Days
43
Price from
£10,720GBP

An odyssey in the heartland of the Americas.

Embark on the ultimate journey through Central America. This in-depth trip spends six weeks exploring the depths of the continent, beginning in Mexico City and finishing down in San Jose. Marvel at Aztec ruins in Mexico, discover a lost Maya underworld in the jungles of Belize, interact with artistic lakeside communities in Guatemala, travel the ‘Route of the Flowers’ in El Salvador, and explore the wildlife sanctuaries and cloud forests of Costa Rica. Along the way, take the many opportunities to interact with the locals, the ones who give these places the Latin American verve they’re famous for.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Mexico City, Mexico
Finish
San Jose, Costa Rica
Countries
Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico
Style
Peregrine
Code
PSPCC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Get up close and personal with Mexico’s diverse heritage, from the extraordinary Aztec temples of Teotihuacan to the colourfully-dressed Maya folk of the hills of San Cristobal

  • Blaze the trail in Belize and enjoy a superb array of nature-based activities. Cruise across a lagoon on a guided birdwatching excursion, and hike through the forest to a hidden Maya burial ground

  • Overlooked by the majestic Volcan de Agua, Antigua is a cobblestoned maze of colourful buildings, leafy town squares and ornate churches

  • Step back in time in Suchitoto, learning the history of El Salvador from those who have lived through it. Learn cigar rolling from 98-year-old Nina Victoria, and hike through Cinquera Rain Forest Park to meet a former FMLN guerrilla fighter

  • Call in at a Cafe San Luis, a small family-owned coffee farm in Costa Rica, and be taken through the coffee making process from crop to cup

  • Discover untouched forests at Monteverde, considered by many to be one of the world's most outstanding tropical cloudforest and wildlife sanctuaries

Itinerary

Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, where you'll be transferred to your hotel. A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised.

In the evening (about 6 pm) you will meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place, and have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection.

This meeting will be followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.

There are enough activities to do in Mexico City to keep you busy for a week, so you may want to consider to arrive to Mexico City a day or two before the start of your trip. Some of the most popular activities in Mexico City (apart from the ones included in this trip) are:

Leon Trotsky Museum - Having come second best to Stalin on the race to the helm of the Soviet Union, Trotski was expelled and found refuge in Mexico City - where he was eventually murdered. The entrance fee includes free guided tours in English. Ask about it at the ticket box. An Uber taxi from your hotel to the museum should cost you approximately MXN 100.

If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco. An Uber taxi should cost about MXN 300 to get there.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Geneve or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Leon Trotsky Museum - MXN40
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum - MXN200
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
This trip can be booked as part of a longer combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may continue travelling to Cuba, El Salvador or Costa Rica at the end of this trip. Please contact our sales team if you wish to book or know more information on these longer combination trips.
Today is a long but worthwhile day. You'll start a city tour of Mexico City at approximately 8.30am. First off is the impressive National Museum of Anthropology, before heading to the Zocalo (main square) for a visit to the Cathedral and National Palace. You will discover that Mexico City is an exciting mix of modern cosmopolitan glamour with remnants from both its ancient and colonial history. Your city tour will finish at approximately 3pm so make sure you carry some snacks and water.

Mexico is synonymous with tacos, so this evening (at approximately 7pm) your leader will take you on a 'taco crawl' around town. Explore a variety of tastes from locals' favourite "taquerias" as you learn about the stories of families that run these establishments. Warning - you may not want to know the ingredients in your taco before you try them! Just trust your taste buds. This activity should take between 1 to 1.5hrs

After Tacos, your leader may suggest taking a taxi to Plaza Garibaldi, where for about MXN 200 you can get a Mariachi band to perform for you!
Accommodation
  • Hotel Geneve or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Mariachis in Garibaldi Square (entry is free, price to hire a band for 2-3 songs) - USD8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today won't have a chance to go for lunch until approximately 3pm. So make sure you carry some snacks and water.
Travel by private minivan to Teotihuacan - about 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City. Here you'll discover the extraordinary Aztec ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. This was once one of the country's biggest ancient cities and the Aztec capital. With the help of a local guide, you'll have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’ to see fascinating clues to what life here was like nearly 2,000 years ago.

