Unique Experience Intrepid | Amazing Central America

Get ready for a 28-day experience through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. From oceans teeming with marine life to tropical forests alive with jungle melodies, this pocket of Central America is truly a natural paradise. Whether you're shopping in colonial Antigua, exploring the intricately carved structures at Copan or taking a night hike up an active volcano at La Fortuna, this trip gives you real insight into the heart and soul of Central America.

Theme

Explorer

  • Highlights

    • 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.
    • Get to know Panama City during a guided stroll along the Cinta Costera right to the city’s salty belly – the Mercado de Mariscos (seafood market).
    • Hike, cycle or zip-line through the steamy cloud forests of Monteverde – there’s so many ways to experience the lush canopies and see unique Central American wildlife.
    • Put your chef hat on and help prepare a traditional Caribbean dinner with a local family in their home in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
    • Try out your Nicaragua sign language skills when you order breakfast at an atmospheric cafe housed in a historic building that is managed and staffed by members of the local deaf community.
  • What's Included

    Meals

    1 Breakfast

    Transport

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

    Accommodation

    Hotel (24 nights), Lodge (3 nights)

    Included Activities

    • Boquete - Leader-led orientation walk
    • Copan Ruins - Visit
    • Granada - Breakfast at El Cafe de las Sonrisas
    • La Fortuna - Leader led orientation walk
    • Leader - led Informal Spanish Lesson
    • Leon - Leader led orientation walk
    • Monteverde - Leader-led orientation walk
    • Panama City - Leader-led walk along part of the Cinta Costera (Causeway) including a visit to the Fish Market
    • Panama City - Leader-led walk in Casco Viejo
    • Puerto Viejo - Hands-on dinner in local home
    • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Leader-led orientation walk
    • San Jose - Leader-led orientation walk
    • Sarapiqui – Jungle Walk
    • Suchitoto - Indigo Dyeing Demonstration
    • Suchitoto - Leader led orientation walk
    • Suchitoto - Salvadoran Pupusa cooking demonstration
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  • Itinerary

    Day - 1

    Location: Antigua - Bienvenidos! Welcome to Guatemala. With crumbling churches, vibrant markets and bohemian cafes set against a monumental volcano, Antigua is the perfect place to begin your adventure. Speaking of adventure, yours officially kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight at your hotel. If you decide to arrive in the city a little early (smart move!), there's plenty to do. Maybe satisfy your cravings and learn the art of old-world chocolate production at the ChocoMuseo or sit by the fountain and people-watch in Central Park. After the meeting, the night is yours – maybe head out with some of your fellow travellers for a tamale (a classic staple of Mesoamerica that sees dough, meat and sauces steamed and served in a corn husk).

     

    Day - 2

    Location: Copan - Rise and shine early this morning to beat the rush-hour traffic around Antigua. Departing at around 4 am, you’ll drive towards Copan. Along the way, your leader will run an informal Spanish lesson, providing you with 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 surroundings. Maybe get started in the Central Plaza and follow your nose to a cafe, or maybe head to the nearby natural hot springs. This optional tour gives you hours of soaking in mud, steaming natural baths and refreshing pools in the lush jungle, with an included dinner.

     

    Day - 3

    Location: Copan - This morning, join your leader and explore the World Heritage-listed ruins of Copan – the southernmost of the great Maya sites. It's unique because of the numerous elaborate stelae (carved columns) still intact among temples, excavated vaults and walls inscribed with ancient faces. After your exploration (don’t forget your camera today!) the rest of the afternoon is free to choose your own adventure. Maybe check out some fine feathered friends at the Macaw Mountain Park or visit the Temple of Rosalila. If you didn’t get to the hot springs yesterday, this afternoon is the perfect opportunity to soak away your active morning.

     

    Day - 4

    Location: Suchitoto - You’ll wave goodbye to Copan this morning and head across the border to El Salvador. It’s a long travel day, so make sure you’ve got a good book or your favourite road trip games handy. When you arrive in Suchitoto, you’ll head out on a leader-led orientation walk of the town – widely considered the cultural capital of El Salvador. Admire the elaborate building facades, get your bearings and enjoy the surroundings. Then, get your chef’s hat on with a pupusa-making cooking class in a private home. Pupusa (cornmeal flatbreads) is a classic Salvadorian recipe from the Pipil culture and is usually stuffed with some delicious ingredients, like cheese or chicharron (fried pork).

     

    Day - 5

    Location: Suchitoto - Today is a free day in Suchitoto. Birders will want to crane their necks towards the sky as Suchitoto lies on a bird migration path! The town also overlooks the Embalse Cerron Grande – also known as Lago Suchitlan, this freshwater lake is a haven for migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks. Maybe grab a historically minded quartet for a guided walk through Cinquera Forest, where guerrilla fighters used the forest as cover during the Civil War. Or just relax around town, in a local café or at your accommodation.

