Map of Epic Mexico to Costa Rica including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico

Beaches, ruins, jungles and (quite often) a combination of all three

From cloud-shrouded volcanic peaks to sun-drenched beaches, lost temples to charming colonial towns, Central America is bursting with natural wonders and converging cultures. So, where do you begin? Well, this 32-day tour is a hell of a good start. Kick off in Mexico’s Playa del Carmen and snake through Belize, Antigua, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Relax on the beach in San Miguel, trek to the jungle ruins of Tikal, brush up on your Espanola over an icy cerveza and stay in villages dwarfed by volcanoes. Whether you’re haggling in the markets of Chichicastenango, chilling in a Caribbean town on the Rio Dulce or wandering cobblestone streets in Antigua, this tour gives you a taste of Central America’s myriad flavours.

This trip is for 18 to 29-year-olds

Some of our under-30 travellers prefer to get around with people their own age. If that’s you, you’re in the right place!

Over 29? We’ve got over 900 other great adventures to choose from for solo travellers, friends, families, food lovers, hiking enthusiasts, and more.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Finish
San Jose, Costa Rica
Destinations
Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua
Style
Basix
Theme
18 to 29s
Code
QBYXC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18, Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Travel solo, together

You're never alone when travelling solo with Intrepid

Why you'll love this trip

  • Extended time in Caye Caulker and Antigua offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy laidback island vibes as well as buzzing colonial city life.

  • There's nothing quite like eating with a local family to really experience a place. At lunch you'll be experiencing traditional Guatemalan hospitality while improving your Spanish with the locals.

  • There are many sides to Central America, and you’ll get a taste of a few: slumbering poolside by Playa del Carmen, gazing at the pyramids of Tikal or haggling in the markets of Chichicastenango.

  • Oh Maya, travelling in the Guatemalan Highlands is a humbling experience.

  • Cerro Verde is waiting to be explored. Enjoy a full day at leisure in one of El Salvador’s most beautiful national parks – get up close and personal at a volcano crater or take the plunge in a pristine lake. The choice is yours!

  • Island life doesn’t get much better than Ometepe in Nicaragua – volcanoes, wildlife-rich rainforest, stunning beaches, ancient rock carvings, and a massive lake are all on your plate.

  • Central America likes to keep you on your toes – hike, cycle or zip-line through the steamy cloud forests of Monteverde in Costa Rica and commune with nature in one of the world’s most incredible landscapes.

  • Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna is unbe-lava-ble. Go with the flow and let off some stream with hikes, waterfalls, watersports, and hot springs in the shadow of this giant.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Who doesn’t love a challenge? We definitely do here at Intrepid, and while travelling between some locations on local transport on this trip can be hard, it’s super rewarding and a great way to meet the locals.

  • You’ll be crossing the borders between several countries on this trip and, while it is usually straightforward, you may need to be patient. Make sure you’ve got your best car game ready if there are any delays!

  • Is it hot in here? Well you’re in tropical Central America so it can get really hot and humid. Carry plenty of water because hydration is key, especially when you’re walking a lot.

  • It’s a good idea to try and brush up on as many Spanish words as you can. While locals are really friendly, they’re also shy, so knowing some local lingo is a great way to break the ice and show you care.

