Panama City to Antigua Trip Notes

Panama City to Antigua

Last Modified: 31 Dec 2013
Panama City to Antigua
Trip code: QDOD
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2013
For a comprehensive taste of the distinctive flavours of Central America, you needn’t look any further than this Panama City to Antigua trip. With a rich and diverse plant and animal life, and a landscape formed by volcanic activity (some of which are still active), the central expanses of this continent provide a wild and rugged wonderland for would-be adventurers. Journey through the dense, lively rainforests of Costa Rica, explore Nicaragua’s volcanoes and Masaya National Park and soak up the sun, sea and surf on a three-night sojourn on the Caribbean Island of Roatan - just a few highlights of this 28-day trip, and you can rest assured there’s plenty more adventure to be had along the way. The bustling, colourful metropolitan areas of Panama City, San Jose, Leon and Antigua all offer another dimension to the spectacular scenery of this part of the world - and are thrilling destinations to explore in their own right. Embark on a trip of a lifetime through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala on this dazzling Central American escapade.
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
StyleDeparture taxEmergency contact
ThemesImportant notesEmergency funds
MapGroup 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 instructionsFeedback
Spending moneyArrival complications
TippingFinish point
  • 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.
Panama City to Antigua
Day 1 Panama City
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.
If you arrive early, perhaps take a chance to look around Casco Viejo or Panama Vieja.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 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
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 3-4 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.
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 5-6 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
Cabin (2 nts)
Day 7 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
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 8-9 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
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 10-11 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
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 12-13 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
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 14 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.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 15 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
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 16 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
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 17 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.
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 18-20 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
Guesthouse (3 nts)
Days 21-22 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
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 23 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.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 24 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.
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Days 25-26 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.
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 27-28 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
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

      This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
      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.
      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 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.
      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.
      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.
      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
      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.
      The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
      Please note that hurricane season is June to November in this region, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors such situations should 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:
      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.
      Hotel (9 nts), Camping (with facilities) (9 nts), Guesthouse (5 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.
      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 300.00
      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
      Hotel Andino
      Calle 35 y Peru
      Bella Vista
      Panama City
      Phone: +507 2251162
      Joining point instructions
      The easiest and most convenient way to get from the airport to your hotel is by taxi. Rates are fixed and a ride to the hotel should cost you approximately US$25. The transport information booth in the lobby can help you to find a taxi.
      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""
      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 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.
      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.
      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
      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.
      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
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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:
      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:
      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.
      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.
      Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
      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:
      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.