See the best of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica

Get ready for a fast-paced adventure through the best of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica. From beautiful black-sand beaches to tropical forests alive with jungle melodies, this pocket of Central America is something of a natural paradise. Whether you're shopping in colonial Antigua, exploring the intricately carved structures at Copan, relaxing on the coast of El Salvador or taking a walk through Monteverde's enchanting cloud forest, you'll get a wonderful insight into Central America during this incredible adventure.


Start
Antigua, Guatemala
Finish
San Jose, Costa Rica
Destinations
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras
Style
Basix
Code
QVRJ
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Discover Central America, a land of mysterious Mayan ruins, active volcanoes, idyllic beaches and emerald jungles. Get a taste of four countries on this epic Latin adventure

  • Experience an El Salvador of the past in the colonial town of Suchitoto, before savouring the blissful present on black sand beaches. Stray off the beaten track in El Cuco and summon your inner surfie in El Tunco

  • Hike, cycle or zip-line through the steamy cloud forests of Monteverde in Costa Rica. Get up close to nature among the hundreds of mammal, bird and plant species that call this place home

  • Encounter Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna. Whether it's reflecting back at you in the lake or heating the thermal pools you're stewing away in, the magnificent volcano always makes its presence felt

Is this trip right for you?

  • As this trip covers destinations across four countries, you'll need to make several border crossings. While these are usually straightforward, please prepare to be patient.

  • Central America is tropical, so expect a hot and humid climate. Make sure you protect yourself from the sun, wear comfortable, light clothing and stay hydrated - especially when out on walking tours.

  • There are many opportunities to get active on this adventure. Some of the the optional activities, especially the volcano hikes, require a moderate level of fitness and sturdy walking shoes. If you'd prefer to take it easy, however, there are plenty of other things you can do instead.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 03 February 2019. View the itinerary for departures between 04 February 2019 - 31 December 2019

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Antigua, Guatemala. A small town of crumbling churches, vibrant markets and bohemian cafes set against the backdrop of monumental volcanoes, Antigua is the perfect place to ease into your Central American adventure. Speaking of adventure, yours officialy kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today at the hotel. Please look for a note in the lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). For dinner tonight, perhaps head out with some of your fellow travellers for a tamale, a classic staple of Mesoamerica that sees dough, meat and sauces steamed and served in in corn leaf.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
This trip is part of longer Central America combination trips. As such, some of your fellow travellers may have commenced their trip in Mexico City or Playa del Carmen. For more information on these longer trips see: Central American Adventure (32 days), Best of Central America (42 days) or Complete Central America (65 days)



Hit the cobblestone streets this morning on an orientation walk with your leader, and get your bearings in the former seat of the Spanish colonial government. In 1773, the city was destroyed by an earthquake, but as you'll see during your walk, many of the colonial buildings have been restored. Maybe satisfy your cravings and learn a the art of old-world chocolate production at the ChocoMuseo, sit by the fountain and people watch in Central Park or hire a mountain bike and tackle the lush countryside. If you want to learn more about Guatemala's famous coffee, you might like to take a tour of a plantation and do some coffee tasting. Hungry? The best value food can be found next to the artesian market near the bus station, so get in for a snack before it closes at 6 pm. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Antigua - Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Antigua - Salsa lesson (per hour) - USD7
  • Antigua - Chocolate-making workshop - USD25
  • Antigua - Bike tour - USD40
  • Antigua - Antigua by the Bean - Urban Adventures - USD76
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Unfortunately, more than half the population of beautiful Guatemala lives under the poverty line, which may explain why Guatemala has also the lowest literacy rate in Central America. With this in mind, the Intrepid Foundation is proud supporter of CasaSito, an outstanding not for profit organization dedicated to assist youth to reach their academic, personal and professional potential.

If you have 2’ to spare (2’41’’ to be exact!) take a look at this short video about CasaSito – it’s inspiring: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3KBiGdEcV4w

