Central America tour on a shoestring

“A 22 day, overland tour of three Central American countries: Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, travelling in a small group. Great mixture of culture and nature, cities and coast. ”


Mexico: Playa del Carmen | Mérida | Chichén Itzá | Palenque | San Cristóbal Guatemala: Lake Atitlán | Antigua | Rio Dulce | Livingston | Garifuna people | Flores | Tikal National Park Belize: San Ignacio | Caye Caulker

Description of Central America tour on a shoestring

This Central America tour, on a shoestring, is a carefully crafted itinerary that takes you on an overland adventure through three of Central America’s countries: Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Starting and ending in Playa del Carmen in Mexico, you head to the great Mayan site of Chichén Itzá. This is Mexico’s largest collection of Mayan ruins with the iconic Kukulkan Pyramid as its centrepiece.

More Mayan sites follow on this Central America holiday, including Palenque which is surrounded by monkey filled jungles, also in Mexico, and then Tikal National Park, over the border in Guatemala. Tikal is the largest excavated Mayan site in the Americas.

Guatemala also boasts spectacular natural heritage, and one of our travellers’ favourites is time spend on the Rio Dulce, staying in a riverside cabin, and then taking a boat trip down to the town of Livingston, home to the indigenous Garifuna people.

The last few days of this trip are in Belize, famous for its Caribbean coast, cayes and chocolate. Go snorkelling on its reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world, and enjoy the multi-cultural mix of Carib, Creole, Maya and Mestizo. This is a stunning country to chill out in before your final journey back to Playa del Carmen in Mexico.

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Central America tour on a shoestring


Because we take public transport on this tour, rather than using internal flights, our carbon emissions and overall environmental impact is lower. For instance on day 2 we have a 10 minute walk to the bus terminal followed by a public bus to Chichen Itza. The use of public buses is largely the dominant form of transport on this tour.

We also visit many major ruins and UNESCO sites on this tour such as the Palenque ruins, Chichen Itza and Tikal. Our Tour Leaders make sure that all passengers are aware not to litter or take anything from the sites such as rocks.

We have an extensive list of pre-departure documentation which includes maps, regional advice, responsible travel practices and detailed itineraries, and we send this out to our passengers well before their departure to ensure that when they travel they are socially conscious and respectful of their surrounding environments - both during our tours and before/after.

Office policy: We recognise that it is not only on-location staff who have environmental responsibilities but also our administration staff in our offices around the world. All our offices endeavour to be environmentally sound through practising energy conservation, implementing recycling plans and being responsible for the surrounding physical environment. We believe in leading through example and operate in this manner to encourage other businesses and individuals to be considerate of the environment and conserve the natural beauty we currently share.


We use local operators and specialist guides throughout our Central America adventure tours. This includes local transport, locally owned hotels, restaurants, agencies and guides for excursions. Our commitment to these local operators means we are constantly putting back into the community and ensuring these businesses continue to prosper. This also empowers local business operators leading to increased confidence and development of their products and services.

In Merida our tour leaders encourage passenger to visit the Cuzama Cenotes. A percentage of what is paid goes to the Mayan families that own the land. In San Cristobal de las Casas we have a tour of the village. Part of the cost of the tour is paid directly to the churches that we visit in Chamula and Zinacantan. This money goes toward the church so it really helps the community as well.

At the end of the tour we visit a local house where we can taste some delicious homemade tortillas. Passengers are asked to donate if they wish to have some food. They also have the opportunity to buy some beautiful handcrafted fabrics, 100% of the proceeds go towards the women who make them.

1 Reviews of Central America tour on a shoestring

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 26 Aug 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Roatan, one of the bay Islands of Honduras, was beautiful and the diving was fantastic, and I'll probably never forget the chicken buses!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you're used to travelling independently then be prepared to find the lack of freedom quite restricting, however it is great not to have to worry about transport and accommodation!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I feel that it benefitted local people as wherever possible we patronised local businesses and shops, and as far as is possible in countries where there are no trains so buses are the only option I feel that the impact on the environment was minimized.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Enjoyable, we went to some great places and had a lot of fun but overall I think travelling independently suits me better.

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