Return to Mexico City after lunch (not included) and spend another afternoon exploring this vibrant metropolis. Perhaps visit the Frida Kahlo Museum for a deeper understanding of this renowned Mexican artist. Bear in mind that queues can be long to enter this museum, particularly on weekends. An Uber taxi from your hotel to the museum should cost approximately MXN 160 each way.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Geneve or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
At approximately 8am you'll farewell Mexico City and head south to Puebla. The drive takes about 3 hours depending on local traffic. Once in Puebla, your leader will take you on a walk around this town which has retained its colonial heritage despite rapid growth and development. The walk will include a visit to the Calle de los Dulces (Candy street), El Parian (handycraft market) as well as a couple of colonial buildings that remain a testament to Puebla's proud history, such as the Town Hall Palace and the Rosary Chapel.

You will have lunch in Puebla (not included) before continuing south to Oaxaca, another 5hrs drive.

Oaxaca is renowned for its cuisine and vibrant art scene. It's also an excellent place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, as descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians sell an array of bright woven blankets and shawls here.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Mision de los Angeles or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Puebla - Visit Puebla on route to Oaxaca
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning your leader will take you on a tour of Oaxaca including Santo Domingo Church, Zocalo and local art and craft galleries. You'll arrive at the 20 de Noviembre market in time for lunch, where you can search through the many local restaurants for whatever you feel like – perhaps focus on the famous grilled meats hall.

In the afternoon, travel out of the city (approximately 1hr drive) and visit the nearby village of Teotitlán del Valle. The settlement is famous for its weaving, particularly of colourful rugs. Here you'll visit a workshop and see a weaving demonstration.

Later, learn about a peculiar tradition not many have the opportunity to witness when visiting Oaxaca: beeswax candle making! You will visit a local shop that keeps this centenary tradition alive to learn about the technique involved in the making of these delicate candles and maybe have a go at it yourself!

Finish up at an artisanal mescaleria. Unlike other mainstream mescalerias, here you will have the opportunity to meet an experienced "palenquero" and learn about the production of this famous Mexican drink made from cactus. Needless to say, you'll taste some of the best mescal in the area. Salud!
Accommodation
  • Hotel Mision de los Angeles or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Leader led city tour
  • Oaxaca - Teotitlan del Valle visit
  • Oaxaca - Beeswax candle shop visit
  • Oaxaca - Artisanal mescaleria visit
  • Oaxaca - Mezcal Factory
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Folkloric ballet (seasonal) - USD10
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - USD8
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee) - USD10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning you'll take a cooking class to get to grips with some regional specialties. The tour starts at approximately 10am with a visit to the local market – wandering past stalls of everything from cactus fruit to grasshoppers, Oaxacan chocolate, and then heavenly Oaxacan cheese - queso oaxaca – and pick up some supply ingredients for you class. Then you'll visit a local house and try your hand at cooking some regional delicacies. No doubt there will be some kind of corn involved – it's been a staple of Mesoamerican cuisine for over 7,000 years.

After feasting on your creations, the rest of the afternoon in the city is free. Perhaps continue the day's food theme by visiting Calle de los Dulces, or 'Sweets Street', to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Mision de los Angeles or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a noon flight to Tuxtla Gutierrez. before travelling by minivan to the Sumidero Canyon, an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River and dating from the same time as the Grand Canyon - the boat tour takes approximately 2hrs.

Then continue driving a further 1.5hrs to San Cristobal de las Casas where you can expect to arrive by 7pm. In the evening, take in the distinctive old-world feel here, which comes from the Spanish colonial architecture and pretty, cobbled streets.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Parador Margarita or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Notes: Please note that occasionally towards the end of dry season (November to April) the water level in Sumidero Canyon may become too low for us to safely take the boat tour. If our staff deem this activity to be unsafe, we will replace it with another included activity of similar value.
This morning embark on a half day tour to the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. These villages, nestled in the highlands, serve as marketplaces and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous people who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and are often seen dressed in their own distinctive colourful costumes. You will explore these villages with a guide and learn more about the culture and history of these mainly Mayan communities.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Parador Margarita or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a long travel day as you depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and travel north to Palenque. On the way you will visit the waterfalls at Agua Azul and Misol Ha. Today's driving time adds up to approximately 8hrs. You should expect to arrive to Palenque at about 6pm.

