45 day Central America itinerary

Old Jun 10th, 2014, 01:05 PM
  #1  
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45 day Central America itinerary

Hello, we are a family with a 7 year old and 12 eleven year old. We are planning on 45 days exploring Central America in May/June 2015. I am just needing some ideas and help on planning out the trip. We are planning on flying into San Jose and spending a week for my Mother's birthday. Then our family is wanting to explore Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama . I am wondering how many days we should split up in each country, how best is it to travel (car rental, bus, driver, boat?) we are wanting to experience the wildlife/nature, the people, history, snorkel, food and just relaxing. We prefer a comfortable yet budget friendly. Our spoken very Spanish is weak. I am not really sure where to start with our iternairy.
Thank you
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 01:50 PM
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Tica Bus travels to all the countries down here except Belize. Their website will give you an idea of their schedules:

www.ticabus.com

Car rental would be an option within individual countries, but you generally cannot take a rental vehicle across borders. While all kinds of non-Spanish speakers rent cars in Costa Rica, you'll have a lot more difficulty with a car in, say, El Salvador if you don't speak the language.

Boat travel between Central American countries is nearly non-existent.

Forty-five days is a long time, but it will fly by quickly if you try to cover seven countries, even if they are small countries. There's much to be said for not being on the move all the time. I might pare that down to three, maybe, four countries. Since you're flying into San Jose, what about Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua?
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 04:54 PM
  #3  
RAC
 
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I would probably leave Panama off because it is on the other side of CR from the other countries, and would introduce a bunch of logistic headaches to try to backtrack (we loved our time in Panama, so nothing against Panama per se). Belize sounds perfect for what you're looking for, so the question then becomes how do you get from San Jose to Belize. My suggestion would be to go up the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, into Honduras towards Copan there, and then up into Guatemala and then finally Belize, hitting Tikal on the way.

El Salvador you could probably skip.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 08:09 PM
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I think you're going to need to cut way back on the number of countries in your list if you want to have an enjoyable trip. You're naming 7 countries which averages to well under a week per country. Car rental is out since most companies won't allow you to cross borders or to rent in 1 country and drop your car off in another. You might be able to find a driver but I think it would be prohibitively expensive. That leaves buses, which head between major cities which I'd ordinarily suggest you'd avoid; trying to hit all 7 CA countries in about 6 weeks means you'd have time for little else.

When I'm planning my trips I take a good, hard look at what my travel priorities are. What do I want to be doing with most of my time? Generally the last thing on my list would be 'sitting on my backside looking through grimy bus windows'. If you're averaging less than 3 nights per spot, that's what you'll be doing for ~half of the days of your trip. In other words, you'll be doing that more than all your other travel interests combined and the transition days can be surprisingly long and tiring in that part of the world, especially with and for children.

Lots of folks feel like they want to cram in as much as possible in the time they have. By trying to see too many places and moving on every few days, or by choosing places that are geographically distant and require long bus times, you'd actually be diluting your time to explore and enjoy. If you really want to pack nearly every day full of cool adventures, pick a smaller geographic area and/or fewer stops.

I'd pick at most 3 countries so you can take your time, get away from the major highways and cities, and enjoy the wonderful natural and cultural offerings that are available. If you have your heart set on Costa Rica, pick a neighboring country or 2 and plan an itinerary that averages at least 3 nights per stop.

We visit Guatemala at least once/year, then head to either Honduras or Belize for blue water time, usually 4-6 weeks per trip. My photos with blog, travelogue, and review links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - all my recommendations are embedded there.
Happy trails!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 06:32 AM
  #5  
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Thank you, you have given me a great starting point. After researching further. I think we will be doing border crossing via bus. And then 4x4 rental in each country to give us a bit more ability to explore. And split up 38 days in Nicaragua, Honduras , Guatemala and Belize. And just plan on just going with the flow and figure on possible of travel changes if we really enjoy a place. And maybe fly out of Belize. Or into Belize since Costa Rica can be a. PITA about travel tickets. Thank you
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 11:42 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2007
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Hi,
Been living in El Salvador for now just over 20 years. You should give it a chance. The entire country is off the toursit track but there is enough infrastructure to feel comfortable. Must sees are Suchitotot where I have been living for 13 years, Ruta de Flores and if into nautre and hiking the volcanoes and Impossible park. There is more but visiting these spots will give you a good feel fro El Salvador. Feel free to post specific questions or pm me for more details.
Saludos from Suchitoto
Robert Broz Moran
ps for evevything you need for travel in ES check out www.theotherelsalvador.com whatever you decide to do Enjoy the trip!
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Old Jul 2nd, 2014, 07:30 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 7
You are coming right at the beginning of rainy season. That 4x4 might come in handy!

There are some cool festivals going on in May/June. I would suggest planning some of your visit around not just where you want to go but when.

There is a guide that's coming out that talks about all of the festivals and events in Nicaragua: http://nicaconexiones.com/ncx-guide-...-in-nicaragua/

Have a good trip.
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