Epic Central America
DAY 1 - PLAYA DEL CARMEN
The Maya Riviera, where Playa del Carmen is located, is where all those Corona beer adverts were shot. Corona's slogan in the ads is: “From where you'd rather be”, which is kinda bang on the money.
Arrive at any time before the orientation meeting at 6pm
Attend an optional group dinner after the meeting
If you arrive early, snorkel among mangroves, relax on the beach or catch a ferry to Cozumel, famous for its reef
Another option is the short trip to Cancun, full of resorts, bars and shops
DAY 2-3 - TULUM
Bound to be a few sore heads today, so take a bit of “me time” as you wander the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Our favourite building is the Temple of the Frescoes.
Take a bus along the Caribbean coast to Tulum
Perhaps visit the pre-Columbian walled city ruins and enjoy spectacular views
Spend time relaxing on the beach or strolling along the white sandy shore
In the evenings, kick back and watch the waves with a margarita
DAY 4-6 - CAYE CAULKER
Home to the world's second largest barrier reef, Hol Chan Marine Reserve is worth a look, if that kind of thing impresses you. If it doesn't, you can just chill on the beach and go swimming with tropical fish, sharks and manta rays. Still a pretty badass way to spend a day.
Take a speedboat to the palm-fringed island of Caye Caulker
Enjoy this idyllic island and the nearby reefs during free time
Perhaps explore the coral reefs and their abundance of fish, or just relax on the beach
DAY 7-8 - SAN IGNACIO
Head to San Ignacio and perhaps stop off at a cave full of crystalised, 1,400(ish)-year-old skeletons. You don't need us to tell you how cool that is. All the skeletons are victims of blunt trauma to the head, mind you, so you shouldn't be too keen. Just pretend you don't really want to see them, then go anyway.
Travel by local bus to San Ignacio
Go on an optional day trip to Xunantunich, an impressive Mayan ceremonial centre. Take a hand cranked ferry to cross the river
Perhaps go to the Mountain Pine Ridge area to visit waterfalls, warm swimming holes as well as a huge system of caves
The cave of Tunichil Muknal is a living museum of Mayan relic
Take opportunities to go tubing or canoeing through the region
Perhaps visit San Ignacio's butterfly garden.
In the late afternoon and at night visit the little barbecue street stalls, sit down and enjoy a juicy chicken leg
DAY 9 - TIKAL
Head into Guatemala and camp the night in Tikal National Park (all camping equipment included)
Trek through the ruins of Tikal to the sounds of parrots, toucans, macaws, tree frogs and howler monkeys
If you're feeling energetic, perhaps climb to the peak of Temple IV
DAY 10-11 - RIO DULCE
There is a trend in Flores that involves taking a boat out onto the lake and cruising around. We are all for this trend, and we reckon you will be too. If you're not a trendy-type, you can go out to spot manatees or head up to thermal hot springs. There's loads of other stuff you can do, but we've only just so much space here. OK?
Head to Rio Dulce, the sweet river, by local bus (approx. 5 hours)
Take time to explore this laid back Caribbean town, quite different from the inland communities.
Enjoy some optional activities on your free day, go boating on the lake, take a tour to spot the protected manatees or travel up the river on a lancha to the thermal hot springs
Perhaps hike through the jungle-strewn trails of the Chocon-Machacas Natural Reserve, ride a horse through a nearby rubber plantation or travel to Livingston to explore the San Felipe fort
DAY 12 - ANTIGUA
It's not very often you see a volcano puffing away as it looms overhead, but after a few days you won't even bat an eyelid.
Travel to Antigua by local bus (approx. 7 hours) were you'll spend the night
You won't be in Antiguam long today, but you should try Tamales while you're here, a local dish served in a corn leaf, or perhaps try Pepian, a combination of three meats (chicken, beef and pork) with a dark sauce
DAY 13 - CHICHICASTENANGO - SAN JORGE LA LAGUNA
“Lo siento, no hablo mucho español, pero me gustaría que,” means “Sorry, I don't speak much Spanish, but I like you”. You need to learn phrases like this to break down the barriers on your homestay in San Jorge La Laguna. Be creative and kind and you can't go wrong.
Travel by local bus to famous market in Chichicastenango
Head to San Pedro La Laguna (approx. 1.5 hours)
Be introduced to your host family for tonight's homestay
Houses in San Jorge La Laguna are very basic, your room may only consist of a couple of beds with clean bedding, the bathroom will be outside the room and is shared with the rest of the family
The mother of the family will cook dinner and breakfast for you, meals are basic but filling
DAY 14 - PANAJACHEL
Guatemala is actually a Spanish word, meaning “the great outdoors”. OK, that's not true. But it could be. Mountains, volcanoes and a picturesque lake are the backdrop for swimming, wind surfing, hiking, kayaing horse riding or paragliding in Panajachel.
Head to Panajachel
Perhaps visit the smaller, neighbouring villages by boat
There are a number of community cooperatives that can visit, the proceeds from these will return directly to the community
DAY 15-16 - ANTIGUA
Nothing says, “Heck yeah we're back in Antigua!” quite like having a big night out then taking a trip up the Pacaya Volcano.
