Best of Central America

44 Days | Colourful villages, jungle safaris and beachside breaks, from Mexico to Panama

4.6 out of 5 based on 5 reviews submitted.
Explorer
From
GBP £3,445
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Explore incredible worlds above and below the water through some of Central America's best. Amble down the Yucatan Peninsula to the island paradise of Caye Caulker, then cutting inland, hit the lush jungle around Tikal, cruise to the wide river Rio Dulce and end up among the clouds in Panajachel and Antigua. Continue to the relaxing beach vibes on the dark sands of the Pacific Coast of El Salvador, spot colourful birds perched on the colonial facades of Suchitoto, stand in the shadow of mighty Arenal Volcano and spot sloths among the canopy of Monteverde, then admire the colonial towns, steamy jungles of Costa Rice and Panama, stopping off at the stunning islands of Bocas del Toro. With your local leader to steer you in the direction of the best bars and surf breaks plus a small group of adventurers to enjoy them with, you can’t go wrong on this carefree Central American journey.

Trip overview

Map of Best Of Central America including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama
Start
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Finish
Panama City, Panama
Theme
Explorer
Destinations
Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Belize
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Style
Basix
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 16
Trip code
QVRQC
This trip generates 20.63 kg of CO2-e per person per day.
We offset these emissions on your behalf. But we know that is not enough, so we also have a carbon reduction target.

Why you'll love this trip
  • Whether its slumbering on the sands of Playa del Carmen, gazing at the pyramids of Tikal or haggling in the vibrant markets of Chichicastenango, you'll experience multiple sides of Central America.
  • Get to know contemporary Maya life during a homestay in San Juan La Laguna, a lakeside village where you can share meals and conversation with a local family.
  • Hike, cycle or zip-line through the steamy cloud forests of Monteverde – there’s so many ways to experience the lush canopies and unique Central American wildlife.
  • Cruise up the Rio Dulce to your waterfront jungle lodge, then maybe grab a beer and relax while the sounds of nature fill the air.
  • Put your chef hat on and help prepare a traditional Caribbean dinner with a local family in their home in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Is this trip right for you?
  • This trip is made for travellers who value their independence but also want the benefit of a local leader and a group of like-minded travellers. The itinerary includes basic accommodation and has free time for activities when your leader will offer suggestions. Please budget spending money for optional activities you want to partake in.
  • This trip includes some long travel days by local transport, which can be basic and challenging, but is also a fantastic way to rub shoulders with the locals and get under the skin of a place, whilst being mindful for the environment. This trip also includes time spent travelling in a private vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers and watch the passing scenery. This is a real Central American adventure, after all!
  • As this trip covers destinations across eight countries, you'll need to make several border crossings. While these are usually straightforward, please prepare to be patient. Books, podcasts and car games will be your best friend.
  • Central America is tropical, so expect a hot and humid climate. Make sure you protect yourself from the sun, wear comfortable, light clothing and stay hydrated – especially when out on walking tours. Air conditioning may not always be available in your rooms. Occasionally, properties may require an additional charge for the use of air conditioning.
  • The homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday local life. Conditions during your homestay in San Juan La Laguna are basic. Your room will consist of a couple of beds with clean bedding, and the bathroom will most likely be shared with the rest of the family. A hearty home-cooked breakfast and dinner will be served during your stay, which can be a lot more basic than what you're used to. However, corn, rice and beans are very filling.
  • There will be times when you have to walk with your luggage, and for this reason, we recommend packing light and using a backpack or something easy to carry.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 27 January 2024 to 31 December 2024.