Situated in hot jungle, Palenque is the jump-off point to the nearby Maya ruins of the same name – you'll visit them tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Mercedes or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Notes: Due to increased activity by the Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque, some changes to your itinerary may be necessary for your safety. The Zapatistas have recently been targeting tourists in order to draw attention to their cause. As a result, some transport to and from Palenque may need to be rerouted, which means longer travel times of up to 9 hours. Some activities, including visits to the Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls, will be unavailable until this situation is resolved. Alternative activities will be organised as required and explained by your tour leader at the welcome meeting. Currently there are no safety issues within the city of Palenque itself, or at the nearby Mayan archaeological site. We’re constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders.
Today you will meet a local archaeologist for a memorable morning visit to the ruins of Palenque.

Archaeologists have been hard at work uncovering the secrets of this ancient city, but around 90% of the site remains unexcavated and concealed in the forest. Sitting on a hilltop surrounded by thick trees, the ruins date back to 600 AD and are some of the most impressive Maya relics in Mexico. As you walk among the temples, listen out for the eerie calls of howler monkeys and screeching parrots echoing through the jungle. The area gives you a real idea of what the Spanish invaders must have seen when they first came across the hidden ruins.

After lunch, continue driving north to Campeche. This will be your last long travel day on this itinerary - approximately 6 hours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Castelmar or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Archaeological site guided tour
  • Palenque - Archaeologist led visit to Palenque ruins
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, continue along the coast to visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve where you'll get to go on a guided boat tour. Here, near extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, you'll see a variety of coastal birds. Depending on the season (usually Nov-Mar), you may be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape.

Arrive into the historic town of Merida in time for dinner (not included). Merida was funded in 1542 and it still retains much of its old-world charm. Take in the splendour of its many colonial buildings and learn more about the Mayan heritage of the town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Castellano or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Merida - Celestum boat tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day to explore the many sights of Merida and your guide will be able to recommend some good options. Perhaps visit some of the museums, including the impressive Regional Museum of Yucatan and stroll the city streets which are alive with art and culture. Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the 16th-century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the other. For a taste of Merida's 19th-century glory, go for a walk along the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo. The outdoor market is another essential visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, plus a selection of enticing local cuisine, including the dish cochinita pibil ('little pig').
Accommodation
  • Hotel Castellano or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Regional Museum of Yucatan - MXN52
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you leave Merida at 6am and arrive to Chichen Itza by 8am in time for breakfast. After breakfast you will take a 3hr tour of Chichen Itza. This is possibly the most famous Maya site in Mexico. Recently named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza has both Toltec and Mayan ruins lying alongside each other. The famous El Castillo (Temple of Kukulkan) pyramid dominates the site. Not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’ where many disputes are were settled by way of a ball game that employed only the elbows, hips and wrists. Stone carvings depicting violence suggest it was not some casual sport. Nearby, excavations of the Well of Sacrifice offered up treasures of jade, copper and gold, as well as many human and animal bones.

Following a guided tour of the site, continue to the Caribbean coast and the resort town of Playa del Carmen (approximately 3 hours). Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but with less of a party atmosphere.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Hacienda Paradise or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza Ruins - Entrance & Guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Spend the day exploring the Yucatan Peninsula. Travel out to ruins of Tulum (approximately 1 hour). This ancient Maya city was once an important trading port, protected against invaders by a high wall. Situated on a cliff overlooking a white sandy beach, it offers wonderful views and photo opportunities. Wander around the ruins with your guide, learning about the castle, temple and other structures within.

On the way back to Playa del Carmen, perhaps stop at a hidden cenote for a refreshing swim. These stunning natural sinkholes are filled with crystal clear fresh water and make for a memorable dip.

