Many landscapes. Many foods. Much Central America, and there's never been a more thorough way to experience it.

Ohhh this is the big one. A 46-day adventure enjoying everything Central America has to offer, from Mexico through to Costa Rica with all the places in between. You better Belize it. Whether you're hitting the waves in El Salvador or washing down your tacos with mezcal in Mexico, there's no shortage of life-changing experiences and yes, tacos are life-changing.

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.


Start
Mexico City, Mexico
Finish
San Jose, Costa Rica
Destinations
Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico
Style
Basix
Theme
18 to 29s
Code
QBYZC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18, Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Oh Mayan, Central America, what a land. A palace of mysterious ruins, active volcanoes, idyllic beaches and emerald jungles. Get a taste of seven different countries on an epic Latin adventure that takes in the sights and offers a whole heap of optional activities too.

  • Eat your way through arty Oaxaca. Mole, mezcal and chocolate for dinner? Delicioso!

  • Chichen Itza is one the New Seven Wonders of the World and it's not hard to see why – strolling around these ancient Mayan ruins feels pretty amazing.

  • There's nothing quite like staying with a local family to really experience a place. You'll be feasting at breakfast and dinner, and improving your Spanish with the locals in San Jorge La Laguna in no time.

  • There are loads of sides to Central America and you’ll get a taste of so many - slumbering on the sands of Playa del Carmen, gazing at the pyramids of Tikal or haggling in the markets of Chichicastenango.

  • Travel to El Salvador and back in time in the colonial town of Suchitoto. Then summon your best beach bum/inner surfie with the beautiful black-sand beaches and surf of El Cuco and El Tunco.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves some long travel days, especially on Day 37 from El Cuco to Granada. This 14-hour journey includes a boat trip across the Gulf of Fonseca and several hours in a minibus. Our journey across Mexico also includes two overnight buses. 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 seven 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Itinerary

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

Bienvenidos! Where better to start a Mexico exploration than in Mexico City. Modern meets ancient here in one of the world's largest urban centres. Forget about the crowds and the smog, D.F. (Distrito Federal) has got museums, galleries and great architecture for you, along with pumping nightlife and delicious street food.

