Central America small group tour
Description of Central America small group tour
This month long Central America small group tour is a journey through what can only be described as one idyllic isthmus. Bursting with Mayan heritage and natural beauties, from the Caribbean to the Pacific coast, volcanoes to cloud forest, cayes to caves, Central America is just made for a long adventure of this nature. On this trip we travel through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Our adventure begins on Mexico’s stunning Yucatan Peninsula, where we mix beach life with ancient Mayan ruins. The former at Playa del Carmen and the latter at nearby Tulum, which is also the first Mayan archaeological site on our trip. Beach life continues in beautiful Belize, where the cayes and coves are very much part of Belizean life. We also head inland in Belize to experience other aspects of its luscious landscapes and fascinating mix of Mestizos, Maya and Garifuna cultures, at San Ignacio.
Guatemala is next on our list, a land full of stunning Mayan relics and dramatic volcanic peaks. We dedicate eight days of this holiday to Guatemala, with every day offering something very different. Such as Tikal National Park, with the ancient Mayan city at its heart, the contemporary Mayan culture in Chichicastenango , the beautiful Lake Atitlan and the wonderful capital of Antigua.
Moving further south, we spend five days in Honduras, which is one of the largest countries in Central America, and where tourism infrastructure is a bit thinner on the ground. What isn’t lacking is ancient Mayan culture, at Copan, beautiful beaches and dramatic volcanic terrain.
After a quick sojourn in San Salvador, mixing coast at El Cuco with culture at Suchitoto, Nicaragua is next, where we spend nine days exploring this unique country and possibly one of Central America’s most underrated. It is also Central America’s largest country, and we follow its Pacific coast visiting the historic cities of Granada and Leon, as well as the vast Lake Nicaragua, home to Ometepe Island. Here you can hike to the top of a volcano or go hiking in the jungle. It’s a whole other world on Ometepe.
The finale of this Central American is no other than Costa Rica, where both wildlife watching and adventure opportunities are second to none. Hike through Arenal Volcano National Park or up into the Monteverde cloud forest, and spend a couple of days in the vibrant capital of San Jose.
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1 Reviews of Central America small group tour
Reviewed on 13 Feb 2018 by Laurie Munslow
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Snorkelling in Caye Caulker, Belize, was an amazing experience! Nurse sharks, stingrays and turtles, not to mention oodles of brightly coloured fish, seemed completely oblivious to our presence, and Hol Chan Marine Reserve, with its dazzling array of corals and fish, was stunning. What a fantastic day! Just as good, but for different reasons, was the memorable Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave - wading through water; scrambling up, over and under rocks; and marvelling at the stalactites, stalagmites and Mayan relics, including the famous crystal maiden skeleton, made for an exhilarating day! The Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala were simply breathtaking. The jungle backdrop offers a chance to see wildlife such as toucans, tarantulas, coatis and howler monkeys, to name but a few! The homestay in Guatemala was wonderful: it offers an insight into some of the realities of life for the Mayan population. My host family was so lovely and keen to chat; you really do need to have at least a basic smattering of Spanish to get the most out of the experience. Also, Suchitoto in El Salvador: gorgeous! Oh, and Granada in Nicaragua, too...was I seriously supposed to pick just one memorable aspect?! No chance!
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
(1) Bring US dollars for currency exchange - at every border crossing A Man with a Hat and a Serious Wad of Cash appeared (seemed legit...!), so you can easily
exchange USD or offload leftover currency. (2) Note that some ATMs in Guatemala don't seem to like Mastercard or pre-paid travel cards (I don't know
which...I had a Mastercard travel card...): you might have to try several attempts on one or more machines, but best to bring a Visa card as a back-up. (3) Try
and eat at street stalls or local "comedores" to keep food costs down. If lots of locals are eating there, it's a pretty safe bet! (4) Take probiotics with you in case
you do have tummy troubles. (5) Bring a dry bag for your valuables - there's lots of boat travel, and you and your belongings are likely to get wet. (6) If you're
worried about the water, drink bottled beer!
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Local transport and trip providers were used throughout the tour, wherever and whenever possible. The trip seemed especially beneficial to the local communities in Guatemala, particularly at the homestay and visits to Mayan markets and handicraft cooperatives.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
For value for money, and as an introduction to Central America, it was great. The trip really does have everything: history, culture, beaches, colonial cities, nature and great food, not to mention professional tour guides who were keen to impart their local knowledge and ensure we all had a good experience. Be warned though: it is just a taster; you're going to want to go back! Know, however, that once you leave Guatemala, there are some long travel days. The trip from Antigua to Copán, in particular, involved a lot of travel for what was just 24 hours in Honduras (although the ruins are, admittedly, impressive) and everyone felt a bit fed up during the seemingly never-ending trip from El Cuco, El Salvador, to León, Nicaragua!
PlanetThe very ethos of our style of travel is responsible; small groups on fully escorted tours, experiencing the very best of a region, a culture and a landscape, with a friendly local hand guiding the way. Our itineraries are designed to give our travellers real life experiences without compromising the part of the world we are exploring; to travel responsibly is at the heart of our commitment as a global tour operator.
This epic trip from Mexico to Costa Rica is designed to follow the ethos of low impact and even positive impact tourism. Travelling through six Central American countries, visiting beaches, ancient ruins and pristine rainforests, this trip does much to support local industry and initiative and provide employment opportunities as we go.
In addition to this we encourage all our passengers to take steps to ensure that their trip is environmentally responsible as possible. On this trip you will get the chance to snorkel in the pristine waters of Caye Caulker, Mexico, visit the heart of the rainforest on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua and explore the cloudforest in Monteverde, Costa Rica. We want our visits to assist in the preservation of all these stunning locations and you will be encouraged to treat them with care. For example, your group leader will brief you on the dos and don’ts of snorkelling to help protect the fragile marine environments. You’ll be encouraged to stick to the marked pathways in the jungle environments and to treat all destinations with respect.
Your group leader will also be on hand to assist with the appropriate disposal of rubbish en route, recycling wherever possible and we encourage all our travellers to use refillable water bottles with purification tablets rather than contributing to the rapidly escalating problem caused by the copious number of plastic bottles discarded globally on a daily basis.
PeopleYou’ll stay in small, locally owned budget accommodation, from hotels to a basic homestay in San Jorge La Laguna and be accompanied throughout by a professional local group leader. Those who opt to explore some on the Mayan ruins en route or who decide to take on one of the many optional hikes in this itinerary will also benefit from the knowledge and experience of various local site guides employed in the various locations. What you do in each destination is up to you, so your group leader will be on hand to help with arrangements, including recommended local suppliers to use for things such as cycle hire, kayak hire and guided tours.
Meals on this trip are at your own expense giving all travellers freedom to choose the places you eat. When dining together, your group will eat in traditional, locally owned restaurants, and during the day will purchase food en route from local vendors and small cafes, again your group leader will be on hand to recommend the places the locals eat and where to get the best regional specialities.
Our emphasis on tour is real life experiences and to experience the best of these we encourage all our travellers to be aware of local sensibilities when they travel with us and to behave accordingly. With the high degree of local interaction on this itinerary, it is worth noting that Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
You’ll mainly travel on this trip by local bus. As well as being by far the best option environmentally, this offers great opportunity for cultural interaction with your fellow bus travellers. Due to safety concerns however we do not use the brightly painted ‘chicken buses’ that are a common sight throughout Central America, instead using more modern, efficient inter-city coaches.
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