtaking scenery, El Santuario is a spectacular gothic style church straddling a dramatic gorge with rushing river below. It is one of the most impressive churches on the continent and its fantastic setting and quirky museum make it a highlight of any visit to Colombia.
Included Activities
  • Visit to Santuario la Lajas
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Popayan
An early morning start leads for a 315 km drive to the beautiful town of Popayan where we stay the night in dorm accommodation in a hostel.
About Popayan
Nicknamed the White City, Popayan is a beautiful colonial town of white-washed houses and grand churches encircled by rolling green hills. Although the capital of the Cauca region and the former capital of Southern Colombia, Popayan somehow retains it's relaxed small town feel. The friendly locals can often be found sipping coffee in one of the city's excellent cafes or relaxing in one of the shaded parks, catching up with friends and watching the world go by.
The cool and sunny climate of the lower Andes makes Popayan a very comfortable place to stay and as the main university town of the region, there's a young, sociable feel to the city. The leafy parks marked with elegant church towers provide a sociable and relaxed location where you could easily spend an afternoon, while an evenings entertainment could be chatting with the friendly locals in a classy cafe bar or salsa club.
Whilst staying in the town there are some lovely walks offering excellent views of the Historic Centre, several worthwhile museums and galleries and many good cafes, bars and restaurants to make the most of.
Another highlight of this area is the Silvia Indigenous Market. This beautiful Andean market town is absolutely bursting with colour and energy when the market opens on Tuesdays. Guambiano Indians from the surrounding communities make their way into Silvia to sell their produce and socialise with friends from neighbouring towns.
Next day we head out for a full day's guided tour of the stunning Parque Purace, returning late in the day to Popayan for a second night in the same hostel.
About Parque Puracé
Only an hour and a half from Popayan, the spectacular Puracé National Park allows travellers a real opportunity to get off the beaten track and enjoy one of the most beautiful and remote parts of the region.
Covering a massive 214,000 acres, most of which lies over 3000 m above sea level, the park is home to a wide range of plants and animals as well as several indigenous, Guambiano and Paez communities.
The Volcán Puracé from which the park takes its name is a popular climb to the 4760 metre peak but there are also many waterfalls, lakes, trails and multi-coloured sulphur pools to visit around the base. This is also one of the only places in Colombia where it's possible to see the Andean condor in t
Days 5-6 Cali
A short 140 km drive brings us to Cali, Colombia’s most lively city. In the evening you may have the chance to head out for a tour of the city in a traditional chiva bus and there is the chance for optional salsa classes and plenty to keep you entertained during the daytime too. We stay in Cali for 2 nights in a lovely hostel.
Cali is a big and bustling city with a warm climate and pleasant atmosphere, which has made its reputation in traveller circles thanks to its nightlife and social scene. The salsa capital of Colombia provides great opportunities to test out those dance moves in its many fashionable bars and restaurants.
For party seekers and those who enjoy the faster paced city life, Cali shouldn't disappoint. Avenida Sexta, is Cali's party street. With rows of bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes, this is where to head for a night on the town. For others, after a slower pace, the old neighbourhood of San Antonio is a lovely spot with arty, Bohemian cafes, shops and restaurants lining picturesque Colonial streets. Alternatively why not head to Las Tres Cruces which is a great point from which to catch the best views over Cali. It’s quite a hike up there but it's a peaceful spot and a nice break from the rush of the city.
Optional Activities
  • Evening chiva bus tour - USD10
  • Museo Arqueológico la Merced - USD2
  • Salsa lesson - USD20
  • Museo del Oro - USD1
  • Cali zoo - USD5
  • Cali Water Park - USD5
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts)
Days 7-9 Manizales
We head out early to overland 270 km to Manizales where we stay for 3 nights on a coffee plantation, camping in the grounds of a traditional finca. During the next 2 days we will enjoy a night of music and dancing, a city tour of Manizales and a coffee plantation tour.
Manizales is a relaxed and friendly city right in the heart of Colombia's coffee region with a comfortable climate and plenty to see and do. Although still opening up to international tourism, Manizales has a lot to offer in the way of outdoor activities and ecological attractions.
Venturing a little further, you will find coffee haciendas and plantations in the surrounding area as well as some beautiful country landscapes perfect for trekking or just taking a relaxing break in the great outdoors.
