Step back in time in colonial Suchitoto. Travel through tiny towns along El Salvador’s Ruta de las Flores. Explore the ancient Mayan temples of Copan. Indulge in culture and cuisine in Antigua
From emerald jungles to sapphire seas, Central America’s natural beauty shines like a jewel. Starting in largely undiscovered El Salvador, journey through Honduras, Guatemala and Belize before winding up (and thoroughly unwinding) under the Caribbean sun in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Along the way, explore colonial towns along the Ruta de las Flores in El Salvador and discover the ancient history of the Mayans among the ruins of Copan, Tikal and Tulum. Just be warned: as you feast on fresh lobster and chat to friendly locals on the beautiful island of Caye Caulker in Belize, you may decide never to leave.
Breakfast Included: Lunches Included: Lunches Included:
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel 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 laidback village of El Tunco has become well known for its surf and is the perfect spot to grab a drink, lie back in a hammock and watch the sunset over the black-sand beach.
While this town remains relatively unknown to international travellers, it's a preferred holiday destination for Salvadorians - particularly on weekends.
Take the day to enjoy this relaxed piece of paradise. Hire a board and tackle the waves, sip on a smoothie or visit the beach caves at low tide. In the evening, munch on the local specialty of pupusa and join the locals for a cocktail at the bar.
Today we travel to the town of Ahuachapan.
A mid-sized town near the Guatemalan border, Ahuachapan is known for its geothermal activity, which it uses to produce electricity for the rest of the country. It is also a handy jumping off point for some of the highlights of western El Salvador.
The following day we'll explore the Ruta de las Flores - a 36km-long winding trip through brightly-colored colonial towns famed for lazy weekends of gastronomy and gallery-hopping, as well as more adventurous pursuits like hiking to waterfalls scattered throughout the glorious Cordillera Apaneca. Home to the country’s first coffee plantations, some of its finest indigenous artisans and a world-famous weekend food festival. We'll travel by local bus to explore some of the towns.
In the evening we'll have the option to visit the nearby hot springs for a relaxing dip.
Today we head to the town of Suchitoto in northern El Salvador.
Along the way we'll make several stops to visit the Tazumal Ruins, enjoy spectacular views over Lake Coatepeque and explore the fascinating preserved ruins of Joya de Ceren - known as the Pompeii of the Americas.
Suchitoto is a reminder of El Salvador's past. A beautiful colonial town with painted houses and cobbled streets, it is a world away from modern El Salvador. The town overlooks the Embalse Cerron Grande, also known as Lago Suchitlan, which is a haven for migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks.
Use this free day however you wish. Those looking to kick things up a gear may fancy a hike in the Cinquera Forest or kayaking on Lago Suchitlan, or perhaps tour the Guazapa Volcano and the Cihuatan Ruins in the valley below.
Today we travel north to Copan, Honduras (approx. 6 hrs), crossing the border into Honduras is expected to be smooth and without complications, your leader will explain the process.
Located close to the Guatemalan border, the town of Copan Ruinas is a major gateway for tourists visiting the Pre-Columbian ruins of Copan.
Take a guided tour of the ancient ruins of Copan - the southernmost of the great Maya sites for which Central America is famed.
This particular site was listed as a World Heritage site in 1980 and is unique because of the 21 stelae or columns that have been found there. These are heavily carved with reliefs depicting the passage of time and the lives of the royal families. There are also a number of small pyramid-shaped temples and excavated vaults. Walk through the grassy plazas under the gaze of huge carved faces, staring out from ancient walls. As you walk past monuments, statues and staircases it's hard not to wonder at the mysterious disappearance of such a creative civilization.
Travel across the border into Guatemala and on to Antigua.
The old colonial capital of Guatemala, Antigua remains the cultural centre of the country. Its cobbled streets, local markets, colonial buildings, and indigenous marimba music emanating from the many bars and restaurants create a fantastic atmosphere.
Unfortunately, more than half the population of this beautiful Guatemala you have come to know so well lives under the poverty line, which may explain why Guatemala has also the lowest literacy rate in Central America. With this in mind, the Intrepid Foundation is proud supporter of CasaSito, an outstanding not for profit organization dedicated to assist youth to reach their academic, personal and professional potential.
If you have 2’ to spare (2’41’’ to be exact!) take a look at this short video about CasaSito – it’s inspiring: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3KBiGdEcV4w
If you want to help CasaSito and Guatemalan’s youth, you can donate through the Intrepid Foundation, which means that your donation will be match dollar for dollar by (Intrepid/Geckos/Peregrine) too. No donation is too small. $5, $10, $50 it all goes a long way to help this fantastic organization. Simply visit our website: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/casasito/
As the seat of the Spanish colonial government, Antigua was once the most important city in Central America. In 1773 the city was destroyed by an earthquake but many of the colonial buildings have been carefully restored and the architecture from its glory days can still be admired. Walk through the quiet cobblestone streets past heavy carved-wood entrances. There are many fascinating markets and museums to explore, or if your tastes run to more active adventures hire a mountain bike and ride through the countryside. The views of mountain peaks and deep valleys, covered in lush vegetation are simply beautiful.
Perhaps check out the CHOCOMUSEO located on two blocks away from central park. Here you will learn all about chocolate, its history and nutritional values and you may be lucky enough to get a sample bag of chocolates at the end of the tour. Otherwise just grab a coffee from one of the many coffee shops in central park and just sit back relax and enjoy the beauty of this incredible city and the amazing people you will find. If you want to learn more about the famous Guatemalan coffee you can go on a coffee tour, visit the plantations, do some coffee tasting and even buy some to take back home.
Go out for a stroll and try tamales, a local dish usually prepared traditionally on weekends and served in a corn leaf. You could also give the pepian a try, a meal that consists of a rich dark sauce and three meats (chicken, beef and pork). The best value food you find is next to the artisan market close to the bus station.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
This morning we make an early start and travel by private minibus to Rio Dulce (approx 8 hrs).
Take an included boat trip down the river to visit Livingston, a fascinating Garifuna town on the coast.