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-   -   best place to start as a new traveler to latin america? (https://www.fodors.com/community/mexico-and-central-america/best-place-to-start-as-a-new-traveler-to-latin-america-725907/)

nkluedke Aug 2nd, 2007 01:43 PM

best place to start as a new traveler to latin america?
 
Hi everyone -
My husband and I have been to Europe, he's been to Asia, and now we're hoping to head down to Latin America. I was thinking Costa Rica but he was thinking otherwise...to be honest, neither of us really know anything about the region. If you were starting fresh, where would you go? We're young, have a decent budget to work with, enjoy the beach, but also enjoy being active. Looking forward to your opinions!

Nancy

hills27 Aug 2nd, 2007 03:39 PM

Latin America is a big place with lots of different experiences. If you tell us your favorite places and experiences in Europe and Asia, it might help us give you more constructive feedback.

suze Aug 3rd, 2007 06:37 AM

I started with Mexico myself.

cmcfong Aug 3rd, 2007 06:39 AM

Panama. Gorgeous beaches, cloud forest, rain forest, incredible wildlife, unique culture, terrific food......I could go on, but you see I love it.

Suzie2 Aug 3rd, 2007 07:04 AM

I have been to small parts of Panama and Nicaragua. I have been to Belize and I have been to Guatemala twice and have been visiting CR regularly since the early 90's.

Every place has its own reason to visit. Costa Rica is a good place to start. The people are friendly, the country is beautiful and is so diverse that it takes several trips to really see the different things it has to offer. As far as a strong culture and history, it doesn't have as much as a lot of places other than having a culture of sweet peace loving people with smiles that can light up even the rainiest day.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a stronger cultural experience, Guatemala is very good. Antigua, Atitlan, Tikal....amazing places.

Belize is an awesome place to dive or snorkel. The ruins are interesting and it has rainforest and neat places to visit away from the ocean as well. Rio on Pools, 1000ft waterfall, Rio Frio are nice places to visit.

Guatemala and Costa Rica have live volcanos if that is on your list.

I did a lot of traveling in Europe before going to Latin America. I do hope to get back again at least one more time because I love the history. I love both places for what they offer but Latin America is where I really feel at home.

nkluedke Aug 6th, 2007 08:19 AM

thanks for the advice...

for suze - where in Mexico did you start? We look at all the cities it's possible to go to and don't even know where to begin looking.

volcanogirl Aug 6th, 2007 08:48 AM

My husband and I love Costa Rica. We've already been twice and would love to go back. Like Suzie said, the people are very friendly, and the country has a lot to offer. In Arenal/La Fortuna, you can see the active volcano, go to Cano Negro to see monkeys, sloths, birds, you can zipline, go to natural hot springs. Manuel Antonio offers a national park full of wildlife and nice beaches. The Osa is really wild and amazing - you can see monkeys and scarlet macaws right from your cabin at Bosque del Cabo and can swim with wild dolphins. For us, Costa Rica has everything that we like to do.

suze Aug 6th, 2007 11:51 AM

I am in love with Puerto Vallarta, and have been there many many times. IMO it's a nice combination of a local style town but with decent tourist ammenities making for easy travel. I have also been to La Paz on the Baja, which is gorgeous and less traveled.

If you are looking for more adventure I think perhaps Costa Rica or Belize would be more to your liking.

Pausanias Aug 7th, 2007 01:42 PM

Another vote for Mexico. Haven't been to PV though Suze makes it sound very inviting. My first visit was to Mexico City -- a truly mind-wrenching event -- and I would recommend it to an adventurous sort. It has the restaurants, museums and cultural life befitting a major world city, ancient ruins, colonial architecture, and just a certain exoticism you might not have expectred from our southern neighbor.

Since that first trip I've back to MC, down to Oaxaca (not recommended at this time) Puebla, and Merida and the Yucatan. This last combines some culture and a lively city with some activity, both beach and jungle, and spectacular Mayan ruins.

There are plenty of other regions and I'd suggest you look through a guidebook and see if some of them seem like a fit.

As for me, I'm off to Mexico City again tomorrow, then out to visit some colonial towns in the mountains. Good luck!

prowriter Aug 8th, 2007 01:32 PM

Have you considered Ecuador? It's a tiny country (you can travel just about anywhere within a day), very inexpensive, and extremely diverse. You can go to a cloud forest or the Amazon, see live volcanoes, soak in hot springs, do zip lines, experience the largest indigenous market in South America, and even take a cruise to the Galapagos Islands if your budget allows. The people of Ecuador are very friendly and the country is amazing.

hotzim Aug 9th, 2007 03:20 PM

We have been to both Costa Rica and Belize. We recommend the west coast of Costa Rica. Often you can fly into Liberia, which allows you to avoid the capitol city which is known for its crime. The culture on the western coast derives from Spanish ancestry whereas that on the east coast derives from Carribbean slaves. It is also more humid on the Gulf side. The volcanos are gorgeous and so is the rainforest. Just remember that Costa Rica is Spanish for bad roads, so be sure to rent a SUV, preferably with 4WD.

Ambergis Cay in Belize is nice, but there is not as much to do as far as sightseeing. Its all about snorkeling, diving and fishing.

chimani Aug 11th, 2007 03:01 AM

Do you want to go to one place and stay there, perhaps with the odd "day trip". Or do you want to tour?

What's your travelling style? 5 star by choice? How about public transport? Does the journey feature or is it more the arrival?

I loved Mexico and Guatemala and Belize. That's all I've seen so far!!



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