Colourful villages, jungle safaris and beachside breaks, from Mexico to Panama
Explore incredible worlds above and below the water on a Lonely Planet Experience 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 El Cuco, 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.
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 Jorge 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.
Clear sea perfect for swimming, shacks serving cold cerveza and sandy shores covered in starfish are waiting in the Bocas del Toro, where you spend three nights on Isla Colon.
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.
This trip involves some long travel days, especially from El Cuco to Leon with a 9-hour overland journey. Although this can be tiresome, it's a great opportunity to sit back, enjoy the passing scenery and to bond with your fellow travellers. This is a real Central American adventure, after all.
This trip 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. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates. This trip also includes some travel 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.
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.
The homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday local life. Conditions during your homestay in San Jorge 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.
Try to learn as many Spanish words as you can. Locals are very friendly, but also shy, so you'll need to make plenty of effort to break the ice. Attempting to communicate in Spanish is a great way of showing you care.
From walking the Costa Rican border crossing to optional full-day volcano hikes, this trip can involve a lot of walking. Please ensure you bring sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes. To make the most of the trip, it's best if you have at least a moderate level of fitness.
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.
1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1 in Playa del Carmen. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Days 10 & 11 (Rio Dulce) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. 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.
4. 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.
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.View Essential Trip Information