Stop by Antigua, a World Heritage-listed town
Perhaps journey to the summit of one of the nearby volcanoes and take in the vistas of the surrounding hills
Perhaps take a scenic horse ride, a bike ride or go white-water rafting on one of the highland rivers
Opportunity to explore the city’s cobblestone streets at your leisure
If you fancy, there are many dancing schools with hourly lessons to learn or improve your salsa moves before you get to hit the discos at night
DAY 17-18 - COPAN
Here at Geckos, we have a phrase that goes, “If you can't handle the heat, get out of the Copan.” Actually, we just made that up. But it sounds pretty good. There's a long bus ride to get here, but the optional visit to the Mayan ruins make it worth it. If you're a fan of Mayan ruins.
Get up early and travel by local bus to Copan, Honduras
Go on an optional trip to the Mayan ruins of Copan, a World Heritage site since 1980
DAY 19-21 - ROATAN ISLAND
Roatan is an island, which means it's surrounded by water, which means there are loads of water-based adventures to be had here. Don't forget this is the Caribbean, so the water is clear and there are tonnes of multi-coloured fish and heaps of white sand beaches around. Google 'Roatan Island' and see for yourself.
Head to San Pedro Sula by local bus (approx. 3 hours), then continue to La Cieba (approx. 3 hours) before taking a ferry to Roatan (approx. 2 hours)
Spend the following two days relaxing and taking part in the many water based optional activities
Dive, swim or snorkel through the Caribbean waters
For more active adventures, tear yourself away from the beach and venture into the hilly interior by bicycle or scooter
Spot 'Jesus Lizards' in the botanical gardens or visit the nearby Institute for Marine Science
In the evenings chat with locals in any of the lively bars and enjoy a cold light house beer
DAY 22 - COMAYAGUA
Say goodbye to Roatan and hello to Comayagua, which is, according to some travel sources, “a great place to witness colonial architecture meeting modern day life”. Which basically means it's a really good-looking old town that people still live in. That's kind of it. Grab a beer and take it all in.
Leave early (approx 5:30 am) and travel by ferry back to the mainland (approx. 2 hours), then travel on to Comayagua by local bus (approx. 4.5 hours)
Witness colonial architecture meeting modern day life
DAY 23-24 - GRANADA
Spend one whole day travelling across the border into Nicaragua, then one whole day in Granada exploring as you please. Grabbing a boat and heading out to Lake Nicaragua is a great shout - as is visiting the Mombacho or Masaya Volcano National Parks.
Travel across the border to Granada, Nicaragua, you'll take a local bus, Tica Bus, taxis and another local bus (it's a full day of travel)
Enjoy a full free day to bargain hard in the markets, hike, cruise and explore the neighbouring landscapes
Explore the cobblestone streets surrounded by colourful buildings or tour the 'islets' on Lake Nicaragua by boat
Perhaps partake in the optional day trip to Mombacho or Masaya Volcano National Parks
Perhaps enjoy a night on the town
DAY 25-26 - OMETEPE ISLAND
Travel by bus and boat to the island of Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua. There's another volcano to hike, which is no walk in the park (because it's a freaking volcano). There are some fishermen to watch too, which is much more interesting than it sounds.
From Granada travel by local bus and boat (approx 6-7 hours) to the island of Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua
Lake Nicaragua is the largest in Central America and the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world
Ometepe is a mainly agricultural island with rural villages and watermelon, coffee, banana and citrus plantations, wildlife abounds including the world's only species of freshwater shark
Sit on the shore of the lake and watch the fishermen come back from their long day
You have a free day here, perhaps take an optional hike to Volcano Maderas, or check out the petroglyphs or chill out on the beach
DAY 27-28 - MONTEVERDE
Constant mist in the cloud forest makes it feel a bit like a nightclub, but with less Katy Perry and more fresh air. Take the giant Sky Walk - a series of suspension bridges dangling 40m above the jungle.
Climb up the mountains to the village of Monteverde
Experience the mystical and fragile environment here - a highlight of Costa Rica
Enjoy incredible bird-watching opportunities
Perhaps embark on the giant 'Sky Walk'
DAY 29-30 - LA FORTUNA - ARENAL
Horse riding, whitewater rafting, riding the sky tram, zip-lining, mountain biking, kayaking, paddleboarding, bungee jumping and swimming. If you get home and say you sat on your bum in La Fortuna you should be very ashamed.
Stop by La Fortuna, whose main attraction is the spectacular Arenal Volcano
Enjoy a hike around the volcano and absorb the surrounding scenery
Perhaps go white-water rafting and horse riding
Take a dip at the waterfalls of La Catarata de Fortuna
DAY 31-32 - SAN JOSE
People watching is good, but you know what's even better? People talking. As in, conversing with people. If you can't do that, maybe just compliment one. “Yo no hablo mucho español, pero maldito que busca volar hoy,” means “I don't speak much Spanish, but goddamn you're looking fly today.” And you should definitely never say that.
A local bus ride takes us to San Jose
A good place to start exploring is the main plaza, get comfy and do some people watching, artisan booths are common here there could be a spontaneous art fair
Perhaps visit the Gold Museum, home to an amazing collection of indigenous gold art.
Maybe head to the out door market in Plaza de la Cultura or the Central Market where you can buy anything from handicrafts to seafood
The trip will end on Day 32, there are no activities planned for this day
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