Back in Playa del Carmen, enjoy the last of your time reading a book at a beachside bar or taking a stroll among the trendy holidaymakers lining the shore. In the evening, why not head out with the group to reflect on your experiences and indulge in one final meal.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Hacienda Paradise or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Tulum ruins guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Cenote (sinkhole) visit - USD12
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day. With azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city. Spend your time snorkelling crystal clear waters, diving in underground caverns or strolling along white sands. In the evening, kick back and watch the waves with a margarita. For adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Hacienda Paradise or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Make the journey from Playa del Carmen across the border to Belize (approximately 4 hours). Settle into your accommodation – the small, family-run Crooked Tree Lodge. It is located approximately 2 hours' drive past the border. Nestled among coconut palms and bullet trees in the heart of Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary (and on the edge of Crooked Tree Lagoon), this lodge is ideally located for wildlife viewing. Spot squirrels, iguanas or perhaps even crocodiles.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Wake early and embark on a birdwatching excursion, travelling by boat on the lagoon. Some 250 resident or migratory neotropical birds inhabit this reserve, among them the Jabiru stork (the largest flying bird in the Western Hemisphere). Afterwards, drive to the San Ignacio area (approximately 2.5 hours). Here the afternoon is yours to spend as you please. Relax and unwind at the excellent Pooks Hill Lodge, situated on 300 acres of lush Belizean forest in the foothills of the Maya Mountains.
Accommodation
  • Pooks Hill Lodge or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Crooked Tree - Lagoon birding boat tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a day of free time. Perhaps go birdwatching, swimming, hiking or walking. A highly recommended option is a day trip to the ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) Cave. This begins with a hike (approximately 45 minutes) up the Roaring River Valley and through the rainforest of the Tapir Mountain Preserve. After reaching the cave entrance, you are taken on a tour of the ‘Xibalba,’ the fascinating Maya underworld. This includes a ‘Cathedral’ chamber which used to be a Maya ceremonial and burial ground.

Notes: The optional excursion to the ATM Cave requires a decent level of fitness, and involves river crossings. Closed-toe shoes that can withstand water are essential.
Accommodation
  • Pooks Hill Lodge or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Ignacio - Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave - inc. transport, guide and lunch) - USD95
  • San Ignacio - Canoe rental - USD20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Bid farewell to Belize and head to the Guatemalan border (approximately 1 hour). Once you have crossed into Guatemala, continue to Flores (approximately 2 hours). After settling in, visit Yaxha, an archaeological site situated on the shores of Yaxha Lagoon in the Maya Biosphere Reserve. Surrounded by dense jungle, Yaxha is home to more than 500 buildings, including the impressive Twin Pyramids. Perhaps climb temple 216 for beautiful views across the lagoons, forest and other temples. Afterwards, sit back at a picture-perfect spot by the lake and, over a glass of wine, farewell that same sun the Mayas worshiped hundreds of years ago.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Maya or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Flores - Yaxha tour & sunset drinks
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Embrace an early start (about 7 am) for a leader-led tour of Tikal. Home to some of the world's most magnificent Maya ruins, Tikal's five major temples rise above the jungle canopy while an array of smaller structures remain hidden in the undergrowth. Explore the highlights of the area, including Temple I, which is perhaps the iconic image of Guatemala. This area is a repository of Maya wisdom, containing insights into traditional medicine, astrology, agronomy and architecture. The jungles thrum with life, with toucans and macaws swooping between trees and monkeys crashing through the canopy. Those interested can climb to the top of the ruins for unsurpassed vistas over the forest. Return to Flores early in the afternoon (approximately 2 pm) and enjoy free time to stroll the cobblestone streets, shop for locally-made souvenirs or swim in Lake Peten Itza.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Maya or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Flores - Tour of Tikal archaeological site
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take an early morning transfer to Flores Airport for an 8 am flight to Guatemala City (approximately 1 hour). From here, make the journey Suchitoto via the El Salvadorean border (approximately 6 hours). It's a long travel day, but the destination is well worth it. With its festive atmosphere, stately colonial-era architecture, shaded plazas and lack of traffic, Suchitoto is a dream to explore on foot. The town overlooks the Embalse Cerron Grande (also known as Lago Suchitlan) which is a haven for migrating birds – particularly falcons and hawks.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a guided city tour which involves a mix of walking a transport (approximately 3 hours). Learn some of the city's history along the way. During the civil war, Suchitoto became virtually a ghost town, the battles at nearby Guazapa compelling most of its inhabitants to flee for safety. Grim times that they were, this abandonment actually helped to preserve the city's colonial architecture that you'll be admiring today. You also make a visit to Los Tercios waterfalls and rock formation, attend a cigar rolling demonstration with the 98-year-old Nina Victoria, and enjoy lunch at a local pupusa's restaurant. Enjoy some free time in afternoon.
Included Activities
  • Suchitoto - Town tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
In the morning, hike through the nearby Cinquera Rain Forest Park with a local guide (approximately 2 hours). The trail you hike is somewhat steep but takes you to a former guerilla camp. The park was created by the former FMLN guerillas and their families to protect the forest from loggers. Meet with one of the original Guerilla fighters to learn his story and ask questions about the cival war in El Salvador. When the hike is over, you can cool off by taking a dip in a nearby swimming hole. Afterwards, enjoy some free time. You might like to spend the afternoon boating, kayaking or attending a local indigo dying workshop.
Included Activities
  • Suchitoto - War historic walk at Cinquera Forest
Optional Activities
  • Suchitoto - Boat trip to Bird Island in Lake Suchitlan (it requires a minimum of 6 travellers to operate) - USD20
  • Suchitoto - Morning kayak bird watching (requires a minimum of 3 travellers to run) - USD35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive to the renowned 'Ruta de las Flores' (Flowers Route) (approximately 2.5 hours). This is one of the country's premier attractions, full of verdant coffee plantations, tiny towns bursting with colour, and of course the wildflowers from which the area takes its name. For lunch, stop in at what may well be El Salvador's best restaurant, El Jardin de Celeste. After a leisurely repast in this idyllic garden setting, head off to the border and cross back into Guatemala (approximately 4 hours). Arrive in Antigua in the early evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
As you'll come to appreciate today, Guatemala’s volcanic soils and altitudinous valleys offer just the right conditions for coffee cultivation. Visit a local farming cooperative and get to know this all-important export better during a plantation tour led by a local farmer. Dig into the history of the plant with a hands-on coffee experience in the fields, then learn all about the crop-to-cup process back at the farmer's house. You'll see how the bright red berries are processed, dried, roasted and ground by hand into the perfect blend. This is your chance to try coffee straight from the source. Start this tour at around 9 am and be back in town my midday.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Antigua - Coffee tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
How you spend the rest of your time in Antigua is up to you. Due to its historical relics, pleasant ambience and friendly locals, the town is a popular one among travellers. There are a number of interesting markets to peruse, plus no shortage of restaurants and cafes to check out – be sure to sample the country's other important bean: chocolate! If you’re feeling adventurous, perhaps finish off this journey to the tune of some salsa at one of the local dance spots.

