Days
43
Price from
$18,595NZD

Embrace the diversities of Central America as you travel through Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica

Mexico is all laid before you in this most comprehensive exploration of an intoxicating country. From the unique buzz of Mexico City, travel deep into the past at the mysterious archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan, then see the old and new collide in the colonial cities of Puebla and Oaxaca.

Continue on to El Salvador, the region’s best-kept secret, and travel from black sand beaches to colonial towns that are home to people that are bold but unassuming, feisty yet open-armed. Speculate about the disappearance of a great civilisation with the Copan ruins on the Honduran border, then experience the Caribbean touch that makes Amatique Bay unique. 

Finally, travel to Costa Rica, which national parks are blessed with some of the greatest diversity of flora and fauna in the world. Depart for Tortuguero, where you can learn about indigenous turtle catching and conservation efforts.  Visit butterfly gardens at Monteverde's outstanding tropical cloud forest and wildlife sanctuaries. Relax on some of Costa Rica's finest beaches, with long stretches of beautiful white sand backed by lush jungle.


Start
Mexico City, Mexico
Finish
San Jose, Costa Rica
Countries
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico
Style
Peregrine
Code
PSMDC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 1
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Oaxaca is not just travelled with feet and eyes, there’s also a delicious street-food scene to discover – Don't take our word for it, try it first hand on a cooking class in Oaxaca

  • Visit Palenque archaeological site in the company of a professional archaeologist.

  • The history of the fascinating local culture of Lake Atitlan can be traced in the movements of the brush that paints the mystical Maya nahual. Pick up a brush in a local artist’s studio and with it discover your life energy, soul companions, and your destiny

  • The brightly painted houses of Flores are a reflection of the radiant colours that stretch across the town at sunset. Enjoy memorable lakeside drinks while the sun sinks below the horizon

  • Overlooked by the majestic Volcan de Agua, Antigua is a cobblestoned maze of colourful buildings, leafy town squares and ornate churches, and the undisputed urban jewel in Guatemala's crown

  • The stunning national parks of Costa Rica are endowed with some of the greatest diversity of flora and fauna in the world

  • Journey to Tortuguero National Park and learn about local turtle conservation projects

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

Is this trip right for you?

  • There are a few long days of travel, as you'll be covering a lot of ground. So be prepared for some driving. You will, however, make stops at interesting locations along the way to break things up.

  • The tropical climate of Central America means conditions can be hot and humid. Always carry plenty of water with you and stay hydrated, especially on walking tours. Luckily there will be several opportunities to take a swim!

  • Due to increased activity by the Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque, some changes to your itinerary may be necessary for your safety.

  • Some included activities, such as guided tours of archaeological sites, can be quite strenuous. Be sure to bring suitably sturdy footwear.

  • This trip involves a number of long nature walks and its important to consider whether these conditions will be right for you. It's advisable to have a generally good level of fitness.

  • Costa Rica is perhaps the most expensive country in Central America. The price of non included meals, drinks and activities are more in line with Weastern countries than Central American ones.

Itinerary

Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, where you'll be transferred to your hotel. Your arrival transfer must be pre-booked. Please ensure you provide your arrival flight details at least 15 days before the start of the trip.

In the evening (usually around 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:

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.

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.

Closer to your hotel (about 1km) you'll find Plaza Garibaldi, where for about MXN 200 you can get a Mariachi band to perform for you!

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 Zocalo Central or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Mariachis in Garibaldi Square (entry is free, price to hire a band for 2-3 songs) - USD8
  • Mexico City - Leon Trotsky Museum - MXN40
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum - MXN140
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today starts with city tour of Mexico City. You'll visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo (main square), National Palace and Museum of Anthropology. You will discover that Mexico City is an exciting mix of modern cosmopolitan glamour with remnants from both its ancient and colonial history.

