Discover Central America on an epic adventure.

Embark on an in-depth Central American adventure from Mexico’s capital to the home of the Panama Canal. Pass through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama on a small-group trip through remote villages, traditional cities, ancient Maya and Aztec ruins, verdant cloud forests and pure Caribbean beaches. Get acquainted with the local cultures, spectacular landscapes and fascinating histories of Central America as you explore the wealth of tradition, spot the range of unusual wildlife, dive into unique underwater worlds and spend time travelling at your own pace. Did you hear that? Central America is calling – you better Belize it.


Start
Mexico, Mexico
Finish
Panama City, Panama
Destinations
Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer
Code
QVRRC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • The stars of this trip are the dramatic and varied landscapes of lush Central America. If you’re thinking active volcanoes, idyllic beaches and emerald jungles – this trip has got you covered.

  • Eat your way through arty Oaxaca at its many market vendors and authentic restaurants – mole poblano and mezcal for dinner? Delicioso!

  • Escape the Mexican heat in the highlands of San Cristobal de las Casas. This old-world town is surrounded by indigenous villages that have retained their traditional customs and roots.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Head to the coffee plantations, waterfalls and caldera hot springs of Boquete, a highland town so beautiful you won’t miss the beach one bit.

  • 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.

Is this trip right for you?

  • 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.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2019 itinerary
Bienvenidos a Mexico City! This is one of the world's largest urban centres, a bustling metropolis of different eras, offering a huge variety of museums, galleries and architectural delights, along with pumping nightlife and unparalleled street food. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, but if you arrive early, perhaps head to the Zocalo – the massive central square – and check out the Aztec ruins and colonial architecture nearby. There are also plenty of parks, plazas and gardens to relax in and adjust to the Mexican way of life.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) (Closed Mondays) - MXN60
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology (Closed Mondays) - MXN70
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Wake up in Mexico City, ready for a leader-led walk to orientate yourself to the city, as well as to explore its historic centre. Pass by the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace, Bellas Artes, Paseo de la reforma and more. After exploring the main historic sights of Mexico’s capital, you sure would have worked up an appetite. For lunch, sample some authentic soft corn tacos from two different vendors – some of the best you’ll ever taste. The rest of the day is free for you to explore as you wish. Art fans will want to check out the Frida Kahlo Museum, otherwise you may want to visit the famous religious icon of Virgen de Guadalupe. In the evening, why not join the Mexican Night Out Urban Adventure tour, where you can get among Mexico's Holy Trinity of entertainment: Cantinas, Mariachi and Lucha Libre wrestling. Sip some tequila at a cantina, shuffle and sway to Mariachi music and watch masked wrestlers dive, fly, writhe, and grandstand for the audience for a truly loco night out. For more information, head to urbanadventures.com/destination/Mexico-City-tours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
  • Mexico City - Leader-led city tour of Historic center
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Mexican Night Out: Cantinas, Mariachi & Lucha Libre - Urban Adventures - USD60
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum (Cheaper for students, pensioners & on weekdays. Closed Mondays) - MXN200
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral - MXN20
  • Mexico City - Torre Latino 360° Lookout - MXN100
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals - Free
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Enjoy free time for a final exploration of Mexico City. Your group will head to the bus station in the late afternoon to catch a local bus to Puebla (approximately 2.5 hours), and if you're the grazing type, please make sure you bring some snacks along for the journey. The local buses in Mexico aren't the colourful school buses seen in other areas of Central America – most are comfortable, coach-style vehicles equipped with bathrooms. The air conditioning will be blasted often, so don't forget to bring a jacket too. On arrival in Puebla, your leader will take you out for an orientation walk and run through some common Spanish phrases to help you make the most of the days ahead. This will come in handy with an evening visit to La Pasita bar, where you’ll have the opportunity to taste pasita – a sweet liqueur made of raisins in one of Puebla’s most famous bar. Salud!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Puebla - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Puebla - La Pasita Bar
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Puebla is a rapidly growing city featuring many well-maintained churches and buildings from the colonial period, and today is free for you to discover the city at your leisure. Though there are enough churches to visit a different one every day for a year, two of the best examples are Santa Domingo Church and the Rosary Chapel, located in town. Further afield lies the Great Pyramid of Cholula, containing over 8 kilometres (5 miles) of tunnels, with the enormous Popocatepetl Volcano serving as a backdrop. In town, Puebla also has plenty of markets where you can brush up on your bargaining skills or pick up some local handicrafts. In the evening, why not try some mole poblano, a native Puebla dish that's famous all over Mexico? Perhaps you could even try making it yourself during an optional cooking class.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Puebla - Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel - Free
  • Puebla - Visit to Cholula - MXN275
  • Puebla - Cooking class - MXN1270
  • Puebla - Lucha Libre show (ticket price depends on seating area) - MXN205
  • Puebla - Museum of Art - MXN70
  • Mexico City - Original Markets & Street Food Tour - Urban Adventures - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Journey by local bus to Oaxaca, arriving after approximately 5 hours. Oaxaca (pronounced ‘wuh-haa-ka’) is a beautiful, old colonial town full of graceful arcades and colourful markets. You'll find Zapotec and Mixtec influences around the city as ancestors have populated this region for thousands of years. Your leader will take you on a quick orientation walk to show you the ropes then the next couple of days are free for you to explore. The city is known for its arts scene, particularly its folk and fine art, but you'll also discover a grungier side to Oaxaca including some incredible examples of street art. Walk the narrow, cobbled streets, or maybe sit back in one of the squares, sipping mezcal and watching the world go by.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There's an opportunity today to visit the spectacular temples of Monte Alban just outside of Oaxaca. Monte Alban was inhabited for 1500 years by the Olmec, Zapotec and Mixtec peoples, and this World Heritage site is an outstanding example of a pre-Columbian ceremonial centre, with terraces, dams, canals and pyramids carved out of the mountain. Alternatively, why not take a day tour out to Mitla Ruins, relax at the mineral springs and calcified waterfalls of Hierve el Agua, and stop by a local mezcal distillery. In the evening, if you've any energy left, you could have a go at plating up some delicious local fare during a cooking class, or just head out for some food with your fellow travellers and enjoy the town's lively atmosphere.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Monte Alban - Archaeological site (Entrance fee) - MXN95