In Manizales we stay on one of these working coffee plantations covering approximately 480 acres which provides people from around the world a taste of the finest Manizales fair trade coffee. The plantation employs around 100 people all throughout the year and about 400 people during the peak picking season.
Included Activities
  • Coffee Plantation Tour, Manizales
  • City tour
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 10-12 Guatapé
We head north some 200 km to the small town of Guatapé which is beautifully located aside a lake in rolling countryside. The town is famous for the towering El Peñón de Guatapé which will will visit before enjoying 3 days of camping by the lake and various activities in the local area.
Guatapé is a picturesque town surrounded by the Embalse del Penon, an artificial lake built in the early 1960s and wonderful countryside yet with a colourful and historic centre. On weekends, the waterfront malecón (boardwalk) fills up with local
vendors selling beautiful Paisa art, food, and souvenirs. The area is great for activities but one of the main reasons to visit is to see El Peñón de Guatapé, a 650 foot tall granite monolith that divides the countryside and offers amazing views from the top. El Peñón is very similar to Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro and has 644 steps which you need to climb to get to the top, but it is well worth it.
Included Activities
  • El Penon de Guatape
Optional Activities
  • Horse riding - USD6
  • Mountain bike hire - USD3
  • Kayak hire - USD6
  • Trek to waterfalls - USD6
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 13-14 Medellin
A short drive of a couple of hours takes us to Colombia’s second city, Medellin, where stay in dorm accommodation for 2 nights in a centrally located hostel within the Zona Rosa allowing you to enjoy the vibrant nightlife.
The rapid transformation that has taken place in Colombia's second largest city is one like no other. Having spent the 1980s and 90s with an international reputation as one of the world's most dangerous cities thanks to Pablo Escobar's infamous drug cartel, Medellin has turned itself around to become one of the most exciting cities in South America. And with some of the country's finest museums, parks and architecture as well as a much safer and comfortable atmosphere, it's easy to see why more and more travellers have flocked to the city in the past few years.
A great side trip from Medellin is Santa Fe de Antioquia. Set in a lush low lying hot and sultry valley on the banks of the Rio Cauca, Santa Fe de Antioquia is the oldest settlement in the region. Founded in 1541 it served as the capital of the department until 1826 when the state capital moved to Medellin. The town has kept much of its Colonial charm, the narrow streets and whitewashed colonial style buildings many of which with large central courtyard in which to relax away from the midday heat. The central plaza is dominated by the principal church of the town. The plaza is also home to a daily market where vendors sell various varieties of Tamarind product that grow locally, take a tour of the stalls and try a few samples of this local delicacy. There are several other churches and important colonial buildings to visit but the greatest pleasure is simply exploring the narrow streets infused with history of the region.
Optional Activities
  • Catedral Metropolitana - USD1
  • Day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia - USD1
  • Medellin Botanical Gardens - USD1
  • Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe - USD1
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts)
Days 15-16 Covenas/San Bernardo Islands
A 525 km drive takes us to Covenas on the Morrosquillo gulf where we camp in the grounds of a local hotel near the beach for 2 nights. On the second day we will take a boat over to the spectacular San Bernardo islands for a tour of this beautiful archipelago.
The islands of San Bernardo are made up of ten small islands with fine beaches and are the real travel highlight of this area. Sitting within the Golfo de Morrosquillo in the Caribbean sea the archipelago belongs to the National Natural Park Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo and consists of the islands of Boqueron, Cabruna, Ceycén, islote of Santa Cruz, Mangle, Maravillar, Múcura, Palma, Pandora and Tintipán. The Islet of Santa Cruz which is an artificial island is supposedly the most densely populated piece of land in the world with just over a thousand people in less than a hectare of land! Not all of the islands are accessible but contain stunning beaches, marshes, mangroves and diverse wildlife ranging from flamingos and monkeys to birds and crabs of all colours.
Included Activities
  • Guided tour to San Bernardo islands
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 17-19 Cartagena
Today we head 240 km to Cartagena. We stay in a comfortable hotel in central Cartagena and enjoy a walking tour of the city. The next day is free to enjoy the many optional activities on offer.