Unfortunately, more than half the population of this beautiful Guatemala you have come to know so well lives under the poverty line, which may explain why Guatemala has also the lowest literacy rate in Central America. With this in mind, the Intrepid Foundation is proud supporter of CasaSito, an outstanding not for profit organization dedicated to assist youth to reach their academic, personal and professional potential.

If you have 2’ to spare (2’41’’ to be exact!) take a look at this short video about CasaSito – it’s in
Encircled by emerald mountains and misty volcanoes, Lake Atitlan has often been ranked one of the world's most beautiful lakes. Here your accommodation boasts incredible views across Atitlan's reflective waters and surrounding peaks. Spend the day cruising around by boat and stopping in at local villages – San Juan La Laguna included – and visit local artist workshops. Meet local artists Antonio and Angelina Coche and learn from them about your Maya 'Nahual', a local equivalent of the zodiac that assigns animal spirits based on birth date. You might even want to try painting your own symbol. Along the way you will see that life in many of the villages around the lake has changed very little over the past few centuries. In some you'll see locals still getting around in traditional garb that incorporate designs passed down through generations, and the atmosphere is peaceful and unpretentious.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Atitlan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Atitlan - Santiago Village tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Visit Santiago Atitlan, a peaceful town located on the southern shores of the lake between the volcanoes Toliman and San Pedro. This is the largest town on the lake; more importantly it's the home of the Maya god, Maximon. As a town with a strong indigenous identity, Santiago Atitlan hosts a Holy Week each year which sees Maximon's effigy moved from one house to another. While in Santiago Atitlan you’ll visit a local church to learn about the local customs and history of this traditional town, also stopping in at a local market to watch the day's business being carried out. Arrive back at your hotel at approximately 3 pm.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Atitlan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Atitlan - Naif painting workshop
  • Lake Atitlan - San Juan Village tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy free time in the morning, then travel back to Antigua (approximately 3 hours). The afternoon is free to spend as you wish. Perhaps enjoy a final (optional) dinner with your fellow travellers.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you will be transferred to Cancun Airport in time to catch your international flight to San Jose. Arrive at San Jose's International airport, where you'll be transferred to your hotel. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so these transfers can be organised. The international flight between Cancun and San Jose is not included in the price of this trip and it must be purchased separately. Please contact us if you need assistance to make this arrangement.