  • Oaxaca - Full-day tour inc. Mitla Ruins, Hierve el Agua and mezcal distillery - MXN600
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - MXN65
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class - MXN1130
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Use today to take part in whatever optional activities you couldn't fit in yesterday, or enjoy a relaxed day in town instead, strolling the pretty streets and people-watching with a tejate (cinnamon chocolate flavoured drink) in hand. This evening the group will take a first-class overnight bus to the highland town of San Cristobal de las Casas – a journey of approximately 13 hours. There'll be a toilet, reclining seats and plenty of leg room, as well as air conditioning, so be sure to bring a jacket on board. Please keep in mind that though the bus is comfortable, the road from Oaxaca to San Cristobal has some very winding sections, and if you suffer from motion sickness, this is the time to have your medication handy.
Accommodation
  • Overnight bus (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Travelling by bus around Central America is the easiest and best way to get around, however petty thefts happen from time to time, especially during overnight journeys. These people are not only an annoyance, they are also unfortunately extremely talented. They wait for passengers to be asleep to skilfully search through unattended luggage in search of cameras, money and credit cards. During overnight bus journeys, it is safest to carry all your valuable belongings close to you at all times and out of the reach of anyone throughout the journey (not in the overhead compartments). Your group leader would have completed this journey multiple times, so take their advice, and if you have any issues, do not hesitate to ask them.
The bus will arrive in San Cristobal de las Casas early this morning. Leave your luggage at the hotel and begin exploring this highland town, hidden in green Chiapas valley surrounded by pine trees. Your leader will take you on a tour around town and point out all the important places, then the rest of the day is free for your own adventure. Take in the cobblestone streets and colonial architecture, and soak up the old-world feel mixed with strong, pre-Hispanic roots. Stroll through the market, chat with the locals and maybe buy some of the colourful weavings they are known for, before grabbing a drink and some food with your fellow travellers.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Amber (Jade) Museum - MXN30
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Museum of Typical Costumes - MXN40
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The villages surrounding San Cristobal are home to the indigenous Tzotzil and Tzeltal communities, who still maintain a strong sense of tradition both in dress and custom. Today you'll visit the village of San Juan Chamula with your leader, home to the fascinating Iglesia de San Juan. This church, with its pine-covered floor and air thick with incense, is often frequented by shaman who come to carry out cleansings using firewater and ancient prayer. Please understand that there is a strict ban on cameras inside the church. Outside, the town of San Juan Chamula is alive with colourful markets that sell local handicrafts and great street food. Otherwise, your leader can help organise a boating trip in the Sumidero Canyon, which is as old and impressive as the Grand Canyon, or a canyoning adventure through El Chorreadero. Once you've returned to San Cristobal, why not hit up a local cafe for an elote: a traditional highland corn snack and the perfect treat after a big day.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula Church (Entrance Fee)
  • Maya village - Zinacantan church (Entrance fee)
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mountain bike tour - MXN600
  • Sumidero Canyon - Boat Excursion (Entrance & Transport) - USD30
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel along a windy road by private vehicle to Palenque (approximately 6 hours), stopping en route at the Agua Azul waterfall for a refreshing swim. Once you've arrived in Palenque, the afternoon is free for you to relax or explore. Situated in a steamy jungle, Palenque is a central town located close to the nearby Maya ruins of the same name, which you'll have a chance to check out tomorrow.
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 Lacanja to Palenque to avoid this activity – more so to bypass long traffic delays than any real danger.
Today you have the chance to visit the Palenque archaeological zone. Situated on a hilltop, the ruins date back to AD600 and are some of the most impressive Maya relics in Mexico. As you walk among the temples (closed-toe shoes recommended), listen out for the eerie calls of howler monkeys echoing from the jungle. There are many ruins which are still un-excavated and remain hidden in the forest, and you can opt to take a guided tour of the ruins or through the surrounding jungle on your own Indiana Jones-style adventure. This afternoon, travel by private vehicle to the historic town of Merida (approximately 8 hours), the capital of the Yucatan region.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Palenque Ruins (Entrance and Transport)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Founded in 1542 on the site of Tho (an ancient Maya city), the colonial city of Merida retains much of its old-world charm thanks primarily to its people and architecture. Take a wander through Old Town, strolling the buzzing streets and visiting the city's museums. It's also worth walking down the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo for an insight into the city's 19th-century wealth accumulated from harvesting the henequen plant. Spend some time hanging in the Plaza Grande: a green, shady square enclosed by a 16th-century cathedral, City Hall, the State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo, and check out the outdoor markets where you can stock up on hammocks or sample some local food specialities, like the seriously spicy El Yucateco hot sauce.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Merida - Leader-led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Guided city tour - MXN318
  • Merida - Contemporary Art Museum - MXN65
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you can choose to visit the Maya ruins of Uxmal, which lie just 1 hour's drive from Merida, on an optional tour which includes transport and a local guide. Not much is known about the site, but it's thought that the city was constructed around AD700, was home to around 25,000 people and once dominated the region along with Chichen Itza. Much of the site is decorated with masks of Chac, the rain god, and important buildings include the Pyramid of the Soothsayer, the Quadrangle of the Nuns, the Governor's Palace, the House of the Tortoises and the Ball Court. Alternatively, you can choose to visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary, which is home to vast flocks of flamingos, herons and over 200 different bird species. In the evening, why not join in some dancing with Merida's locals. The town's streets are transformed into an open-air dance floor every Sunday, with salsa and merengue bands providing the tunes.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Dzibilchaltun Ruins Tour (Entrance, Guide & Transport) - MXN530