     

    Day - 6

    Location: Pacific Coast, El Salvador - This morning, head to a local designer’s home for an indigo-dying demonstration – Suchitoto is one of the best places in the world to produce indigo (used to dye clothing or other items blue). You’ll visit a local designer transforming colonial tradition into modern design and learn the history of the indigo trade. This small enterprise supports single mothers by providing them with an income for their children’s education, food and independence. Watch the demonstration, then get hands-on and try it for yourself! To decide who gets to take the creation home, the group will hold a raffle (are you feeling lucky?). After, you’ll drive to the Pacific Coast of El Salvador, home to some amazing dark-sand beaches and some of the best surf spots in the country. Maybe head to the beach for a swim or relax under the palms with a beer while you wait for sunset. As night falls, you could enjoy a seafood dinner along the water – the local crabs are some of the tastiest around.

     

    Day - 7

    Location: Pacific Coast, El Salvador - Today, you're free as a bird to explore the beautiful Pacific Coast at your own pace. Alternatively, simply sit back and relax in a hammock on the beach and soak up the sunshine with a drink – life’s good.

     

    Day - 8

    Location: Leon - Rise nice and early for a full day of travel by private vehicle. Cross the border at El Amatillo and then head into Honduras, where you’ll stop for lunch. After, there’s another border crossing at Guasaule before you reach Leon – the second-largest city in Nicaragua. When you arrive, join your leader on an orientation walk through the charming city streets to get your bearings. Leon is surprisingly relatively free of tourists, which makes strolling the murals and contemporary architecture a real treat! Tonight, maybe head out to dinner with your group – as always, your leader will have the best recommendations.

     

    Day - 9

    Location: Leon - Today is a free day to make the most of Leon. Maybe visit the street food area behind the Lady of Grace Cathedral and try a Nica taco (made with maize, the taco is rolled, deep fried and then served with shredded cabbage smothered in cream). You could also take on a thrilling volcano sandboarding adventure on the black slopes of Cerro Negro Volcano. Maybe you’d just like to explore the city’s contemporary art or wander the Leon Cathedral.

     

    Day - 10

    Location: Granada - This morning, you’ll drive to the oldest city in the 'New World' – Granada. Featuring Moorish and Andalusian architecture, Granada is set on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and is surrounded by active volcanoes. You’ll be travelling by taxi from the hotel to the bus station, boarding a local bus bound for Managua and then hopping on a public bus to Granada. When you arrive, your leader will take you on an orientation walk through the leafy Parque Central and 'La Calzada' – a lively pedestrian street with plenty of bars and restaurants. The afternoon is yours to explore the city at your own pace. Hundreds of evergreen islets dot the waters of vast Lake Nicaragua and you can spend a few hours exploring them by boat, or hire a kayak and find your own way around, waving at the fisherman who live in wooden huts along the way. Just remember not to swim, as freshwater sharks live in the water!

     

    Day - 11

    Location: Granada - This morning you’ll have breakfast with your group at Cafe de las Sonrisas – a café run entirely by deaf people. The owner is aiming to bridge the gap and inspire other business owners to employ local people living with disabilities. After, maybe hit the Convento y Museo San Francisco and view the collection of Indigenous stone statues or take a boat tour of Monkey Island. Maybe hit the water again for a kayaking tour of Laguna Apoyo. Tonight, maybe book a special trip to Masaya Volcano National Park and see the lava lake at Santiago Crater at night (this is the best time to see the lava stir, bubble, spew and erupt)!

     

    Day - 12

    Location: Monteverde - Today is another early start as you get ready for a full day of travel. Journey to Monteverde, where you can begin exploring this afternoon on an orientation walk 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. Keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal – one of the world’s most elusive birds.

     

    Day - 13

    Location: Monteverde - Enjoy a free day to discover this lush reserve at your own pace. Maybe 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. For guaranteed sightings of exotic insects and snakes, head to the Butterfly Garden or the Serpentarium.

     

    Day - 14

    Location: La Fortuna - This morning, drive to the shores of Lake Arenal, where you’ll take a boat across the lake to the little town of La Fortuna. On a clear day, you'll have fantastic views of the surrounding area. 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 orientation walk. La Fortuna is a favourite among travel writers for a reason – words like picturesque and breathtaking spring to mind when trying to describe this town in the shadow of the volcano.

     

    Day - 15

    Location: La Fortuna - 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, or see the forest from a series of hanging bridges that offer 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 maybe check out the 70-m-high La Fortuna waterfall set in the middle of the rainforest and hit the lake on a stand-up paddleboard. A boat safari in Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge offers the opportunity to see lizards, crocodiles and tropical birds in their natural habitat, so if you’re craving more wildlife, this option is perfect.

     

    Day - 16

    Location: San Jose - Watch the volcano fade into the distance on a local bus ride to Costa Rica's capital – San Jose. When you arrive, head out on an orientation walk with your leader to see the main highlights. When you’ve got your bearings, you may like to visit the Gold Museum, which has a fantastic collection of pre-Spanish gold art. If you're in the mood for some 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. Tonight, why not ask your leader for the best recommendations for dinner?