In the evening you will meet your tour leader and the other members of the group for a pre-tour briefing. This is normally held at 6pm but please check the notice board at reception to confirm the time and place. Please bring your passport, next of kin and travel insurance documents along with you. Following the briefing there is generally an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.

If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Costa Rica’s capital sits in the centre of a lush, wide valley which has a comfortable subtropical climate. The streets of the town are laid out along a grid iron pattern, with avenidas running east to west and callés running north to south. Many of the most interesting buildings are in the region of Avenida Central – the Teatro Nacional is an elaborate confection of marble staircases, statues, frescoes and mirrors. Artisan booths are common here and you never know when there'll be a spontaneous art fair.

If arriving early, have a look at the Gold Museum, which has an amazing collection of indigenous gold art. If these cultural gems get you in the mood for a bit of shopping, head to the outdoor market in Plaza de la Cultura or the Central Market where you can buy anything from handicrafts to seafood.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Presidente or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - National Museum - USD12
  • San Jose - Gold Museum - USD11
  • San Jose - Jade Museum - USD10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location.
Leave San Jose and descend to the Caribbean lowlands (approximately 4 hours). The final section of our journey to the port at La Pavona is on an unsealed road. There you'll take a boat to Tortuguero National Park (approximately 1.5 hours).

This area has long been associated with the catching of turtles (tortuguero means turtle-catcher). The original indigenous inhabitants used turtles as a sustainable resource, but the arrival of Europeans led to major exploitation.

Tortuguero National Park is home to 13 of Costa Rica’s 16 endangered mammals. Among them are manatees, ocelots and jaguars, as well as over 300 bird species. First and foremost, however, it is the nesting ground of the green turtle, which comes ashore between July and October to lay its eggs on the sandy beaches. Lesser numbers of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, plus loggerheads, and giant leatherback turtles also nest within the park at different times of year.

This afternoon you'll meet Sibella and her son Cloied, descendant of the first Afro-Caribbean people who arrived in the area. Learn from them all about life in this corner of the world, from the secrets of Caribbean dishes to how life was before tourism came to this remote area. Your guide will particularly elaborate on the use of coconut and its many uses from paper to delicious candy.

After the presentation, head to the Sea Turtle Conservancy Museum to learn about the sea turtle conservation efforts in Tortuguero.

Accommodation
  • Mawamba Lodge or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tortuguero - Village tour
  • Tortuguero - Sea turtle conservancy museum visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today a local guide will take you through the park within the lodge to explain about the local flora and show you butterfly and frog gardens.

In the afternoon embark on a 2-hour boat tour through the canals of Tortuguero National Park, keeping eyes peeled for aquatic birds, monkeys, caimans, iguanas and bats.
Accommodation
  • Mawamba Lodge or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tortuguero - Mawamba Park visit
  • Tortuguero - Canals boat trip
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Set the alarm clock early because today you'll be visiting Sarapiqui, located in the heart of Costa Rica's banana growing region. To get there you'll transfer back to the port by boat (approximately 1.5 hours) and then continue to Sarapiqui by private minibus (approximately 3 hours).

On the banks of the Puerto Viejo River and next to the Braulio Carrillo National Park, Sarapiqui is surrounded by virgin forests, banana and pineapple plantations. Sarapiqui is also known as one of the richest areas in Costa Rica for bird watching. The diversity of lowland bird life is impressive. A biological research station and several nearby forest lodges have made this undisturbed habitat accessible to scientists and travellers.

Once you've arrived, enjoy a relaxing swim in the pool while listening to the sounds of the rainforest. The entire afternoon is free to enjoy.

Perhaps opt to visit La Sevla Bioalogical Station, a field station of the Organization for Tropical Studies, today one of the most important sites in the world for research on tropical rain forest. Over 240 scientific papers are published yearly from research conducted at the site.

Alternatively you could go for a walk along the 9km trails available at Tirimbina for a chance to see different habitats from old cacao plantations, secondary forest, wetlands and river banks to intriguing primary forest.

Prices listed below are entrance only, you will need to add the cost of transport which will depende on how many of you want to participate in these activities.
Accommodation
  • Selva Verde Lodge or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Sarapiqui - La Selva Biological Station (entrance fee) - USD35
  • Sarapiqui - Tirimbina trails (entrance fee) - USD17
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Begin your second day in Sarapiqui searching for some of the rainforest's 215 colourful bird species on a guided birdwatching tour.