Cartagena is one of the most historic cities in South America. It is legendary both for its history and beauty and tends to be a favourite of all travellers who visit it. Having been the centre of many battles, the city is heavily fortified and huge defensive walls surround its narrow cobbled streets and colonial buildings. The city is made up of various districts, the new town with its high rise hotels, apartments and nightspots; and the older colonial parts of the city. The old city is the main attraction particularly the inner walled town, packed with churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. Wandering through the streets you get a real feel of the sense of history of this amazing city.
On our last day here your leader will assist you get to the airport for your included flight to Panama City. Depending on flight schedules and availability, you will either spend this night in a hotel in Cartagena or in Panama City.
Included Activities
  • Guided tour of Cartagena
Optional Activities
  • San Felipe de Barajas Castle - COP20000
  • Volcan de Lodo Totumo, Cartagena - COP45000 - COP45000
  • Snorkelling to Islas del Rosario - USD10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 20 Panama City
Depending on flight arrival times, today is free to explore Panama City before a group meeting at 6pm.
Perhaps take a chance to look around Casco Viejo or Panama Vieja.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary, meet your new fellow travellers, and collect the next part of your kitty.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 21 Santa Clara
This morning we set off to visit the Miraflores docks to see the Panama Canal in full operation. After a tour of the visitors centre we have a short three-hour drive out of the capital to the beach at Santa Clara. Take the chance to relax and dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean before camping by the beach.
Included Activities
  • Visit to the Panama Canal
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 22-23 Chiriqui
We travel 340 km today to the Chiriqui highlands where we stay in a small pension for two nights.
Chiriqui claims to be Panama's wonderland, and it is little surprise. The province boats an amazing variety of scenery from pristine beaches on the Golfo de Chiriqui to lush tropical forests where you'll find exotic flora and fauna. The area is also Panama's main coffee growing area as well as being home to the Parque Internacional La Amistad with its great hiking and whitewater rafting.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 24-25 Manuel Antonio National Park
Leaving Panama and crossing into Costa Rica, today we head towards Quepos on the Pacific coast, where the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is located. We spend two nights in cabins in the park, enjoying jungle walks and various optional activities.
Manuel Antonio NP stands a few kilometres south of Quepos on the shores of the Pacific. During our time in the region, we’ll enjoy a three-hour guided walk along the trails within the park and have plenty of time to relax on one of the idyllic palm-lined bays, with the ocean crashing in on the beach and white-faced capuchin monkeys peering out from the trees.
Optional Activities
  • Horse Riding - USD30
  • Manuel Antonio - Surf/boogie board rental - USD10
Accommodation
Cabin (2 nts)
Day 26 San Jose
Today we head to Costa Rica's capital city, San Jose, some 140 km away. We stay in a centrally located hotel and the rest of the day and the night are free to explore the city.
With over half the country's population living within its parameters, San Jose is a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere.
Optional Activities
  • National Institute of Biodiversity - Free
  • Museo Nacional de Costa Rica - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 27-28 Monteverde
We continue through Costa Rica to the dense rainforest of Monteverde where we stay in a hotel for a couple of nights. This stunning area offers an incredible diversity of flora and fauna which hopefully you will be lucky enough to see during our included visit to the Cloud Forest Reserve.
Monteverde was founded as an agricultural community in 1951 by a group of North American Quakers; they cleared virgin forest to create verdant pastures ideal for dairy farming. These environmentally aware settlers were conscious of the danger that unrestricted settling and farming could cause to this precious habitat. Consequently they established a small privately-owned wildlife sanctuary, which has since grown to become the internationally-renowned Monteverde Cloudforest Biological Preserve. These forests are similar to rainforests, but instead of relying on rain for essential moisture, adequate water comes from the semi-permanent cloud that covers the region. It is lush and full of wildlife. This is truly a nature lover's paradise. More than 2,000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call Montverde home. Be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most elusive birds in the world.
Optional Activities
  • Mountain Biking - USD25
  • Zip lining - USD25
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 29-30 La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano National Park
Today we have a short drive to La Fortuna near the shores of Laguna de Arenal, where we camp by the lake for fantastic vistas of the Arenal volcano and its lava flow glowing in the night. We have a couple of nights here, allowing you time for optional activities around the lake.
La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes away from Costa Rica's most famous volcano - the majestic Arenal. 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.