Mexico is synonymous with tacos, so this evening 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 tastebuds

Accommodation
  • Hotel Zocalo Central or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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 and spend another evening exploring this vibrant metropolis. Perhaps head to the neighbourhood of Colonia Juárez, which has started to make a comeback. The beautiful architecture is being restored and new restaurants, bars and art galleries are popping up. An Uber taxi from your hotel will cost you approximately MXN 90
Accommodation
  • Hotel Zocalo Central or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Start early and travel to Puebla. Take a walk around this city which has retained its colonial heritage despite rapid growth and development. There are a plethora of churches and colonial buildings that remain a testament to its proud history, including the resplendent gilded interior of the Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel.

We stop here for lunch, perhaps try the local specialty of mole Poblano, a dish famous across Mexico.

We continue to the colonial city of Oaxaca, a lovely city 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.

Take in the relaxed atmosphere as you explore the streets, perhaps sampling some regional delicacies along the way. From ‘mole’ sauces and banana-leaf-wrapped ‘tamales’, to the baked chilli and lime grasshoppers, there's no shortage of unique and delicious food here, usually sold by the charming old ladies of the markets.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Mision de los Angeles or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a city tour with your leader, 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 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
  • Mision de los Angeles or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Teotitlan del Valle visit
  • Oaxaca - Beeswax candle shop visit
  • Oaxaca - Artisanal mescaleria visit
  • Oaxaca - Tule Tree
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee) - USD10
  • Oaxaca - Folkloric ballet (seasonal) - USD10
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - USD8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning you'll take a cooking class to get to grips with some regional specialties. Tour 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
  • Mision de los Angeles or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a morning flight to Tuxtla Gutierraz and then drive east to San Cristobal de las Casas.

On the way you will visit Sumidero Canyon, an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River and dating from the same time as the Grand Canyon.

Then continue on to San Cristobal de las Casas. 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)
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal - Bicycle rental (per hour) - USD30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Embark on a tour to the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan today. 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)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and travel north to Palenque today (approximately 6 hours). Enjoy some free time exploring the town when you arrive. Situated in hot jungle, Palenque is the jump-off point to the nearby Maya ruins of the same name – you'll visit them tomorrow.

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 to you 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Mercedes or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
  • Palenque - Archaeologist led visit to Palenque ruins
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you will meet Alfonso Morales, a local archaeologist for a memorable 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 an early lunch, continue driving north to Merida (approximately 7 hours). Arrive into the historic town of Merida which, founded in 1542, 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)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, travel west out to the coast before taking a boat ride and visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve (approximately 1.5 hours). Here, near extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, you’ll likely be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape.

In the afternoon there’ll be some time 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 Anthropology Museum of the 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 Castellanos or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Merida - Celestum boat tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Chichen Itza is your first stop today (approximately 2 hours). 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).
Accommodation
  • Hotel Isusions or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza - Entrance
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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.

Today you will travel down the coast to the small beach village of Akumal where, just a short swim off-shore, you can snorkel with endangered green sea turtles. The floor at Akumal is covered with the turtle’s favourite food – sea grass – so they hang around in the bay munching away. This is a truly memorable experience. In the evenings you can feast on seafood, relax, and watch the sunset and waves with a margarita or two.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Ilusions or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Akumal day trip
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 Carman, 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 Carman, 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 Ilusions or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Tulum runis guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you will be transferred to Cancun International Airport in time to catch your flight to El Salvador. The international flight from Cancun to El Salvador is not included in the price of this trip. Please contact us if you need assistance making this arrangement.

Begin this journey through El Salvador and Guatemala with a transfer from the international airport in San Salvador to your accommodation in the laid back village of El Tunco (approximately 1 hour). Your arrival transfer must be pre-booked. Please ensure you provide your arrival flight details at least 15 days before the start of the trip.

There will be a welcome meeting at 6pm this evening. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand.

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).

While El Tunco remains relatively unknown to international travellers, it's a preferred holiday destination for Salvadorians (particularly on weekends), and has gathered quite the following in surfer circles for its waves and beaches.