In the afternoon, learn about one of humankind's tastiest obsessions during a chocolate tour in La Tirimbina Biological Reserve (2.5 hours). The production of cacao plays an important role in preserving this ecological site and supporting the local community.
Accommodation
  • Selva Verde Lodge or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sarapiqui - Guided birdwatching tour
  • Sarapiqui - Chocolate tour at Tirimbina
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive to La Fortuna by private vehicle (approximately 3 hours). Huddled in the shadow of the looming Arenal Volcano, the small town of La Fortuna is an ideal location from which to explore the surrounding region.

The volcano's almost perfect cone, which soars 1,633 metres above sea level, has a crater 140 metres deep formed over an ancient caldera.

In the evening you will visit hot springs in the area. Surrounded by lush foliage and naturally heated by the Arenal volcano, the springs are the perfect way to relax.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Casa Luna or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • La Fortuna - Hot springs
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Get a different perspective of the Arenal ecosystem on a walk around its hanging bridge system. Hidden among the trees, you'll be in a unique position to observe the wildlife below.

With a free afternoon to enjoy, perhaps visit the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Casa Luna or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • La Fortuna - Arenal hanging bridges
Optional Activities
  • La Fortuna - Cano Negro boat tour - USD80
  • La Fortuna - Rio Celeste Safari Float tour - USD70
  • La Fortuna - Tabacon Hot Springs (entrance, dinner and transport) - USD99
  • La Fortuna - Nature hike around Arenal Volcano - USD50
  • La Fortuna - La Fortuna Waterfall - USD10
  • La Fortuna - Canyoneering - USD55
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today take the scenic route to Monteverde (approximately 4 hours in total).

Travel by shared minibus to Lake Arenal, which you'll then cross by boat. On a clear day you'll get fantastic views of the surrounding area. On the other side of the lake, re-board the minibus and continue to your destination.

Monteverde was founded as an agricultural community in 1951 by a group of North American Quakers who cleared virgin forest to create pastures ideal for dairy farming. These environmentally aware settlers were way ahead of the game in being conscious of the danger that unrestricted settling and farming could cause to habitats. Consequently, they established a small privately-owned wildlife sanctuary which has since grown to become the internationally-renowned Monteverde Cloudforest Biological Preserve. These forests are similar to rainforests, but instead of relying on rain for essential moisture, receive water comes from semi-permanent cloud that covers the region. Lush and full of wildlife, this is truly a nature lover's paradise. More than 2,000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call Montverde home.
Accommodation
  • Ficus Sunset Suites or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning you'll have the opportunity to join your leader on a guided walking tour through the Monteverde National Park. Be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the world's most elusive birds.

The afternoon is free for you to enjoy at leisure. Sit back with your favorite book or take on some of the optional activities in the area. Perhaps walk through the canopy on suspension bridges or watch butterflies at play in the specially created butterfly garden. The local guides are very knowledgeable about the area and passionate about conservation. There are also several cooperatives worth visiting in the local communities.
Accommodation
  • Ficus Sunset Suites or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest Reserve
Optional Activities
  • Monteverde - Butterfly garden and insects farm - USD30
  • Monteverde - Suspension bridges tour - USD35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, visit the Ramirez family and their small coffee farm, which produces the coffee brand locally known as Cafe San Luis. Learn from this charismatic family the traditional coffee-making process still employed today.

After an afternoon set aside for relaxation, embark on a evening hike in search of some of the rainforest's nocturnal inhabitants. Some of the wildlife you might see includes porcupines, toucans, owls, agoutis, coatimundis, snakes, stick insects, tarantulas and katydids. Animal sightings can of course never be guaranteed, but this time of day offers a good chance to both spot diurnal animals returning from the day's hunting and nocturnal animals setting out to start it.
Accommodation
  • Ficus Sunset Suites or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Monteverde - Coffee tour
  • Monteverde - Night walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
From Monteverde it is a four to five hour drive to Manuel Antonio National Park.

Situated on the Pacific Coast, the area of mangrove swamps and beaches now known as the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio was first documented by Spanish Explorer Ponce de Leon in 1519 during his (unsuccessful) search for the Fountain of Youth.

Here, long, white beaches extending around the Punta Catedral headland are backed by evergreen forests that grow up right up to the high tide mark. The park, which is made up of 12 small islands and countless lagoons and mangrove swamps, is home to 109 kinds of mammal and 184 species of bird, also boasts turquoise seas perfect for swimming, kayaking, sailing or fishing in.

