The Central Thing
Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama. You’re welcome.
(Was Mexico & Central America)
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1-3: Mexico City - Teotihuacan
Forget your Mexican restaurants at home and embrace the real deal.
Chilaquiles, esquites, pozole and tamales - Google them and drool.
- Pre-departure meeting in the evening
- Visit 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
- Take a morning walking tour through Mexico City's historic heart
- Spend free time discovering the city's museums, galleries, plazas and public buildings
Day 4-6: Puebla - Oaxaca - Monte Alban
There's over 70 churches and a thousand colonial buildings in Puebla.
We don't expect you to see them all, but you do have to try the mole
poblano because it was invented here. The ruins at Monte Alban have
360-degree views over Oaxaca Valley.
- Catch a morning bus bound for Puebla
- Enjoy a day at your leisure to explore the charming city
- Perhaps visit to explore some of Puebla's 70
churches or thousand or so colonial buildings
- Get lost among Oaxaca's renowned handicraft markets
Perhaps relax in a local cafe after a haggling frenzy
- Drive from Oaxaca to the ancient Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban
- Trawl over the remains of plazas, tombs, palaces and temples with help from a local site guide
- Board an overnight bus to San Cristobal de Las Casas
Day 7-8: San Cristóbal
Call it Jovel for short. Outdoorsy types will love horse riding,
mountain walks and exploring nearby Mayan villages. The rest of you will
continue the hunt for Mexico's best taco.
- Visit San Cristobal's beautiful churches, grab some bargains at the
weekly market and continue the search for the best taco in Mexico
Day 9-10: Palenque
The Palenque ruins were absorbed by the jungle after its decline in
1123AD and it wasn't rediscovered until the late 18th century. That's a
lot of landscaping.
- Stop by the blue waterfalls of Agua Azul and Misol Ha en route to Palenque
- Learn the history of the Palenque ruins and Mayan people while exploring with a local guide
Day 11-15: Mérida - Cancun
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 Cancun, with no activities planned. Pina coladas, seafood and
Playa del Carmen will probably feature.
- Travel by bus to Merida
- Utilise your tour guide to make the most of free time exploring this 'White City'
- Set off for the Caribbean Coast
- Swing by one of Mexico's most famous Mayan sites, Chichen Itza
- Spend plenty of getting learning about and exploring the temples, pyramids and ruins
- Enjoy free time in Cancun to relax on the beach, drink in the bars, eat in the restaurants or explore the local surroundings
Day 16-18: Tulum - Caye Caulker
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
- Visit the pre-Columbian walled city ruins
- Gain spectacular views over the tropical shores below
- Discover the Temple of the Frescoes
- Explore the the ruins with the help of our local site guide
- Spend the night in Chetumal.
- 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 19-20: Flores - Tikal
Looks like everyone in Flores got the red-roof memo. Then it's a
jungle trek to 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
- Visit the ancient city of Tikal - deserted Mayan ruins in the heart of the Guatemala jungle
- Journey to the temples of the monumental ceremonial centre in the midst of Tikal National Park
- Pass through rich rainforest and dense jungle vegetation
- If you're feeling energetic, perhaps climb to the peak of Temple IV and take in the spectacular views
- Board an overnight bus bound for Antigua
Day 21-22: 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.
- Stop by Antigua, a World Heritage-listed town
- See the local highlights with a tour guide
- Journey to the summit of one of the nearby volcanoes and take in the vistas of the surrounding verdant 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 23-26: Antigua - San Jose
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.
- Fly to the Costa Rican capital of San Jose (Flight not included)
- Spend time exploring the local sights and markets
- 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 27-28: 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
- 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, or set off on an optional night trek to the volcano
- Take a dip at the waterfalls of La Catarata de Fortuna
Day 29-31: Puerto Viejo
Get to know the names Playa Chiquita, Playa Negra and Punta Uva -
they are your new favourite beaches. Creole food, reggae music, toucans
and the chances of more sloths make it a favourite.
- Spend three nights in the beautiful beach town of Puerto Viejo, located on the Caribbean Sea
- Enjoy a range of optional activities including hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, diving, and snorkelling
- Soak up some of the local culture, discover the local reggae or sample the indigenous handicrafts on offer
- Take a day trip to Cahuita
- Visit Cahuita National Park, where wildlife abounds
Day 32-36: Bocas del Toro
Colon Island. It may not sound very appealing, but when you take into
account the calypso music, freshly squeezed juices, beachside bars,
dolphin spotting and junles the name is easy to forget (sort of).
- Cross into Panama by walking over an old train bridge
- Head to the harbour town of Almirante
- Board a boat to the island of Colon, the main island of the Bocas del Toro archipelago
- Explore this Caribbean island during free time, or relax in one of the bars above the water
- Why not wander across to Red Frog Beach, rent a bike and cycle to Bluff Beach or go dolphin-spotting
- Mingle with some friendly Panamanians people on a bus ride
- Jump on a yellow school bus to Boquete
- Perhaps visit the The Paradise Gardens Wildlife Rescue Center
- Why not climb to the rim of Baru Volcano and follow that up with a visit to the
Caldera Hot Springs
- A coffee tour will teach
everything you need to know about the popular drink
Day 37-39: Panama City
Hot tip: the bus drivers love their aircon so pack a jumper. When you
get to our last destination, we'll take you to San Jose Church and go
for a walk around the French Quarter. Afterwards, jump on a chiva (party
bus) to Calle Uruguay and shout your group a round of Balboa beers.
- Set off on the long journey to Panama City on the Pan-American Highway
- Cross the Bridge of the Americas (finished in 1962) before arriving in Panama City
- Visit the Panama Canal at the Miraflores Locks and perhaps see a big container ship passing through
- Watch a short film about the history of the canal and the construction of a new section
- Stop by a museum before continuing to the old quarter - San Felipe
- Take a trip to San Jose Church
- Walk around the French
- See the Kuna Indians sell their ‘molas’ (part of their
- Pay a visit to Plaza Bolivar
and the Presidential Palace
- Perhaps hop on a
‘chiva’ (party bus) in the evening, or make your way down to Calle Uruguay for its plentiful bars
Nuts and Bolts
The services of local tour guides plus the services of local site guides at some sites. All transport, accommodation, and sightseeing as indicated.
Summary of accommodation, transport & meals
- Aircon bus
- Local bus
- 2 nights Overnight bus
- 33 nights Budget/tourist class hotels
- 3 nights Hostel
Departure taxes, visas, insurance, meals, drinks, entrance fees, optional additional tours or activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature, the flight from Antigua Guatemala to San Jose Costa Rica.
Important - A Word on Central America
Central America is different and that’s what makes it such an fascinating destination. You will find that things don’t always go according to plan or work the way they do back home. Buses and planes often run late and sometimes the water in your bathroom can run cold and the electricity fail. The locals live with these issues everyday. In order to get the most out of your holiday, a degree of patience, good humour and understanding is a definite advantage. If you approach your holiday with an open and enquiring mind, the warm welcome you receive from Central Americans will ensure you a rich and rewarding holiday experience.
Public Holiday Inconveniences
Please be prepared for the inconvenience of sights such as museums and churches being closed to tourists on public holidays (ie. Christmas Day and New Years Day). Throughout Latin America, most museums also tend to be closed on Mondays.
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!
13 May 2013
General Contact Details
Web: Visit Geckos