View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2023 - 26 January 2024

Map of Best Of Central America including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama

Inclusions

Meals

1 breakfast, 3 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle, Local bus, Taxi, Private boat, Shared boat, Ferry

Accommodation

Hotel (36 nights), Multishare Hotel (1 night), Hotel with shared facilities (2 nights), Homestay (1 night), Lodge (3 nights)

Activities
  • Caye Caulker - Leader-led orientation walk
  • San Ignacio - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Tikal National Park - Tikal archaeological site (entrance fee, no guide)
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Chichicastenango - Market Visit
  • Chichicastenango - Shaman Visit
  • Panajachel - Leader-led orientation walk
  • San Juan La Laguna - Traditional Maya Homestay
  • Antigua - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Santa Apolonia - Traditional Pottery Demonstration
  • Copan Ruins - Visit
  • Suchitoto - Salvadoran Pupusa cooking demonstration
  • Suchitoto - Leader led orientation walk
  • Suchitoto - Indigo Dyeing Demonstration
  • Leon - Leader led orientation walk
  • Granada - Breakfast at El Cafe de las Sonrisas
  • Monteverde - Leader-led orientation walk
  • La Fortuna - Leader led orientation walk
  • San Jose - Orientation Walk
  • Sarapiqui – Night Jungle Walk
  • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Puerto Viejo - Hands-on dinner in local home
  • Boquete - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Leader - led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Panama City - Leader-led walk in Casco Viejo
  • Panama City - Leader-led walk along part of the Cinta Costera (Causeway) including a visit to the Fish Market
Add on activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Bicycle Rental (per day) - MXN260
  • Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel (Round-trip Ticket) - MXN500
  • Caye Caulker - Stand-up paddleboard hire (per hour) - BZD42
  • Caye Caulker - Manatee boat tour (Incl. transport & guide) - BZD242
  • Caye Caulker - Bicycle Rental (per day) - USD8
  • Caye Caulker - Sunset sailing - BZD100
  • San Ignacio - Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves (Incl. entry, guide, transport & lunch) - BZD250
  • San Ignacio - Butterfly Farm - BZD55
  • San Ignacio - Cave tubing (incl. entrance, guide & transport) - BZD190
  • San Ignacio - Iguana Conservation Project (entrance fee) - BZD20
  • San Ignacio - Xunantunich Ruins entry - BZD10
  • Tikal National Park - Guide for Ruins (per group) - GTQ500
  • 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 - Quirigua Ruins (entrance fee) - GTQ80
  • Rio Dulce - San Felipe Fort (entrance fee) - GTQ75
  • Panajachel - Kayak rental (per hour) - GTQ100
  • San Juan La Laguna - Water taxi to Santiago (Return) - GTQ60
  • Antigua - Salsa-dance Lesson (per hour) - GTQ100
  • Antigua - Chocolate-making workshop at ChocoMuseo - GTQ225
  • Copan - Natural Hot Springs & Dinner - USD50
  • Suchitoto - Birdwatching Walk (requires a minimum of 3 travellers to operate) - USD25
  • Suchitoto - Town tour (it requires a minimum of 3 travellers to operate) - USD30
  • Suchitoto - War historic walk at Cinquera Forest (requires a minimum of 3 travellers to operate) - USD50
  • El Cuco - surf lesson - USD20
  • Leon - Volcano Sand Boarding - USD45
  • Granada - Laguna Apoyo kayaking tour - USD30
  • Granada - Mombacho Volcano hike - USD30
  • Granada - Masaya Volcano at night (Viewpoint for the Lava Lake at Santiago Crater) - NIO1600
  • Granada - Monkey Island boat tour - NIO455
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest Entrance - USD25
  • Monteverde - Suspension bridges tour - USD50
  • Monteverde - Canopy Zip Lining (Entrance, Equipment & Transport) - USD62
  • Monteverde - Coffee & Chocolate tour - USD45
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest Night Walk - USD35
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest Train - USD50
  • Monteverde - Butterfly Garden and Insects Farm (entrance fee) - USD21
  • Monteverde - Frog pond - USD15
  • Monteverde - Orchid gardens - USD16
  • La Fortuna - Ecotermales Hot Springs (entrance fee) - USD45
  • La Fortuna - Arenal hanging bridges - USD75
  • La Fortuna - La Fortuna Waterfall (Entrance only) - USD18
  • La Fortuna - Arenal Volcano Hike - USD88
  • La Fortuna- Caño Negro boat tour - USD80
  • La Fortuna - Stand up paddle board - USD75
  • San Jose - San Jose By Night: Food and Culture - Urban Adventures - USD74
  • San Jose - National Museum (entrance fee) - USD11
  • San Jose - Pre-Colombian Gold Museum (Entrance fee) - USD16
  • San Jose - San Jose Bites and Sights Tour - Urban Adventures - USD38
  • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Surf lesson (1 hour) - USD57
  • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Cahuita National Park - USD5
  • Bocas del Toro - Jungle Cacao Tour (guide and transport included) - USD35
  • Bocas del Toro - Zapatilla Tour including Sloth Island & snorkelling at Cayo Coral (guide and transport included) - USD45
  • Bocas del Toro - Full-day Tour including Bastimentos island, Jungle hike & Lunch with Ngobe Community (guide and transport included) - USD60
  • Bocas del Toro - Bio-luminescence Boat Tour (guide and transport included) - USD30
  • Bocas del Toro - Colon Expedition including starfish beach & bird island - USD40
  • Boquete - Guided Bicycle Tour (guide and bike hire included) - USD55
  • Boquete - Guided Tour of Hidden Waterfalls (entrance fee, transport and guide included) - USD50
  • Boquete - Zipline (guide and transport included) - USD65
  • Boquete - Mini Canyons Tour (entrance fee, transport and guide included) - USD35
  • Boquete - Calderas Hot Springs (entrance fee and transport included, no guide) - USD35
  • Boquete - Coffee Plantation Tour (guide and transport included) - USD35
  • Panama City - Panama Canal: Miraflores Locks (entrance fee only, no guide, no transport) - USD20