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. shared transport and guide) - MXN810
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (Entrance and Transport) - MXN1035
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel to Playa del Carmen by private vehicle, stopping en route for an included visit to the Maya ruins of Chichen Itza (this first leg will take about two hours). Named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza contains both Toltec and Mayan ruins lying alongside each other. The famous El Castillo pyramid dominates the site and there is also a large ball court where games used to be held. Nearby, excavations of the Well of Sacrifice offered up treasures of jade, copper and gold as well as many human and animal bones. The group will spend 2-3 hours at Chichen Itza before continuing on to Playa (approx three hours). Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun that also has bit of a party atmosphere. After a quick orientation walk, pick a place to kick back with a margarita and watch the sun go down.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza Ruins - Entrance Fee
  • Playa del Carmen - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day to enjoy at your own pace. Perhaps use your time snorkelling in freshwater rock pools – cenotes – by booking yourself in on a day tour, or for an adventure further afield, take a ferry across to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving. If relaxing is on the cards, grab a towel and simply laze back on one of the pristine stretches of sand nearby – the tropical Caribbean is waiting. Later on in the evening, there is a group meeting booked for 6 pm where you can regroup and meet some new travellers joining you! Here, you will get briefed about the next stage of your adventure. Until then, go with the flow.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Mayan Underworld Explorer - Urban Adventures - USD77
  • Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel (Round-trip) - MXN326
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. There will be a welcome meeting tonight to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and meet travellers joining you. It’s important that you attend the meeting as your new leader will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Leave behind one paradise for another, quieter version. Travel south by local bus to Tulum, where white sand beaches and Maya ruins await after a mere 1.5-hour journey. Take an orientation walk with your leader around the small town when you arrive, then head to the cliffs or the shore to enjoy the sunshine at your own pace. The famous ruins that hug the cliff edge are no longer a well-kept secret, so if crowds aren’t your thing it’s best to get up early tomorrow to beat them. Enjoy free time maybe grab a snack and a beer at a beach shack, then hit the sand and the water (rinse and repeat). In the evening, you could grab a few of your fellow travellers and find a spot to watch the sunset with a margarita in hand.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tulum - Leader-led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Tulum - Archaeological Site (Entrance fee) - MXN75
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is as clear as the waters of the Caribbean, so you can spend it how you like. Perhaps start your morning by renting a bike and exploring on two wheels. Then maybe head to Akumal Bay for a change of scenery or check out one of the many local freshwater rock pools known as cenotes. You can buy an organised tour to each of these attractions or venture off on your own as both are easily accessible using local transport. Cenote Dos Ojos is perhaps the most spectacular of the natural pools, but it be prepared for a three-kilometre walk each way from the local bus drop off. Remember, pack plenty of water and snacks so you don’t get caught out! If you haven't already, you might want to take the opportunity to head to Mexico's most famous archaeological site, Chichen Itza, which is about a 2-hour drive away. Chat to your leader about what’s on offer and how to organise optional activities.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Dos Ojos Cenote - Fresh water rock pool (Entrance fee with snorkelling gear included) - MXN350
  • Cenote Cristalino - Entrance fee (snorkelling gear included) - MXN150
  • Tulum - Bicycle rental (per 24 hours) - MXN150
  • Chichen Itza Ruins - Entrance Fee - MXN481
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
We recommend you use some time today to buy something to pack for lunch on the bus tomorrow. There isn't much on offer along the way to Belize and it is a long day!
Bid adios to Mexico early this morning and head south to Belize. Be prepared for a long day of travel on the road without a chance to stop for lunch, as the total driving time including the border crossing will take 8—9 hours. First, travel to the town of Chetumal by public bus (approximately 3.5 hours). Then jump on a local bus to the border (20 minutes). Undertake border formalities, then board the same bus to Belize City (approximately 3 hours). Once in Belize City take a water taxi to Caye Caulker (1 hour). Expect to arrive on Caye Caulker by 6 pm. Phew! What a day. But trust us, it’s worth it. Perhaps go for an evening stroll to get your bearings on the island, then if you have the energy why not hit a beach bar and unwind. Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America, which will make chatting with locals much easier.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Caye Caulker - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Good morning and welcome to heaven! Today is free for you to explore the island and surrounds or simply relax. Whatever you choose to do, it’s pretty much impossible to keep the smile off your face when the scenery is this magic. If you feel like snorkelling, ask your leader about organising a trip to the colourful coral reef nearby, or perhaps head further afield to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, home to the world’s second-longest coral reef. Manatee spotting is one option nature lovers should consider, as the chance to encounter these gentle giants is a special one. Of course, you could always take a stroll and find a swaying palm tree with your name on it. They make the perfect place to nap, read a book and soak up the island vibes.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Caye Caulker - Guided snorkelling trip (half day) - BZD70
  • Caye Caulker - Guided snorkelling trip (full day) - BZD150
  • Caye Caulker - Manatee tour - BZD240
  • Caye Caulker - Sea kayaking (half day) - BZD70
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
What’s better than one day in paradise? Two, of course! Wake up when you like, because you’ve got another free day. Like any good seaside Eden, Caye Caulker is home to super fresh seafood, which you can dig into with your feet planted in the sand at one of the many ‘floor free’ outdoor restaurants. The island's famous lobster are available between 15 June and 15 February, and you can expect to pay far less than at home (though more than your average island meal). Some of the best meals can be found by the roadside, so why not grab some grilled shrimp and a rum and coke made with fire water to really get into the spirit.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Caye Caulker - Stand up paddle board rental (per hour) - BZD35