The afternoon is at your leisure. Perhaps relax at the beach and get ready for tomorrow's exploration of the National Park.


Accommodation
  • Hotel Faro or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Accommodation in Manuel Antonio is at Hotel Faro; this property is slightly below the standard generally used for Peregrine Adventures. We have chosen this property because it's one of the few hotels willing to accept our standard reservation policies and conditions yet still provides the most important requirements:
- An excellent location; meters from the beach, the National Park entrance, and local restaurants
- It's clean and comfortable
- A unique experience
Led by a local guide whose family helped establish the park, head out on a hike through Manuel Antonio in search of the resident wildlife. Monkeys, armadillos, sloths and hundreds of birds are some of the species you might be lucky enough to spot.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Faro or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Manuel Antonio - National Park guided visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take advantage of a late morning rise and sleep-in or wake early and listen to the jungle stirring to a new day.

In the afternoon, haul anchor, hoist the sails and set off on a memorable sunset sail across the park's turquoise waters.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Faro or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Manuel Antonio- Sunset sail
Optional Activities
  • Manuel Antonio - Mangrove tour by kayak (with lunch) - USD80
  • Manuel Antonio - Surf/boogie board rental - USD10
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - entrance - USD16
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel back to San Jose (approximately 4 hours).

Arrive back in time for some last-minute souvenir shopping at the city's vibrant markets. In the evening you might like to head out for a final group dinner and sampling of the city's night scene.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Presidente or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast today. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

42 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle, Boat, Plane, Shuttle bus

Accommodation

Hotel (42 nights)

Included Activities

  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
  • Puebla - Visit Puebla on route to Oaxaca
  • Oaxaca - Leader led city tour
  • Oaxaca - Teotitlan del Valle visit
  • Oaxaca - Beeswax candle shop visit
  • Oaxaca - Artisanal mescaleria visit
  • Oaxaca - Mezcal Factory
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport)
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
  • Palenque - Archaeological site guided tour
  • Palenque - Archaeologist led visit to Palenque ruins
  • Merida - Celestum boat tour
  • Chichen Itza Ruins - Entrance & Guided tour
  • Playa del Carmen - Tulum ruins guided tour
  • Crooked Tree - Lagoon birding boat tour
  • Flores - Yaxha tour & sunset drinks
  • Flores - Tour of Tikal archaeological site
  • Suchitoto - Town tour
  • Suchitoto - War historic walk at Cinquera Forest
  • Antigua - Coffee tour
  • Lake Atitlan - Santiago Village tour
  • Lake Atitlan - Naif painting workshop
  • Lake Atitlan - San Juan Village tour
  • Tortuguero - Village tour
  • Tortuguero - Sea turtle conservancy museum visit
  • Tortuguero - Mawamba Park visit
  • Tortuguero - Canals boat trip
  • Sarapiqui - Guided birdwatching tour
  • Sarapiqui - Chocolate tour at Tirimbina
  • La Fortuna - Hot springs
  • La Fortuna - Arenal hanging bridges
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest Reserve
  • Monteverde - Coffee tour
  • Monteverde - Night walk
  • Manuel Antonio - National Park guided visit
  • Manuel Antonio- Sunset sail

Dates & availability

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Important notes

START AND END TIME:
On Day 1 there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at approximately 6pm. There are no activities planned for the final day.

FLIGHTS NOT INCLUDED:
The international flight from Guatemala City to San Jose is not included in the tour cost and you must purchase it separately. When booking this flight, keep in mind there will be a group meeting at 6pm in  San Jose on this day so we recommend arriving prior to this.

COMPLIMENTARY TRANSFERS:
To book your complimentary transfers you must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
- An airport arrival transfer is included in Mexico City and in San Jose
- An airport departure transfer is included from Antigua

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip.

COMBINATION TRIP:
This trip is a combination of three of our most popular departures. As such the make-up of your group and your tour leader may change on day 15 and day 29.

WARNING FOR BOOKING FLIGHTS TO/FROM ANTIGUA:
Please be careful when booking flights to/from Antigua making sure you fly into/out of Guatemala City Airport (GUA). Guatemala City Airport is the closest airport to Antigua. Please do NOT book flights to/from Antigua & Barbuda Airport [ANU] as this is an island in the Caribbean.

Essential trip information

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