Let’s kick things off with a welcome meeting today at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. 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). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so have all these details for your leader. If you arrive into the city early, head to the Zocalo, the city's huge central square, to see Aztec ruins and colonial architecture, or relax in one of the many parks, plazas or gardens. After the meeting tonight, you’re definitely going to want to seek out some tacos for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Maybe grab some chilaquiles for breakfast this morning, then join your leader for an walk around the historic centre of the city, followed by a free afternoon. There’s so much to do here in the city – if you like art, the Frida Kahlo Museum is a must-see, and for all museum lovers there's the Museum of Anthropology or the Palace of Fine Art. Another great thing to do is to hop on one of the colourfully painted boats that cruise through the canal district of Xochimilco. Alternatively, you can choose to take an optional day trip to the archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan, 50 kilometres out of the city. A local guide will lead you down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’, pointing out the historic Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. Don’t forget to snack your way around the city too, munching on tostadas, tortas, and chicharrones all day long.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - Leader-led city tour of Historic center
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology (Closed Mondays) - MXN70
  • Mexico City - Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) (Closed Mondays) - MXN60
  • Mexico City - Boat ride through Floating Gardens of Xochimilco (Approx. per boat per hour) - MXN350
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum (Cheaper for students, pensioners & on weekdays. Closed Mondays) - MXN200
  • Teotihuacan - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport) - USD80
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning and most of the afternoon are free to continue exploring Mexico City. Some of the most vibrant (not to mention most delicious) places in the city are its streets markets – from food, to handicrafts, to magic potions, these markets are a riot of colours, smells, and sights. Later in the afternoon, take taxis to the bus station and catch a local bus to Puebla (approx 2.5 hours). Please make sure you bring bottled water and snacks for the journey. Local buses in Mexico aren’t the colourful school buses you’ll see in other areas of Central America; most of the buses we use in Mexico are comfortable coach-style vehicles, with a bathroom and seats for all passengers. Local buses tend to blast the air conditioning, so remember to pack a jacket in case you get cold. Puebla sits in the Puebla Valley surrounded by snow-topped mountains and volcanoes, and it's got a growing art and nightlife scene.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Puebla - Orientation walk
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is free to discover Puebla at your leisure. Although a rapidly growing city, Puebla's got an amazingly well-preserved centre with loads of colonial buildings. There are over 70 different churches alone. Two top ones to check out are Santa Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel. You can head to the markets to brush up on your bargaining skills and pick up some hand-painted tiles or other handicrafts. If you're looking for something more active, go for a hike near one of the area's looming volcanoes, or head to Cholula for the archaeological sites and massive pyramid. The city is also obsessed with food, so after a day of sightseeing and shopping, why not try some mole Poblano, a dish native to Puebla and famous all over Mexico. You could even try making it yourself during an optional cooking class. For something a bit more dramatic, check out a Lucha Libre show, the famous Mexican sport where masked musclemen combine wrestling and theatre in a memorable performance.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Puebla - Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel - Free
  • Puebla - Cooking class - USD92
  • Puebla - Lucha Libre show (ticket price depends on seating area) - USD15
  • Puebla - Museum of Art - USD5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Get cosy with the locals as you travel by local bus to Oaxaca (approximately 5 hours). You'll have two full free days here. Your leader will provide ideas for activities and help you to make the most of your time. A beautiful old colonial town, Oaxaca is full of graceful arcades and colourful markets. Descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians selling colourful woven blankets and shawls populate the markets – a great place to shop for textiles and margarita flavours. Here you’ll also find some tasty regional food specialties – snack on everything from cactus fruit, to spicy baked chilli and lime grasshoppers and the heavenly Oaxacan cheese. Oaxaca is also known for its arts scene, including folk art, fine art and dance. Get lost in the narrow, cobbled streets or simply sit in the square sipping a mezcal as the world goes by. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend the next two days exploring Oaxaca. Maybe get out to the spectacular mountain top temples of Monte Alban just outside the city. Monte Alban was inhabited for 1,500 years by the Olmec, Zapotec and Mixtec peoples, and is an outstanding example of a pre-Columbian ceremonial centre. The settlement's terraces, dams, canals and pyramids were literally carved out of the mountain. You’d better have your camera ready, because up here you can get an amazing view across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. Alternatively, you could take a day tour out to the nearby Mitla Ruins. Mitla (the Nahuatl word for ‘underworld’) is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. Drop by the mineral springs of Hierve el Agua, and on the way back to Oaxaca, stop into a mezcaleria (mezcal distillery). Although this tequila-like drop is experiencing a comeback in popularity all over Mexico, it’s mainly produced in Oaxaca. It's generally enjoyed straight-up, so it's not for the faint-hearted! 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (Entrance fee) - USD5
  • Oaxaca - Full-day tour inc. Mitla Ruins, Hierve el Agua and mezcal distillery - USD45
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - USD5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend your final day in Oaxaca shopping in the artisan stores around town, otherwise why not whip up something delicious at a cooking class. In the evening, take a first-class overnight bus to San Cristobal del las Casas (approx 13 hours in total). First-class buses in Mexico are quite comfortable. They are equipped with toilets and reclining seats with plenty of legroom. They are always air-conditioned, so make sure you take a warm layer with you, as it may get cold on board. While the bus is very comfortable, the road from Oaxaca to San Cristobal has some very winding sections. If you suffer from motion sickness, this will be a good time to have your medication ready.
Accommodation
  • Overnight bus (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class - USD85
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Petty thefts happen from time to time during overnight bus journeys. These opportunistic individuals are not only an annoyance, they are also unfortunately extremely talented. They wait for passengers to be asleep to skilfully search through carry-on luggage in search of cameras, money and credit cards. During overnight bus journeys, it is safest to carry all your valuable belongings in the main luggage compartment which remains locked and out of the reach of anyone throughout the journey.
Say ‘hola’ to San Cristobal, your pastel-hued highland home for the next two days. Arrive early in the morning – check-in at the hotel isn't usually until midday, so leave your luggage and start exploring the city. Today and tomorrow are at your leisure. As always, your group leader will help you arrange any optional activities. With its winding cobblestone streets and colonial architecture, San Cristobal de las Casas has an old-world feel mixed with strong pre-hispanic roots. Wander to a local cafe and try an ‘elote’, a traditional highland corn snack, or check out the local museums.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Jade Museum - USD5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head out of town this morning and take a tour of the nearby San Juan Chamula, a traditional Maya village that serves as a centre for the indigenous folk around here. The villages are home to Tzotzil and Tzeltal groups, who maintain their tribal origins through their traditional costumes and customs. Your leader will take you to a church where the floor is covered with pine needles and the air is heavy with incense. Shamans come here to carry out cleansings with firewater, ancient prayer and chickens. Please be aware of a strict ban on cameras as the local people maintain their traditional customs. 