The volcano’s inner workings also mean that the area has a number of thermal springs where hot, lava-heated water gushes to the surface. These springs have been turned into a number of thermal pools and waterfalls, often surrounded by foliage, an ideal chance to relax.
Optional Activities
  • Baldi Hot Springs - USD45
  • Rafting (full day) - USD75
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 31-32 Ometepe Island
This morning we cross into Nicaragua where will hop aboard a boat on Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest lake, to Isla Ometepe. On the island we will stay in a small hotel for two nights, giving you the chance to explore all the island has to offer
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.
Optional Activities
  • Madera Volcano climb - USD25
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 33 Granada
After crossing back to the mainland this morning, a short drive brings us to Granada, Nicaragua's oldest city, where we spend the night in a hotel.
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.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 34 Masaya National Park
Another short drive north takes us to Masaya National Park. We will visit the national park and the active volcano that lies in the middle of the park, viewing the crater and lava flows. We will spend the night camping in the park.
At the Masaya National Park, the twin volcano craters of Masaya and Santiago are an incredible sight. At the bottom of a vast crater, a glowing red fire, like a furnace, fills the air with pungent sulphurous fumes and rocks and volcanic ashes still cover the area surrounding the volcanoes. The park is inhabited by many different kinds of animals including coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, deer, iguanas, and monkey. The park makes a wonderful place for trekking.
Optional Activities
  • Visit to the market - USD5
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 35 Leon
A drive of approximately 130 km takes us to the university town of Leon. We stay the night in a centrally located hotel.
The town of Leon is lined with derelict buildings and the walls are adorned with political murals and graffiti. Head to the market to find some of the friendliest people in the country.
Optional Activities
  • Turtle watching, Playa La Flor - USD30
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 36 Lake Yojoa
We start early today and have a long drive of 400 km as we cross the border into Honduras. We will camp for the night at Lake Yojoa, halfway between San Pedro de Sula and Tegucigalpa.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 37-39 Roatan Island
An early start today before a drive of just over 230 km brings us to the Caribbean port town of La Ceiba from where we board a ferry to the stunning Bay Islands, and to Roatan. Here we stay for three nights in a lovely posada near many of the bars and restaurants the island has to offer.
Roatan Island is one of the famous Bay Islands; an archipelago of coral islands set in the Caribbean known for its laid back atmosphere. The scuba diving around the reefs is said to be some of the best in the world. During your stay on Roatan Island you can snorkel, go sea kayaking, hire jeeps or even get your PADI license.
Optional Activities
  • Sea kayaking - USD45
  • Diving or snorkelling trip - USD50
  • Bicycle hire - USD20
Accommodation
Guesthouse (3 nts)
Days 40-41 Copan
Returning to the mainland today we head 300 km to the spectacular ruins of Copan where we camp for two nights in the grounds of a hotel.
The ancient ruins of Copan are the southernmost of the great Mayan sites for which Central America is famed. This particular site was listed as a World Heritage site in 1980 and is unique because of the 21 stelae or columns that have been found there. These are heavily carved with reliefs depicting the passage of time and the lives of the royal families. There are also a number of small pyramid-shaped temples and excavated vaults. Walk through the grassy plazas under the gaze of huge carved faces, staring out from ancient walls. As you walk past monuments, statues and staircases it's hard not to wonder at the mysterious disappearance of such a creative civilisation.
Included Activities
  • Guided tour of ruins
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 42 Suchitoto
Today we cross the border and enter El Salvador. Once border formalities are dealt with we continue to the town of Suchitoto with its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses. We spend the night in a local hotel.
Suchitoto is a reminder of El Salvador's past. A beautiful colonial town with painted houses and cobbled streets, it is a world away from modern El Salvador. The town overlooks the Embalse Cerron Grande, also known as Lago Suchitlan, which is a haven for migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 43 Cerro Verde National Park
A short drive today takes us to Cerro Verde National Park which offers amazing views of the surrounding countryside and volcanoes. We camp in the park at a site with basic facilities.
