Best of Central America

Trip Code: QVRQC

Why we love it

Whether its slumbering on the sands of Playa del Carmen, gazing at the pyramids of Tikal or haggling in the vibrant markets of Chichicastenango, you'll experience multiple sides of Central America., Get to know contemporary Maya life during a homestay in San Juan La Laguna, a lakeside village where you can share meals and conversation with a local family., Hike, cycle or zip-line through the steamy cloud forests of Monteverde – there’s so many ways to experience the lush canopies and unique Central American wildlife., Cruise up the Rio Dulce to your waterfront jungle lodge, then maybe grab a beer and relax while the sounds of nature fill the air., Put your chef hat on and help prepare a traditional Caribbean dinner with a local family in their home in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Is this trip right for me?

This trip is made for travellers who value their independence but also want the benefit of a local leader and a group of like-minded travellers. The itinerary includes basic accommodation and has free time for activities when your leader will offer suggestions. Please budget spending money for optional activities you want to partake in.

With so much to see and do, Costa Rica can sometimes be expensive. Expect to pay more than you would in other Central American countries for a lot of things.

This trip includes some long travel days by local transport and private vehicles. Space can be tight, but it’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers and watch the passing scenery. 

Central America is tropical, so expect a hot and humid climate. Make sure you protect yourself from the sun, wear comfortable, light clothing and stay hydrated. Air conditioning may not always be available in your rooms. Occasionally, properties may require an additional charge for the use of air conditioning.

The homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday local life. Conditions during your homestay in San Juan La Laguna are basic. Your rooms will be multi-share, and the bathroom will most likely be shared with the rest of the family. A hearty home-cooked breakfast and dinner will be served during your stay, which can be a lot more basic than what you're used to.

There will be times when you have to walk with your luggage, and for this reason, we recommend packing light and using a backpack or something easy to carry.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 9 (Tikal) and Day 14 (San Juan La Laguna homestay), where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. This tour includes accommodation in multi-share rooms (triple and quad). This means travelers on the same booking may be split between rooms due to single gender allocation.
3. As per updated Nicaragua entry requirements, customers are currently required to supply a copy of their passport front page to their booking agent no later than 15 days prior to departure.
4. Should you have any questions or need assistance with the Honduras pre-registration, your leader will be able to assist on Day 1 of your tour. For more information, visit the ‘Passports, visas and entry requirements’ section of the ‘Essential Trip Information.

What to bring/pack

Most travellers prefer to take a small to medium wheeled suitcase, which is a great size for the packing capacity in our private vehicles. Whatever you take, be mindful that you will need to be able to carry your own luggage, handle it at airports, take in/out of accommodation and perhaps even walk short distances. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible. You'll also need a day pack/bag for activities and day trips. In terms of weight, airlines generally allow a maximum of 15-20kg for check in luggage and a maximum of 5kg for carry on.

Other than the items and clothing you always need on a trip, below we have listed packing suggestions specific for this trip:

ESSENTIAL:
- Warm as well as light clothing. Central America is often assumed to have hot weather, but it can get cold in the countryside, mountains and at night in the winter so we suggest you check the expected temperatures en route and bring clothing that you can layer
- Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through cities as well as bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings
- Sun protection - hat, sunglasses, sunscreen (reef-safe sunscreen for swimming)

RECOMMENDED:
- Soft and/or hard copies of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, travel insurance etc. and keep the hard copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a copy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary
- Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments
- Electrical adapter plug (view www.kropla.com)
- Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and Band-Aids.
- Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both
- Swimwear
- Travel beach towel
- Tissues &/or toilet paper &/or wet wipes
- Insect repellent
- Camera with a spare memory card, charger &/or batteries

OPTIONAL:
- Earplugs to guard against a potential snoring room-mate
- Phrasebook

VALUABLES:
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your safe if available. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.

LAUNDRY:
Laundry is available at many hotels and towns during this trip, although you might need to wait for a two-night stop in order to make sure you get it back in time. While laundry at hotels is usually charged by the item, laundromats usually charge by the kilo, which is generally inexpensive (about USD 2 per kilo).

Physical rating

 
2

None of the activities featured in this trip require special training or skills, just a reasonable level of fitness and a willingness to participate. Cobblestones and uneven roads are common and you may be required to walk in hot and humid conditions. If you are in any doubt, please share these concerns or issues with your sales consultant so that your leader is aware prior and can pre-empt your needs.

