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Guatemala & Beyond

9 days with Intrepid Travel   Rating: Budget

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Antigua
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Guatemala. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

The meeting will be followed by an orientation walk around Antigua with your leader. Antigua was once the seat of the Spanish colonial government and the most important city in Central America. In 1773, the city was destroyed by an earthquake, but many of the colonial buildings have been restored. For dinner tonight, perhaps head out with the group and sample tamale (a local dish served in corn leaf), or some pepian (a rich, meaty stew).

THINGS TO DO IN ANTIGUA

As there's a great deal to do in Antigua, we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist.

If you're a foodie, head to the Chocomuseo to learn about the history and nutritional value of chocolate. You could even take part in a chocolate-making workshop. If you want to learn more about Guatemala's famous coffee, you might like to take a tour of a plantation and do some coffee tasting. The best value food can be found next to the artisanal market near the bus station. The food market is closed after 6pm. If your tastes run to more active adventures, perhaps hire a mountain bike and ride through the lush surrounding countryside.

ABOUT CASASITO

Unfortunately more than half the population of Guatemala lives under the poverty line, which may explain why Guatemala has the lowest literacy rate in Central America. The Intrepid Foundation supports CasaSito, an outstanding not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting youth in reaching their academic, personal and professional potential.

Day 2 Copan
Get ready for a long travel day. You'll start early (make that very early) in the morning, at about 4 am, to avoid rush hour traffic around Guatemala City. You'll travel by private minibus to Copan in Honduras. The 8-hour drive will take you through the wild countryside of eastern Guatemala. Copan is a charming town set into lush surroundings. On arrival, perhaps take a stroll through the cobbled streets and check out the central plaza. You might even like to make an optional visit to the nearby natural hot springs.

Day 3 Suchitoto
This morning is free to explore Copan and its surrounding. You may choose to visit the World Heritage-listed Mayan ruins of Copan, the southernmost of the great Mayan sites for which Central America is famous. The ruins are unique because of the 21 stelae (columns) that have been discovered here. They also feature temples, excavated vaults and huge faces carved into the walls. As you stroll past ancient monuments, statues and staircases, it's hard not to wonder at the mysterious disappearance of such a creative civilisation. Alternatively, two kilometres (1.2mi) out of town you'll find the Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve. This reserve is dedicated to the conservation of the Central American macaw and well worth a visit. Alongside macaws you'll also find toucans, motmots, parrots, kingfishers and orioles. Most of these birds have been confiscated from smugglers or donated to the park by owners who can no longer care for them. 

At approximately 1pm, wave goodbye to Copan and travel by private minibus across the border into Suchitoto in El Salvador. The road trip should take approximately 7 hours. A beautiful colonial town with colourful houses and cobbled streets, Suchitoto feels a world away from modern El Salvador.

Day 4 Suchitoto
This morning your leader will take you on a walking tour of Suchitoto. The rest of the day is free for you to enjoy a range of optional activities around the area. The town of Suchitoto overlooks the Embalse Cerron Grande. Also known as Lago Suchitlan, this freshwater lake is a haven for migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks. You might like to take a boat or kayaking tour of the lake. Alternatively, you could go for a hike in the nearby Cinquera rainforest, or explore the Mayan ruins of Cihuatan.

Day 5 El Cuco
At about 10am this morning start heading southeast by private minibus along the Pacific to coastal El Cuco (today's drive is approximately 5 hours long). There are some great dark-sand beaches close to town, including the beautiful Playa El Esteron and Playa Las Flores, one of the best surf spots in the country. In the evening, perhaps enjoy a seafood dinner along the water.

Day 6 El Cuco
Today is free to explore the beautiful coastal scenery around El Cuco. If you feel like getting active, you could take a trip to see the nearby Conchagua Volcano. Alternatively, you might prefer to take a boat out on the ocean, find some inner peace during a yoga class at the resort, or simply relax in a hammock on the beach.

Day 7 Leon
Today is a full day of travel across the Gulf of Fonseca to Nicaragua. Leave El Cuco at 5am to La Union (approximately one hour) before a 3-4 hour boat trip through the Gulf of Fonseca to the Nicaraguan town of Potosi. The boat crossing through the Gulf of Fonseca can get choppy and the boat may take some water. If your pack is not waterproof, please wrap your valuables and electronics in a plastic bag. Once in Potosi, passports are checked before continuing by private minibus to Leon (approximately four hours). After time to unpack and settle in, your leader will take you on a walking tour of Leon. Established in the early 1500s, Leon is the second-oldest city in Nicaragua. Despite its age, Leon remains a youthful city full of art galleries, busy streets and a thumping nightlife where you can walk from one bar to the next.

Day 8 Granada
Make the most of Leon this morning before departing at 2pm for Granada, perhaps by grabbing a lazy breakfast at one of the city cafes. The bus ride to Granada takes approximately three hours. Founded in 1524, Granada is the oldest city in the 'New World'. Featuring Moorish and Andalusian architecture and oozing colonial charm, the city is set on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and is surrounded by active volcanoes. Your leader will take you on a walking tour of Granada, visiting busy markets, Parque Central and "La Calzada", a lively pedestrian street known for its busy bars and restaurants.

Day 9 Granada
This Central American adventure comes to an end this morning. There are no activities planned for the final day. If you'd like to stay in Granada, our travel specialists can help arrange additional accommodation for you.
Map
All This Included
From beautiful black-sand beaches to tropical forests alive with jungle melodies, this pocket of Central America is something of a natural paradise. Whether you're shopping in colonial Antigua, exploring the intricately carved structures at Copan, or relaxing on the coast of El Salvador, you'll get a wonderful insight into Central America during this incredible adventure.
  • Transport - Private minibus, local minibus, boat
  • Suchitoto - Leader led walking tour
  • Leon - Leader led walking tour
Highlights
  • See the sights and engage in a wide range of optional activities across four different countries on this epic Latin adventure.
  • Discover Central America, a land of mysterious Mayan ruins, active volcanoes, idyllic beaches and emerald jungles.
  • Experience an El Salvador of the past in the colonial town of Suchitoto, before savouring the blissful present on its black sand beaches. 
Accommodations
Hotel (8 nights)
Notes
  • Ages: Min 15
  • Group size: Min 1, Max 16
  • This trip involves some long travel days, especially on Day 8 from El Cuco to Leon. This 12-hour journey includes a boat trip across the Gulf of Fonseca and several hours in a mini-van. Although it's a long day, it's a great opportunity to sit back, enjoy the passing scenery and bond with your fellow travellers. This is a real Central American adventure, after all.
  • As this trip covers destinations across four countries, you'll need to make several border crossings. While these are usually straightforward, please prepare to be patient while local authorities process papers.
  • Central America is tropical, so expect a hot and humid climate. Make sure you protect yourself from the sun, wear comfortable, light clothing and stay hydrated - especially when out on walking tours.
  • There are many opportunities to get active on this adventure. Some of the the optional activities, especially the volcano hikes, require a moderate level of fitness and sturdy walking shoes. If you'd prefer to take it easy, however, there are plenty of other things you can do instead. Your local leader will be able to recommend activities to suit your fitness level.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.