Juan Direction

Oaxaca's street stalls
The palm-fringed island of Caye Caulker
The carvings of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Copan
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Antigua Guatemala
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mayan city of Tikal
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mayan ruins of Palenque
1200-year-old cliff-top ruins of Tulum
San Cristobal de Las Casas' Chiapas indigenous culture
Chili lime grasshoppers at Oaxaca Market
Mexico City
Teotihuacan's Pyramids of the Sun and Moon
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Chichen-Itza
The Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán and Spanish city of Oaxaca
Chichicastenango native market
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Ometepe Island
  • It's time to live out your Mexican food fantasies. Tequila, burritos, nachos, tacos... is your mouth watering yet?

    Itinerary

    Day 1-2 - Mexico City

    Spend our first few days in Mexico City with a trip out to the 1800-year-old ruins at Teotihuacan.

    Day 1

    • Pre-departure meeting in the evening

    Day 2

    • Optional visit to the Teotihuacan ruins - the site of the massive ‘Piramides del Sol y de la Luna’(Pyramids of the Sun and Moon)
    • Discover the site's remaining buildings with the help of a local guide

    Day 3-4 - Puebla

    Puebla is packed with churches (70 in the city centre alone), so the best thing to do is check out a few, then head to the market for local hand-painted ceramics and street food.

    • Free morning/afternoon in Mexico City

      • Catch a late afternoon bus to Puebla
      • This evening and tomorrow are free to discover Puebla.
      • Perhaps visit some of Puebla's 70 churches or thousand or so colonial buildings

    Day 5-7 - Oaxaca - Overnight Bus

    Next up is Oaxaca. This is the place to shop for colourful textiles and lots of different margarita flavours.

    • Get lost among Oaxaca's renowned handicraft markets
    • Perhaps relax in a local cafe after a haggling frenzy
    • Perhaps visit the ancient Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban
    • Board an overnight bus to San Cristobal de Las Casas

    Day 8-9 - San Cristobal de las Casas

    Ever wondered how to suture a wound using human hair? The Mayans knew all about it, so pick up a few tips.

    • Arrive into San Cristobal early in the morning
    • Visit San Cristobal's beautiful churches, grab some bargains at the weekly market and continue the search for the best taco in Mexico
    • The surrounding villages are populated with Tzotzil and Tzeltal Indians who maintain their tribal origins through their varied traditional costumes and customs. There is time here to explore the villages, perhaps by horseback or mountain bike.
    • Take an optional day trip to Sumidero Canyon

    Day 10-11 - Palenque - Overnight Bus

    See the impressive 1300-year-old Mayan palace at Palenque with screeching parrots and monkeys as your soundtrack.

    • Today we travel on a windy road by local bus to Palenque
    • The afternoon is free, take part in optional activities in town
    • Explore the Palenque ruins with a local guide
    • Cool off at Agua Azul and Misol-Ha waterfalls nearby
    • On the last evening, transfer to the bus station and board an overnight bus to Merida

    Day 12-13 - Merida

    Nearly every Mexican dish is made using corn tortillas (like tacos, tostadas, flautas, chilaquiles and enchiladas), and there's a bicycle cart on almost every corner in Merida selling elotes (corn on the cob) doused in salt, chilli, cheese, lemon juice or mayonaise. So yeah, they like corn.  

    • Early morning arrival into Merida
    • Utilise your tour leader to make the most of free time exploring 'White City'
    • Hang out at Plaza Grande, with a 16th century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the others.
    • Visit the outdoor markets (morning is recommended) and stock up on hammocks and Maya replicas, perhaps try cochinita pibil or the head-blowingly spicy el yucateco
    • You will have the opportunity to visit the Maya ruins of Uxmal

    Day 14-15 - Chichen Itza - Playa del Carmen

    Chichen Itza is a great big pyramid with 365 steps (one for each day of the year) and a shadow that looks like a serpent. You're off the leash in Playa del Carmen, with no activities planned. Pina coladas, seafood and beach will probably feature.

    • Set off for the Caribbean Coast
    • Swing by one of Mexico's most famous Mayan sites, Chichen Itza
    • Explore the temples, pyramids and ruins 
    • Enjoy free time in Playa del Carmen to relax on the beach, drink in the bars, eat in the restaurants or explore the local surroundings

    Day 16-17 - Tulum

    Bound to be a few sore heads today, so take a bit of "me time" as you wander the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Our favourite building is the Temple of the Frescoes.

    • Take a bus along the Caribbean coast to Tulum
    • Perhaps visit the pre-Columbian walled city ruins and enjoy spectacular views
    • Spend time relaxing on the beach or strolling along the white sandy shore
    • In the evenings, kick back and watch the waves with a margarita

    Day 18-19 - 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 20-21 - 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 22-23 - 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 24-25 - 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 26 - 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 27 - Chichicastenango - San Jorge La Laguna

    "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
    Dinner

    Day 28 - Panajachel

    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
    Breakfast

    Day 29-30 - 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

    Day 31-32 - 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 33-35 - 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 36 - 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 37-38 - 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 39-40 - 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 41-42 - 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 43-44 - 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
    • Finish the day at the Baldi hot springs

    Day 45-46 - 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
    • Your trip ends on Day 46, there are no activities planned for today
  • What's Included

    • An experienced local leader throughout and there will be the services of local guides at some sites. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and meals as indicated.

    Not Included

    • International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
  • Map Itinerary

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Nuts+Bolts

#GSRZ
1 - 16
Boat, Local bus, Overnight bus, Taxi, Train
1 night Overnight bus, 43 nights Hotel, 1 night Homestay
Mexico City
San Jose, San José, Costa Rica

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