Afterwards, there's an option to take a day trip to Sumidero Canyon, where you can take a boat down the mighty Rio Grijalva. Or you might like to get things pumping with further exploration of the villages by mountain bike. For something more adventurous, try a canyoning trip to ‘El Chorreadero’. This 6-hour excursion will see you venture a kilometre inside a (dry) cave and return following the river through a number of cascades, pools and rappels. A truly memorable experience, but probably not recommended for the claustrophobic and those with fear of heights!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - El Chorreadero canyoning - MXN1400
  • Sumidero Canyon - Boat Excursion (Entrance & Transport) - USD30
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mountain bike tour - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today travel along a windy road by private vehicle to Palenque (approx 6 hours). You will stop at Agua Azul (Blue water) waterfall on the way, where you'll have an option to swim in the cascading pools. Once you've arrived, the afternoon is free for you to relax or explore. Situated in hot jungle, Palenque is the jumping off point to the nearby Mayan ruins of the same name. You'll have tomorrow to check them out.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Agua Azul waterfall - Visit with option to swim (Entrance fee)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The local Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque has been quite active in recent months, occasionally holding protests or blocking roads. Our local operations team is constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders. In some cases, we might need to use an alternative route from San Cristobal to Palenque to avoid this activity – more so to bypass long traffic delays than any real danger.
Today you'll visit the ruins of Palenque. Sitting on a hilltop surrounded by thick trees, the ruins date back to 600 AD and are some of the most impressive Mayan relics in Mexico. As you walk among the temples, listen out for the eerie calls of howler monkeys and screeching parrots echoing from the jungle. There are many ruins that are still un-excavated and remain concealed in the forest. You can opt to take a guided tour of the ruins or through the surrounding jungle to a hidden waterfall. The area gives you a great idea of what the Spanish invaders must have seen when they first arrived. This feels like real Tomb Raider stuff. This afternoon, travel by private bus to Merida (approx 7-8 hours in total).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Merida - Orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Founded in 1542, Merida still has much of its old-world charm. Wander through the Old Town, check out some museums and stroll the city streets, which are alive with art and culture. Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the 16th-century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the others. For a taste of Merida's 19th-century glory, go for a walk along the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo. Mornings are the best time to visit the outdoor markets, where you can stock up on hammocks and Maya replicas. This is also a great place to sample local food specialities, such as cochinita pibil or the extremely spicy El Yucateco hot sauce. Nearly every Mexican dish is made using corn tortillas (like tacos, tostadas, flautas, chilaquiles and enchiladas), and there's a bicycle cart on almost every corner in Merida selling elotes (corn on the cob) doused in salt, chilli, cheese, lemon juice or mayonaise. So yeah, they like corn. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Merida is the gateway to the Maya ruins of Uxmal. A tour of the ruins includes transport and a local guide. Little is known about the site’s origins but it’s thought the city was founded around 500 AD. Much of the site is decorated with masks of the rain god Chac. You can also visit a nearby bird sanctuary or a variety of other ruins, or hunt down one of the hidden cenotes (stunning natural sinkholes filled with water) and take a dip in the crystal clear fresh water. Merida's locals love dancing. Every Sunday the town's streets are transformed into an open-air dance floor, with salsa and merengue bands providing the music.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. shared transport and guide) - MXN810
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (Entrance and Transport) - MXN1035
  • Merida - Guided city tour - USD24
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Chichen Itza is your first stop today (approx 2 hours). This is possibly the most famous Mayan site in Mexico. Recently named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza has both Toltec and Mayan ruins lying alongside each other. The famous El Castillo (Temple of Kukulkan) pyramid dominates the site. Not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’, where many disputes are were settled by way of a ball game that employed only the elbows, hips and wrists. Stone carvings depicting violence suggest it was not some casual sport. Nearby, excavations of the Well of Sacrifice offered up treasures of jade, copper and gold as well as many human and animal bones. Following a guided tour of the site, continue to the Caribbean coast and the resort town of Playa del Carmen by private vehicle (approx 3 hours). Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but with less of a party atmosphere. Here you can spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving in underground caverns, tanning, or strolling along white sands. It's possible to take a ferry from here across to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving. In the evenings, feast on seafood, kick back, and watch the waves with a margarita or two.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Playa del Carmen - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel (Round-trip) - MXN326
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day in Playa del Carmen. Maybe join some optional activities like snorkeling among mangroves and cycling, or just stroll along the beaches.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Bicycle rental (per day) - MXN250