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

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2023 to 31 Dec 2023.
View the 2020 itinerary
Kick things off in Playa del Carmen, which is a pretty cool place to begin a trip. In fact, you might want to chill on the coast for a few days beforehand – we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). The first thing planned for today is a welcome meeting with your group leader and fellow travellers at 6 pm. Other than that, you're free to arrive at any time and spend the day however you want. Maybe have your own snorkelling or cycling expedition, or simply stroll along the sandy playa (beach). In the evening, head out with your group leader for an included dinner at a local taquisa (taco restaurant) for a selection of tacos – make sure you order one with freshly caught fish. To improve your lingo, your group leader will conduct an informal Spanish lesson between bites, so that you can understand your burritos from your banos.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Playa del Carmen - Taco dinner at a local Taquisa
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Bicycle Rental (per day) - Free
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Please note that this trip can be partnered with other adventures into a ‘combo’, which means that some of your fellow travellers may carry on to further destinations at the end of this tour. If you’d like to spend more time in Central America, have a look at the combo that includes this trip’s itinerary: Epic Mexico to Costa Rica (QBYXC).
Today, hop on a local bus along the Caribbean coast to Tulum (approximately 1.5 hours), where it's all about laidback life and the white sands of the Yucatan Peninsula. Once you're settled and got your bearings with a leader-led orientation walk around Tulum, there's the chance to visit one of the best-looking and located Maya sites around. Discover the impressive Temple of the Frescoes and see how this pre-Columbian walled ruin city clings to a cliff-top area overlooking the ocean. You can even go for a swim within the archaeological zone. In the evening, perhaps kick back and watch the waves roll in at a beachside bar with a margarita, of course.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tulum - Leader-led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Tulum - Archaeological Site (entrance fee, no guide) - MXN85
  • Tulum- Bike rental - MXN250
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
With a free day to relax in Tulum, consider the optional activities on offer, and most importantly, relax into the laidback Mexican vibe. Two wheels are a good way to tackle the day, so rent a bike, cruise around the area and cover a lot of ground in a short time, as Tulum is relatively flat. The town is heaving with hip cafes and restaurants and many vegetarian and vegan options, as well as places to relax the mind and body with yoga and meditation. There's also the option of exploring Dos Ojos (two eyes): one of the most famous cenotes (freshwater rock pools) in the area – an underwater world full of stalagmites and stalactites.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tulum - Cenote Adventure - USD125
  • Tulum Jungle Adventure - USD125
  • Tulum - Jungle Bike tour - USD125
  • Tulum - Maya Inland Expedition - USD145
  • Tulum - Sian Ka'an Adventure - Free
  • Tulum - World Wonder Discovery - USD145
  • Tulum - Sian Ka'an Muyil - USD130
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
New day, new country. Adios Mexico, hello Belize. Much of today will be taken up with travel, driving by local bus to the border, then on to Belize City (approximately 8 hours in total). Let the wind and sea spray wash the travel away with a 1-hour speedboat ride to the palm-fringed island of Caye Caulker. If your idea of paradise is white sand, blue waters and palm trees then you’re going to dig this place, and with a few days to explore, relax and get active, you’re set for an idyllic stay.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Caye Caulker - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Your time in Caye Caulker is all about taking it easy. The pace of life is so incredibly slow it's almost backwards. If being underwater is your thing then head out to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, home to Shark Ray Alley and the world's second longest barrier reef. Snorkel among the colourful corals and see tropical fish, sharks and manta rays. You can also take day trips to other Cayes nearby - each island has its own particular character, but all of them have that unmistakable Caribbean pace and charm. Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America, which will make chatting with locals much easier.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Caye Caulker - Sunset sailing - BZD100
  • Caye Caulker - Manatee boat tour - BZD240
  • Caye Caulker - Full-day Guided Snorkelling Trip (gear, guide and transport included) - BZD150
  • Caye Caulker - Half-day guided sea kayaking tour - BZD70
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is another free day to take up any other optional activities or to simply pull up a towel and relax along the beach with a book. If you’ve already been snorkelling, then maybe continue the marine exploration with a manatee tour. These huge, peaceful creatures are beautiful in their own way, and are quite curious to meet their visitors. Get more active with sea kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, or go the other way completely and just chill out. The island's also great for food, famed for its lobster and super tasty meals cooked on the side of the road. How about some grilled shrimp and a rum and coke made with the local fire water?
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Caye Caulker - Half-day guided sea kayaking tour (Incl. guide & transport) - BZD70
  • Caye Caulker - Stand-up paddleboard hire (per hour) - BZD35
  • Caye Caulker - Manatee boat tour (Incl. transport & guide) - BZD240