After the meeting, this town is ideal for some time in a hammock and a sunset drink over a black sand beach.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Boca Olas or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today starts with a visit to the Joya de Ceren Museum, a UNESCO world heritage site that features pre-Columbian Maya farming village preserved remarkably well under layers of volcanic ash.

After, drive along a section of the famous Ruta de las Flores (Flower's route) to Suchitoto. Ruta de las Flores is one of the country’s foremost attractions. Named for the wildflowers that grow along it, the route is scattered with quaint, artsy, brightly-coloured colonial towns, idyllic coffee farms and other natural wonders.

This 36km-long winding trip is famed for lazy weekends of gastronomy and gallery-hopping, as well as more adventurous pursuits like hiking and exploring waterfalls littered throughout the Cordillera Apaneca. You will drive to Juayua (approximately 2 hours) where you’ll enjoy lunch – choose from the many Sunday food stalls that offer some of the country’s finest produce.

Arrive to Suchitoto (approximately 3 hours). Not much happens in this delightful lakeside town of pastel-painted houses and cobbled streets – which is precisely its charm. This really is a place suited to just pulling up a stool at a pupusa stand and watching life meander by.
Accommodation
  • Hotel El Tejado or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Suchitoto - Ruta de las flores (flower's route)
  • Suchitoto - Museum Joya de Ceren visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
With its shaded plazas and lack of traffic, Suchitoto serves as a reminder of El Salvador's past. The town overlooks the Embalse Cerron Grande (also known as Lago Suchitlan), which is a haven for migrating birds – particularly falcons and hawks.

In the morning you will take a boat tour of the lake, sailing out to some of its islands in search for the avian life that thrives here.

In the afternoon, learn more about local history on a tour of the city. 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.

Later in the evening you will learn about the traditional art of indigo dyeing. Indigo supported the city's economic and population growth up until the 19th century when synthetic dyes collapsed in the local market. However the art of indigo dyeing is still well alive in Suchitoto.

You will meet Irma Guadron, a recognised local indigo artist for a demonstration of this art. While the demonstration takes place, you will also be subjected to a culinary experience like no other! Try an endless variety of local specialties including vegetable stuffed corn dough pastries, loroco flowers, cheese pastries, pork chicharron, fried kassava and the list goes on and on and on...
Accommodation
  • Hotel El Tejado or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Suchitoto - Lake Suchitlan Boat trip
  • Suchitoto -Town tour
  • Suchitoto - Salvadorean culinary experience
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Leaving El Salvador, travel across the border into Honduras (approximately 6 hours). Immigration procedures typically run quite smoothly here, but your trip leader will be on hand to guide you through the process. Your destination is the town of Copan Ruinas, which lies not far from the Guatemalan border.

Copan Ruinas is a major gateway for tourists visiting the Pre-Columbian ruins of Copan, which was once one of the great centres of Maya civilisation. Today it’s a charming town set amid lush, hilly surrounds. On arrival, perhaps take a stroll through the town's cobbled streets, colourful houses and quaint central plaza.

Finish a long travel day at the soothing and relaxing waters of Copan natural hot springs.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Marina Copan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Copan - Natural Hot Springs & Dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Today you'll be taken on a guided tour of the ancient ruins of Copan, the southernmost of Central America's great Maya sites. This particular region, which acquired World Heritage-listing in 1980, is full of impressive pre-Colombian art. Its major differentiator from other Maya sites is its 21 stelae (columns), which are intricately carved with reliefs and hieroglyphics depicting the passage of time and lives of the royal families. Spread around the site are also a number of small pyramid-shaped temples and excavated vaults. Walking through the grassy plazas, past the site's magnificent monuments, statues and staircases, you'll feel the gaze of huge carved faces peering down on you from ancient walls. It's hard not to wonder at the mysterious disappearance of such a creative civilization.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Marina Copan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Copan - Museum visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
From Honduras, cross the border into Guatemala and drive north to Puerto Barrios (approximately 5 hours). Your destination is Livingston, a fascinating Garifuna town perched on the Caribbean coast. No roads reach here, so you’ll have to take a boat across Amatique Bay. This port town is an interesting mix of Guatemalan and Caribbean influences, a relaxed place that feels more reminiscent of Jamaica than it does the rest of Guatemala.