  • Caye Caulker - Bicycle rental (per day) - BZD40
  • Caye Caulker - Sunset sail - BZD100
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
From the islands to the highlands, today you’ll bid farewell to Caye Caulker and catch a ferry to Belize City (1 hour) and then take a local bus to San Ignacio (3.5 hours). Local buses in Belize are a little more basic and crowded than you may have experienced elsewhere in Central America. Get ready for a stop-and-go experience on the journey. There are very few official bus stops in Belize, so the bus will stop as required by roadside passengers. On arrival, your leader will take you walking tour of San Ignacio and its twin sister Santa Elena, which will give you a sense of how vibrant the local Garifuna and Maya communities are. Perhaps tonight head out in search of a classic Maya dish like cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork marinated in citrus).
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.
You have a full day at your leisure to discover San Ignacio. This beautiful town is surrounded by fast flowing rivers, waterfalls and Maya ruins, making it the ideal base. One optional activity that will appeal to history buffs is a day trip to Xunantunich, an impressive Maya ceremonial site positioned on a hill that overlooks the countryside. Getting to the site is half the fun, as you'll need to take a hand-cranked ferry to cross the river. Also nearby is the cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal, a living museum of Maya relics. Wade through cool waters to find ceramic pots and crystallised skeletons preserved by the calcium-rich environment of the cave for over 1400 years. Easily spooked? Maybe you'd prefer the a cave with fewer (as far as we know) skeletons, like the one in Mountain Pine Ridge. In the late afternoon, the barbecue stalls of Santa Elena start to set up for the dinner rush. It's only a 15-minute walk, so consider wandering over to enjoy a juicy chicken leg and a chat with the locals. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Ignacio - (ATM Caves) Actun Tunichil Muknal (Entrance fee, Guide, Transport & Lunch) - BZD190
  • San Ignacio - Cave tubing - BZD170
  • San Ignacio - Butterfly Farm - BZD55
  • San Ignacio - Barton Creek canoe trip - BZD170
  • San Ignacio - Iguana Conservation Project (Entrance fee) - BZD20
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Rise and shine for an 8 am taxi ride to the Belize-Guatemala border. Once you've crossed over, board a bus to Tikal National Park (approximately 2.5 hours). In Tikal there will be time to buy lunch before visiting the impressive archaeological site. Towering above the jungle, the five granite temples of Tikal are an imposing sight and one of the most magnificent Maya ruins. Hidden in the evergreen forest are a maze of smaller structures waiting to be explored. The energetic can climb to the top of the ruins for spectacular views over the canopy and the chance to spot toucans, macaws and other colourful birds. Choose to explore on your own or pay a little more for a guided tour (or maybe see the site from above on an optional zip-line ride). Tonight, set up the tents and mattresses and spend some time under the stars. The weather is always warm in this part of the world but a thin blanket is provided for extra comfort. There are also basic shared bathrooms and showers at the camp.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tikal National Park - Entrance fee
Optional Activities
  • Tikal National Park - Guide for Ruins (per group) - GTQ500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
If you can't get enough of Tikal, you have the option to visit the site again in the (very) early morning at your own cost before departing at 8 am to Flores. It's just a 1-hour ride away, and on arrival your leader will take you on a walking tour of the island of Flores. Continue by private minivan to Rio Dulce (approximately 4 hours). On arrival in Rio Dulce, transfer to the hotel by boat. The easiest way to get back into town is also on the water, a journey which can be organised through the hotel. Alternatively, a 40-minute jungle walk will get you there. The hotel is a great place to relax and look over the water, with reasonably priced meals and drinks served in the hotel restaurant. Now that you are back in a Spanish-speaking nation, why not join an informal Spanish lesson put on by your leader? Muy bien!
Accommodation
  • Multishare lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Multi-share typically includes triple and quadriple 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. Each room has private facilities. 
With plenty of free time today, consider taking advantage of some of the optional activities available. Maybe take a scenic boat trip down the river to the coastal enclave of Livingston for a taste of Creole-Caribbean culture. This laidback town on the Caribbean coast feels very different from the rest of Guatemala thanks to its Garifuna population. Or perhaps go boating on the lake, take a tour to spot local manatees or explore nearby San Felipe Fort.
Accommodation
  • Multishare lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Rio Dulce - Boat trip to Livingston (Price dependent on boat available & passengers) - GTQ160
  • Rio Dulce - Natural Hot Springs (Entrance fee & 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.
Leave the 'Sweet River' behind and travel by private minibus to the city of Antigua, a journey which should take around eight or nine 8 or 9 hours, allowing time for lunch. The road between Rio Dulce and Guatemala City is one of the busiest in the country. Traffic is slow, there are frequent road works and many, many, many (seriously) slow trucks. Be armed with patience, music and a good book and the journey will be easier to handle. Spend the night in Antigua before heading to Lake Atitlan tomorrow. Though there's not much tie in Antigua today, you owe it to yourself to reward you patience with a tamale – meat and dough steamed in a corn leaf. You could also give the pepian a try, which consists of a rich dark sauce served with vegetables and meat (usually chicken). You may also want to take this time to purchase a few snacks for your time at the homestay on Lake Atitlan as the meals there can be very basic. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Be up early and ready for an 8 am departure. Travel by private transport for 2.5 hours on winding roads to Chichicastenango. Home to perhaps the most colourful market in the country, on Thursdays and Sundays locals come from the surrounding villages to sell their wares and the streets are lined with stalls offering multi-coloured textiles and fresh produce. After doing a little shopping at the market, head to San Jorge La Laguna, a small Maya village overlooking Lake Atitlan (about 1.5 hours). Meet your host family and start getting to know each other. Locals in San Jorge La Laguna are both very friendly and very shy. In order to make the most of this experience, it may take a bit of effort from your side to break the ice first. Draw on your newly learnt Spanish and get ready for some serious hand signals. Enjoy dinner with your host family. 
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichicastenango Market
  • San Jorge La Laguna - Traditional Maya Homestay
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Depending on how large the group is, we may split into smaller configurations of two or three people.