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave the island paradise behind and return to Belize City by boat (approximately 1 hour), before taking a local bus to San Ignacio via Belize’s capital, Belmopan (approximately 3 hours). The local buses here are a little more basic than in Mexico but this is a great opportunity to mix with Belizeans and get a feel for local life. Get ready for stop and go on the journey, as there are very few official bus stops in Belize and the bus will keep stopping to pick up passengers. San Ignacio is a lively town surrounded by fast-flowing rivers, waterfalls and Mayan ruins, making it the best base for exploring the region. After you arrive, the rest of the day is free, so perhaps choose to visit the Chaa Creek butterfly garden, and at night, try one of the barbeque street stalls for a char-grilled chicken leg.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
All guests at our hotel in San Ignacio are required to pay an additional charge of USD 20 per night if they choose to use the air conditioner in their room. Electricity in Belize is incredibly expensive so most hotels charge an extra rate to use the air conditioning – and USD 20 per night is pretty standard. We could include this extra charge in the trip price but then all of our travellers would have to pay whether they want to use it or not. We believe giving our travellers the option is a fairer way to manage this situation.
There is a heap of optional activities to choose between in San Ignacio. The cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal is a living museum of Maya relics, and you can wade through its waters until you reach a whole bunch of 1400-year-old crystallised skeletons. You could take a day tour to the Mountain Pine Ridge area to visit waterfalls and swimming holes, or go down the Macal river in canoes or tubes. If you prefer a slower pace, take a trip out to Xunantunich, an impressive Maya ceremonial centre with panoramic views. Getting to the site is half the fun, as you'll need to take a hand-cranked boat down the river. Belizeans are super friendly, so in the evening, walk down Burns Avenue and join the locals for a chat in one of the many restaurants, or at a street side stall.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Ignacio - Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves (Incl. entry, guide, transport & lunch) - BZD250
  • San Ignacio - Cave tubing (incl. entrance, guide & transport) - BZD190
  • San Ignacio - Butterfly Farm - BZD55
  • San Ignacio - Cahal Pech Ruins entry - BZD10
  • San Ignacio - Iguana Conservation Project (entrance fee) - BZD20
  • San Ignacio - Xunantunich Ruins entry - BZD10
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Time to go jungle – Guatemala-style. Leave San Ignacio, cross the border, and get dropped at Tikal National Park by private vehicle (approximately 4 hours). You'll check in at your hotel before exploring the super-huge and crazy-cool Maya ruins of Tikal – it’s a bit like the set of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto movie, minus all the violence. Pass through the lush jungle vegetation, and if you've got the energy, climb Temple IV to take in the epic canopy views. While here, there's also the option to check out more of the area with a guided tour, or to fly through the canopies like a toucan with a memorable zipline experience.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (Multishare) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tikal National Park - Archaeological Site Tour (Entrance fee & Transport)
Optional Activities
  • Tikal National Park - Guide for Ruins (per group) - GTQ500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Multi-share typically includes triple and quadruple rooms. You may be required to share with group members of the opposite sex and couples or people travelling together may occasionally be separated due to rooming configurations.
From the jungle to the lake this morning, as you’ll head to the lakeside town of Flores (approximately 1 hour). Here there's time to grab some lunch and have a quick explore around the town. Then it's back on the private vehicle to Rio Dulce (approximately 5 hours). On arrival in Rio Dulce, transfer to the hotel by boat. The easiest way to get back into town is also by boat, which can be organised through the hotel, or you can take a short walk through the jungle. Take some time to absorb the atmosphere of this laidback Caribbean town, which feels quite different from the inland communities. A highlight for many guests is the 'Casa Natural' - an open-air accommodation with screened-in rooms, shared bathrooms and a lounge looking out to the surrounding jungle.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (Multishare) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There is a load of kick-ass activities to choose between today. Take a scenic boat trip down the river to Livingston, a laidback town on the Caribbean coast that offers a unique experience of local Garifuna culture. Go boating on the lake, relax in the thermal hot springs or explore the nearby San Felipe fort in Livingston. You could hike through the dense forest of the surrounding Chocon-Machacas Natural reserve and go out to spot the protected manatees of the area. Remember, the best thing is that you’re in laidback Guatemala, and with the flexibility of today’s itinerary, you decide what’s on the agenda.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (Multishare) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Rio Dulce - Boat trip to Livingston (Price dependent on boat available & passengers) - GTQ160
  • Rio Dulce - Natural Hot Springs (entrance fee and transport) - GTQ150
  • Rio Dulce - San Felipe Fort (entrance fee) - GTQ20
  • Rio Dulce - Quirigua Ruins (entrance fee) - GTQ80