     

    Day - 17

    Location: San Jose - Bienvenidos! Welcome to Costa Rica. Your adventure begins in San Jose with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight at your hotel. As this trip spends very little time here, it’s recommended that you arrive a day or two early and see the sights. If you do, maybe take an Urban Adventure with an expert local guide. Maybe visit The Gold Museum and it's amazing collection of Indigenous gold art. If you're in the mood for a bit of shopping, head to the Mercado Municipal de Artesanias or the city's Central Market, where you can buy anything from handicrafts to seafood.

     

    Day - 18

    Location: Sarapiqui - This morning, hop on a public bus and make your way to Sarapiqui – a town known for its rich biodiversity and lush rainforest. When you arrive, enjoy some free time here to go birdwatching, spot some local wildlife or hike to one of the nearby waterfalls. Then head out on a leader-led jungle walk. This is a great opportunity to see some Costa Rican wildlife, look out for elusive creatures like sloths, snakes and frogs.

     

    Day - 19

    Location: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Today, take a private transfer to Puerto Viejo. When you arrive, get to know this laid-back jungle town during an orientation walk with your local leader, then enjoy the rest of the day to explore at your leisure. A small and coastal city, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca has a lively main street featuring dance halls, reggaeton bars and modern restaurants. If you’re looking for a little bit of relaxation, you'll also find great surf beaches and rainforest fruit farms to kick back on.

     

    Day - 20

    Location: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Today is free, so you can ease into the vibes of the Caribbean coast. You might like to take your time exploring Cahuita National Park, which is easily accessible from Puerto Viejo and home to sloths, monkeys, raccoons, snakes and a great variety of birds. If the waves are calling (but your footing isn’t so sure), surf lessons are also on offer in town. Of course, you could also simply find a cool spot and relax with a beer in hand. To top today off, you'll prepare a traditional Caribbean dinner with a local family in their home. Enjoy a mixture of fruits, seafood, tubers and vegetables combined with coconut flavours, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, curry Panamian pepper and thyme.

     

    Day - 21

    Location: Bocas del Toro / Isla Colon - Today, take a 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, this place has it all. Hit the palm-shaded beaches with crystal-clear waters, enjoy some spectacular snorkelling opportunities and look out for lots of wildlife. Culturally, Bocas is home to West Indians, Latinos and expats, resulting in diverse music, nightlife and food scenes. For the next three nights, you'll stay in Isla Colon – the main town of Bocas del Toro. It's a great spot to start your exploration of the archipelago, with most bars, restaurants and local activity operators just metres from your hotel.

     

    Day - 22

    Location: Bocas del Toro / Isla Colon - Today is the first of two free days to explore this tropical archipelago. Several beaches are within reach of town, between 8 and 14 km from your hotel. With azure waters, pristine coral reefs and a rollicking nightlife, it’s easy to see why these islands are a favourite for so many travellers. The safest beaches are Starfish, Sandfly and Big Creek – be aware that 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.

     

    Day - 23

    Location: Bocas del Toro / Isla Colon - 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.

     

    Day - 24

    Location: Boquete - Travel by boat and local bus to Boquete – this is a bit of a lengthy journey, so be sure to have a book, podcast or daydream to keep you occupied. 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 and enjoy an informal Spanish lesson to get to grips with the local language. Tomorrow will be a free day, wide open for exploring – most optional activities can be organised directly from the hotel, though it’s a good idea to book them when you arrive tonight if you know what you want to do.

     

    Day - 25

    Location: Boquete - There are plenty of ways to experience Boquete today, so be sure to chat to your leader and the hotel front desk to get the best insider tips. 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 visiting 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!

     

    Day - 26

    Location: Panama City - Trade in the beach for the city and travel to Panama City – Central America's glitziest capital. This is another long drive, so grab a window seat if you can. Along the way, you’ll visit Penonome – a small town well-known for its artisans specialising in the Sombrero Pintao (the iconic and original Panama hat). Maybe grab some lunch here and take a quick visit to one of the many vendors that specialise in this traditional hat and learn a bit about their trade. Arrive in Panama City in the late afternoon and head into the city for a leader-led orientation walk. Take in the 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.

     

    Day - 27

    Location: Panama City - Today, head to the city’s gorgeous waterfront promenade – the Cinta Costera (causeway) – for a walk with your leader. Stop at the nearby Fish Market and maybe grab some fresh ceviche. This afternoon is yours to explore, so if you like, maybe 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 to bring home, head to the National Artisan's Market.

     

    Day - 28

    Location: Panama City - With no planned activities today, you can depart at any time. If you would like to spend some more time in Panama City, just speak to your booking agent.

     

    Amazing Central America
*Terms and Conditions
Offer subject to availability at time of booking. Prices are per person share twin based on best available tour price, inclusive of all discounts unless otherwise stated. Prices are subject to currency fluctuations and are based on cash or cheque. Tour deposit, amendment and cancellation conditions may apply. Travel agent service fees may apply. Special conditions apply - please ask for full details at time of enquiry.
HLO Ref# 12804
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