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Today you'll hop on a local bus along the Caribbean coast to Tulum (approx 1.5 hours), where it's all about laid-back life and the broad, white beach. Once you're settled, there's the chance to visit one of the best-looking Maya sites around. The impressive pre-Columbian walled city ruins are all crumbly and clinging to a cliff-top over a lovely beach, with spectacular views over the tropical shores below. You can even go for a swim within its ancient walls. In the evening, kick back and watch the waves with a margarita.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tulum - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Tulum - Archaeological Site (Entrance fee) - MXN65
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is free to relax, join some optional activities and generally do what you feel. Two wheels are a good way to start the day, so rent a bike, cruise around the area and cover a lot of ground in a short time. There's also the option of exploring Dos Ojos (Two eyes) of the most famous Cenotes (Fresh-water rock pool); an underwater world full of stalagmites and stalactites.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Dos Ojos Cenote - Fresh water rock pool (Entrance fee with snorkelling gear included) - MXN350
  • Tulum - Snorkel rental (per day) - USD15
  • Tulum - Bicycle rental (per day) - MXN185
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 (approx 8 hours in total). Let the wind and spray wash the bus out of your face with a speedboat to Caye Caulker (approx 1 hour). If your idea of paradise is white sand, blue waters and palm trees then you’re going to dig Caye Caulker.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Caye Caulker - Orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Your time in Caye Caulker is all about talking it easy. The pace of life is so deliciously 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 colorful 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 sail - USD38
  • Caye Caulker - Snorkelling trip (half day) - USD35
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 relax with a book. If you went snorkeling yesterday 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 foodies, famed for its lobster and simple but 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 - Sea kayaking (half day) - USD25
  • Caye Caulker - Stand up paddle board rental (per hour) - USD25
  • Caye Caulker - Manatee tour - USD85
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you'll leave the island behind and return to Belize City by boat (approx 1 hour), before taking a local bus to San Ignacio (approx 3 hours). The local buses in Belize 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 Maya ruins, making it the best base for exploring the region. After you arrive, the rest of the day is free.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Ignacio - Orientation walk
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 USD20 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 USD20 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.
You can't do them all but there are a heap of optional activities to choose between around 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 1,400-year-old crystallised skeletons. Or take a day trip to the Mountain Pine Ridge area to visit waterfalls and warm swimming holes, or you can also check out the butterfly garden and go down the 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.
When you're feeling hungry, head to one of the little barbeque stalls that open on the streets. Get yourself one of the huge portions and join the locals for a chat while they sit next to the street and enjoy a juicy chicken leg.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Ignacio - Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave - inc. transport, guide and lunch) - USD95
  • San Ignacio - Xunantunich Ruins (Entrance) - USD10
  • San Ignacio - Cave tubing - USD95
  • San Ignacio - Mountain Pine Ridge day trip (inc. transport and guide) - USD85
  • San Ignacio - Butterfly Farm - USD40
  • San Ignacio - Cahal Pech Ruins (Entrance fee & Transport) - USD10
  • San Ignacio - Caracol Ruins (inc. transport and guide) - USD95
  • San Ignacio - Iguana Conservation Project (Entrance) - USD9
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you go jungle. Guatemala-style. Leave San Ignacio, cross the border, and get dropped at Tikal National Park by private vehicle (approx 4 hours). You'll set up camp on the grounds of a hotel near the National Park entrance 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. If you've got the energy then climb Temple IV for epic canopy views and a great selfie opportunity. 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 zipline experience. 
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tikal National Park - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
Optional Activities
  • Tikal National Park - entrance and guided walk - USD45
  • Tikal - Zipline - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
All camping equipment is provided. There is a basic shared bathroom block (2 toilets and 2 showers for both male and female)
From the jungle to the lake this morning, as you drive (approx 1 hour) to the lakeside town of Flores. 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 (approx 5 hours) where you can pick up some Spanish phrases from your leader. 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 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
  • Multishare lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are a load of kick-ass activities to choose between today. Take a scenic boat trip down the river to Livingston, a laid-back 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.
Accommodation
  • Multishare lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Rio Dulce - Boat trip to Livingston (Price dependent on boat available & passengers) - USD30
  • Rio Dulce - Natural hot springs (including transportation) - USD25
  • Rio Dulce - San Felipe Fort - USD4
  • Rio Dulce - Quirigua Ruins - USD41