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by private vehicle to the city of Antigua (approximately 8 hours). You'll spend the night here, before heading to Lake Atitlan tomorrow. You won't spend too much time in Antigua, but you'll be coming back here in a few days’ time, so not to worry! Still, take some time for a stroll and tuck into some tasty tamales (a local dish served in a corn leaf) or a dish called Pepian: a spicy meaty stew of chicken, beef and pork in a dark sauce. You'll find the best value food in the square next to the La Merced Church.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you'll get a seriously special Guatemalan experience. Start the day by travelling by private vehicle to the famous market in Chichicastenango (approximately 2.5 hours). This is the most colourful market in the country, where on Thursdays and Sundays locals come from the surrounding villages to sell their wares, and the streets are lined with stalls where you can stock up on cool trinkets. After visiting Chichi, head to Panajachel situated along Lake Atitlan where you'll check in to your hotel. This evening, join your group for dinner at a local pupuseria.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (Multishare) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichicastenango Market
Meals Included
  • Dinner
This morning make a trip to San Juan La Laguna to immerse yourself in Mayan village life. Visit with a local midwife to learn about this traditional and sacred art. Then visit the village's medicinal garden before a hands-on workshop where you'll learn about Mayan textile weaving and dyeing techniques. Hungry yet? Settle in for a homestyle lunch with your hosts and have a chat about life in the village. In the afternoon return to Panajachel and soak up the views of deep blue Lake Atitlan.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (Multishare) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Juan La Laguna - Weaving & Dyeing experience
  • San Juan La Laguna - Midwife home visit
  • San Juan La Laguna - Medicinal Garden
Optional Activities
  • Panajachel - Kayak rental (per hour) - GTQ75
  • Panajachel - Bicycle rental (per day) - Free
  • Panajachel - Zipline - GTQ280
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
After an included breakfast, hit the road back to Antigua (approximately 3 hours). With three nearby volcanoes dominating the horizon, you won't have been to many places quite like Antigua. Join your leader on a walk to orientate yourself around the World Heritage-listed city full of cobblestones, leafy town squares and ornate churches. There are hushed museums and lively indigenous markets to explore, or countryside to be cycled with amazing views of mountain peaks and deep valleys. If you're into salsa dancing, or if you'd just like to learn some moves, Antigua is the place to be. Many dancing schools offer hourly lessons, so you'll be able to move your hips. This is also a city that knows how to party, so bring your best dance moves, shout a round of mojitos and get down with the locals.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Antigua - Leader-led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Antigua - Chocolate-making workshop at ChocoMuseo - GTQ225
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
There will be a meeting at 6 pm to welcome any new travellers joining you on the next stage of your adventure. Aside from that, enjoy a free day to explore the city. The number one stop for chocoholics should be the ChocoMuseo, where there's info all about its history and, more excitingly, a chocolate-making workshop. For those more interested in the other famous Central American bean, you can go on a coffee tour, visit the plantations, do some coffee tasting and even buy some to take home. If you're into salsa dancing or if you'd like to learn some moves, Antigua is the place to be. Many dancing schools offer hourly lessons so you'll be able to perfect your skills.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Antigua - Chocolate-making workshop at ChocoMuseo - GTQ225
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Rise and Shine! Today is an early start as you journey across the Guatemalan border to your next destination, Cerro Verde, El Salvador (approximately 5 hours). From rolling hills to rolling R’s, watch the world go by from the comfort of your private vehicle as you travel through lush volcanic landscape and endless mountain terrain all while learning the local lingo from your leader in an informal Spanish lesson. Arrive in Cerro Verde and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is about fueling up in the local style and then getting outdoors! El Salvador is home to Papusas, a type of flatbread made from cornmeal and often stuffed with delicious fillings like cheese, chicharrón (fried pork) or refried beans. Visit a local street vendor and watch a papusa making demonstration, then try some of course! Afterwards, opt to visit Santa Ana’s Volcano crater for some more spectacular views of Lake Coatepeque, Juayua and Izalco Volcano. Alternatively, instead of admiring its view from the volcano crater, why not take a dip in Lake Coatepeque! There are many ways to keep busy in one of El Salvador's most beautiful national parks.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Miguel - Salvadoran Pupusa cooking demonstration
Optional Activities
  • Cerro Verde- Coatepeque Lake – (transportation, entrance fee, hotsprings, guide) - USD50
  • Cerro Verde- Santa Ana Volcano Crater – (Entrance fee, guide, lunch) - USD30