Houses in San Jorge La Laguna are very basic. Your room may only consist of a couple of beds with clean bedding and the bathroom will most likely be outside your room and shared with the rest of the family. The mother of the family will cook dinner and breakfast for you and the meals can be very basic but filling, consisting of corn, rice and beans.
Say goodbye to your host family this morning and move on to the neighbouring town of Panajachel. Located on Lake Atitlan with distant volcanoes looming in the background, Panajachel has a thriving market, good eateries and many water-based activities to enjoy. Once you arrive in 'Pana' your leader will take you on a brief walking tour of town so you can get your bearings. The rest of the time is free for you to explore. Why not go for a swim, hike to San Pedro volcano or kayak on the lake, there aren't many places in the world that serve up active adventure in such a beautiful locale. The surrounding area is also dotted with villages which can be reached on foot or by boat. Watch women weaving at Santa Catarina Palopo or explore the colourful markets of Santiago Atitlan. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Panajachel - Leader-led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Panajachel - San Pedro Volcano hike - GTQ400
  • Panajachel - Guided lake and villages tour - GTQ190
  • Panajachel - Kayak rental (per hour) - GTQ45
  • Panajachel - Bicycle rental (per day) - GTQ55
  • Panajachel - Water taxi to Santiago, San Pedro or San Juan (Return) - GTQ40
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Hit the road again at 9 am and make the 3-hour journey back to Antigua by private vehicle. In 1773 the city was destroyed by an earthquake, but many of the colonial buildings have been carefully restored and the architecture from its glory days can still be seen. Your leader will take you on a walking tour of Antigua including Cerro de la Cruz lookout, the local market and the chicken bus station next door, where the colourfully-decorated American school buses you've probably seen on the roads come from. The rest of your time in Antigua is free for you to explore at your own pace. If you fancy a spin on the dance floor and want to learn some moves, Antigua is the place to be. Many dancing schools offer hourly lessons so you'll be able to perfect your moves. As always, ask your leader for details.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Antigua - Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Antigua - Salsa lesson (per hour) - GTQ35
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day exploring this photogenic city. Perhaps check out the ChocoMuseo located on 4th Street West, two blocks away from central park. Learn all about chocolate, which was first documented by the Guatemalan Maya, as well as it's historical importance. Or maybe grab a coffee from one of the myriad shops in central park and sit back, relax and enjoy Antigua's chilled-out vibes. If you want to learn more about Guatemalan coffee, you can go on a coffee tour, visit the plantations, do some coffee tasting and buy some to take home. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Antigua - Coffee/Macadamia nut plantation tour - GTQ240
  • Antigua - Antigua by the Bean - Urban Adventures - USD77
  • Antigua - Chocolate-making workshop - GTQ130
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day exploring the city. Perhaps check out the ChocoMuseo located on 4th Street West, two blocks away from central park. Learn all about chocolate, its history and nutritional values and you may be lucky enough to get a sample bag of chocolates at the end of the tour. Otherwise, grab a coffee from one of the many coffee shops in central park and just sit back, relax and enjoy Antigua's city vibe. If you want to learn more about the famous Guatemalan coffee, 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 moves. Keep in mind that there is another group meeting planned at 6 pm at the hotel this evening, where you’ll get briefed of the next stage of your journey, plus meet some new travel pals joining you!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Antigua - Chocolate-making workshop - GTQ130
  • Antigua - Coffee/Macadamia nut plantation tour - GTQ240
  • Antigua - Salsa lesson (per hour) - GTQ35
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. There will be a welcome meeting tonight to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and meet travellers joining you. It’s important that you attend the meeting as your new leader will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Rise and shine for a day of travel, leaving at around 4 am to beat the rush-hour traffic around Antigua. All up you'll be spending around 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 have some snacks ready to make the journey more comfortable. During the drive, your group leader will run an informal Spanish lesson, providing you some useful phrases to break the ice with the locals. 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 café, or perhaps head to the nearby natural hot springs. This optional tour gives you hours of soak time in mud, steaming natural baths and refreshing pools in the lush jungle, with an included dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
Optional Activities
  • Copan - Natural Hot Springs & Dinner - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning, take a visit with your group 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. Otherwise, nature lovers may wish to travel 2 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. Wave goodbye to Copan early in the afternoon and head across the border to El Salvador by private vehicle. There's another substantial amount of time spent on the road this afternoon (approximately 7 hours). Depending on traffic and conditions, you are expected to reach the colonial town of Suchitoto in the evening, just in time for a late dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Copan - Archeological site (Transport & Entrance fee)
Optional Activities
  • Copan - Macaw Mountain Bird Park (Entrance fee) - HNL230
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Begin the day with a guided orientation walk of Suchitoto – 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. The rest of the day 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 4 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)
Included Activities
  • Suchitoto - Leader led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Suchitoto - Boat trip to Bird Island in Lake Suchitlan (it requires a minimum of 3 travellers to operate) - USD25
  • Suchitoto - War historic walk at Cinquera Forest (requires a minimum of 3 travellers to operate) - USD40
  • Suchitoto - Morning kayak bird watching (requires a minimum of 3 travellers to run) - USD40
  • Suchitoto - Town tour (it requires a minimum of 3 travellers to operate) - USD30
  • Suchitoto - Birdwatching Walk (requires a minimum of 3 travellers to operate) - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning, get your chef’s hat on with a pupusa making session in a private home. These thick cornmeal flatbreads are a classic Salvadorian recipe from the Pipil culture, and are stuffed with some delicious ingredients, like cheese or chicharron (fried pork). Later on, head to coastal El Cuco (approximately 5 hours). There are some great dark-sand beaches close to town, including the beautiful Playa El Esteron and Playa Las Flores – one of the best surf spots in the country. Maybe head to a beach for a swim under the palms and relax with a beer while you wait for sunset. As night falls, you could enjoy a seafood dinner along the water – the local crab are some of the best in the country.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Miguel - Salvadoran Pupusa cooking demonstration
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Today you're free as a bird to explore the beautiful coast around El Cuco at your own pace. If you and a few others feel like getting active, you could take a trip to see nearby Conchagua Volcano. The views from the lookout are stunning, but you'll need a minimum of 5 people to take part. Alternatively, you might prefer to take a boat out on the ocean, find some inner peace during a free yoga class at the resort or simply relax in a hammock on the beach. Life’s good.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • El Cuco - Volcan de Conchagua lookout (it requires a minimum of 5 travellers to operate) - USD35
  • El Cuco - Yoga Class (Subject to teacher availability) - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Rise early for a full day of travel by private vehicle. Leave El Cuco at around 8 am and drive to El Amatillo border crossing (approximately 1.5 hours) before a 2.5 drive by of Honduras (including a stop for lunch) to the next border crossing Guasaule, and finally reaching Leon after another 2.5 hours. Upon arrival your leader will take you on a walking tour of this charming city. Though it's the second largest in the country, Leon is relatively free of tourists, making strolling the mural-lined streets a real pleasure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leon - Leader led walking tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The Nicaraguan border crossing can be confusing and disorderly so please pay close attention to your leader instructions. At this border crossing you will need to pay USD 12 fee, payable in cash.
