Guatemala to Panama

Old Jan 23rd, 2014, 03:52 PM
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Guatemala to Panama

I'm going to Central America this summer and need some excellent ideas! I want to fly into San Salvador and then back out via Panama City. I'll be in a group of three (two others) and we definitely want to see some Mayan ruins like Tikal, do a little walking around in some major cities, but mostly we want to be off the beaten track... Way off! Into the jungles of Panama, and through small, unspoiled colonial towns. Go crazy, this is going to be my vacation for the year! Suggested modes of transportation and places to stay would be great too. No group tours, and as cheap as possible. Our biggest fear is getting on an international bus with a whole bunch of other American tourists.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2014, 04:24 PM
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Look at the website of Tica Bus. They travel to all of Central America except Belize:

www.ticabus.com

That'll give you an idea of transportation schedules. No, the buses are not filled with American tourists. Some, but it's mostly local people.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2014, 04:40 PM
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How much time do you have? Budget per night? I'm asking because imo what you're suggesting won't be fun without at least 2-3 months and because 'cheap as possible' isn't really plausible if you're planning to spend half of your days transitioning from place to place.

Let us know and we can assist you better.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2014, 05:02 PM
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Well we had put aside 50 days for the trip and were thinking of spending most of our time in Guatemala,Nicaragua and Panama as they seem to have the most of what we're looking for. As far as a budget, I don't have a defined cap but will be staying in hostels most of the time and don't plan on taking any guided tours (we really want to lead ourselves). I've looked up bus fares for international routes and it's nothing we can't put foreword.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2014, 07:51 PM
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Pack really light - 10-15 pounds should be plenty. Spend at least a 3 or 4 night average per spot as you move along so you're not spending half your trip on buses. Don't be afraid to hire guides sometimes. It's nice to spend time on your own, too, but don't completely disavow using local guides - some of my most amazing experiences have been when I've hired local guides. It's a way to contribute to the local economy and you're more apt to find the most special off-the-beaten track places and spot the most wildlife with their help. Also, some pretty awesome tours require guides.

I keep returning to Guatemala year after year, then head to Honduras or Belize for blue water time. My photos with blog and travelogue links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - all my recommendations are embedded there. Happy planning!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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