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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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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