Explore Livingston's ramshackle town of colourful wooden houses built on stilts, browse its shops for handicrafts, slurp up a bowl of tapado (a seafood soup that's the local delicacy) or sip on a Coco Loco (coconut water and rum) to the mellow beats of reggae drifting by.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Caribe or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Explore Livingston and learn more about the town's fascinating fusion of cultures and traditions. Garifuna culture, which is unique to Central America's eastern coast, is said to have resulted from the intermingling of African slaves and Caribbean indigenous people following a shipwreck that occurred during the 17th century. Try some hearty, local Carib food and tune into the local beats of punta, a rhythmic pattering of soft drums and ritual chanting.

Later today, you’ll take a cruise through the spectacular, thickly-forested gorges of Rio Dulce, many of which are more than 100 metres high and overflowing with birdlife. The Spaniards built forts along this stretch of river; you'll likely spot locals sitting in their shadow and casting fishing nets into the water. If you're very lucky, you might also even spot a manatee or crocodile during the journey. Lunch will be included while on this boat tour.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Caribe or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Livingston - Rio Dulce boat tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Travel by boat from Livingston back to Puerto Barrios and continue on to Flores, your base for exploring the ruins of Tikal (approximately 5 hours).

Though officially founded by the Spanish in 1700, Flores had in fact existed in various forms long before. As an island, it has long remained isolated, with locals relying on the subsistence farming of corn and beans, and the gathering of chicle from nearby trees for the production of gum. Many of the locals here still get about in the traditional way of dugout canoe.

After settling in, you will visit Yaxha, an archaeological site scenically 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 views across the lagoons, forest and other temples.

Afterwards, let your tour leader treat you to a memorable sunset. Sit back at a picture perfect spot by the lake and farewell that same sun the Mayas worshiped hundreds of years ago. Pop open a wine or two and cheer to another wonderful day in Central America.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Maya or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Flores - Yaxha tour & sunset drinks
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll take a guided 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. More than 3,000 structures make up the site, which, before being abandoned a millennia ago, once housed over 100,000 people. You’ll 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 traditional insights into medicine, astrology, agronomy and architecture.

The jungles thrum with life, with toucans and macaws swooping between trees and monkeys crashing through the canopy. For those interested, climbing to the top of the ruins offers unsurpassed vistas over the forest.

In the afternoon we return to Flores, where you'll have time to stroll the cobblestone streets, shop for locally-made souvenirs or enjoy a dip in Lake Peten Itza.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Maya or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Flores - Tour of Tikal archaeological site
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
From Flores board a short early morning flight to Guatemala City (approximately 1 hour). Upon arrival, drive west along the Interamerican highway to Lake Atitlán (approximately 4 hours).

Encircled by emerald mountains and misty volcanoes, Lake Atitlán has often been ranked one of the world's most beautiful lakes.

In arriving here you’ll be transferred by boat to our night's accommodation, a hotel that boasts spectacular views across Atitlán's reflective waters and surrounding peaks.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Atitlan or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Spend a day exploring Lake Atitlán and its picturesque surrounds. 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.