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Continuing south by private vehicle today, pass through the capital of San Salvador on your way to San Miguel (approximately 3-4 hours). Resting in the shadows of Chaparrastique, an active volcano that sets the backdrop to this vibrant town, San Miguel has rebuilt itself into one of the largest and most populated cities in the country since facing a severe earthquake in 1917.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Say a quick hola and adios to Honduras as you cross through two borders to reach ‘the land of lakes and volcanoes’, Nicaragua (or Nica as it’s known as locally). The 6-hour drive (plus stops) will be well worth the ride as you’re welcomed into the charming, artsy and sophisticated city of Leon. Why not refuel after your journey with some traditional Nicaraguan dishes, Gallo Pinto, with its hearty combination of rice and beans, is considered a national symbol – alternatively, perhaps try out some of your new Spanish skills and order a Quesillo, a cheesy treat made of corn tortillas, pickled onion and sour cream. Once the capital of Nicaragua, Leon has long been the heart and soul of the country’s political movements, which is demonstrated through the city’s colourful street murals – an artistic reflection of fallen heroes and revolutionary icons. Home to one of the oldest universities in Central America, Leon is considered a ‘college town’ and is known for its youthful, fun atmosphere and energetic nightlife. This evening, why not head out with the group for some bachata or salsa dancing!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning join your leader on an orientation walk around Leon. Then take some time to explore on your own, perhaps check out the Basílica de la Asunción – Central Americas largest cathedral – or stop by the Museo Histórico de la Revolución for an insight the revolutionaries who fought hard for the freedom of their country. Alternatively, you might like to go volcano sandboarding! (This is the only place in the world that you can do it). Afterwards, if you’re feeling peckish, why not fill up on the traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs and gallo pinto before jumping on a local bus this afternoon to Granada. First, take a taxi from the hotel to the bus station, next board a local bus bound for Managua that will depart when it's full and takes around 2-3 hours depending on the amount of stops it needs to make and the complexity of onloading and offloading the passenger’s luggage. There will be about a 30-45-minute transit in Managua before taking the next public bus to Granada with a duration of approximately 1.5 hrs, and finally taking a 20-minute taxi ride to the hotel. Founded in 1524, Granada is the oldest city in Nicaragua and home to iconic Moorish and Andalusian landmarks that have survived repeated pirate invasions. Draped in colourful colonial architecture and oozing aesthetic charm, this enchanting city is set on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and is surrounded by active volcanoes.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leon - Leader-led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Leon - Volcano Sand Boarding - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Rise and shine! This morning we’ll enjoy breakfast together at Cafe de las Sonrisas, a café run entirely by deaf people. The café's owner is aiming to bridge the gap and inspire other business owners to employ local people living with disabilities. Then you are free to explore Granada, one of Central America’s least spoiled colonial towns. Perhaps you’d like to take a guided tour of the city, bargain hard in the markets, or wander the cobblestone streets, snapping photos of the colourful buildings. If you’re an adventure enthusiast, opt to hire a kayak and paddle around the islets of lake Nicaragua, rent a bicycle and ride to Laguna De Apoyo (a 200 year old lake set into a lush forest crater), or hike through the lush flora and fauna along the Mombacho volcano crater trail. For a cultural insight into the heritage of the Nicaraguan people, the city of Masaya aka ‘City of the Flowers’ offers a mixture of folkloric entertainment, from marimba music to street theatre. If you’re looking to purchase some traditional handicrafts, then you’ll also find ‘Mercado de las Artesanías’ – a craft market offering handmade souvenirs reflective of the Masaya area. After a day of exploration, why not enjoy an evening along Calle la Calzada – grab a drink at one of the many outdoor bars and watch the wandering performers, from mariachis to break dancers, bring the street to life.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Granada - Breakfast at El Cafe de las Sonrisas
Optional Activities
  • Granada - Laguna Apoyo kayaking tour - USD30
  • Granada - Kayak rental (per day) - NIO685
  • Granada - Masaya Volcano at night (Viewpoint for the Lava Lake at Santiago Crater) - NIO1600
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning, travel by local bus to Rivas where you'll transfer to San Jorge ferry port by taxi (approximately 2.5 hours). Catch a 1-hour ferry across Lake Nicaragua (the largest in Central America and the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world) to the island of Ometepe, and head to your hotel. Hourglass-shaped Ometepe Island was formed by two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua (Ometepe literally means two volcanoes in the Nahuatl language) and the deep jungle is home to exotic wildlife such as monkeys and parrots. A great experience is to sit on the shore and watch fishermen return from a long day on the water with their catch.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (Multishare with Shared facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take advantage of a free day to discover the island. Perhaps take a hike up to the summit of either the Concepcion or Maderas volcanoes, but be warned, at 1700 and 1394 metres above sea level respectively, these are serious volcanoes and the treks are no walk in the park. You might prefer to splash around in the natural springs, soak up the sun on the shore or check out the island's petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings). If you like watermelon, coffee, banana and citrus fruits then Ometepe is the place for you, plantations abound, you’ll have loads of delicious fresh food to feast on. In the evening, head to Los Ramos, an indigenous community situated right in the middle of the island’s volcanos, for a cooking class. Learn traditional techniques used to make Nicaraguan dishes like nacatamales (a dough-based snack often filled with meat and steamed in banana leaves) before sitting down to a meal together.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (Multishare with Shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Los Ramos Community - Cooking Class
