Nine week itinerary for Central America

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Nine week itinerary for Central America

This summer I was very fortunate to spend nine weeks travelling through Central America.  Discovering and exploring a region that absolutely captured my heart.

Central America is a region that offers everything the heart desires when travelling.  It offers visitors rich, vibrant cultures, remarkable heritage sites, stunning beaches and the most incredible vistas.

Nine weeks was a very ambitious plan to cover Central America (plus Cuba) and by no means did I think we would be able to cram everything into our short nine weeks (but we tried).  It was a jammed packed itinerary which I consider to be an introduction to the Central America region I can’t wait to explore more of Central America sometime in the future.

Here is our itinerary and what we managed to cover in nine weeks.

Guatemala – Belize – Honduras – Nicaragua – Costa Rica – Cuba – Panama

Guatemala

Our first two weeks were dedicated to Guatemala.  Guatemala has the perfect mix of culture, heritage sights, amazing hiking and picturesque views.  In fact, I wasn’t really prepared for how stunning Guatemala would be.

A few highlights from my time in Guatemala include hiking Acatenango a volcano located just outside of Antigua, it was a challenging hike that rewarded us with unbelievable views of an erupting volcano (you can read about my experiences here http://thecrazykiwiabroad.com/experience-hiking-acatenango/), learning how to cook traditional Guatemalan food and exploring the ruins of Tikal a ancient city located in the middle of a rainforest.

Antigua – Acatenango – Chichicastenango -Lake Atitlan – Lanquin – Flores – Tikal

Belize

Belize is the perfect location to kick back and take life easy.  It’s what I imagine a lot of Caribbean Islands to be like, living life in the slow lane and not worrying about the small things in life, while listening to some reggaeton.

Aside from having an amazing vibe and some of the friendliest people I encountered on my trip, Belize also has amazing snorkelling and diving, we even managed to spot an extremely endangered manatee.

San Igansico – Caye Caulker – Placencia

Honduras

With Honduras being voted one of the most dangerous countries in the world, we didn’t venture around this country.  Instead we headed straight to the island of Utila to complete our open waters dive qualification.

Utila

We spent a week on the tiny island that seems to capture a lot of travellers and keep them hostage for much longer periods than they anticipated.  Majority of the reason why people stay here for so long is access to cheap diving, the great diving locations, the laid-back lifestyle and the great night-life.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and one with a very complicated history.  The people of Nicaragua have truly suffered in the past and it’s only now that the country seems to be on the path to recovery from their turbulent past.

We really only explored a small area of the country and would have loved more time to explore Nicaragua, we could have spent the whole nine weeks here alone (if only we had unlimited time).

Leon – Granada – Ometepe

Costa Rica

This is one of the places I was looking forward to the most on this trip. With my love of animals and wildlife I pictured this as an oasis of beauty.  Unfortunately, due to delays at the beginning of our trip and extending stays in other places this was not the reality for us.  Instead we spent a few days in San Jose while waiting for our flight to Cuba.

This was not an ideal location to be stuck for a view days, it’s a dirty, smelly city plagued by many homeless people sleeping on the streets.  It’s not a particularly safe place to be and one I wouldn’t be recommending.

I know I can’t judge all of Costa Rica on San Jose and despite my experiences I have heard great things about the rest of the country, which I’m still looking forward to experiencing for myself.

San Jose

Cuba

Cuba is like stepping back in time.  In its heyday Havana must have rivalled all of the big cosmopolitan cities of the world.  Havana’s amazing architecture is a mixture of styles which creates a unique city, add in the vintage cars and you feel like you have stepped back in time.

Don’t be kidding yourself thinking this is off the trodden track, I was so surprised at how busy Cuba was and the sheer volume of tourists.  It actually was the most touristy place we visited all summer.

Havana – Vinales – Playa Grion – Trinidad – Varadero

Panama

Panama is famed for an impressive canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and while this engineering feat is a remarkable sight to behold there is plenty more to see in Panama.

When I think of Panama now I think of untouched beaches framed by clear blue waters and surrounded by thick green jungles. My only let down in Panama was the fact I didn’t get to see a sloth.

Bocas Del Toro – Panama City – San Blas Islands

If you’re considering a trip to Central America you will not be disappointed, in fact it will probably blow all your expectations out of the water.  My only tip would be to learn some Spanish before you go, it can be hard to get around without some basic understanding of the language.

 


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  1. Hey!

    I’m currently planning a 3 month solo trip next year march-may, looking at countries in Central America and South America. Guatemala and Nicaragua are high on my list! I’m really keen to complete my PADI open water course so was looking at Honduras for cheap courses but was also worried that as a first time solo female traveller, going to one of the most dangerous places in the world might not be so wise! So hearing you got round this by going to Utila island was definitely of interest to me! Please can you tell me more about how you got there, where you stayed and how you fitted this into your route? I would have likes to go get certified and then head to Belize afterwards in order to make the most of the diving opportunities there, but am concerned that this will mean going back on myself as I was originally planning to fly into mexico and then travel south.

    Any advise and tips you can give me would be amazing!

    Thanks

    • Hi Emily,

      Wow, that sounds like an epic trip! I understand your concerns about traveling to Honduras solo as it’s quite dangerous. Utila was a fabulous place to learn how to scuba dive, there are so many diving schools on the island that offer competitive prices. Many of the schools will offer accommodation as part of the package to entice people to dive with their school, this is included in the price of completing your diving qualification. We had a school in mind when we arrived on the island but we are glad we hadn’t pre-paid for this course as we ended up going with another school. Utila has around 8 diving schools on the island and I suggest to walk around the island visiting the schools and then deciding where you would like to complete your qualification. You will get a real feeling of what dive schools and instructors will put you at ease. That said I would totally recommend Underwater Vision.

      We fitted Honduras in as we continued down South, to get there we caught a boat from Placencia to Puerto Cortes (Honduras) and from there we had initially planned to catch several buses to La Ceiba but we meet people at the port and shared a taxi to La Ceiba (the port where you catch the ferry to Utila).

      It’s challenging trying to fit Honduras in before Belize. Mexico also has amazing diving have you looked at completing your diving licence there and then just going to Utila to make the most of the diving opportunities there?

      I’m very envious of your trip! Message me if you have any more questions and happy travels!

    • Not a road trip in the conventional way, we caught buses and other modes of public transport.

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