Page 3 of Riz7 Travel Blog Posts

Our first stop out of San Jose is one of the top destinations in Costa Rica, La Fortuna, 136km from San Jose and 4 hours by bus over the range of volcanos that stretches across the middle of the country. It’s home to Arenal, an active volcano, though you almost wouldn’t know it’s there, as for the 3 days we are here we only see a glimpse of the volcano on one day, the rest of the time it’s shrouded in cloud and down in the town we are drenched in rain. As well as the volcano and hot springs, the rainforest experience is the main attraction here and if you have the time and money there are a myriad of rainforest experiences to be had, ranging from guided nature walks to zip-lining and rafting. We ... read more

For us the answer to this question is via Volaris, a Mexican budget airline, this being the cheapest way to make the short journey from San Salvador to the Costa Rican capital. Despite a few glitches with their booking website and it taking a couple of goes before we successfully managed to check-in on line, generally everything with the Volaris flight goes smoothly. As we don’t have access to a printer I download the boarding passes to my tablet which works fine for all the baggage, security and boarding checks. The bag drop turns out to be one of the simplest I’ve encountered and there is zero queue, immigration is also strangely deserted, which means we are early for the flight departure. The plane departs on time and arrives early. San Jose airport is only 20km ... read more

Being in El Salvador feels a little like being in a modern day western. It seems as if every other person here is carrying a rifle or pistol and a belt of spare ammunition. The reason of course is the number of security staff employed here (even fast food restaurants here have guards), the vast majority of whom are armed. There’s also a visible army presence patrolling streets. Most of the soldiers are very young. Having said this, San Salvador is much more civilised than I had expected with new shopping centres, shiny fast food outlets and wide modern roads. Even the old centre isn’t too bad, though we don’t need to venture here in the evening as we are staying in the Los Heroes area. The main city sights (Metropolitan Cathedral, Theatre, National Palace and ... read more

Santa Ana was our pick of places to stay in El Salvador, it’s a medium size town and the trip to volcano Santa Ana looks to be one of the best things to do in the country, if you’re not into surfing that is. We take the local bus from the town to the volcano park, known as Cerro Verde. Our guide book didn’t detail this in detail, so it’s a good thing we check this out beforehand as there are only 3 buses a day. We need to take the early one which we are told leaves at 07:30am (turns out to be 7:40) and takes the best part of 2 hours to cover the 30 or so km to the park entrance. On the way we are entertained by a local guy giving us ... read more

Copan Ruinas is probably the second most popular destination for visitors in Honduras primarily because it is the base to see the best Mayan ruins in the country. I knew about the “Macaw Mountain” bird park but wasn’t expecting it to be anything special and it turns out to be just as good as the ruins. To have both of these in the same very scenic and visitor friendly (plenty of good hotels and restaurants) town make this a great place to stay for a couple of days. Macaws, the largest members of the parrot family, are native to this part of Central America and were considered sacred by the Mayans, so there is a link between these two quite different attractions, though this might not have been intentional as the move of the bird park ... read more

Unquestionably one of the highlights of Honduras are the Bay Islands. We’ve come to Utila which is the smaller and cheaper of the 2 main islands (the other is Roatan) and also happens to be closer to the coast so easier to reach by fast ferry. We’ve here for 10 fun dives with one of the PADI dive schools (Dive Altons) which friends had recommended. Utila is really all about diving. There are over a dozen dive schools here all offering much the same sort of deal, but each school has their own slightly different emphasis – some have a bit of a party scene and others a more serious style. Altons seems to be about right for us and has good on-site accommodation which is free on the days you dive with them. The dive ... read more

So sang Kermit the frog, but in Belize it turns out it ain’t easy being a Green Iguana. The problem is the local people think eating Iguana eggs is good for fertility (I’m not sure if this is for males or females) which had caused Iguanas to become critically endangered in Belize, even though as a species they are not threatened To address this issue some enterprising folk have set up the Iguana Project in St Ignacio, housed in the garden of the St Ignacio Resort hotel. This is unquestionably the best hotel in town, so is not where we are staying, but was used by the Queen on her last royal visit to Belize in 1994. The hotel is only 5 minutes walk from the centre of St Ignacio but it’s uphill and even though ... read more

Flores is our last stop in Guatemala and we hope that we have left the best to last as this is our base for visiting the Mayan city of Tikal. As with many of these ancient sights it has become popular to go for sunrise, but here, that’s only really feasible during the winter months. They also charge a whopping 100Q extra for the privilege on top of an already significant 150Q entrance fee. I’m happy to have escaped from Antigua and though we pass through the outskirts, to have avoided Guatemala City altogether. We have a long day on a bus to reach Flores and arrive just after dark but this still gives us time to book a shuttle to take us to Tikal the next day leaving at 8am and returning at 3pm. Flores ... read more

Whatever we were expecting in Antigua we certainly weren’t expecting this – a major volcanic eruption from a volcano only a few km from the city. As we approach from the north I notice that parked cars are covered in dirt and suspect that there is an eruption nearby. By the time we reach Antigua itself we can see there is a covering of ash, though it’s been raining earlier and the air seems clear. When we first arrive everything in the city seems pretty normal except for a blitz of people washing cars. By the next morning we can see the smoking Fuego volcano clearly from the rooftop of our hotel. The news of the death toll and destruction has spread through the city creating a sombre mood. We decide to risk staying another night ... read more

Though we are staying in San Pedro la Laguna we choose to spend the day in San Juan. It’s only 5 minutes by boat (lancha) from San Pedro but it’s a world away in atmosphere. Surprisingly San Juan wasn’t mentioned in our guidebook otherwise we would have considered staying here. These are both villages around Lake Atitlan. There are at least 5 other villages here popular with visitors, each with their own distinct character. The lake is perhaps the 2nd most popular tourist destination in Guatemala after Antigua so has plenty of tourist infrastructure. San Pedro wasn’t our chosen destination here as it is considered to be the party village, but there was no bus to Panajachel for 2 hours and the San Pedro bus was ready to leave so we took it. Actually San Pedro ... read more

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