Optional Activities
  • Ometepe - Concepcion Volcano hike - USD45
  • Ometepe - Maderas Volcano hike - USD45
  • Ometepe - Ojo de Agua natural spring (entrance fee) - USD25
  • Ometepe - Petroglyphs - USD25
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Today you’ll take the two-hour journey (by ferry and public bus) to San Juan del Sur, a laidback surf town on Nicaragua’s south-west coast. Though the beach that lines the town’s horseshoe bay itself isn’t particularly great for swimming, you don’t need to travel far to find beautiful golden beaches with year-round waves. Go on an orientation walk with your leader and then enjoy free time to acquaint yourself with this fun little town.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (Multishare with shared facilties) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Juan del Sur - Surf Board Hire - USD20
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day exploring San Juan del Sur’s colourful coastal scenery. If you’re feeling active, San Juan del Sur has plenty to offer. You might like to rent a surfboard and spend the day riding the waves at nearby beaches like Playa Maderas or Playa Marsella, alternatively, head south to La Flor beach reserve, where it’s possible to see olive ridley, hawksbill, leatherback and green sea turtles nesting between July and November. A huge statue of Christ (the largest in Central America) sits atop a cliff above the bay – why not hike to the top for spectacular views of the town and Pacific. In the evening, the city boasts a variety of greats bars and restaurants where you can share a meal with the group.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (Multishare with shared facilties) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Juan del Sur - La Flor Beach Reserve - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Say Adios to Nicaragua and continue your journey south to Costa Rica. Take a 1-hour bus to the border and then travel by private vehicle to Monteverde (approximately 5 hours). Monteverde was 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 Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. Cloud forests are similar to rainforests, but instead, draw their water from a semi-permanent cloud covering the region. Constant mist in the forest makes it feel a bit like a nightclub! But with less bass and more fresh air, 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 - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Proof of onward travel is a requirement for entry into Costa Rica, so if you're flying out of San Jose, bring a printed copy of your flight details in case the border officials ask to see them.
Today you have a full free day to discover the reserve and experience the mystical and fragile environment here. Monteverde is not for the faint-hearted, so bring your sense of adventure, a solid pair of shoes, and have a little fun with the giddy heights. 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 tour along a series of suspension bridges 40 metres up above the jungle. 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 leader-led Nature Hike - USD25
  • Monteverde - Suspension bridges tour - USD50
  • Monteverde - Canopy Zip Lining (Entrance, Equipment & Transport) - USD50
  • Monteverde - Coffee & Chocolate tour - USD40
  • Monteverde - Night walk through Cloud Forest - USD35
  • Monteverde - Butterfly Garden and Insects Farm (entrance fee) - USD18
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Continue your journey through Costa Rica and take the scenic route to La Fortuna (approximately 4-5 hours). Travel by shared minibus to Lake Arenal, which you'll then cross by boat. 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 destination. 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. Get a good rest tonight, as tomorrow you’ve got a free day to take advantage of all the active activities on offer.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are plenty of optional activities to take part in today, so when you get home, this isn’t the place to say you sat around! Perhaps take a guided nature hike through the lush forest surrounding Arenal Volcano, keeping an eye out for rare plants and animals, or opt to see the forest from a series of hanging bridges. Check out the 70-metre high La Fortuna waterfall, or get wet 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)
Included Activities
  • La Fortuna - Leader-led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • La Fortuna - Ecotermales Hot Springs (entrance fee) - USD44
  • La Fortuna - La Fortuna Waterfall (Entrance only) - USD18
  • La Fortuna - Arenal Volcano Hike - USD60
  • La Fortuna- Caño Negro boat tour - USD75
  • La Fortuna - Stand up paddle board - USD75
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a local bus to Costa Rica's capital, San Jose (approximately 5 hours). 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. A good place to start your 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 or 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. Then it's maybe time for a final farewell dinner (or margarita) with your new travel buds and say muchas gracias to your Central American journey.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Jose - Leader-led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - National Museum (entrance fee) - USD11
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today your Central American adventure comes to an end, there are no activities planned. As there's a lot to see and do in and around San Jose, we recommend staying on for a few days to make the most of the city. If you'd like to extend your visit and need further accommodation, our reservations team would be happy to assist (subject to availability). There are some great day tours you can take outside of the city, such as or Irazu Volcano.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle, Public bus, local bus, Taxi, Shared boat, Ferry