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 9 (Tikal) and Day 14 (San Juan La Laguna homestay), where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Should you have any questions or need assistance with the Honduras pre-registration, your leader will be able to assist on Day 1 of your tour. For more information, visit the ‘Passports, visas and entry requirements’ section of the ‘Essential Trip Information.

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.

Read Essential Trip Information

Reviews

4.6 out of 5 based on 5 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

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Orla · Traveled May 2023
The 45 days Central America trip is an excellent way to see the highlights of each country. The activities included such as the cooking classes were excellent and the recommended additional activities really added the the trip. On this trip you will take part in a wide range of excellent activities from snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef, caving in San Ignacio, hiking Acatenago in Guatemala, volcano boarding in Nicaragua and white water rafting in Costa Rica. This trip is so varied and its brilliant to see both the Carribean and Pacific regions of Central America. The knowledge you gain on the economic, social and historical status of each country is excellent. I loved this trip and it exceeded all my expectations.
Review submitted 29 Jul 2023

Indira · Traveled August 2022
Central America has such a rich history, albeit tragic at times. I highly recommend any trips to this area especially to learn more about the incredible Mayan people.
Review submitted 12 Sep 2022

Gillian · Traveled August 2022
This was a fantastic trip. It is definitely quite fast paced and lots of time spent in transport so be well aware of that before you book. With the amount of time given for each place I would definitely call this a highlight tour, without too much time to go off the beaten path. If this is what you are looking for then this will be the perfect trip for you.
Review submitted 20 Oct 2022

Danny · Traveled February 2020
Interesting tour but unfortunately couldn’t complete it due to pandemic. Diversity of scenery and experiences, helpful and approachable tour leaders, transportation went smoothly, enjoyed mingling with locals. Some hotels could be improved upon as generally older properties. The group developed great camaraderie and some hope to finish tour together sometime.
Review submitted 06 Apr 2020

Karen · Traveled February 2020
As a "newbee" to group travel I am so glad I chose Intrepid. Intrepid took all the headaches out of trying to do it all myself. Central America, itinerary was true to what was stated plus the bonus for my 3 back to back trips was very skilled group leaders, thanks Victor and Pablo. The enjoyment of being part of a group who were all there for a good fun time was unbelievable. Central America is amazing scenery, colourful culture,islands to die for with great snorkelling, food and best of all locals. Thanks Intrepid
Review submitted 03 Apr 2020
Best of Central America
From
GBP £3,445