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by private vehicle to the city of Antigua (approx 8 hours). You'll spend the night here, before heading to Lake Atitlan tomorrow. You won't spend too much time in Antigua today but you'll be coming back here at the end of the trip, so don't stress. Still, take some time for a stroll and try tasty tamales - a local dish served in a corn leaf - or Pepian, three meats (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 authentic and up-close Guatemalan experience. Start the day by travelling by private vehicle to the famous market in Chichicastenango (approx 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 towards San Jorge La Laguna, a small Maya village overlooking Lake Atitlan (approx 1.5 hours). Here you'll meet your host family, and it'll be time to bust out your best Spanish to break the ice with these friendly but shy locals. The group may be split in twos or threes, depending on the group size. The mother of the family will cook you basic but filling dinner and breakfast, and soon enough you'll want them to adopt you.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichicastenango Market
  • San Jorge La Laguna - Traditional Maya Homestay
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Say bye to your host family this morning and push on to neighbouring Panajachel, a cool little town on Lake Atitlan with distant volcanoes looming in the background. Pana has got a thriving market, loads of good places to eat and many water-based activities to enjoy. There are a whole host of optional activities here. Choose to go swimming, volcano hiking, kayaking or mountain biking. You can visit a local community cooperative, take a boat out to some of the nearby villages, watch women weaving at Santa Catarina Palopo or explore the colourful markets of Santiago Atitlan.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Panajachel - San Pedro Volcano hike - USD75
  • Panajachel - Guided lake and villages tour - USD36
  • Panajachel - Mountain bike tour - USD75
  • Panajachel - Kayak rental (per hour) - USD8
  • Panajachel - Bicycle rental (per day) - USD10
  • Panajachel - Zipline - USD52
  • Panajachel - Water taxi to Santiago, San Pedro or San Juan - USD8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Hit the road back to Antigua by private vehicle today (approx 3 hours). With three nearby volcanoes dominating the horizon, you won't have been to many places quite like Antigua. The World Heritage-listed city is a cobblestoned maze of colonial buildings, 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 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. 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 walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Antigua - Chocolate-making workshop - USD25
  • Antigua - Coffee/Macadamia nut plantation tour - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Unfortunately, more than half the population of this beautiful Guatemala you have come to know so well 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 Intrepid 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/
Enjoy a free day exploring 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. 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 on your final night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
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 - Chocolate-making workshop - USD25
  • Antigua - Antigua by the Bean - Urban Adventures - USD76
  • Antigua - Salsa lesson (per hour) - USD7
  • Antigua - Bike tour - USD40
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Unfortunately, more than half the population of this beautiful Guatemala you are about to discover 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 Intrepid 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 - Archeological Museum (Entrance fee) - USD7
  • Copan - Macaw Mountain Bird Park (Entrance fee) - HNL230
  • Copan - Archeological site (Transport & Entrance fee) - USD17
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 - Morning kayak bird watching (requires a minimum of 3 travellers to run) - USD35
  • Suchitoto - Birdwatching Walk (requires a minimum of 3 travellers to operate) - USD25
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 - Butterfly garden and insects farm - USD15
  • Monteverde - Orchid gardens - USD12
  • Monteverde - Serpentarium - USD15
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 - Rio Celeste Safari Float tour - USD70
  • La Fortuna - Stand up paddle board - USD65
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)
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - Leader-led walking tour - Free
  • San Jose - The Art of Craft Beer in San Jose - Urban Adventures - USD68
  • San Jose - National Museum - USD12
  • San Jose - San Jose Bites and Sights Tour - Urban Adventures - USD33
  • San Jose - San Jose by Night - Urban Adventures - USD74
  • San Jose - Cartago Bike & Train Tour - Urban Adventures - USD59
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

1 breakfast, 1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle, Public bus, Local bus, Overnight Public Bus, Taxi, Private boat, Shared boat, Ferry

Accommodation

Hotel (36 nights), Camping with facilities (1 night), Homestay (1 night), Overnight bus (1 night), Lodge (4 nights), Multishare lodge (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Mexico City - Leader-led city tour of Historic center
  • Puebla - Orientation walk
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Oaxaca - Orientation walk
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula
  • Agua Azul waterfall - Visit with option to swim (Entrance fee)
  • Palenque - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Merida - Orientation walk
  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Playa del Carmen - Orientation walk
  • Tulum - Orientation walk
  • Caye Caulker - Orientation walk
  • San Ignacio - Orientation walk
  • Tikal National Park - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Chichicastenango Market
  • San Jorge La Laguna - Traditional Maya Homestay
  • Antigua - Leader-led walking tour
  • Suchitoto - Orientation walk
  • Monteverde - Orientation walk
  • La Fortuna - Orientation walk

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. To have a private room on this trip, a single supplement is bookable (subject to availability) with exception of Day 7 (Overnight bus) where you would be in shared accommodation.
3. To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures. Your leader and the composition of your group may change with the start of each adventure.
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. We at Intrepid monitor any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.

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.