If you want to help CasaSito and Guatemalan’s youth, you can donate through the Intrepid Foundation, which means that your donation will be match dollar for dollar by us too. No donation is too small. $5, $10, $50 it all goes a long way to help this fantastic organization. Simply visit our website: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/casasito/
Rise and shine for a long day of travel, leaving at around 4 am to beat the rush-hour traffic around Guatemala City. All up you'll be spending 8 hours driving to Copan by private vehicle, and while the scenery is breathtaking in sections, it's a good idea to pack a book or download a few podcasts. There will also be an informal Spanish lesson to liven up the journey and sharpen your skills. Head into Honduras through the wild countryside of eastern Guatemala, arriving in the charming town of Copan in the early afternoon. While most people use Copan as a base to explore the nearby ruins, there are plenty of other points of interest, both along the cobblestone streets and set into the lush surrounds. Maybe get started in the Central Plaza and follow your nose to cafe. Or perhaps head to the nearby hot springs on an optional tour. Less than USD 50 gets you hours of soak time in mud baths, steaming natural baths and refreshing pools plus dinner, all set along winding jungle paths.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
Optional Activities
  • Copan - Natural Hot Springs & Dinner - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning is free for you to continue explore Copan and its surrounds. Perhaps make an optional visit to the World Heritage-listed ruins of Copan, the remnants of the southernmost of the great Maya sites for which Central America is famous. Unique because of the numerous elaborate stelae – carved columns – still intact on site, there are also temples, excavated vaults and walls inscribed with ancient faces. A stroll through this old-world capital is bound to leave you pondering the mysterious and adbrupt disappearance of such a creative civilisation. Alternatively, nature lovers may wish to travel two kilometres out of town to the Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve. Dedicated to the conservation of the Central American macaw, the reserve also houses toucans, motmots, parrots, kingfishers and orioles.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Copan - Macaw Mountain Bird Park (Entrance fee) - HNL230
  • Copan - Archeological site (Transport & Entrance fee) - USD17
  • Copan - Archeological Museum (Entrance fee) - USD7
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Wave goodbye to Copan and head across the border to El Salvador by private vehicle. There's another substantial amount of time spent on the road today, so have that book (or your most sparkling conversation) handy to pass the time. All up the drive should take about 7 hours, depending on conditions, and you are expected to reach the colourful colonial town of Suchitoto in the afternoon. Join an orientation walk with your leader on arrival of a town widely considered the cultural capital of El Salvador. Stroll past gorgeous colonial facades and get your bearings. Birders will want to crane their necks – Suchitoto lies on a bird migration path.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Suchitoto - Orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is all yours to get among the optional activities on offer. Suchitoto overlooks the Embalse Cerron Grande. Also known as Lago Suchitlan, this freshwater lake is a haven for the aforementioned migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks. Maybe hustle a crew of four or more together and take a boat trip to Bird Island, or perhaps grab a historically-minded quartet for a guided walk through Cinquera Forest, where guerrilla fighters used the forest as cover during the civil war.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Suchitoto - Boat trip to Bird Island in Lake Suchitlan (it requires a minimum of 4 travellers to operate) - USD20
  • Suchitoto - War historic walk at Cinquera Forest (requires a minimum of 4 travellers to operate) - USD50
  • Suchitoto - Town tour (it requires a minimum of 4 travellers to operate) - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head west by private vehicle to El Tunco, a perma-relaxed two-street surf town about three hours away. Take the afternoon to explore the beautiful coastal scenery around El Tunco, or simply grab a smoothie and embrace the chilled vibes. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Suchitoto - Birdwatching Walk (requires a minimum of 3 travellers to operate) - USD25
  • Suchitoto - Morning kayak bird watching (requires a minimum of 3 travellers to run) - USD35
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you might like to find some inner peace during a yoga class at the resort or simply relax in a hammock on the beach.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • El Tunco - Yoga class - USD10
  • El Tunco - Surf board hire - USD10
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Use a mix of transport to reach Costa Rica today – trust us, it's worth the minor hassles you may encounter along the way. Drive one hour to San Salvador Airport and board a morning flight to San Jose. Next, take a local bus to Manuel Antonio (around 4 hours). The buses in this region of the country are a little more basic than you may be used to, but it's an awesome opportuity to mingle with Costa Ricans, practice your Espanol  and get a feel for local life. The hotel is conveniently located between both Manuel Antonio and Quepos, giving you the option to explore both small towns over the next couple of days.
Accommodation
  • Multishare Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend your time here enjoying all that Manuel Antonio National Park has to offer. Head out for a hike along its many trails, keeping one eye on the great views and the other looking for the abundant wildlife. Monkeys, armadillos, sloths and hundreds of birds are among the species you maybe be able to spot. At the very least the birds will provide a tropical soundtrack to your walk. The park also boasts turquoise seas and white sand beaches that are perfect for swimming, kayaking, sailing or fishing. Basically, perfect for enjoying. 
Accommodation
  • Multishare Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - (Entrance fee) - USD16
  • Manuel Antonio - Mangrove tour by kayak (with lunch) - USD80
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
It's just another day in paradise. Active types might want to rent a board and work the waves, or head back to the park for more hiking and wildlife spotting. Or you can simply relax on a white-sand beach rimmed by verdant rainforest. In the evening, perhaps cap off a day of indulgence with a sunset sail.
Accommodation
  • Multishare Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Manuel Antonio - Sunset sail - USD80
  • Manuel Antonio - Surf/boogie board rental - USD10
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Grab your headphones and get ready to travel like a local. First, take a local bus to Puntarenas (approximately 3 hours), where you’ll have to wait for the connection, and then it will be a further 3 hours to Monteverde. Once in town your leader will take you on an orientation walk of Monteverde, a unique town with a wild history. Founded as an agricultural community in 1951 by a group of North American Quakers, these environmentally-aware settlers also established a small wildlife sanctuary which has since grown into the internationally-renowned Monteverde Cloudforest Biological Preserve. Cloud forests are similar to rainforests, but instead draw their water from a semi-permanent cloud covering the region. This is truly a nature lover's paradise. More than 2000 plant species, 320 bird species and 100 mammal species call Montverde home. Be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most elusive birds in the world.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Monteverde - Orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you have a full free day to discover the reserve. Perhaps take a hike through the cloud forest, check out the area by mountain bike or fly over the canopy on a zip line tour. Another way to see the forest from above is to take a Sky Walk tour along a series of suspension bridges. You can explore the park on your own or arrange for a local guide to accompany you. The guides are very knowledgeable and happy to engage in conversation. To see some guaranteed wildlife up close, visit the butterfly and insect gardens or the serpentarium. There are also several cooperatives worth visiting in the local communities.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest (Entrance fee & Transport) - USD40
  • Monteverde - Suspension bridges tour - USD47
  • Monteverde - Zip lining - USD90
  • Monteverde - Coffee & Chocolate tour - USD35
  • Monteverde - Night walk - USD35
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest Train - USD60
  • Monteverde - Serpentarium - USD15
  • Monteverde - Butterfly garden and insects farm - USD15
  • Monteverde - Orchid gardens - USD12
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Monteverde at 2 pm and take the scenic route to La Fortuna. Travel by shared minibus for 1.5 hour to the shores of Lake Arenal, which you'll then cross by boat - a further 1.5 hour journey. On a clear day you'll see fantastic views of the surrounding area. On the other side of the lake, re-board the minibus and continue on to your hotel. La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes from Costa Rica's most famous volcano - the majestic Arenal. While you're here, make sure you take some photos of the volcano reflected spectacularly in the lake.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • La Fortuna - Orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are plenty of optional activities to take part in today. Perhaps take a guided nature hike through the lush forest surrounding Arenal Volcano, keeping an eye out for rare plants and animals. You can also see the forest from a series of hanging bridges. Check out the 70-metre high La Fortuna waterfall, or get active with some water sports on the lake, such as stand-up paddle boarding. The volcano’s inner workings also mean that the area is home to several thermal hot springs, an ideal way to relax in the middle of nature. Alternatively, a boat safari down the Celeste River offers the opportunity to see lizards, crocodiles and tropical birds in their natural habitat.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • La Fortuna - Hot springs - USD45
  • La Fortuna - Arenal hanging bridges - USD56
  • La Fortuna - La Fortuna Waterfall - USD15
  • La Fortuna - Nature hike around Arenal Volcano - USD50
  • La Fortuna - Cano Negro boat tour - USD67
  • La Fortuna - Stand up paddle board - USD65
  • La Fortuna - Rio Celeste Safari Float tour - USD70
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a local five-hour bus to Costa Rica's capital, San Jose. Situated in the fertile Central Valley and home to over half the country's population, San Jose is filled with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. Your leader will take you on a walking tour around the city's main highlights. A good place to start your solo exploration is the main plaza. Artisan booths are common here, so you never know when an art fair will pop up. The Gold Museum has an amazing collection of indigenous gold art. If you're in the mood for a bit of shopping, head to the outdoor market in the Plaza de la Cultura or the city's Central Market, where you can buy anything from handicrafts to seafood. If you prefer to explore a city taste buds first, perhaps check out the San Jose Bites and Sights Tour offered by Urban Adventures.



Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Jose - Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - Cartago Bike & Train Tour - Urban Adventures - USD59
  • San Jose - The Art of Craft Beer in San Jose - Urban Adventures - USD68
  • San Jose - San Jose by Night - Urban Adventures - USD74
  • San Jose - San Jose Bites and Sights Tour - Urban Adventures - USD33
  • San Jose - National Museum - USD12
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
There are number of highly recommended Urban Adventures to choose from in San Jose. Ask your leader for assistance on how to book them, call locally on 4000 5730 or check them out at https://www.urbanadventures.com/destination/San-Jose-tours
Today your Central American adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned for the final day, so you can leave any time after check out. 
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Private vehicle, Plane, Local bus, Boat

Accommodation

Hotel (13 nights), Multishare Hotel (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Antigua - Leader-led walking tour
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Suchitoto - Orientation walk
  • Monteverde - Orientation walk
  • La Fortuna - Orientation walk
  • San Jose - Leader-led walking tour

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. A single supplement is available for purchase on this trip. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. Please be careful when booking flights to Antigua; make sure you fly into Guatemala City Airport [GUA]. Guatemala City Airport is the closest airport to Antigua. Please do NOT book flights to Antigua & Barbuda Airport [ANU] as this is an island in the Caribbean.
4. Please be careful when booking flights from San Jose; make sure you fly out of Juan Santamaría International Airport [SJO]. Please do NOT book flights from Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport [SJC] as this is located in California, United States.
5. Hurricane season in this region is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.

ITINERARY CHANGES:
Due to recent political protests, we have rerouted this itinerary to avoid Nicaragua. We are confident that this is the safest course of action for our travellers and our staff on the ground. The joining and ending point cities are unaffected. We will continue to closely monitor the situation in Nicaragua in the hope of improvement and to maintain our discretion to revert to the original itinerary or otherwise.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Central American Journey trips score an average of 4.47 out of 5 based on 368 reviews in the last year.

Central American Journey, September 2018

Gabby Giannetti

Central American Journey, September 2018

David Freeman