Accommodation

Hotel (22 nights), Multishare lodge (2 nights), Multishare Hotel (5 nights), Multishare Hostel (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Playa del Carmen - Taco dinner at a local Taquisa
  • Tulum - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Caye Caulker - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Tikal National Park - Archaeological Site Tour (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Chichicastenango Market
  • San Juan La Laguna - Weaving & Dyeing experience
  • San Juan La Laguna - Midwife home visit
  • San Juan La Laguna - Medicinal Garden
  • Antigua - Leader-led orientation walk
  • San Miguel - Salvadoran Pupusa cooking demonstration
  • Leon - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Granada - Breakfast at El Cafe de las Sonrisas
  • Los Ramos Community - Cooking Class
  • Monteverde - Leader-led orientation walk
  • La Fortuna - Leader-led orientation walk
  • San Jose - Leader-led orientation walk

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Epic Mexico to Costa Rica trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

Travellers on Intrepid trips that start on or before 31 December 2022 are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy.

1. This trip is for ages 18-29s.
2. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
3. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 9 (Tikal), Days 10 & 11 (Rio Dulce), Days 13 & 14 (Lake Atitlan), Days 23 & 24 (Ometepe Island) and Days 25 & 26 (San Juan del Sur) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
4. Multishare typically includes triple and quad rooms. You may be required to share with group members of the opposite sex and couples, and people travelling together may occasionally be separated due to rooming configurations.
5. Please be careful when booking flights from San Jose; make sure you fly out of Juan Santamaria 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.
6. As per updated Nicaragua entry requirements, customers are currently required to supply a copy of their passport front page to their booking agent no later than 15 days prior to departure.

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.

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