Make the most of Leon in the morning. The street food behind the Lady of Grace Cathedral is some of the best in town, so why not grab a 'Nica taco'. Made with maize, rolled and then deep fried, these beauties are usually served with shredded cabbage and smothered in cream. Otherwise a thrilling volcano sand boarding adventure could be on the cards! Board a local bus bound for Granada at 2 pm, making the 3-hour journey to the oldest city in the 'New World'. Featuring Moorish and Andalusian architecture and oozing colonial charm, the city is set on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and is surrounded by active volcanoes. Set out on a walking tour with your leader on arrival. Visit busy markets, the leafy Parque Central and 'La Calzada': a lively pedestrian street with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Granada - Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Leon - Volcano Sand Boarding - NIO1260
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is all yours, so explore the city at your own pace. You may want to take a more comprehensive self-guided tour of the city, bargain hard in the markets or wander the cobblestone streets snapping photos of the colourful buildings. Hundreds of evergreen islets dot the waters of vast Lake Nicaragua, and you can spend a few hours exploring them by boat. Or perhaps hire a kayak and find your own way around, stopping to wave at fisherman who live in wooden huts on the islets, or the monkeys who live in the trees the huts are built from. Just remember not to take a dip, as freshwater sharks live in the water! Alternatively, you could take a day trip out to Mombacho or Masaya Volcano National Park.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Granada - Mombacho Volcano hike - NIO910
  • Granada - Masaya Volcano at night (Viewpoint for the Lava Lake at Santiago Crater) - NIO1140
  • Granada - Laguna Apoyo kayaking tour - NIO1025
  • Granada - Monkey Island boat tour - NIO455
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Have a morning of leisure in Granada. Perhaps start the day with a classic Nicaraguan breakfast of eggs, rice and beans, soft cheese, plantains and strong coffee. Then maybe hit the Convento y Museo San Francisco and view the collection of indigenous stone statues. At 2 pm take a local bus to Rivas (approximately 1.5 hours) and transfer to the port of San Jorge to catch a 1-hour ferry across the seemingly endless waters of Lake Nicaragua to Ometepe Island. Hourglass-shaped Ometepe is formed by two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua, one active and one extinct. The island is home to fruit plantations, deep jungle and exotic wildlife such as howler monkeys, caiman and parrots. Spend the evening on the island, and maybe head out for a beer at one of the waterfront bars.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend your free day however you wish on Ometepe. You can hike both Concepcion or Maderas Volcano, however, at 1700 and 1340 metres above sea level, the treks are no walk in the park. If you are going to tackle them, ask your leader for a recommendation for a local guide. You should also be aware that even for the very fit, both volcanoes will likely take all day (8–10 hours) to summit and then descend. Instead, you might prefer to splash around in the clear waters of the natural springs, soak up the sun on the beach or check out the ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings) scattered about the island. While the restaurants on the island are of decidedly mixed quality, your leader can give you the lowdown on which places to avoid and which to eat at. Stick to local fare and you'll have more luck – perhaps try indio viejo: a stew of corn, beef, onion, tomatoes and capsicum.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ometepe - Concepcion Volcano hike - USD45
  • Ometepe - Maderas Volcano hike - USD45
  • Ometepe - Ojo de Agua natural spring - USD25
  • Ometepe - Petroglyphs - USD20
  • Ometepe - Charco Verde tour (includes lunch, Ojo de Agua and Mirador lookout) - USD25
  • Ometepe - Charco Verde Reserve entrance fee - USD3
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is another early start in order to grab a 7 am ferry to the mainland (1.5 hours) and a 1.5-hour transfer to Penas Blancas before crossing the border into Costa Rica. Once in Costa Rica, travel by private vehicle for 5 hours to Monteverde. Phew – long day, but you made it! Welcome to beautiful Monteverde, which you can begin exploring straight away on a walking tour with your leader. 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 like 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 Monteverde home. Be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most elusive birds in the world.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Monteverde - Leader led walking tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
A USD 3 fee is required when exiting Nicaragua. Reaching the Costa Rican border also requires a 1-kilometre walk, during which you must carry your luggage. Proof of onward travel is normally required to enter 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.
You’ll have a free day to discover the lush reserve at your own pace. Perhaps take a hike through the cloud forest, check out the area by mountain bike or fly over the thick 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. Guided tours are particularly helpful for those interested in learning more about the local flora and fauna, as well as the different roles wildlife play in Mesoamerican mythology. You can get guaranteed sightings of exotic insects and snakes at the Butterfly Garden or the Serpentarium.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest (Entrance fee & Transport) - CRC41833
  • Monteverde - Suspension bridges tour - USD41
  • Monteverde - Zip lining - USD84
  • Monteverde - Coffee & Chocolate tour - USD35
  • Monteverde - Night walk through Cloud Forest - USD25
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest Train - USD50
  • Monteverde - Serpentarium - USD16
  • Monteverde - Butterfly garden and insects farm - CRC1696
  • Monteverde - Frog pond - USD15
  • Monteverde - Orchid gardens - USD13
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend a final morning in the thickets of the Monteverde jungle, perhaps taking one last walk to search for wildlife. Depart in the early afternoon and head to La Fortuna. It takes about 1.5-hours to reach the shores of Lake Arenal, followed by a further 1.5-hour journey across the lake to the little town of La Fortuna. On a clear day you'll have fantastic views of the surrounding area, and watching the massive Arenal Volcano loom larger and larger as you approach is a spectacular sight. Once you reach La Fortuna take another vehicle to the hotel, then freshen up and head out on a leader-led walking tour. La Fortuna is a favourite among travel writers for a reason – words like picturesque and breathtaking spring to mind when trying to describe the town in the shadow of the volcano.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • La Fortuna - Leader led walking tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Good morning! Why not start today with a smoothie and plan how you want to explore. 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, which is a great vantage point for spotting wildlife like sloths and rainbow-coloured birds. 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. Or instead, check out the 70-metre-high La Fortuna waterfall set in the middle of evergreen rainforest. Active types might want to hit the lake on a stand-up paddleboard. Otherwise, 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 - CRC24874
  • La Fortuna - Arenal hanging bridges - USD26
  • La Fortuna - La Fortuna Waterfall - USD18
  • La Fortuna - Nature hike around Arenal Volcano - USD60
  • La Fortuna - Cano Negro boat tour - USD65
  • La Fortuna - Stand up paddle board - USD75
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Watch the volcano fade into the distance as you begin the 5-hour local bus ride to Costa Rica's capital, San Jose. Head out on a walking tour with your leader on arrival to see the main highlights. Later, perhaps visit the Gold Museum, which has an amazing collection of pre-Spanish 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Jose - Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - The Art of Craft Beer in San Jose - Urban Adventures - USD74
  • San Jose - San Jose By Night: Food and Culture - Urban Adventures - USD79
  • San Jose - National Museum - USD11
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is all yours to choose your own adventure around San Jose. 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. 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. There’s another group meeting at 6 pm tonight, where your group leader will fill you in on the details of the next stage of your adventure. Better yet, there’ll be some new travellers joining you, so come and say hi!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - Gold Museum - USD13