The highlight of Cerro Verde National Park is the Cerro Verde, an extinct volcano which last erupted around 2500 years ago. On the top of its crater there is one of the few cloud forests in the country, located at 2030 metres above sea level. The Cerro Verde, along with the volcanoes of Santa Ana and Izalco form one of the most impressive landscapes in El Salvador. These 2 other volcanoes can be viewed from lookout points inside Cerro Verde National Park. The park also offers some wonderful treks enabling fantastic views of northern El Salvador.
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Days 44-45 El Imposible National Park
This morning we drive 170 km to El Impossible National Park. Here we camp for a couple of nights and explore this incredibly diverse park.
As the name suggests, El Imposible is a remote area. The national reserve was set up to protect the flora and fauna of the rocky slopes and forests of the Cordillera de Apaneca. The area was named for the perilous gorge which used to claim the lives of farmers and pack mules transporting coffee to the Pacific port. Today the park makes a great place for a trek and maybe the chance to see pumas, tigrillos, wild boars, king hawks, and black-crested eagles. Hiking can get muddy and steep but offers great views of misty peaks and the gleaming Pacific Ocean.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 46-47 Antigua
This morning we drive 300 km and cross the Guatemalan border on our way to Antigua. We spend the night in a lovely colonial hotel.
The old colonial capital of Guatemala, Antigua remains the cultural centre of the country. Its cobbled streets, Mayan and local markets, colonial buildings, and indigenous marimba music emanating from the many bars and restaurants create a fantastic atmosphere.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
From Antigua it is usually possible to arrange an excursion to the Pacaya Volcano. This can be an exhilarating experience as it is often active.
Optional Activities
  • Volcanoes climb - USD16
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
      Itinerary disclaimer
      We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
      Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
      Culture shock rating

      The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
      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.
      Physical preparation
      In these parts of the world you'll need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate; from hot deserts through to the cold of high mountain areas.
      Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You'll need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up, and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step-up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high, can become tiring. You need to judge if you are physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day.
      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.
      Please note that some of our included activities are contingent on weather conditions. We'll arrange an alternative if an included activity is deemed unsafe.
      Kitty
      On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and some included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases. Please check our website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.
      Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.
      You may pay your kitty in a mixture of US Dollars cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
      If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.
      Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
      KITTY CHANGES:
      We constantly monitor local price changes and exchange rate fluctuations that could affect kitty expenses. Final kitty contributions are likely to be different from those quoted in the brochure or at the time of booking so you must check the final amount just before departure.
      As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
      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 for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
      Money Exchange
      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 are happy with the services providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is 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. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
      The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
      Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
      At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.
      Local guides/Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides/porters.
      Your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 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
      Please note that you are responsible for your own visas and taxes. Please have these amounts available prior to departing the various countries.
      Please allow US$30 for international departure tax from Guatemala. This may be included in your international flight ticket. If departing by land, please allow US$3 for departure tax.
      Important notes
      LOCAL PARTNER:
      Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
      MINIMUM AGE:
      The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
      PASSPORT DETAILS
      Please provide passport details at the time of booking. If we have not received these details at least a month before the departure date of your tour, there is a risk the internal flight cannot be booked.
      HURRICANE SEASON:
      Please note hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors situations as they arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
      Group size
      Maximum of 22 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
      Camping (with facilities) (17 nts), Hotel (14 nts), Guesthouse (5 nts), Hostel (4 nts), Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nts), Cabin (2 nts)
      The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hotels.
      Where it's not practical to camp (ie: in towns and cities), we use hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of hotel stops depends on the route and area.
      Campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild-camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. We will also arrange as many village or local homestays as possible, allowing us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
      Meals introduction
      When travelling on an Overland trip you have chosen a participation camping tour. This means that you will be helping your leader prepare meals for the group. You may also get the chance to help with the shopping!
      Your leader will come up with meal ideas and quantities needed for large groups. Participating in the camp is usually done on a duty roster system with group of 5 or 6 people (depending on group size) having a different camp job each day. If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting.
      Meals
      All meals when camping
      Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
      USD 500.00
      Transport
      Overland vehicle, Boat
      There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Windy roads, rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort.
      Group leader
      On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.
      While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.
