99 Problems (But the Beach Ain't One)
We don’t know if Jay Z has ever travelled through Central America. But we’re sure he’d give our (very clever) trip name his blessing. Until then, we’ll just wing it.
Day to Day Itinerary
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
Day 4-5: 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 6-7: 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 8-9: Flores - Tikal
Looks like everyone in Flores got the red-roof memo. Then it's a jungle trek through the ruins of Tikal to the sounds of parrots, toucans, macaws, tree frogs and howler monkeys.
- Head into Guatemala and visit the town of Flores
- Stroll through the cobblestone streets, buy local handicrafts or take a dip in Lake Peten Itza
- Perhaps visit the ancient city of Tikal - deserted Mayan ruins in the heart of the Guatemala jungle
- 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
Meals included: 1 dinner
"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
Meals included: 1 breakfast
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
Nuts and Bolts
Tour leader, transport and sightseeing.
Summary of accommodation, transport & meals
- 30 nights Hotel
- 1 night Homestay
International flights, airport transfers, departure taxes, visas, insurance (compulsory on all trips), meals not listed (lunches and dinners), any optional tours or activities during free time, camera fees, excess baggage charges, tips and items of a personal nature.
We have chosen a selection of some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. The below list is not exhaustive and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed below have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
- Antigua - Salsa class (per hour)
- Caye Caulker - Manatee watching & snorkelling tour
- Caye Caulker - Snorkelling half day
- Copan - Ruins (transport & entrance fee)
- Granada - Masaya Market tour
- Granada - Masaya Volcano
- La Fortuna/Arenal - Baldi Hot Springs
- La Fortuna/Arenal - Volcano hike
- Monteverde - Butterfly garden
- Monteverde - Coffee Plantation tour
- Ometepe - Petroglyphs hike
- Ometepe - San Ramon Waterfall
- Ometepe - Volcan Concepcion hike (Approx 11 hrs)
- Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel
- Playa del Carmen - Snorkel hire
- San Jose - Butterfly Farm
- San Jose - City tour
- San Jose - Poas Volcano National Park, Doka Coffee Tour & La Paz Waterfalls full day tour
The operator for this Geckos Adventures trip is our experienced sister company Intrepid Travel. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Geckos booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Emergency Contact: Viaventure
24 Hour Emergency:+502 5778 4052 or + 502 5207 4914
About this Information
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
5 February 2014
General Contact Details
Web: Visit Geckos