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. There will be a welcome meeting tonight to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and meet travellers joining you. It’s important that you attend the meeting as your new leader will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Today take a 5-hour local bus to Puerto Viejo. On arrival, get to know this laid-back jungle town during a bicycle ride with your leader, then the rest of the day is yours to explore. Small and coastal, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca has a lively main street featuring dancehalls, reggaeton bars and modern restaurants. If you’re after something more relaxed, you'll find great surf beaches and rainforest fruit farms. At some point today, your leader will take you through some must-have phrases during an informal Spanish lesson.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Puerto Viejo - Leader-led orientation bicycle ride
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day to ease into the vibes of the Caribbean coast. If you wish, take your time to explore Cahuita National Park, which is easily accessible from Puerto Viejo home to sloths, monkeys, raccoons, snakes and a great variety of birds. Want to see adorable animals and support an organisation that’s helping the vulnerable among them survive? Maybe check out the Jaguar Rescue Centre, where sick, orphaned and injured animals are rehabilitated. If the waves are calling but your footing isn’t so sure, surf lessons are on offer in town. Alternatively, of course, you can always find a cool spot and relax with a beer in hand.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Cahuita National Park - USD5
  • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Jaguar Rescue Centre - USD20
  • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Surf lesson (1 hr) - USD57
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a 1-hour local bus to the border, then walk across an old railway bridge into Panama. Continue by taxi or collective minivan to Almirante, where you'll take a short boat ride to Isla Colon in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Rapidly becoming a Caribbean favourite, Bocas del Toro has it all – palm-shaded beaches with crystal-clear water, spectacular snorkelling and lots of wildlife. Culturally, Bocas is a melting pot of West Indians, Latinos and expats, resulting in diverse music, nightlife and food scenes. For the next three nights, you'll stay on Isla Colon, the main town in Bocas del Toro. It's a great spot to start your exploration of the archipelago from, with most bars, restaurants and local activity operators just meters from your hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is the first of two free days to explore this tropical archipelago. There are several beaches within reach from town, lying between 8 and 14 kilometres from your hotel. With azure waters, pristine coral reefs and a rollicking nightlife, it’s easy to see why these islands are a favourite haunt for so many travellers. The safest beaches are Starfish, Sandfly and Big Creek. Be aware others may have strong riptides. When the sun goes down, why not head into town and check out the local bar and restaurant scene. Ask your leader about the best place to grab a drink.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy another free day in the Caribbean sun. Maybe take the opportunity to do some surfing or snorkelling rent a bike and explore the main island, or simply soak in the chilled-out vibe while enjoying a cold one on the beach.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by boat and local bus to Boquete, a lengthy journey that will take 8--9 hours. Be sure to have a book, podcast or daydream to keep you occupied just in case you get sick of swapping stories with your fellow travellers. Boquete is a picturesque town located in the highlands of Panama, surrounded by mountains, crystal-clear creeks and rivers, forest reserves, and colourful wildflowers, as well as coffee plantations and orange groves. Head out on an orientation walk with your leader on arrival. Tomorrow will be a free day, wide open for exploring. Most optional activities can be organised directly from the hostel, though it’s a good idea book them on arrival tonight if you know what you want to do.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Boquete - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There’s tonnes of ways for you to get among it in Boquete today, so be sure to chat to your leader and hostel front desk about the stuff you’re interested in. You could discover the secret waterfalls only locals know about on a walking tour in the jungle. Or maybe you’d prefer to soak it up in the caldera hot springs. If you’re a coffee lover, consider taking a visit to a plantation or simply kicking back in town with a cup of the local brew – some of the best coffee in the world is grown and [processed right here in Boquete.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Boquete - Guided tour of hidden waterfalls - USD50
  • Boquete - Mini canyons - USD30
  • Boquete - Guided bike tour - USD55
  • Boquete - Calderas hot springs - USD35
  • Boquete - Zipline - USD65
  • Boquete - Coffee Plantation tour - USD35
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Catch an 8-hour bus to Santa Catalina, situated on the Pacific coast of Panama. Remote and somewhat undeveloped, this region offers some of the best surfing in Central America as well as relaxed vibes. Enjoy free time upon arrival. Of course, it’s going to be late afternoon or early evening by the time you get in. Perhaps find a spot to share a drink and fresh seafood dinner with your fellow travellers, or head to the beach for a sundown swim.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As there is limited accommodation available close to the beach in Santa Catalina, sometimes large multi-share rooms with up to six beds (not bunks) are used so that we can secure accommodation in a prime location.
Aside from surfing, the primary way to pass the time in Santa Catalina is relaxing, preferably in a hammock. Enjoy a free day around the area and hunt down some activities in the process. Keen for something active? Perhaps take a trip out to Coiba National Marine Park, where you can snorkel with turtles, angel rays and schools of colourful fish. Alternatively, half-day fishing trips or surfboard hire is available in the town. Lessons are readily available, so there's no reason to fear the waves.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Santa Catalina - Surf lesson (2 hrs) - USD35
  • Santa Catalina - Coiba Island & Grano de Oro snorkelling trip - USD100
  • Santa Catalina - Fishing trip (half day) - USD100
  • Santa Catalina - Surfboard rental (per day) - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Trade in the beach for the city and travel to Panama City, Central America's glitziest capital (about 6 hours). Arrive late afternoon and head to the city’s gorgeous waterfront promenade, the Cinta Costera, for a walking tour with your leader. Take in great views of the historic Casco Viejo (Old Town) and the Panama City skyline as you stroll past crowded waterfront soccer fields, running paths and food carts. Stop at the nearby Fish Market, and perhaps grab some fresh ceviche. Afterwards, enjoy free time to sample Panama City’s thriving nightlife.
Accommodation
  • Hostel Multishare (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Panama City - Leader-led walk along part of the Cinta Costera (Causeway) including a visit to the Fish Market
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. Your accommodation here may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning.
Today is free for you to discover Panama City. Perhaps explore the historic Casco Viejo (Old Town), which features an unusual combination of restored buildings, low-income housing, churches and ruins. You may also like to visit the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal, or take a stroll through the rainforest in the Metropolitan Nature Park. Panama City is also famous for its shopping centres, the biggest being Albrook Mall. For more traditional souvenirs, head to the National Artisan's Market.
Accommodation
  • Hostel Multishare (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Panama City - Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks) - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Your adventure ends today, there are no activities planned for today. If you plan on staying on to check out some more of Panama City, why not do it on an Urban Adventure. With day tours like Taste of Panama City, you can sample local cocktails, craft beers and ceviche under the guidance of someone who knows the city well. Go to www.urbanadventures.com and search ‘Panama’ for more.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If you wish to spend more time in Panama City, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Meals

