Ultimate Central America

Trip Code: QVRRC

Why we love it

The stars of this trip are the dramatic and varied landscapes of lush Central America. If you’re thinking active volcanoes, idyllic beaches and emerald jungles – this trip has got you covered., Escape the Mexican heat in the highlands of San Cristobal de las Casas. This old-world town is surrounded by indigenous villages that have retained their traditional customs and roots., Get to know contemporary Maya life during a homestay in San Jorge La Laguna, a lakeside village where you can share meals and conversation with a local family., Clear sea perfect for swimming, shacks serving cold cerveza and sandy shores covered in starfish are waiting in the Bocas del Toro, where you spend three nights on Isla Colon., Head to the coffee plantations, waterfalls and caldera hot springs of Boquete, a highland town so beautiful you won’t miss the beach one bit., 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.

Is this trip right for me?

This trip involves some long travel days, especially from El Cuco to Leon with a 9-hour overland journey. Although this can be tiresome, it's a great opportunity to sit back, enjoy the passing scenery and to bond with your fellow travellers. This is a real Central American adventure, after all.

This trip includes time spent travelling in a private vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates. This trip also includes some travel by local transport, which can be basic and challenging, but is also a fantastic way to rub shoulders with the locals and get under the skin of a place, whilst being mindful for the environment.

As this trip covers destinations across eight countries, you'll need to make several border crossings. While these are usually straightforward, please prepare to be patient. Books, podcasts and car games will be your best friend.

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 – especially when out on walking tours.

The homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday local life. Conditions during your homestay in San Jorge La Laguna are basic. Your room will consist of a couple of beds with clean bedding, 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. However, corn, rice and beans are very filling.

Try to learn as many Spanish words as you can. Locals are very friendly, but also shy, so you'll need to make plenty of effort to break the ice. Attempting to communicate in Spanish is a great way of showing you care.

From walking the Costa Rican border crossing to optional full-day volcano hikes, this trip can involve a lot of walking. Please ensure you bring sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes. To make the most of the trip, it's best if you have at least a moderate level of fitness.

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. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1 in Mexico City. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 7 (Overnight bus) and Days 24 & 25 (Rio Dulce) where you will be in shared accommodation. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. Multishare typically includes triple and quad rooms. You may be required to share with group members of the opposite sex and couples, and people travelling together may occasionally be separated due to rooming configurations.
4. To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures. Your leader and the composition of your group may change with the start of each adventure.
5. Please be careful when booking flights from Antigua; make sure you fly out of Guatemala City Airport [GUA]. Guatemala City Airport is the closest airport to Antigua. Please do not book flights from Antigua & Barbuda Airport [ANU] as this is an island in the Caribbean.
6. Travel is always an adventure and, as destinations reopen, there are a few challenges as everyone gets back up to speed and adjusts to the new normal. Our leaders are experts when it comes to dealing with anything unexpected along the journey, so pack your understanding and flexibility, sit back and relax while they take care of the rest.
7.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.

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, sunscreen, sunglasses

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 spare memory card, charger &/or batteries

OPTIONAL:
- Ear plugs to guard against a potential snoring room-mate
- Phrase book

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 Posada Viena, #28 Calle Marsella, Cuauhtemoc, Zona Rosa, Mexico City, 06600, MEXICO, Phone: +55 55927312

This relaxed hotel is a 6-minute walk from a metro station, 18 minutes' walk from the Angel of Independence statue, and 2 km from the Historic Centre.
Warmly decorated, Colonial-style rooms offer free Wi-Fi and cable TV. Some have private terraces, living areas and/or sleep up to 4 people. Room service is available. Amenities include an informal restaurant, a lobby bar and a leafy interior courtyard.

Joining instructions

Intrepid offers a pre-arranged arrival transfer service from Mexico City International Airport [MEX] 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, please look for a sign with the Intrepid logo and your name on it; the driver will be located nearby to the Information Desk specific to your arrival terminal.
Terminal 1 Domestic Arrivals – Information Desk A1 (in front of door 2)
Terminal 1 International Arrivals – Information Desk E1 (in front of door 7)
Terminal 2 Domestic Arrivals – Information Desk Q (in front of door 4)
Terminal 2 International Arrivals – Information Desk N (in front of door 3)

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, Mexico City 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 Mexico City 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$250-350 (USD$14-20) for a trip to downtown. The drive to where the hotel is located is approximately 30 minutes depending on traffic.

Finishing your trip

Hostel Selina Casco Viejo, Corner of Avenida B & Calle 12, San Felipe, Casco Viejo (Old Quarter), Panama City, PANAMA, Phone: (+507 838 5132

Selina Casco Antiguo, offers guests free Wifi and an on-site bar and a rooftop terrace and comfortable common areas. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the heart and soul of Panama City, complete with a pumping nightlife, trendy restaurants, and cool bohemian vibes. It’s the historic part of the City, full of old colonial buildings, cathedrals, and museums. You’ll be transported to another world when you stay at Selina Casco Viejo. Surrounded by colorful, colonial buildings and close to modern day skyscrapers, you’re never far from adventure.

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: 2

Dinners included: 1

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader 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 October, 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 our 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/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader 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 number below.

BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at:
www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

CRISIS AND EMERGENCIES
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:
Intrepid's Local Operator (located in Costa Rica): +506 6022 4721

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


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