Joining your group

Hotel Colonial Playa del Carmen, 20 Avenida Nte. s/n, Centro, 77710. Playa del Carmen, Playa del Carmen, MEXICO

Hotel Colonial Playa del Carmen is located 500 meters from Fifth Avenue, where you will find a wide variety of restaurants, craft stores and places of interest to visit.

Alternate Joining Point

For trips departing on the following dates
use this joining point.
20 Apr 2024 (QVRQC2404202)
Winday Hotel Playa Del Carmen
AV. 25 NTE
Av. CTM Esquina Zazil-ha Playa del Carmen Q.R
Playa del Carmen
MEXICO

Joining instructions

Intrepid offers a pre-arranged arrival transfer service from Cancun International Airport [CUN] at an additional fee. If you have pre-booked this service, please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised.

If you have pre-booked this service; you will be met after exiting the terminal building to the outside. As you exit please look for the Intrepid sign with your name on it. There is no designated area for transfer drivers to wait inside the building so please take your time to look around once outside.
If you have any problems and cannot locate your driver on arrival, please call our Intrepid Emergency number listed under the ‘Problems and emergency contact information’ section of your Essential Trip Information document. If you don’t have a device or mobile coverage, Cancun Airport has a free Wi-Fi connection so you can call that same number via an online application such as Skype. There are also several information desks and tourist information desks around if you require further assistance.

Otherwise, you can travel from the Cancun Airport to the hotel by taxi. We recommend you use the authorised taxi services organised from inside the terminal. They will charge you approximately MX$1100-1250 (USD$60-70) for a trip to Playa del Carmen. Alternatively, from inside the terminal building you can organise to take a shuttle bus for approximately MX$500 (USD$30). The drive to Playa del Carmen where the hotel is located is approximately 50-60 minutes depending on traffic.

Finishing your trip

Grand International Hotel Panama City, Via Argentina y Jose Marti, 17, PANAMA CITY, 587, Panamá, Panama City, PANAMA, Phone: +507 3960100

Alternate Finish Point


Via Argentina, Ciudad de Panamá

Intrepid offers a pre-arranged departure transfer service to Panama City International Airport [PTY] at an additional fee. If you require this service, please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure.

If you have pre-booked this service, your transfer driver will collect you from your hotel 4 hours before your flight time. If your transfer has not arrived within 15 minutes of the scheduled pickup time please ask the hotel reception to call our Intrepid Emergency number, listed under the ‘Problems and emergency contact information’ section of your Essential Trip Information document.

Alternatively, you can travel from the hotel to the airport by taxi. The hotel reception will be able to assist you with a taxi. The drive to the Panama City Airport will take approximately 20-30 minutes depending on traffic and will cost approximately PAB$35-45 (USD$35-45).

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 1

Lunches included: 

Dinners included: 3

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader or local representative will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule, our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS
Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts.
Generally speaking, in bigger cities/towns vegetarians can expect a reasonable range of vegetarian venues and/or vegetarian options within tourist restaurant menus. However, vegetarianism is not the norm in this part of the world so options can be limited when eating at homestays, small local restaurants, street stalls, markets, etc.

More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, coeliac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) can also be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend that, if possible, to bring your own supply of snacks with you.

For those on strict Kosher or Halal diets, we understand your dietary requirements are important, however, sometimes due to cultural and language differences these are not always easy to convey when you are travelling. Your guide will do their best to assist you in translating your needs when eating out, but please be aware that these diets are almost unheard of in much of the continent and the best they may be able to accommodate is no pork and shellfish. If this will be a concern for you you may need to consider opting for vegetarian or vegan meals for the included meals in your itinerary. We recommend researching kosher or halal options in your destination country prior to travel to see if you are able to buy snacks once there, otherwise consider bringing some from home. 

Climate & seasonal information

Please note that Hurricane season is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors these situations as they may arise, so that itineraries or activities can be amended as necessary.

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader or local representative may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the group leader or local representative to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the numbers below:

Intrepid local operator : Available for phone call on +30 697 800 6335 

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:

Intrepid local operator : Available for phone call on +506 4113 9300

Accommodations

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.

Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

Transportation