      We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders
      On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
      Joining point
      Alston Inn Hotel
      Juan Leon Mera N23-41 y Veintimilla
      Quito
      ECUADOR
      Joining point instructions
      Quito's airport is 18 km east of the city. The quickest and most reliable way from the airport to the hotel is by taxi. As you exit the airport terminal there is a pick up area directly in front of you, but don't worry the drivers will have found you as soon as you open the terminal door! New fixed rates have been established, and a taxi to our hotel should cost approximately US$22.
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
      No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
      Finish point
      Hotel Posada La Merced
      7a Ave. Norte No 43 ""A""
      Antigua
      GUATEMALA
      Emergency contact
      Dragoman 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1728 862 222 This is an answer-phone. If calling outside UK office hours for non urgent questions, please leave a message. There is a number provided to call for a 24 hour manned mobile, in case of genuine emergency. For further emergency contact details go to:
      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.
      ECUADOR TOURIST VISA
      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
      United States: Not required
      COLOMBIA:
      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
      United States: 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.
      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
      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.
      HONDURAS:
      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
      EL SALVADOR:
      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
      Whilst for most nationalities a visa is not required, you may be required to purchase a tourist card on arrival, costing approximately US$10. If you do require a visa, please obtain this in advance from your local embassy or consulate.
      GUATEMALA:
      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
      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), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
      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.
      LOCKER SPACE:
      The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. You will need to bring your own lock for your locker. We recommend a 20-30mm sized padlock with a long shackle.The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg. Backpacks shouldn't have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.
      CAMPING EQUIPMENT / MATTRESS:
      A sleeping bag (we recommend a 3–4 season). It can get very cold at night in winter months in desert and mountainous regions. If you're travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter the weather. Pillows are NOT provided so please bring a travel pillow along.
      We don't provide a mattress so please bring your own (a Thermarest / inflatable mattress is recommended).
      A simple plastic bag / waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures.
      CLOTHING:
      You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing, some warm items for the evenings, and long shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes in the malaria areas. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Some people like to take jeans for evenings out but they can be tough to dry and should not be used for trekking. Avoid nylon and other synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Ex-military or military style clothing and equipment is NOT recommended.
      CLOSED-IN SHOES:
      As this trip includes camping and/or bush walking we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment.
      BATTERIES/POWER:
      Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt “cigarette lighter” socket which may be used at the crew’s discretion, however, do bear in mind that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets. We suggest you bring a mix of normal and rechargeable batteries and the appropriate recharging unit. Hotels and many campsites have electricity and charging of batteries is advised before checking out the following day.
      VALUABLES:
      Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe and the safe on the overland truck to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.
      We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
      WATER BOTTLE:
      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
      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.
      ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
      Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
      Before your trip.
      Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor
      We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
      During your trip.
      While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
      Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
      http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
      YELLOW FEVER:
      A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
      It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
      DENGUE FEVER:
      Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
      WHO REPORTS:
      The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.
      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:
      TRAVEL ADVISORY:
      Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:
      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.
      The vehicle has fully lockable doors and windows, which is an obvious advantage, but it will probably be necessary to guard it at times and everyone should be prepared to share in this responsibility.
      In most areas there is very little to fear from the point of view of violence. But in all areas 'tourists' are a tempting target for pickpockets and con-men. Always be aware of this and be especially careful when leaving banks or money-changers, in any crowded areas, etc. NEVER leave things lying around - they will almost certainly get stolen. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to always be security conscious and to take all necessary precautions. Great inconvenience and distress can be caused by having your documents or possessions stolen.
      A few of our past group members have had the unhappy experience of having their belongings stolen before the trip starts. Beware of carrying your passport and other valuables around with you in cities. We strongly suggest you deposit your valuables in your hotel safe on arrival.
      FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
      UNFENCED CAMP SITES:
      On some trips you will at times stay in unfenced camp sites within national parks. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules to follow. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your tour leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.
      BALCONIES:
      Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
      HORSE RIDING:
      Horse riding is an option available to groups on this trip. Please note however that horse riding is usually not covered by your travel insurance and helmets are not always available. If riding without a helmet is a concern then you should bring our own.
      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:
      Responsible Travel projects
      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Ecuador include:
      * The Charles Darwin Foundation protects species in the Galapagos that are on the borderline of extinction. Focusing on the island of Floreana, they hope to re-introduce several locally extinct and critically endangered keystone species that are integral to the ongoing balance and sustainability of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
      Feedback
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! 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.
      Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.