my girl-friend and I are planning a trip to Central and South America for about 4-5 months. We are thinking about going from Mexico through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica down to Panama. We want to take a flight then from Panama to somewhere in South America may be Peru or Chile and travel to Argentina.
Before we want to plan our exact itinerary I’ve got a couple of questions. Is the time enough for all those countries or should we focus on less countries. Do you have any suggestions on must-sees or some handy tips for those countries? What would be a rough estimate of the money we need per month?
Thanks for your replies
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We did a similar trip from Rio - Mexico a few years back in about the same time frame.
It is rushed but we managed to get a lot in.
The only flight we took was from leticia in the colombian amazon to bogota - we then took a boat from cartegena to panama - you could do this boat trip in reverse as it is a brilliant journey - and then continue south through colombia to peru/ecuador.
We spent about £1000 per month between 2 of us - inlcuding all flights/accommodation/food and trips.
Have a look at our trips and if you have any specific questions please let me know.
south america part 1
south america part 2
Nick Reply to this
Central America is Great, the jewel of the region to me was Nicaragua without a doubt! you and your gf will enjoy it very much! also If you are going to South america I can only vouch for Colombia, GREAT GREAT country and people!
enjoy the adventure!
Greg Reply to this
What were your favourite parts of Nicaragua? Where did you go?
I'm traveling to Central America for 2.5 months from May and was only going to spend 2 weeks in Nica - but your comment is making me think twice about that....:)
Julie Reply to this
Yes I HIGHLY recommend Nicaragua...I went to a few cities ( San Juan Del Sur, Rivas, Ometepe Island, Granada, Managua and Leon) My fav part was probably the beauty of Ometepe Island and the 2 volcanoes there, you can go hike Maderas, or go see the waterfalls there, it's really a very peaceful place a good chill out spot to get ur energy back. It's the cheapest country in all of Central America and the people are OUTSTANDING! in my opinion of course.
Buen Viaje ;-)
Greg Reply to this
I can wholeheartedly agree with Gregs comment about the people.
On our trip from Brazil - Mexico the Nicaraguans were definately the most friendly - everyone we met thanked us for visiting and wished us a pleasant stay!
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Ok great! Thanks so much for the info... Am really looking forward to it:)
Keep well Reply to this
We are on a similar trip with a pretty similar time frame at the moment. Came in from the USA at Juarez and down through central Mexico, to Cuba for a few weeks, back to Mexico and on to Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador. We plan to stay for a while in Nicaragua and then skate quickly to Panama to pick up a flight to Colombia and move on down and around SA.
It is clear to us now that it will not be enough time so we will have to develop a Comeback List. We have a possible option of spending a full year in this part of the world and may do that - but then would have to skip some other places we want to see.
So far, northern and central Mexico comes up as a favourite for us. Cuba was interesting and intriguing, bits of Belize were good, Guatemala was great in parts - not Guatemala City - but Xela and the Atitjlan area, San Salvador not so good but Alegria very nice.
We will be reporting on the rest as we move along.
Buena Viaje! Reply to this
I did Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia from Feb. 2010 to mid-July. I have to say that one of my favorite parts was hitching a ride on the local boat through San Blas and trying to find transportation to the Panamanian-Colombian border.
4-5 months is a pretty good amount of time though I did the same and still felt like I could have spent much longer. For me, I focused less on Costa Rica (really only stopping to see Quetzals and meet up with a friend) and spent a larger portion of time in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Panama. In Nica, I would say (depending on how you like to travel) there are opportunities for some unique experiences. I took a bus from Granada to Managua to Rama then a morning boat from Rama to Bluefields and was lucky enough to catch a boat out to the Corn Islands. I spent a week on Little Corn before returning to Bluefields to catch the boat down the coast (amazing and a roller coaster ride) to San Juan del Norte, spent a couple days waiting for a boat to El Castillo (lovely little town on the river) before catching a boat to San Carlos and into Costa Rica (the bus ride from the border to San Jose had some gorgeous scenery and passed a few towns i would have liked to have stopped in). Ometepe was nice though I went at the end of peak season and it was just hot and dry, not so lush and green as I'd heard. I loved Leon, Granada was fun mainly because there were protests going on. Matagalpa and Jinotega were all right. San Juan Del Sur has a great hotel that lets backpackers hang out at their infinity pools overlooking the ocean for free. I could go on and on about the amazing things in Central America! Let me know if you have questions on specific countries.
Depending on how you prefer to travel and what you want to see, the budget can vary. I spent roughly $1,000 a month or less. Reply to this
Last year I made a trip from Cancun (Mexico) down to San Jose (Costa Rica). We did that in 5 weeks and it felt to me like rushing too much. Definite must see's are: Lake Atitlan (Guatemala), Antigua (Guatemala), the Bay Islands like Roatan and I guess Utila in Honduras, Granada (Nicaragua), and of course many more I haven't been to yet.
This time, my girlfriend and I, plan to make a longer trip. We'd like it to be 12 months if we manage to strech our budget that long...
Apperently we make the trip the other way around from Ecuador to Mexico without flying. We go for 12 months because we want to drown in the culture and get loose from our daily european lifestyle. We also planned a few months of volunteering on the way.
So I guess that 4-5 months should be enough with the flying from central to south america and if you don't lay back too much.
Hope you have a great time :) Reply to this
Two years ago I spent a few months traveling from Guatemala down to Costa Rica and back up to the Yucatan. For me the clear highlight was Guatemala - it has it all, beautiful cobblestone mountain villages surrounded by volcanos (Quetzaltenango aka Xela and Lago Atitlan), the ruins at Tikal, Garifuna communities in Livingstone, a volcano you can climb and touch the lava (Volcan Pacaya), and lots of indigenous culture.
This was my main disappointment with Nicaragua - I saw no evidence at all of indigenous culture, just lots of poor people dressed in tshirts and jeans. Sure there are some pretty places there and some nice old buildings in Granada and Leon but there is lots of that in Guatemala as well (Antigua).
I had a good time in Utila, nice diving there. If you are a diver don't miss the cenote diving near Tulum, Mexico - hiking out into the jungle with your tank and dropping into an underwater cave is an amazing diving experience.
Best beach for me was definitely Cay Caulker in Belize, unique culture there and very fun.
I just breezed through El Salvador so I really cant comment too much on that. I had been to Costa Rica before and loved it but compared to the other countries there it seemed a little touristy and overpriced.
$1000US per month per person should cover everything, though you could probably squeak by on $800 if you are very careful with the budget.
Enjoy your trip! Reply to this
maxico El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica down are really nice place.
Below is my estimate for two people: Below is teh rough money estimate to visit Costa Rica
misc spending: 300
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I am having three weeks-one month from the end of September.
I will be in NY and prefer to pass this month in Central America.
what do you recommend me to do ?
how is the weather in Nicaragua and Panama during Sep-Oct ?
how safe and fun is mexico if compared ? Reply to this