1 breakfast, 2 lunches, 1 dinner

Transport

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

Accommodation

Hotel (47 nights), Overnight public bus (1 night), Camping with facilities (1 night), Multishare Lodge (2 night), Lodge (2 night), Homestay (1 night), Hostel multishare (2 nights), Hostel (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
  • Mexico City - Leader-led city tour of Historic center
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Puebla - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Puebla - La Pasita Bar
  • Oaxaca - Leader-led orientation walk
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula Church (Entrance Fee)
  • Maya village - Zinacantan church (Entrance fee)
  • Agua Azul waterfall - Visit with option to swim (Entrance fee)
  • Palenque - Palenque Ruins (Entrance and Transport)
  • Merida - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Chichen Itza Ruins - Entrance Fee
  • Playa del Carmen - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Tulum - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Caye Caulker - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Tikal National Park - Entrance fee
  • Chichicastenango Market
  • San Jorge La Laguna - Traditional Maya Homestay
  • Panajachel - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Antigua - Leader-led walking tour
  • Copan - Archeological site (Transport & Entrance fee)
  • Suchitoto - Leader led walking tour
  • San Miguel - Salvadoran Pupusa cooking demonstration
  • Leon - Leader led walking tour
  • Granada - Leader-led walking tour
  • Monteverde - Leader led walking tour
  • La Fortuna - Leader led walking tour
  • San Jose - Leader-led walking tour
  • Puerto Viejo - Leader-led orientation bicycle ride
  • Boquete - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Panama City - Leader-led walk along part of the Cinta Costera (Causeway) including a visit to the Fish Market

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. 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.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 7 (Overnight bus) & Days 24 & 25 (Rio Dulce) where you will be in shared accommodation. 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.

Essential trip information

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