Cruising around the lake by boat, stop 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Atitlan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Atitlan - Naif painting workshop
  • Lake Atitlan - San Juan Village tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you'll make a visit to Santiago Atitlán, a peaceful town located on the southern shores of the lake between the volcanoes Tolimán and San Pedro. This is the largest town on the lake, but, more importantly, home of the Maya god, Maximon. As a town with a strong indigenous identity, Santiago Atitlán hosts a Holy Week each year in sees Maximon's effigy moved from one house to another. While in Santiago Atitlán 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Atitlan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Atitlan - Santiago Village tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Start the day travelling by private minibus to the famous market in Chichicastenango (approximately 1.5 hours). Locally known as 'Chichi', this sedate mountain town transforms each Thursday and Sunday into the country's most colourful market with rural-living Guatemalans arriving en masse to sell their wares and produce. If you're in the market for brightly-coloured textiles and handicrafts, this is the place to be. After some time in Chichi, continue to your final destination, Antigua (approximately 2.5 hours). At one time the most important city in all Central America, Antigua was decimated by an earthquake in 1773, though many of its colonial buildings have since been carefully restored. Today, its cobbled streets, lovely architecture, cosy bars and ubiquitous marimba music makes Antigua a favourite for many travellers to Guatemala.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Colonial or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Atitlan region - Chichicastenango market visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
As you'll today come to appreciate, Guatemala’s volcanic soils and altitudinous valleys offer just the right conditions for coffee cultivation. In visiting a local farming cooperative, you'll 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 culture experience, then learn all about the crop-to-cup process back at the farmer's house where 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!

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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Colonial or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Antigua - Coffee tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you will be transferred to La Aura International Airport in time to catch your international flight to San Jose. This international flight from Guatemala City to San Jose is not included in the price of this trip and you must purchase it separately. Please contact us if you need assistance booking this flight.

Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport, where you'll be transferred to your hotel. Your arrival transfer must be pre-booked. Please ensure you provide your arrival flight details at least 15 days before the start of the trip.

In the evening (usually around 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.

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.

There are a number of interesting museums in the city; the Museo de Oro has a good collection of golden pre-Columbian figurines. The Mercado Central is the main market which dates back to 1881 – there are some good food stalls here as well as countless artefacts for sale.
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
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 - Chocolate tour at Tirimbina
  • Sarapiqui - Guided birdwatching tour
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
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 Almendros or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Accommodation in Manuel Antonio is at Hotel Almendros. This property is below the standard of accommodation we prefer to include in Peregrine trips. We have chosen this property because:

- It's clean and comfortable enough
- It's one of the few hotels that accepted working within Peregrine standard booking condition policies
- It has an unbeatable location, meters from the beach, Manuel Antonio's National Park entrance and local restaurants
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 Almendros 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 Almendros 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, 5 lunches, 5 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 - Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
  • Oaxaca - Teotitlan del Valle visit
  • Oaxaca - Beeswax candle shop visit
  • Oaxaca - Artisanal mescaleria visit
  • Oaxaca - Tule Tree
  • 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 - Archaeologist led visit to Palenque ruins
  • Merida - Celestum boat tour
  • Chichen Itza - Entrance
  • Playa del Carmen - Akumal day trip
  • Playa del Carmen - Tulum runis guided tour
  • Suchitoto - Ruta de las flores (flower's route)
  • Suchitoto - Museum Joya de Ceren visit
  • Suchitoto - Lake Suchitlan Boat trip
  • Suchitoto -Town tour
  • Suchitoto - Salvadorean culinary experience
  • Copan - Natural Hot Springs & Dinner
  • Copan - Museum visit
  • Livingston - Rio Dulce boat tour
  • Flores - Yaxha tour & sunset drinks
  • Flores - Tour of Tikal archaeological site
  • Lake Atitlan - Naif painting workshop
  • Lake Atitlan - San Juan Village tour
  • Lake Atitlan - Santiago Village tour
  • Lake Atitlan region - Chichicastenango market visit
  • Antigua - Coffee tour
  • Tortuguero - Village tour
  • Tortuguero - Sea turtle conservancy museum visit
  • Tortuguero - Mawamba Park visit
  • Tortuguero - Canals boat trip
  • Sarapiqui - Chocolate tour at Tirimbina
  • Sarapiqui - Guided birdwatching tour
  • 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

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Important notes

1. Airport transfers are included in Mexico City, Cancun, San Salvador, Guatemala City and San Jose (arrival transfer only). Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.
2. A single supplement is available on this trip.
3. The international flight from Cancun to San Salvador on day 15 of this itinerary is not included in the price of this trip.
4. The international flight from Guatemala City to San Jose on day 29 of this itinerary is not included in the price of this trip.Contact us if you need any assistance arranging these flights.

Essential Trip Information

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